At the banker’s door Beauchamp stopped Morcerf. “Listen,” said he; “just now I told you it was of M. de
Monte Cristo you must demand an explanation.” “Yes; and we are going to his house.”
“Reflect, Morcerf, one moment before you go.” “On what shall I reflect?”
“On the importance of the step you are taking.” “Is it more serious than going to M. Danglars?”
“Yes; M. Danglars is a money-lover, and those who love money, you know, think too much of what they risk
to be easily induced to fight a duel. The other is, on the contrary, to all appearance a true nobleman; but do you not fear to find him a bully?”
“I only fear one thing; namely, to find a man who will not fight.”
“Do not be alarmed,” said Beauchamp; “he will meet you. My only fear is that he will be too strong for you.” “My friend,” said Morcerf, with a sweet smile, “that is what I wish. The happiest thing that could occur to me,
would be to die in my father’s stead; that would save us all.” “Your mother would die of grief.”
“My poor mother!” said Albert, passing his hand across his eyes, “I know she would; but better so than die of shame.”
“Are you quite decided, Albert?” “Yes; let us go.”
“But do you think we shall find the count at home?”
“He intended returning some hours after me, and doubtless he is now at home.” They ordered the driver to
take them to No. 30 Champs-Elysees. Beauchamp wished to go in alone, but Albert observed that as this was
an unusual circumstance he might be allowed to deviate from the usual etiquette in affairs of honor. The cause which the young man espoused was one so sacred that Beauchamp had only to comply with all his wishes; he yielded and contented himself with following Morcerf. Albert sprang from the porter’s lodge to the steps. He
was received by Baptistin. The count had, indeed, just arrived, but he was in his bath, and had forbidden that any one should be admitted. “But after his bath?” asked Morcerf.
“My master will go to dinner.” “And after dinner?”
“He will sleep an hour.”
“He is going to the opera.”
“Are you sure of it?” asked Albert.
“Quite, sir; my master has ordered his horses at eight o’clock precisely.”
“Very good,” replied Albert; “that is all I wished to know.” Then, turning towards Beauchamp, “If you have anything to attend to, Beauchamp, do it directly; if you have any appointment for this evening, defer it till tomorrow. I depend on you to accompany me to the opera; and if you can, bring Chateau-Renaud with you.”
Beauchamp availed himself of Albert’s permission, and left him, promising to call for him at a quarter before eight. On his return home, Albert expressed his wish to Franz Debray, and Morrel, to see them at the opera
that evening. Then he went to see his mother, who since the events of the day before had refused to see any
one, and had kept her room. He found her in bed, overwhelmed with grief at this public humiliation. The sight
of Albert produced the effect which might naturally be expected on Mercedes; she pressed her son’s hand and sobbed aloud, but her tears relieved her. Albert stood one moment speechless by the side of his mother’s bed.
It was evident from his pale face and knit brows that his resolution to revenge himself was growing weaker. “My dear mother,” said he, “do you know if M. de Morcerf has any enemy?” Mercedes started; she noticed that the young man did not say “my father.” “My son,” she said, “persons in the count’s situation have many
secret enemies. Those who are known are not the most dangerous.”
“I know it, and appeal to your penetration. You are of so superior a mind, nothing escapes you.” “Why do you say so?”
“Because, for instance, you noticed on the evening of the ball we gave, that M. de Monte Cristo would eat nothing in our house.” Mercedes raised herself on her feverish arm. “M. de Monte Cristo!” she exclaimed; “and how is he connected with the question you asked me?”
“You know, mother, M. de Monte Cristo is almost an Oriental, and it is customary with the Orientals to secure full liberty for revenge by not eating or drinking in the houses of their enemies.”
“Do you say M. de Monte Cristo is our enemy?” replied Mercedes, becoming paler than the sheet which
covered her. “Who told you so? Why, you are mad, Albert! M. de Monte Cristo has only shown us kindness.
M. de Monte Cristo saved your life; you yourself presented him to us. Oh, I entreat you, my son, if you had entertained such an idea, dispel it; and my counsel to you — nay, my prayer — is to retain his friendship.”
“Mother,” replied the young man, “you have especial reasons for telling me to conciliate that man.” “I?” said Mercedes, blushing as rapidly as she had turned pale, and again becoming paler than ever.
“Yes, doubtless; and is it not that he may never do us any harm?” Mercedes shuddered, and, fixing on her son
a scrutinizing gaze, “You speak strangely,” said she to Albert, “and you appear to have some singular
prejudices. What has the count done? Three days since you were with him in Normandy; only three days since
we looked on him as our best friend.”
An ironical smile passed over Albert’s lips. Mercedes saw it and with the double instinct of woman and
mother guessed all; but as she was prudent and strong-minded she concealed both her sorrows and her fears. Albert was silent; an instant after, the countess resumed: “You came to inquire after my health; I will candidly acknowledge that I am not well. You should install yourself here, and cheer my solitude. I do not wish to be
“Mother,” said the young man, “you know how gladly I would obey your wish, but an urgent and important affair obliges me to leave you for the whole evening.”
“Well,” replied Mercedes, sighing, “go, Albert; I will not make you a slave to your filial piety.” Albert pretended he did not hear, bowed to his mother, and quitted her. Scarcely had he shut her door, when
Mercedes called a confidential servant, and ordered him to follow Albert wherever he should go that evening, and to come and tell her immediately what he observed. Then she rang for her lady’s maid, and, weak as she
was, she dressed, in order to be ready for whatever might happen. The footman’s mission was an easy one. Albert went to his room, and dressed with unusual care. At ten minutes to eight Beauchamp arrived; he had seen Chateau-Renaud, who had promised to be in the orchestra before the curtain was raised. Both got into
Albert’s coupe; and, as the young man had no reason to conceal where he was going, he called aloud, “To the opera.” In his impatience he arrived before the beginning of the performance.
Chateau-Renaud was at his post; apprised by Beauchamp of the circumstances, he required no explanation from Albert. The conduct of the son in seeking to avenge his father was so natural that Chateau-Renaud did
not seek to dissuade him, and was content with renewing his assurances of devotion. Debray was not yet come, but Albert knew that he seldom lost a scene at the opera. Albert wandered about the theatre until the
curtain was drawn up. He hoped to meet with M. de Monte Cristo either in the lobby or on the stairs. The bell summoned him to his seat, and he entered the orchestra with Chateau-Renaud and Beauchamp. But his eyes scarcely quitted the box between the columns, which remained obstinately closed during the whole of the first
act. At last, as Albert was looking at his watch for about the hundredth time, at the beginning of the second act
the door opened, and Monte Cristo entered, dressed in black, and, leaning over the front of the box, looked around the pit. Morrel followed him, and looked also for his sister and brother in-law; he soon discovered them in another box, and kissed his hand to them.
The count, in his survey of the pit, encountered a pale face and threatening eyes, which evidently sought to gain his attention. He recognized Albert, but thought it better not to notice him, as he looked so angry and
discomposed. Without communicating his thoughts to his companion, he sat down, drew out his opera-glass, and looked another way. Although apparently not noticing Albert, he did not, however, lose sight of him, and
when the curtain fell at the end of the second act, he saw him leave the orchestra with his two friends. Then
his head was seen passing at the back of the boxes, and the count knew that the approaching storm was intended to fall on him. He was at the moment conversing cheerfully with Morrel, but he was well prepared
for what might happen. The door opened, and Monte Cristo, turning round, saw Albert, pale and trembling, followed by Beauchamp and Chateau-Renaud.
“Well,” cried he, with that benevolent politeness which distinguished his salutation from the common
civilities of the world, “my cavalier has attained his object. Good-evening, M. de Morcerf.” The countenance
of this man, who possessed such extraordinary control over his feelings, expressed the most perfect cordiality. Morrel only then recollected the letter he had received from the viscount, in which, without assigning any
reason, he begged him to go to the opera, but he understood that something terrible was brooding.
“We are not come here, sir, to exchange hypocritical expressions of politeness, or false professions of friendship,” said Albert, “but to demand an explanation.” The young man’s trembling voice was scarcely audible. “An explanation at the opera?” said the count, with that calm tone and penetrating eye which characterize the man who knows his cause is good. “Little acquainted as I am with the habits of Parisians, I should not have thought this the place for such a demand.”
“Still, if people will shut themselves up,” said Albert, “and cannot be seen because they are bathing, dining, or asleep, we must avail ourselves of the opportunity whenever they are to be seen.”
“I am not difficult of access, sir; for yesterday, if my memory does not deceive me, you were at my house.”
“Yesterday I was at your house, sir,” said the young man; “because then I knew not who you were.” In pronouncing these words Albert had raised his voice so as to be heard by those in the adjoining boxes and in
the lobby. Thus the attention of many was attracted by this altercation. “Where are you come from, sir? You
do not appear to be in the possession of your senses.”
“Provided I understand your perfidy, sir, and succeed in making you understand that I will be revenged, I shall
be reasonable enough,” said Albert furiously.
“I do not understand you, sir,” replied Monte Cristo; “and if I did, your tone is too high. I am at home here,
and I alone have a right to raise my voice above another’s. Leave the box, sir!” Monte Cristo pointed towards
the door with the most commanding dignity. “Ah, I shall know how to make you leave your home!” replied
Albert, clasping in his convulsed grasp the glove, which Monte Cristo did not lose sight of.
“Well, well,” said Monte Cristo quietly, “I see you wish to quarrel with me; but I would give you one piece of advice, which you will do well to keep in mind. It is in poor taste to make a display of a challenge. Display is
not becoming to every one, M. de Morcerf.”
At this name a murmur of astonishment passed around the group of spectators of this scene. They had talked
of no one but Morcerf the whole day. Albert understood the allusion in a moment, and was about to throw his glove at the count, when Morrel seized his hand, while Beauchamp and Chateau-Renaud, fearing the scene
would surpass the limits of a challenge, held him back. But Monte Cristo, without rising, and leaning forward
in his chair, merely stretched out his arm and, taking the damp, crushed glove from the clinched hand of the young man, “Sir,” said he in a solemn tone, “I consider your glove thrown, and will return it to you wrapped around a bullet. Now leave me or I will summon my servants to throw you out at the door.”
Wild, almost unconscious, and with eyes inflamed, Albert stepped back, and Morrel closed the door. Monte Cristo took up his glass again as if nothing had happened; his face was like marble, and his heart was like bronze. Morrel whispered, “What have you done to him?”
“I? Nothing — at least personally,” said Monte Cristo. “But there must be some cause for this strange scene.”
“The Count of Morcerf’s adventure exasperates the young man.” “Have you anything to do with it?”
“It was through Haidee that the Chamber was informed of his father’s treason.”
“Indeed?” said Morrel. “I had been told, but would not credit it, that the Grecian slave I have seen with you here in this very box was the daughter of Ali Pasha.”
“It is true, nevertheless.”
“Then,” said Morrel, “I understand it all, and this scene was premeditated.” “How so?”
“Yes. Albert wrote to request me to come to the opera, doubtless that I might be a witness to the insult he meant to offer you.”
“Probably,” said Monte Cristo with his imperturbable tranquillity.
“But what shall you do with him?” “With whom?”
“What shall I do with Albert? As certainly, Maximilian, as I now press your hand, I shall kill him before ten o’clock to-morrow morning.” Morrel, in his turn, took Monte Cristo’s hand in both of his, and he shuddered to feel how cold and steady it was.
“Ah, Count,” said he, “his father loves him so much!”
“Do not speak to me of that,” said Monte Cristo, with the first movement of anger he had betrayed; “I will make him suffer.” Morrel, amazed, let fall Monte Cristo’s hand. “Count, count!” said he.
“Dear Maximilian,” interrupted the count, “listen how adorably Duprez is singing that line, —
`O Mathilde! idole de mon ame!’
“I was the first to discover Duprez at Naples, and the first to applaud him. Bravo, bravo!” Morrel saw it was useless to say more, and refrained. The curtain, which had risen at the close of the scene with Albert, again
fell, and a rap was heard at the door.
“Come in,” said Monte Cristo with a voice that betrayed not the least emotion; and immediately Beauchamp appeared. “Good-evening, M. Beauchamp,” said Monte Cristo, as if this was the first time he had seen the journalist that evening; “be seated.”
Beauchamp bowed, and, sitting down, “Sir,” said he, “I just now accompanied M. de Morcerf, as you saw.”
“And that means,” replied Monte Cristo, laughing, “that you had, probably, just dined together. I am happy to see, M. Beauchamp, that you are more sober than he was.”
“Sir,” said M. Beauchamp, “Albert was wrong, I acknowledge, to betray so much anger, and I come, on my own account, to apologize for him. And having done so, entirely on my own account, be it understood, I
would add that I believe you too gentlemanly to refuse giving him some explanation concerning your
connection with Yanina. Then I will add two words about the young Greek girl.” Monte Cristo motioned him
to be silent. “Come,” said he, laughing, “there are all my hopes about to be destroyed.” “How so?” asked Beauchamp.
“Doubtless you wish to make me appear a very eccentric character. I am, in your opinion, a Lara, a Manfred, a
Lord Ruthven; then, just as I am arriving at the climax, you defeat your own end, and seek to make an ordinary man of me. You bring me down to your own level, and demand explanations! Indeed, M. Beauchamp, it is quite laughable.”
“Yet,” replied Beauchamp haughtily, “there are occasions when probity commands” —
“M. Beauchamp,” interposed this strange man, “the Count of Monte Cristo bows to none but the Count of Monte Cristo himself. Say no more, I entreat you. I do what I please, M. Beauchamp, and it is always well done.”
“Sir,” replied the young man, “honest men are not to be paid with such coin. I require honorable guaranties.”
“I am, sir, a living guaranty,” replied Monte Cristo, motionless, but with a threatening look; “we have both blood in our veins which we wish to shed — that is our mutual guaranty. Tell the viscount so, and that
to-morrow, before ten o’clock, I shall see what color his is.”
“Then I have only to make arrangements for the duel,” said Beauchamp.
“It is quite immaterial to me,” said Monte Cristo, “and it was very unnecessary to disturb me at the opera for such a trifle. In France people fight with the sword or pistol, in the colonies with the carbine, in Arabia with
the dagger. Tell your client that, although I am the insulted party, in order to carry out my eccentricity, I leave him the choice of arms, and will accept without discussion, without dispute, anything, even combat by
drawing lots, which is always stupid, but with me different from other people, as I am sure to gain.” “Sure to gain!” repeated Beauchamp, looking with amazement at the count.
“Certainly,” said Monte Cristo, slightly shrugging his shoulders; “otherwise I would not fight with M. de Morcerf. I shall kill him — I cannot help it. Only by a single line this evening at my house let me know the arms and the hour; I do not like to be kept waiting.”
“Pistols, then, at eight o’clock, in the Bois de Vincennes,” said Beauchamp, quite disconcerted, not knowing if
he was dealing with an arrogant braggadocio or a supernatural being.
“Very well, sir,” said Monte Cristo. “Now all that is settled, do let me see the performance, and tell your
friend Albert not to come any more this evening; he will hurt himself with all his ill-chosen barbarisms: let
him go home and go to sleep.” Beauchamp left the box, perfectly amazed. “Now,” said Monte Cristo, turning towards Morrel, “I may depend upon you, may I not?”
“Certainly,” said Morrel, “I am at your service, count; still” — “What?”
“It is desirable I should know the real cause.” “That is to say, you would rather not?”
“The young man himself is acting blindfolded, and knows not the true cause, which is known only to God and
to me; but I give you my word, Morrel, that God, who does know it, will be on our side.” “Enough,” said Morrel; “who is your second witness?”
“I know no one in Paris, Morrel, on whom I could confer that honor besides you and your brother Emmanuel.
Do you think Emmanuel would oblige me?” “I will answer for him, count.”
“Well? that is all I require. To-morrow morning, at seven o’clock, you will be with me, will you not?” “We will.”
“Hush, the curtain is rising. Listen! I never lose a note of this opera if I can avoid it; the music of William Tell
is so sweet.”
A Nocturnal Interview.
Monte Cristo waited, according to his usual custom, until Duprez had sung his famous “Suivez-moi;” then he rose and went out. Morrel took leave of him at the door, renewing his promise to be with him the next
morning at seven o’clock, and to bring Emmanuel. Then he stepped into his coupe, calm and smiling, and was
at home in five minutes. No one who knew the count could mistake his expression when, on entering, he said, “Ali, bring me my pistols with the ivory cross.”
Ali brought the box to his master, who examined the weapons with a solicitude very natural to a man who is about to intrust his life to a little powder and shot. These were pistols of an especial pattern, which Monte
Cristo had had made for target practice in his own room. A cap was sufficient to drive out the bullet, and from
the adjoining room no one would have suspected that the count was, as sportsmen would say, keeping his
hand in. He was just taking one up and looking for the point to aim at on a little iron plate which served him
as a target, when his study door opened, and Baptistin entered. Before he had spoken a word, the count saw in
the next room a veiled woman, who had followed closely after Baptistin, and now, seeing the count with a
pistol in his hand and swords on the table, rushed in. Baptistin looked at his master, who made a sign to him, and he went out, closing the door after him. “Who are you, madame?” said the count to the veiled woman.
The stranger cast one look around her, to be certain that they were quite alone; then bending as if she would
have knelt, and joining her hands, she said with an accent of despair, “Edmond, you will not kill my son?” The count retreated a step, uttered a slight exclamation, and let fall the pistol he held. “What name did you
pronounce then, Madame de Morcerf?” said he. “Yours!” cried she, throwing back her veil, — “yours, which I
alone, perhaps, have not forgotten. Edmond, it is not Madame de Morcerf who is come to you, it is
“Mercedes is dead, madame,” said Monte Cristo; “I know no one now of that name.”
“Mercedes lives, sir, and she remembers, for she alone recognized you when she saw you, and even before she saw you, by your voice, Edmond, — by the simple sound of your voice; and from that moment she has
followed your steps, watched you, feared you, and she needs not to inquire what hand has dealt the blow which now strikes M. de Morcerf.”
“Fernand, do you mean?” replied Monte Cristo, with bitter irony; “since we are recalling names, let us remember them all.” Monte Cristo had pronounced the name of Fernand with such an expression of hatred
that Mercedes felt a thrill of horror run through every vein. “You see, Edmond, I am not mistaken, and have cause to say, `Spare my son!'”
“And who told you, madame, that I have any hostile intentions against your son?”
“No one, in truth; but a mother has twofold sight. I guessed all; I followed him this evening to the opera, and, concealed in a parquet box, have seen all.”
“If you have seen all, madame, you know that the son of Fernand has publicly insulted me,” said Monte Cristo with awful calmness.
“Oh, for pity’s sake!”
“You have seen that he would have thrown his glove in my face if Morrel, one of my friends, had not stopped him.”
“Listen to me, my son has also guessed who you are, — he attributes his father’s misfortunes to you.”
“Madame, you are mistaken, they are not misfortunes, — it is a punishment. It is not I who strike M. de
Morcerf; it is providence which punishes him.”
“And why do you represent providence?” cried Mercedes. “Why do you remember when it forgets? What are
Yanina and its vizier to you, Edmond? What injury his Fernand Mondego done you in betraying Ali
“Ah, madame,” replied Monte Cristo, “all this is an affair between the French captain and the daughter of Vasiliki. It does not concern me, you are right; and if I have sworn to revenge myself, it is not on the French captain, or the Count of Morcerf, but on the fisherman Fernand, the husband of Mercedes the Catalane.”
“Ah, sir!” cried the countess, “how terrible a vengeance for a fault which fatality made me commit! — for I am
the only culprit, Edmond, and if you owe revenge to any one, it is to me, who had not fortitude to bear your absence and my solitude.”
“But,” exclaimed Monte Cristo, “why was I absent? And why were you alone?” “Because you had been arrested, Edmond, and were a prisoner.”
“And why was I arrested? Why was I a prisoner?”
“I do not know,” said Mercedes. “You do not, madame; at least, I hope not. But I will tell you. I was arrested and became a prisoner because, under the arbor of La Reserve, the day before I was to marry you, a man
named Danglars wrote this letter, which the fisherman Fernand himself posted.” Monte Cristo went to a secretary, opened a drawer by a spring, from which he took a paper which had lost its original color, and the
ink of which had become of a rusty hue — this he placed in the hands of Mercedes. It was Danglars’ letter to
the king’s attorney, which the Count of Monte Cristo, disguised as a clerk from the house of Thomson & French, had taken from the file against Edmond Dantes, on the day he had paid the two hundred thousand francs to M. de Boville. Mercedes read with terror the following lines: —
“The king’s attorney is informed by a friend to the throne and religion that one Edmond Dantes, second in command on board the Pharaon, this day arrived from Smyrna, after having touched at Naples and
Porto-Ferrajo, is the bearer of a letter from Murat to the usurper, and of another letter from the usurper to the
Bonapartist club in Paris. Ample corroboration of this statement may be obtained by arresting the
above-mentioned Edmond Dantes, who either carries the letter for Paris about with him, or has it at his
father’s abode. Should it not be found in possession of either father or son, then it will assuredly be discovered
in the cabin belonging to the said Dantes on board the Pharaon.”
“How dreadful!” said Mercedes, passing her hand across her brow, moist with perspiration; “and that letter” —
“I bought it for two hundred thousand francs, madame,” said Monte Cristo; “but that is a trifle, since it enables
me to justify myself to you.” “And the result of that letter” —
“You well know, madame, was my arrest; but you do not know how long that arrest lasted. You do not know
that I remained for fourteen years within a quarter of a league of you, in a dungeon in the Chateau d’If. You do
not know that every day of those fourteen years I renewed the vow of vengeance which I had made the first day; and yet I was not aware that you had married Fernand, my calumniator, and that my father had died of hunger!”
“Can it be?” cried Mercedes, shuddering.
“That is what I heard on leaving my prison fourteen years after I had entered it; and that is why, on account of
the living Mercedes and my deceased father, I have sworn to revenge myself on Fernand, and — I have revenged myself.”
“And you are sure the unhappy Fernand did that?”
“I am satisfied, madame, that he did what I have told you; besides, that is not much more odious than that a
Frenchman by adoption should pass over to the English; that a Spaniard by birth should have fought against
the Spaniards; that a stipendiary of Ali should have betrayed and murdered Ali. Compared with such things,
what is the letter you have just read? — a lover’s deception, which the woman who has married that man ought certainly to forgive; but not so the lover who was to have married her. Well, the French did not avenge themselves on the traitor, the Spaniards did not shoot the traitor, Ali in his tomb left the traitor unpunished;
but I, betrayed, sacrificed, buried, have risen from my tomb, by the grace of God, to punish that man. He
sends me for that purpose, and here I am.” The poor woman’s head and arms fell; her legs bent under her, and she fell on her knees. “Forgive, Edmond, forgive for my sake, who love you still!”
The dignity of the wife checked the fervor of the lover and the mother. Her forehead almost touched the carpet, when the count sprang forward and raised her. Then seated on a chair, she looked at the manly
countenance of Monte Cristo, on which grief and hatred still impressed a threatening expression. “Not crush that accursed race?” murmured he; “abandon my purpose at the moment of its accomplishment? Impossible, madame, impossible!”
“Edmond,” said the poor mother, who tried every means, “when I call you Edmond, why do you not call me
“Mercedes!” repeated Monte Cristo; “Mercedes! Well yes, you are right; that name has still its charms, and
this is the first time for a long period that I have pronounced it so distinctly. Oh, Mercedes, I have uttered your name with the sigh of melancholy, with the groan of sorrow, with the last effort of despair; I have uttered it
when frozen with cold, crouched on the straw in my dungeon; I have uttered it, consumed with heat, rolling on
the stone floor of my prison. Mercedes, I must revenge myself, for I suffered fourteen years, — fourteen years
I wept, I cursed; now I tell you, Mercedes, I must revenge myself.”
The count, fearing to yield to the entreaties of her he had so ardently loved, called his sufferings to the assistance of his hatred. “Revenge yourself, then, Edmond,” cried the poor mother; “but let your vengeance
fall on the culprits, — on him, on me, but not on my son!”
“It is written in the good book,” said Monte Cristo, “that the sins of the fathers shall fall upon their children to
the third and fourth generation. Since God himself dictated those words to his prophet, why should I seek to make myself better than God?”
“Edmond,” continued Mercedes, with her arms extended towards the count, “since I first knew you, I have adored your name, have respected your memory. Edmond, my friend, do not compel me to tarnish that noble and pure image reflected incessantly on the mirror of my heart. Edmond, if you knew all the prayers I have addressed to God for you while I thought you were living and since I have thought you must be dead! Yes,
dead, alas! I imagined your dead body buried at the foot of some gloomy tower, or cast to the bottom of a pit
by hateful jailers, and I wept! What could I do for you, Edmond, besides pray and weep? Listen; for ten years
I dreamed each night the same dream. I had been told that you had endeavored to escape; that you had taken
the place of another prisoner; that you had slipped into the winding sheet of a dead body; that you had been thrown alive from the top of the Chateau d’If, and that the cry you uttered as you dashed upon the rocks first revealed to your jailers that they were your murderers. Well, Edmond, I swear to you, by the head of that son
for whom I entreat your pity, — Edmond, for ten years I saw every night every detail of that frightful tragedy,
and for ten years I heard every night the cry which awoke me, shuddering and cold. And I, too, Edmond — oh!
believe me — guilty as I was — oh, yes, I, too, have suffered much!”
“Have you known what it is to have your father starve to death in your absence?” cried Monte Cristo,
thrusting his hands into his hair; “have you seen the woman you loved giving her hand to your rival, while you were perishing at the bottom of a dungeon?”
“No,” interrupted Mercedes, “but I have seen him whom I loved on the point of murdering my son.” Mercedes uttered these words with such deep anguish, with an accent of such intense despair, that Monte Cristo could
not restrain a sob. The lion was daunted; the avenger was conquered. “What do you ask of me?” said he, — “your son’s life? Well, he shall live!” Mercedes uttered a cry which made the tears start from Monte Cristo’s eyes; but these tears disappeared almost instantaneously, for, doubtless, God had sent some angel to collect them — far more precious were they in his eyes than the richest pearls of Guzerat and Ophir.
“Oh,” said she, seizing the count’s hand and raising it to her lips; “oh, thank you, thank you, Edmond! Now you are exactly what I dreamt you were, — the man I always loved. Oh, now I may say so!”
“So much the better,” replied Monte Cristo; “as that poor Edmond will not have long to be loved by you. Death is about to return to the tomb, the phantom to retire in darkness.”
“What do you say, Edmond?”
“I say, since you command me, Mercedes, I must die.”
“Die? and why so? Who talks of dying? Whence have you these ideas of death?”
“You do not suppose that, publicly outraged in the face of a whole theatre, in the presence of your friends and those of your son — challenged by a boy who will glory in my forgiveness as if it were a victory — you do not suppose that I can for one moment wish to live. What I most loved after you, Mercedes, was myself, my
dignity, and that strength which rendered me superior to other men; that strength was my life. With one word you have crushed it, and I die.”
“But the duel will not take place, Edmond, since you forgive?”
“It will take place,” said Monte Cristo, in a most solemn tone; “but instead of your son’s blood to stain the ground, mine will flow.” Mercedes shrieked, and sprang towards Monte Cristo, but, suddenly stopping, “Edmond,” said she, “there is a God above us, since you live and since I have seen you again; I trust to him
from my heart. While waiting his assistance I trust to your word; you have said that my son should live, have you not?”
“Yes, madame, he shall live,” said Monte Cristo, surprised that without more emotion Mercedes had accepted
the heroic sacrifice he made for her. Mercedes extended her hand to the count.
“Edmond,” said she, and her eyes were wet with tears while looking at him to whom she spoke, “how noble it
is of you, how great the action you have just performed, how sublime to have taken pity on a poor woman
who appealed to you with every chance against her, Alas, I am grown old with grief more than with years, and cannot now remind my Edmond by a smile, or by a look, of that Mercedes whom he once spent so many
hours in contemplating. Ah, believe me, Edmond, as I told you, I too have suffered much; I repeat, it is melancholy to pass one’s life without having one joy to recall, without preserving a single hope; but that proves that all is not yet over. No, it is not finished; I feel it by what remains in my heart. Oh, I repeat it, Edmond; what you have just done is beautiful — it is grand; it is sublime.”
“Do you say so now, Mercedes? — then what would you say if you knew the extent of the sacrifice I make to
you? Suppose that the Supreme Being, after having created the world and fertilized chaos, had paused in the work to spare an angel the tears that might one day flow for mortal sins from her immortal eyes; suppose that when everything was in readiness and the moment had come for God to look upon his work and see that it
was good — suppose he had snuffed out the sun and tossed the world back into eternal night — then — even
then, Mercedes, you could not imagine what I lose in sacrificing my life at this moment.” Mercedes looked at
the count in a way which expressed at the same time her astonishment, her admiration, and her gratitude.
Monte Cristo pressed his forehead on his burning hands, as if his brain could no longer bear alone the weight
of its thoughts. “Edmond,” said Mercedes, “I have but one word more to say to you.” The count smiled bitterly. “Edmond,” continued she, “you will see that if my face is pale, if my eyes are dull, if my beauty is
gone; if Mercedes, in short, no longer resembles her former self in her features, you will see that her heart is still the same. Adieu, then, Edmond; I have nothing more to ask of heaven — I have seen you again, and have
found you as noble and as great as formerly you were. Adieu, Edmond, adieu, and thank you.”
But the count did not answer. Mercedes opened the door of the study and had disappeared before he had recovered from the painful and profound revery into which his thwarted vengeance had plunged him. The
clock of the Invalides struck one when the carriage which conveyed Madame de Morcerf away rolled on the pavement of the Champs-Elysees, and made Monte Cristo raise his head. “What a fool I was,” said he, “not to tear my heart out on the day when I resolved to avenge myself!”
After Mercedes had left Monte Cristo, he fell into profound gloom. Around him and within him the flight of thought seemed to have stopped; his energetic mind slumbered, as the body does after extreme fatigue.
“What?” said he to himself, while the lamp and the wax lights were nearly burnt out, and the servants were waiting impatiently in the anteroom; “what? this edifice which I have been so long preparing, which I have
reared with so much care and toil, is to be crushed by a single touch, a word, a breath! Yes, this self, of whom
I thought so much, of whom I was so proud, who had appeared so worthless in the dungeons of the Chateau d’If, and whom I had succeeded in making so great, will be but a lump of clay to-morrow. Alas, it is not the death of the body I regret; for is not the destruction of the vital principle, the repose to which everything is
tending, to which every unhappy being aspires, — is not this the repose of matter after which I so long sighed, and which I was seeking to attain by the painful process of starvation when Faria appeared in my dungeon?
What is death for me? One step farther into rest, — two, perhaps, into silence.
“No, it is not existence, then, that I regret, but the ruin of projects so slowly carried out, so laboriously framed. Providence is now opposed to them, when I most thought it would be propitious. It is not God’s will that they should be accomplished. This burden, almost as heavy as a world, which I had raised, and I had thought to
bear to the end, was too great for my strength, and I was compelled to lay it down in the middle of my career. Oh, shall I then, again become a fatalist, whom fourteen years of despair and ten of hope had rendered a
believer in providence? And all this — all this, because my heart, which I thought dead, was only sleeping;
because it has awakened and has begun to beat again, because I have yielded to the pain of the emotion
excited in my breast by a woman’s voice. Yet,” continued the count, becoming each moment more absorbed in
the anticipation of the dreadful sacrifice for the morrow, which Mercedes had accepted, “yet, it is impossible that so noble-minded a woman should thus through selfishness consent to my death when I am in the prime of
life and strength; it is impossible that she can carry to such a point maternal love, or rather delirium. There are virtues which become crimes by exaggeration. No, she must have conceived some pathetic scene; she will
come and throw herself between us; and what would be sublime here will there appear ridiculous.” The blush
of pride mounted to the count’s forehead as this thought passed through his mind. “Ridiculous?” repeated he; “and the ridicule will fall on me. I ridiculous? No, I would rather die.”
By thus exaggerating to his own mind the anticipated ill-fortune of the next day, to which he had condemned himself by promising Mercedes to spare her son, the count at last exclaimed, “Folly, folly, folly! — to carry generosity so far as to put myself up as a mark for that young man to aim at. He will never believe that my
death was suicide; and yet it is important for the honor of my memory, — and this surely is not vanity, but a justifiable pride, — it is important the world should know that I have consented, by my free will, to stop my arm, already raised to strike, and that with the arm which has been so powerful against others I have struck myself. It must be; it shall be.”
Seizing a pen, he drew a paper from a secret drawer in his desk, and wrote at the bottom of the document
(which was no other than his will, made since his arrival in Paris) a sort of codicil, clearly explaining the
nature of his death. “I do this, O my God,” said he, with his eyes raised to heaven, “as much for thy honor as
for mine. I have during ten years considered myself the agent of thy vengeance, and other wretches, like
Morcerf, Danglars, Villefort, even Morcerf himself, must not imagine that chance has freed them from their enemy. Let them know, on the contrary, that their punishment, which had been decreed by providence, is only delayed by my present determination, and although they escape it in this world, it awaits them in another, and
that they are only exchanging time for eternity.”
While he was thus agitated by gloomy uncertainties, — wretched waking dreams of grief, — the first rays of morning pierced his windows, and shone upon the pale blue paper on which he had just inscribed his justification of providence. It was just five o’clock in the morning when a slight noise like a stifled sigh
reached his ear. He turned his head, looked around him, and saw no one; but the sound was repeated distinctly
enough to convince him of its reality.
He arose, and quietly opening the door of the drawing-room, saw Haidee, who had fallen on a chair, with her arms hanging down and her beautiful head thrown back. She had been standing at the door, to prevent his
going out without seeing her, until sleep, which the young cannot resist, had overpowered her frame, wearied
as she was with watching. The noise of the door did not awaken her, and Monte Cristo gazed at her with affectionate regret. “She remembered that she had a son,” said he; “and I forgot I had a daughter.” Then,
shaking his head sorrowfully, “Poor Haidee,” said he; “she wished to see me, to speak to me; she has feared or guessed something. Oh, I cannot go without taking leave of her; I cannot die without confiding her to some
one.” He quietly regained his seat, and wrote under the other lines: —
“I bequeath to Maximilian Morrel, captain of Spahis, — and son of my former patron, Pierre Morrel,
shipowner at Marseilles, — the sum of twenty millions, a part of which may be offered to his sister Julia and brother-in-law Emmanuel, if he does not fear this increase of fortune may mar their happiness. These twenty millions are concealed in my grotto at Monte Cristo, of which Bertuccio knows the secret. If his heart is free, and he will marry Haidee, the daughter of Ali Pasha of Yanina, whom I have brought up with the love of a
father, and who has shown the love and tenderness of a daughter for me, he will thus accomplish my last wish. This will has already constituted Haidee heiress of the rest of my fortune, consisting of lands, funds in
England, Austria, and Holland, furniture in my different palaces and houses, and which without the twenty millions and the legacies to my servants, may still amount to sixty millions.”
He was finishing the last line when a cry behind him made him start, and the pen fell from his hand. “Haidee,”
said he. “did you read it?”
“Oh, my lord,” said she, “why are you writing thus at such an hour? Why are you bequeathing all your fortune
to me? Are you going to leave me?”
“I am going on a journey, dear child,” said Monte Cristo, with an expression of infinite tenderness and melancholy; “and if any misfortune should happen to me”
The count stopped. “Well?” asked the young girl, with an authoritative tone the count had never observed before, and which startled him. “Well, if any misfortune happen to me,” replied Monte Cristo, “I wish my daughter to be happy.” Haidee smiled sorrowfully, and shook her head. “Do you think of dying, my lord?” said she.
“The wise man, my child, has said, `It is good to think of death.'”
“Well, if you die,” said she, “bequeath your fortune to others, for if you die I shall require nothing;” and, taking the paper, she tore it in four pieces, and threw it into the middle of the room. Then, the effort having
exhausted her strength, she fell not asleep this time, but fainting on the floor. The count leaned over her and
raised her in his arms; and seeing that sweet pale face, those lovely eyes closed, that beautiful form motionless and to all appearance lifeless, the idea occurred to him for the first time, that perhaps she loved him otherwise
than as a daughter loves a father.
“Alas,” murmured he, with intense suffering, “I might, then, have been happy yet.” Then he carried Haidee to
her room, resigned her to the care of her attendants, and returning to his study, which he shut quickly this
time, he again copied the destroyed will. As he was finishing, the sound of a cabriolet entering the yard was heard. Monte Cristo approached the window, and saw Maximilian and Emmanuel alight. “Good,” said he; “it was time,” — and he sealed his will with three seals. A moment afterwards he heard a noise in the
drawing-room, and went to open the door himself. Morrel was there; he had come twenty minutes before the time appointed. “I am perhaps come too soon, count,” said he, “but I frankly acknowledge that I have not
closed my eyes all night, nor has any one in my house. I need to see you strong in your courageous assurance,
to recover myself.” Monte Cristo could not resist this proof of affection; he not only extended his hand to the young man, but flew to him with open arms. “Morrel,” said he, “it is a happy day for me, to feel that I am beloved by such a man as you. Good-morning, Emmanuel; you will come with me then, Maximilian?”
“Did you doubt it?” said the young captain. “But if I were wrong” —
“I watched you during the whole scene of that challenge yesterday; I have been thinking of your firmness all night, and I said to myself that justice must be on your side, or man’s countenance is no longer to be relied
“But, Morrel, Albert is your friend?” “Simply an acquaintance, sir.”
“You met on the same day you first saw me?”
“Yes, that is true; but I should not have recollected it if you had not reminded me.”
“Thank you, Morrel.” Then ringing the bell once, “Look.” said he to Ali, who came immediately, “take that to my solicitor. It is my will, Morrel. When I am dead, you will go and examine it.”
“What?” said Morrel, “you dead?”
“Yes; must I not be prepared for everything, dear friend? But what did you do yesterday after you left me?”
“I went to Tortoni’s, where, as I expected, I found Beauchamp and Chateau-Renaud. I own I was seeking them.”
“Why, when all was arranged?”
“Listen, count; the affair is serious and unavoidable.” “Did you doubt it!”
“No; the offence was public, and every one is already talking of it.” “Well?”
“Well, I hoped to get an exchange of arms, — to substitute the sword for the pistol; the pistol is blind.” “Have you succeeded?” asked Monte Cristo quickly, with an imperceptible gleam of hope.
“No; for your skill with the sword is so well known.” “Ah? — who has betrayed me?”
“The skilful swordsman whom you have conquered.” “And you failed?”
“They positively refused.”
“Morrel,” said the count, “have you ever seen me fire a pistol?” “Never.”
“Well, we have time; look.” Monte Cristo took the pistols he held in his hand when Mercedes entered, and
fixing an ace of clubs against the iron plate, with four shots he successively shot off the four sides of the club.
At each shot Morrel turned pale. He examined the bullets with which Monte Cristo performed this dexterous feat, and saw that they were no larger than buckshot. “It is astonishing,” said he. “Look, Emmanuel.” Then
turning towards Monte Cristo, “Count,” said he, “in the name of all that is dear to you, I entreat you not to kill
Albert! — the unhappy youth has a mother.”
“You are right,” said Monte Cristo; “and I have none.” These words were uttered in a tone which made Morrel shudder. “You are the offended party, count.”
“Doubtless; what does that imply?” “That you will fire first.”
“I fire first?”
“Oh, I obtained, or rather claimed that; we had conceded enough for them to yield us that.” “And at what distance?”
“Twenty paces.” A smile of terrible import passed over the count’s lips. “Morrel,” said he, “do not forget what you have just seen.”
“The only chance for Albert’s safety, then, will arise from your emotion.”
“I suffer from emotion?” said Monte Cristo.
“Or from your generosity, my friend; to so good a marksman as you are, I may say what would appear absurd
to another.” “What is that?”
“Break his arm — wound him — but do not kill him.”
“I will tell you, Morrel,” said the count, “that I do not need entreating to spare the life of M. de Morcerf; he shall be so well spared, that he will return quietly with his two friends, while I” —
“That will be another thing; I shall be brought home.”
“No, no,” cried Maximilian, quite unable to restrain his feelings.
“As I told you, my dear Morrel, M. de Morcerf will kill me.” Morrel looked at him in utter amazement. “But what has happened, then, since last evening, count?”
“The same thing that happened to Brutus the night before the battle of Philippi; I have seen a ghost.”
“And that ghost” —
“Told me, Morrel, that I had lived long enough.” Maximilian and Emmanuel looked at each other. Monte
Cristo drew out his watch. “Let us go,” said he; “it is five minutes past seven, and the appointment was for
eight o’clock.” A carriage was in readiness at the door. Monte Cristo stepped into it with his two friends. He had stopped a moment in the passage to listen at a door, and Maximilian and Emmanuel, who had
considerately passed forward a few steps, thought they heard him answer by a sigh to a sob from within. As
the clock struck eight they drove up to the place of meeting. “We are first,” said Morrel, looking out of the window. “Excuse me, sir,” said Baptistin, who had followed his master with indescribable terror, “but I think I
see a carriage down there under the trees.”
Monte Cristo sprang lightly from the carriage, and offered his hand to assist Emmanuel and Maximilian. The latter retained the count’s hand between his. “I like,” said he, “to feel a hand like this, when its owner relies on
the goodness of his cause.”
“It seems to me,” said Emmanuel, “that I see two young men down there, who are evidently, waiting.” Monte Cristo drew Morrel a step or two behind his brother-in-law. “Maximilian,” said he, “are your affections disengaged?” Morrel looked at Monte Cristo with astonishment. “I do not seek your confidence, my dear
friend. I only ask you a simple question; answer it; — that is all I require.”
“I love a young girl, count.” “Do you love her much?” “More than my life.”
“Another hope defeated!” said the count. Then, with a sigh, “Poor Haidee!” murmured he.
“To tell the truth, count, if I knew less of you, I should think that you were less brave than you are.”
“Because I sigh when thinking of some one I am leaving? Come, Morrel, it is not like a soldier to be so bad a judge of courage. Do I regret life? What is it to me, who have passed twenty years between life and death? Moreover, do not alarm yourself, Morrel; this weakness, if it is such, is betrayed to you alone. I know the
world is a drawing-room, from which we must retire politely and honestly; that is, with a bow, and our debts
of honor paid.”
“That is to the purpose. Have you brought your arms?” “I? — what for? I hope these gentlemen have theirs.”
“I will inquire,” said Morrel.
“Do; but make no treaty — you understand me?”
“You need not fear.” Morrel advanced towards Beauchamp and Chateau-Renaud, who, seeing his intention, came to meet him. The three young men bowed to each other courteously, if not affably.
“Excuse me, gentlemen,” said Morrel, “but I do not see M. de Morcerf.”
“He sent us word this morning,” replied Chateau-Renaud, “that he would meet us on the ground.”
“Ah,” said Morrel. Beauchamp pulled out his watch. “It is only five minutes past eight,” said he to Morrel;
“there is not much time lost yet.”
“Oh, I made no allusion of that kind,” replied Morrel.
“There is a carriage coming,” said Chateau-Renaud. It advanced rapidly along one of the avenues leading
towards the open space where they were assembled. “You are doubtless provided with pistols, gentlemen? M.
de Monte Cristo yields his right of using his.”
“We had anticipated this kindness on the part of the count,” said Beauchamp, “and I have brought some weapons which I bought eight or ten days since, thinking to want them on a similar occasion. They are quite new, and have not yet been used. Will you examine them.”
“Oh, M. Beauchamp, if you assure me that M. de Morcerf does not know these pistols, you may readily believe that your word will be quite sufficient.”
“Gentlemen,” said Chateau-Renaud, “it is not Morcerf coming in that carriage; — faith, it is Franz and Debray!” The two young men he announced were indeed approaching. “What chance brings you here, gentlemen?” said Chateau-Renaud, shaking hands with each of them. “Because,” said Debray, “Albert sent
this morning to request us to come.” Beauchamp and Chateau-Renaud exchanged looks of astonishment. “I
think I understand his reason,” said Morrel. “What is it?”
“Yesterday afternoon I received a letter from M. de Morcerf, begging me to attend the opera.” “And I,” said Debray.
“And I also,” said Franz.
“And we, too,” added Beauchamp and Chateau-Renaud.
“Having wished you all to witness the challenge, he now wishes you to be present at the combat.” “Exactly so,” said the young men; “you have probably guessed right.”
“But, after all these arrangements, he does not come himself,” said Chateau-Renaud. “Albert is ten minutes after time.”
“There he comes,” said Beauchamp, “on horseback, at full gallop, followed by a servant.”
“How imprudent,” said Chateau-Renaud, “to come on horseback to fight a duel with pistols, after all the instructions I had given him.”
“And besides,” said Beauchamp, “with a collar above his cravat, an open coat and white waistcoat! Why has
he not painted a spot upon his heart? — it would have been more simple.” Meanwhile Albert had arrived
within ten paces of the group formed by the five young men. He jumped from his horse, threw the bridle on
his servant’s arms, and joined them. He was pale, and his eyes were red and swollen; it was evident that he had not slept. A shade of melancholy gravity overspread his countenance, which was not natural to him. “I
thank you, gentlemen,” said he, “for having complied with my request; I feel extremely grateful for this mark
of friendship.” Morrel had stepped back as Morcerf approached, and remained at a short distance. “And to you also, M. Morrel, my thanks are due. Come, there cannot be too many.”
“Sir,” said Maximilian, “you are not perhaps aware that I am M. de Monte Cristo’s friend?”
“I was not sure, but I thought it might be so. So much the better; the more honorable men there are here the better I shall be satisfied.”
“M. Morrel,” said Chateau-Renaud, “will you apprise the Count of Monte Cristo that M. de Morcerf is arrived, and we are at his disposal?” Morrel was preparing to fulfil his commission. Beauchamp had
meanwhile drawn the box of pistols from the carriage. “Stop, gentlemen,” said Albert; “I have two words to say to the Count of Monte Cristo.”
“In private?” asked Morrel.
“No, sir; before all who are here.”
Albert’s witnesses looked at each other. Franz and Debray exchanged some words in a whisper, and Morrel, rejoiced at this unexpected incident, went to fetch the count, who was walking in a retired path with Emmanuel. “What does he want with me?” said Monte Cristo.
“I do not know, but he wishes to speak to you.”
“Ah?” said Monte Cristo, “I trust he is not going to tempt me by some fresh insult!”
“I do not think that such is his intention,” said Morrel.
The count advanced, accompanied by Maximilian and Emmanuel. His calm and serene look formed a singular contrast to Albert’s grief-stricken face, who approached also, followed by the other four young men. When at three paces distant from each other, Albert and the count stopped.
“Approach, gentlemen,” said Albert; “I wish you not to lose one word of what I am about to have the honor of saying to the Count of Monte Cristo, for it must be repeated by you to all who will listen to it, strange as it
may appear to you.”
“Proceed, sir,” said the count.
“Sir,” said Albert, at first with a tremulous voice, but which gradually became firmer, “I reproached you with exposing the conduct of M. de Morcerf in Epirus, for guilty as I knew he was, I thought you had no right to
punish him; but I have since learned that you had that right. It is not Fernand Mondego’s treachery towards Ali
Pasha which induces me so readily to excuse you, but the treachery of the fisherman Fernand towards you,
and the almost unheard-of miseries which were its consequences; and I say, and proclaim it publicly, that you were justified in revenging yourself on my father, and I, his son, thank you for not using greater severity.”
Had a thunderbolt fallen in the midst of the spectators of this unexpected scene, it would not have surprised them more than did Albert’s declaration. As for Monte Cristo, his eyes slowly rose towards heaven with an expression of infinite gratitude. He could not understand how Albert’s fiery nature, of which he had seen so much among the Roman bandits, had suddenly stooped to this humiliation. He recognized the influence of
Mercedes, and saw why her noble heart had not opposed the sacrifice she knew beforehand would be useless. “Now, sir,” said Albert, “if you think my apology sufficient, pray give me your hand. Next to the merit of infallibility which you appear to possess, I rank that of candidly acknowledging a fault. But this confession concerns me only. I acted well as a man, but you have acted better than man. An angel alone could have saved one of us from death — that angel came from heaven, if not to make us friends (which, alas, fatality renders impossible), at least to make us esteem each other.”
Monte Cristo, with moistened eye, heaving breast, and lips half open, extended to Albert a hand which the
latter pressed with a sentiment resembling respectful fear. “Gentlemen,” said he, “M. de Monte Cristo receives
my apology. I had acted hastily towards him. Hasty actions are generally bad ones. Now my fault is repaired. I
hope the world will not call me cowardly for acting as my conscience dictated. But if any one should entertain
a false opinion of me,” added he, drawing himself up as if he would challenge both friends and enemies, “I
shall endeavor to correct his mistake.”
“What happened during the night?” asked Beauchamp of Chateau-Renaud; “we appear to make a very sorry figure here.”
“In truth, what Albert has just done is either very despicable or very noble,” replied the baron.
“What can it mean?” said Debray to Franz. “The Count of Monte Cristo acts dishonorably to M. de Morcerf, and is justified by his son! Had I ten Yaninas in my family, I should only consider myself the more bound to fight ten times.” As for Monte Cristo, his head was bent down, his arms were powerless. Bowing under the weight of twenty-four years’ reminiscences, he thought not of Albert, of Beauchamp, of Chateau-Renaud, or
of any of that group; but he thought of that courageous woman who had come to plead for her son’s life, to whom he had offered his, and who had now saved it by the revelation of a dreadful family secret, capable of destroying forever in that young man’s heart every feeling of filial piety.
“Providence still,” murmured he; “now only am I fully convinced of being the emissary of God!”
Mother and Son.
The Count of Monte Cristo bowed to the five young men with a melancholy and dignified smile, and got into
his carriage with Maximilian and Emmanuel. Albert, Beauchamp, and Chateau-Renaud remained alone. Albert looked at his two friends, not timidly, but in a way that appeared to ask their opinion of what he had just done.
“Indeed, my dear friend,” said Beauchamp first, who had either the most feeling or the least dissimulation, “allow me to congratulate you; this is a very unhoped-for conclusion of a very disagreeable affair.”
Albert remained silent and wrapped in thought. Chateau-Renaud contented himself with tapping his boot with
his flexible cane. “Are we not going?” said he, after this embarrassing silence. “When you please,” replied Beauchamp; “allow me only to compliment M. de Morcerf, who has given proof to-day of rare chivalric generosity.”
“Oh, yes,” said Chateau-Renaud.
“It is magnificent,” continued Beauchamp, “to be able to exercise so much self-control!”
“Assuredly; as for me, I should have been incapable of it,” said Chateau-Renaud, with most significant coolness.
“Gentlemen,” interrupted Albert, “I think you did not understand that something very serious had passed between M. de Monte Cristo and myself.”
“Possibly, possibly,” said Beauchamp immediately; “but every simpleton would not be able to understand your heroism, and sooner or later you will find yourself compelled to explain it to them more energetically than would be convenient to your bodily health and the duration of your life. May I give you a friendly
counsel? Set out for Naples, the Hague, or St. Petersburg — calm countries, where the point of honor is better understood than among our hot-headed Parisians. Seek quietude and oblivion, so that you may return
peaceably to France after a few years. Am I not right, M. de Chateau-Renaud?”
“That is quite my opinion,” said the gentleman; “nothing induces serious duels so much as a duel forsworn.” “Thank you, gentlemen,” replied Albert, with a smile of indifference; “I shall follow your advice — not
because you give it, but because I had before intended to quit France. I thank you equally for the service you
have rendered me in being my seconds. It is deeply engraved on my heart, and, after what you have just said, I remember that only.” Chateau-Renaud and Beauchamp looked at each other; the impression was the same on both of them, and the tone in which Morcerf had just expressed his thanks was so determined that the position
would have become embarrassing for all if the conversation had continued.
“Good-by, Albert,” said Beauchamp suddenly, carelessly extending his hand to the young man. The latter did not appear to arouse from his lethargy; in fact, he did not notice the offered hand. “Good-by,” said
Chateau-Renaud in his turn, keeping his little cane in his left hand, and saluting with his right. Albert’s lips scarcely whispered “Good-by,” but his look was more explicit; it expressed a whole poem of restrained anger, proud disdain, and generous indignation. He preserved his melancholy and motionless position for some time after his two friends had regained their carriage; then suddenly unfastening his horse from the little tree to
which his servant had tied it, he mounted and galloped off in the direction of Paris.
In a quarter of an hour he was entering the house in the Rue du Helder. As he alighted, he thought he saw his
father’s pale face behind the curtain of the count’s bedroom. Albert turned away his head with a sigh, and went
to his own apartments. He cast one lingering look on all the luxuries which had rendered life so easy and so happy since his infancy; he looked at the pictures, whose faces seemed to smile, and the landscapes, which appeared painted in brighter colors. Then he took away his mother’s portrait, with its oaken frame, leaving the
gilt frame from which he took it black and empty. Then he arranged all his beautiful Turkish arms, his fine English guns, his Japanese china, his cups mounted in silver, his artistic bronzes by Feucheres and Barye; examined the cupboards, and placed the key in each; threw into a drawer of his secretary, which he left open,
all the pocket-money he had about him, and with it the thousand fancy jewels from his vases and his
jewel-boxes; then he made an exact inventory of everything, and placed it in the most conspicuous part of the table, after putting aside the books and papers which had collected there.
At the beginning of this work, his servant, notwithstanding orders to the contrary, came to his room. “What do you want?” asked he, with a more sorrowful than angry tone. “Pardon me, sir,” replied the valet; “you had forbidden me to disturb you, but the Count of Morcerf has called me.”
“Well!” said Albert.
“I did not like to go to him without first seeing you.” “Why?”
“Because the count is doubtless aware that I accompanied you to the meeting this morning.”
“It is probable,” said Albert.
“And since he has sent for me, it is doubtless to question me on what happened there. What must I answer?” “The truth.”
“Then I shall say the duel did not take place?”
“You will say I apologized to the Count of Monte Cristo. Go.”
The valet bowed and retired, and Albert returned to his inventory. As he was finishing this work, the sound of horses prancing in the yard, and the wheels of a carriage shaking his window, attracted his attention. He approached the window, and saw his father get into it, and drive away. The door was scarcely closed when
Albert bent his steps to his mother’s room; and, no one being there to announce him, he advanced to her
bed-chamber, and distressed by what he saw and guessed, stopped for one moment at the door. As if the same idea had animated these two beings, Mercedes was doing the same in her apartments that he had just done in his. Everything was in order, — laces, dresses, jewels, linen, money, all were arranged in the drawers, and the
countess was carefully collecting the keys. Albert saw all these preparations and understood them, and exclaiming, “My mother!” he threw his arms around her neck.
The artist who could have depicted the expression of these two countenances would certainly have made of them a beautiful picture. All these proofs of an energetic resolution, which Albert did not fear on his own account, alarmed him for his mother. “What are you doing?” asked he.
“What were you doing?” replied she.
“Oh, my mother!” exclaimed Albert, so overcome he could scarcely speak; “it is not the same with you and
me — you cannot have made the same resolution I have, for I have come to warn you that I bid adieu to your
house, and — and to you.”
“I also,” replied Mercedes, “am going, and I acknowledge I had depended on your accompanying me; have I
“Mother,” said Albert with firmness. “I cannot make you share the fate I have planned for myself. I must live henceforth without rank and fortune, and to begin this hard apprenticeship I must borrow from a friend the
loaf I shall eat until I have earned one. So, my dear mother, I am going at once to ask Franz to lend me the small sum I shall require to supply my present wants.”
“You, my poor child, suffer poverty and hunger? Oh, do not say so; it will break my resolutions.”
“But not mine, mother,” replied Albert. “I am young and strong; I believe I am courageous, and since
yesterday I have learned the power of will. Alas, my dear mother, some have suffered so much, and yet live, and have raised a new fortune on the ruin of all the promises of happiness which heaven had made them — on
the fragments of all the hope which God had given them! I have seen that, mother; I know that from the gulf
in which their enemies have plunged them they have risen with so much vigor and glory that in their turn they have ruled their former conquerors, and have punished them. No. mother; from this moment I have done with
the past, and accept nothing from it — not even a name, because you can understand that your son cannot bear
the name of a man who ought to blush for it before another.”
“Albert, my child,” said Mercedes, “if I had a stronger heart that is the counsel I would have given you; your conscience has spoken when my voice became too weak; listen to its dictates. You had friends, Albert; break
off their acquaintance. But do not despair; you have life before you, my dear Albert, for you are yet scarcely twenty-two years old; and as a pure heart like yours wants a spotless name, take my father’s — it was Herrera.
I am sure, my dear Albert, whatever may be your career, you will soon render that name illustrious. Then, my son, return to the world still more brilliant because of your former sorrows; and if I am wrong, still let me
cherish these hopes, for I have no future to look forward to. For me the grave opens when I pass the threshold
of this house.”
“I will fulfil all your wishes, my dear mother,” said the young man. “Yes, I share your hopes; the anger of
heaven will not pursue us, since you are pure and I am innocent. But, since our resolution is formed, let us act promptly. M. de Morcerf went out about half an hour ago; the opportunity is favorable to avoid an
“I am ready, my son,” said Mercedes. Albert ran to fetch a carriage. He recollected that there was a small furnished house to let in the Rue de Saints Peres, where his mother would find a humble but decent lodging,
and thither he intended conducting the countess. As the carriage stopped at the door, and Albert was alighting,
a man approached and gave him a letter. Albert recognized the bearer. “From the count,” said Bertuccio.
Albert took the letter, opened, and read it, then looked round for Bertuccio, but he was gone. He returned to Mercedes with tears in his eyes and heaving breast, and without uttering a word he gave her the letter. Mercedes read: —
Albert, — While showing you that I have discovered your plans, I hope also to convince you of my delicacy. You are free, you leave the count’s house, and you take your mother to your home; but reflect, Albert, you
owe her more than your poor noble heart can pay her. Keep the struggle for yourself, bear all the suffering,
but spare her the trial of poverty which must accompany your first efforts; for she deserves not even the shadow of the misfortune which has this day fallen on her, and providence is not willing that the innocent should suffer for the guilty. I know you are going to leave the Rue du Helder without taking anything with you. Do not seek to know how I discovered it; I know it — that is sufficient.
Now, listen, Albert. Twenty-four years ago I returned, proud and joyful, to my country. I had a betrothed,
Albert, a lovely girl whom I adored, and I was bringing to my betrothed a hundred and fifty louis, painfully
amassed by ceaseless toil. This money was for her; I destined it for her, and, knowing the treachery of the sea
I buried our treasure in the little garden of the house my father lived in at Marseilles, on the Allees de Meillan. Your mother, Albert, knows that poor house well. A short time since I passed through Marseilles, and went to
see the old place, which revived so many painful recollections; and in the evening I took a spade and dug in
the corner of the garden where I had concealed my treasure. The iron box was there — no one had touched it — under a beautiful fig-tree my father had planted the day I was born, which overshadowed the spot. Well,
Albert, this money, which was formerly designed to promote the comfort and tranquillity of the woman I
adored, may now, through strange and painful circumstances, be devoted to the same purpose. Oh, feel for
me, who could offer millions to that poor woman, but who return her only the piece of black bread forgotten under my poor roof since the day I was torn from her I loved. You are a generous man, Albert, but perhaps
you may be blinded by pride or resentment; if you refuse me, if you ask another for what I have a right to offer you, I will say it is ungenerous of you to refuse the life of your mother at the hands of a man whose father was allowed by your father to die in all the horrors of poverty and despair.
Albert stood pale and motionless to hear what his mother would decide after she had finished reading this
letter. Mercedes turned her eyes with an ineffable look towards heaven. “I accept it,” said she; “he has a right
to pay the dowry, which I shall take with me to some convent!” Putting the letter in her bosom, she took her son’s arm, and with a firmer step than she even herself expected she went down-stairs.
Meanwhile Monte Cristo had also returned to town with Emmanuel and Maximilian. Their return was cheerful. Emmanuel did not conceal his joy at the peaceful termination of the affair, and was loud in his
expressions of delight. Morrel, in a corner of the carriage, allowed his brother-in-law’s gayety to expend itself
in words, while he felt equal inward joy, which, however, betrayed itself only in his countenance. At the Barriere du Trone they met Bertuccio, who was waiting there, motionless as a sentinel at his post. Monte Cristo put his head out of the window, exchanged a few words with him in a low tone, and the steward disappeared. “Count,” said Emmanuel, when they were at the end of the Place Royale, “put me down at my door, that my wife may not have a single moment of needless anxiety on my account or yours.”
“If it were not ridiculous to make a display of our triumph, I would invite the count to our house; besides that,
he doubtless has some trembling heart to comfort. So we will take leave of our friend, and let him hasten home.”
“Stop a moment,” said Monte Cristo; “do not let me lose both my companions. Return, Emmanuel, to your charming wife, and present my best compliments to her; and do you, Morrel, accompany me to the Champs Elysees.”
“Willingly,” said Maximilian; “particularly as I have business in that quarter.” “Shall we wait breakfast for you?” asked Emmanuel.
“No,” replied the young man. The door was closed, and the carriage proceeded. “See what good fortune I
brought you!” said Morrel, when he was alone with the count. “Have you not thought so?” “Yes,” said Monte Cristo; “for that reason I wished to keep you near me.”
“It is miraculous!” continued Morrel, answering his own thoughts. “What?” said Monte Cristo.
“What has just happened.”
“Yes,” said the Count, “you are right — it is miraculous.” “For Albert is brave,” resumed Morrel.
“Very brave,” said Monte Cristo; “I have seen him sleep with a sword suspended over his head.”
“And I know he has fought two duels,” said Morrel. “How can you reconcile that with his conduct this morning?”
“All owing to your influence,” replied Monte Cristo, smiling. “It is well for Albert he is not in the army,” said Morrel. “Why?”
“An apology on the ground!” said the young captain, shaking his head.
“Come,” said the count mildly, “do not entertain the prejudices of ordinary men, Morrel! Acknowledge, that if
Albert is brave, he cannot be a coward; he must then have had some reason for acting as he did this morning, and confess that his conduct is more heroic than otherwise.”
“Doubtless, doubtless,” said Morrel; “but I shall say, like the Spaniard, `He has not been so brave to-day as he was yesterday.'”
“You will breakfast with me, will you not, Morrel?” said the count, to turn the conversation. “No; I must leave you at ten o’clock.”
“Your engagement was for breakfast, then?” said the count.
Morrel smiled, and shook his head. “Still you must breakfast somewhere.” “But if I am not hungry?” said the young man.
“Oh,” said the count, “I only know two things which destroy the appetite, — grief — and as I am happy to see you very cheerful, it is not that — and love. Now after what you told me this morning of your heart, I may believe” —
“Well, count,” replied Morrel gayly, “I will not dispute it.”
“But you will not make me your confidant, Maximilian?” said the count, in a tone which showed how gladly
he would have been admitted to the secret.
“I showed you this morning that I had a heart, did I not, count?” Monte Cristo only answered by extending his hand to the young man. “Well,” continued the latter, “since that heart is no longer with you in the Bois de Vincennes, it is elsewhere, and I must go and find it.”
“Go,” said the count deliberately; “go, dear friend, but promise me if you meet with any obstacle to remember that I have some power in this world, that I am happy to use that power in the behalf of those I love, and that I love you, Morrel.”
“I will remember it,” said the young man, “as selfish children recollect their parents when they want their aid. When I need your assistance, and the moment arrives, I will come to you, count.”
“Well, I rely upon your promise. Good-by, then.”
“Good-by, till we meet again.” They had arrived in the Champs Elysees. Monte Cristo opened the
carriage-door, Morrel sprang out on the pavement, Bertuccio was waiting on the steps. Morrel disappeared down the Avenue de Marigny, and Monte Cristo hastened to join Bertuccio.
“Well?” asked he.
“She is going to leave her house,” said the steward. “And her son?”
“Florentin, his valet, thinks he is going to do the same.”
“Come this way.” Monte Cristo took Bertuccio into his study, wrote the letter we have seen, and gave it to the
steward. “Go,” said he quickly. “But first, let Haidee be informed that I have returned.”
“Here I am,” said the young girl, who at the sound of the carriage had run down-stairs and whose face was
radiant with joy at seeing the count return safely. Bertuccio left. Every transport of a daughter finding a father,
all the delight of a mistress seeing an adored lover, were felt by Haidee during the first moments of this
meeting, which she had so eagerly expected. Doubtless, although less evident, Monte Cristo’s joy was not less intense. Joy to hearts which have suffered long is like the dew on the ground after a long drought; both the
heart and the ground absorb that beneficent moisture falling on them, and nothing is outwardly apparent.
Monte Cristo was beginning to think, what he had not for a long time dared to believe, that there were two Mercedes in the world, and he might yet be happy. His eye, elate with happiness, was reading eagerly the tearful gaze of Haidee, when suddenly the door opened. The count knit his brow. “M. de Morcerf!” said Baptistin, as if that name sufficed for his excuse. In fact, the count’s face brightened.
“Which,” asked he, “the viscount or the count?” “The count.”
“Oh,” exclaimed Haidee, “is it not yet over?”
“I know not if it is finished, my beloved child,” said Monte Cristo, taking the young girl’s hands; “but I do know you have nothing more to fear.”
“But it is the wretched” —
“That man cannot injure me, Haidee,” said Monte Cristo; “it was his son alone that there was cause to fear.” “And what I have suffered,” said the young girl, “you shall never know, my lord.” Monte Cristo smiled. “By
my father’s tomb,” said he, extending his hand over the head of the young girl, “I swear to you, Haidee, that if any misfortune happens, it will not be to me.”
“I believe you, my lord, as implicitly as if God had spoken to me,” said the young girl, presenting her forehead
to him. Monte Cristo pressed on that pure beautiful forehead a kiss which made two hearts throb at once, the one violently, the other heavily. “Oh,” murmured the count, “shall I then be permitted to love again? Ask M.
de Morcerf into the drawing-room,” said he to Baptistin, while he led the beautiful Greek girl to a private staircase.
We must explain this visit, which although expected by Monte Cristo, is unexpected to our readers. While Mercedes, as we have said, was making a similar inventory of her property to Albert’s, while she was arranging her jewels, shutting her drawers, collecting her keys, to leave everything in perfect order, she did
not perceive a pale and sinister face at a glass door which threw light into the passage, from which everything could be both seen and heard. He who was thus looking, without being heard or seen, probably heard and saw
all that passed in Madame de Morcerf’s apartments. From that glass door the pale-faced man went to the count’s bedroom and raised with a constricted hand the curtain of a window overlooking the court-yard. He
remained there ten minutes, motionless and dumb, listening to the beating of his own heart. For him those ten minutes were very long. It was then Albert, returning from his meeting with the count, perceived his father watching for his arrival behind a curtain, and turned aside. The count’s eye expanded; he knew Albert had insulted the count dreadfully, and that in every country in the world such an insult would lead to a deadly
duel. Albert returned safely — then the count was revenged.
An indescribable ray of joy illumined that wretched countenance like the last ray of the sun before it
disappears behind the clouds which bear the aspect, not of a downy couch, but of a tomb. But as we have said,
he waited in vain for his son to come to his apartment with the account of his triumph. He easily understood
why his son did not come to see him before he went to avenge his father’s honor; but when that was done, why did not his son come and throw himself into his arms?
It was then, when the count could not see Albert, that he sent for his servant, who he knew was authorized not
to conceal anything from him. Ten minutes afterwards, General Morcerf was seen on the steps in a black coat with a military collar, black pantaloons, and black gloves. He had apparently given previous orders, for as he reached the bottom step his carriage came from the coach-house ready for him. The valet threw into the
carriage his military cloak, in which two swords were wrapped, and, shutting the door, he took his seat by the side of the coachman. The coachman stooped down for his orders.
“To the Champs Elysees,” said the general; “the Count of Monte Cristo’s. Hurry!” The horses bounded
beneath the whip; and in five minutes they stopped before the count’s door. M. de Morcerf opened the door himself, and as the carriage rolled away he passed up the walk, rang, and entered the open door with his servant.
A moment afterwards, Baptistin announced the Count of Morcerf to Monte Cristo, and the latter, leading Haidee aside, ordered that Morcerf be asked into the drawing-room. The general was pacing the room the third time when, in turning, he perceived Monte Cristo at the door. “Ah, it is M. de Morcerf,” said Monte Cristo quietly; “I thought I had not heard aright.”
“Yes, it is I,” said the count, whom a frightful contraction of the lips prevented from articulating freely. “May I know the cause which procures me the pleasure of seeing M. de Morcerf so early?”
“Had you not a meeting with my son this morning?” asked the general.
“I had,” replied the count.
“And I know my son had good reasons to wish to fight with you, and to endeavor to kill you.”
“Yes, sir, he had very good ones; but you see that in spite of them he has not killed me, and did not even fight.”
“Yet he considered you the cause of his father’s dishonor, the cause of the fearful ruin which has fallen on my house.”
“It is true, sir,” said Monte Cristo with his dreadful calmness; “a secondary cause, but not the principal.” “Doubtless you made, then, some apology or explanation?”
“I explained nothing, and it is he who apologized to me.” “But to what do you attribute this conduct?”
“To the conviction, probably, that there was one more guilty than I.” “And who was that?”
“That may be,” said the count, turning pale; “but you know the guilty do not like to find themselves
“I know it, and I expected this result.”
“You expected my son would be a coward?” cried the count. “M. Albert de Morcerf is no coward!” said Monte Cristo.
“A man who holds a sword in his hand, and sees a mortal enemy within reach of that sword, and does not fight, is a coward! Why is he not here that I may tell him so?”
“Sir.” replied Monte Cristo coldly, “I did not expect that you had come here to relate to me your little family affairs. Go and tell M. Albert that, and he may know what to answer you.”
“Oh, no, no,” said the general, smiling faintly, “I did not come for that purpose; you are right. I came to tell
you that I also look upon you as my enemy. I came to tell you that I hate you instinctively; that it seems as if I
had always known you, and always hated you; and, in short, since the young people of the present day will not fight, it remains for us to do so. Do you think so, sir?”
“Certainly. And when I told you I had foreseen the result, it is the honor of your visit I alluded to.” “So much the better. Are you prepared?”
“You know that we shall fight till one of us is dead,” said the general, whose teeth were clinched with rage. “Until one of us dies,” repeated Monte Cristo, moving his head slightly up and down.
“Let us start, then; we need no witnesses.”
“Very true,” said Monte Cristo; “it is unnecessary, we know each other so well!” “On the contrary,” said the count, “we know so little of each other.”
“Indeed?” said Monte Cristo, with the same indomitable coolness; “let us see. Are you not the soldier Fernand who deserted on the eve of the battle of Waterloo? Are you not the Lieutenant Fernand who served as guide
and spy to the French army in Spain? Are you not the Captain Fernand who betrayed, sold, and murdered his benefactor, Ali? And have not all these Fernands, united, made Lieutenant-General, the Count of Morcerf,
peer of France?”
“Oh,” cried the general, as it branded with a hot iron, “wretch, — to reproach me with my shame when about, perhaps, to kill me! No, I did not say I was a stranger to you. I know well, demon, that you have penetrated
into the darkness of the past, and that you have read, by the light of what torch I know not, every page of my life; but perhaps I may be more honorable in my shame than you under your pompous coverings. No — no, I
am aware you know me; but I know you only as an adventurer sewn up in gold and jewellery. You call
yourself in Paris the Count of Monte Cristo; in Italy, Sinbad the Sailor; in Malta, I forget what. But it is your
real name I want to know, in the midst of your hundred names, that I may pronounce it when we meet to fight,
at the moment when I plunge my sword through your heart.”
The Count of Monte Cristo turned dreadfully pale; his eye seemed to burn with a devouring fire. He leaped towards a dressing-room near his bedroom, and in less than a moment, tearing off his cravat, his coat and waistcoat, he put on a sailor’s jacket and hat, from beneath which rolled his long black hair. He returned thus,
formidable and implacable, advancing with his arms crossed on his breast, towards the general, who could not
understand why he had disappeared, but who on seeing him again, and feeling his teeth chatter and his legs
sink under him, drew back, and only stopped when he found a table to support his clinched hand. “Fernand,”
cried he, “of my hundred names I need only tell you one, to overwhelm you! But you guess it now, do you
not? — or, rather, you remember it? For, notwithstanding all my sorrows and my tortures, I show you to-day a face which the happiness of revenge makes young again — a face you must often have seen in your dreams
since your marriage with Mercedes, my betrothed!”
The general, with his head thrown back, hands extended, gaze fixed, looked silently at this dreadful
apparition; then seeking the wall to support him, he glided along close to it until he reached the door, through which he went out backwards, uttering this single mournful, lamentable, distressing cry, — “Edmond Dantes!” Then, with sighs which were unlike any human sound, he dragged himself to the door, reeled across the
court-yard, and falling into the arms of his valet, he said in a voice scarcely intelligible, — “Home, home.” The fresh air and the shame he felt at having exposed himself before his servants, partly recalled his senses, but the ride was short, and as he drew near his house all his wretchedness revived. He stopped at a short distance from
the house and alighted.
The door was wide open, a hackney-coach was standing in the middle of the yard — a strange sight before so noble a mansion; the count looked at it with terror, but without daring to inquire its meaning, he rushed
towards his apartment. Two persons were coming down the stairs; he had only time to creep into an alcove to avoid them. It was Mercedes leaning on her son’s arm and leaving the house. They passed close by the
unhappy being, who, concealed behind the damask curtain, almost felt Mercedes dress brush past him, and his son’s warm breath, pronouncing these words, — “Courage, mother! Come, this is no longer our home!” The
words died away, the steps were lost in the distance. The general drew himself up, clinging to the curtain; he uttered the most dreadful sob which ever escaped from the bosom of a father abandoned at the same time by
his wife and son. He soon heard the clatter of the iron step of the hackney-coach, then the coachman’s voice,
and then the rolling of the heavy vehicle shook the windows. He darted to his bedroom to see once more all he had loved in the world; but the hackney-coach drove on and the head of neither Mercedes nor her son
appeared at the window to take a last look at the house or the deserted father and husband. And at the very moment when the wheels of that coach crossed the gateway a report was heard, and a thick smoke escaped through one of the panes of the window, which was broken by the explosion.
We may easily conceive where Morrel’s appointment was. On leaving Monte Cristo he walked slowly towards Villefort’s; we say slowly, for Morrel had more than half an hour to spare to go five hundred steps, but he had hastened to take leave of Monte Cristo because he wished to be alone with his thoughts. He knew his time
well — the hour when Valentine was giving Noirtier his breakfast, and was sure not to be disturbed in the performance of this pious duty. Noirtier and Valentine had given him leave to go twice a week, and he was now availing himself of that permission. He had arrived; Valentine was expecting him. Uneasy and almost
crazed, she seized his hand and led him to her grandfather. This uneasiness, amounting almost to frenzy, arose from the report Morcerf’s adventure had made in the world, for the affair at the opera was generally known.
No one at Villefort’s doubted that a duel would ensue from it. Valentine, with her woman’s instinct, guessed that Morrel would be Monte Cristo’s second, and from the young man’s well-known courage and his great
affection for the count, she feared that he would not content himself with the passive part assigned to him. We may easily understand how eagerly the particulars were asked for, given, and received; and Morrel could read
an indescribable joy in the eyes of his beloved, when she knew that the termination of this affair was as happy
as it was unexpected.
“Now,” said Valentine, motioning to Morrel to sit down near her grandfather, while she took her seat on his footstool, — “now let us talk about our own affairs. You know, Maximilian, grandpapa once thought of
leaving this house, and taking an apartment away from M. de Villefort’s.” “Yes,” said Maximilian, “I recollect the project, of which I highly approved.”
“Well,” said Valentine, “you may approve again, for grandpapa is again thinking of it.” “Bravo,” said Maximilian.
“And do you know,” said Valentine, “what reason grandpapa gives for leaving this house.” Noirtier looked at
Valentine to impose silence, but she did not notice him; her looks, her eyes, her smile, were all for Morrel. “Oh, whatever may be M. Noirtier’s reason,” answered Morrel, “I can readily believe it to be a good one.”
“An excellent one,” said Valentine. “He pretends the air of the Faubourg St. Honore is not good for me.”
“Indeed?” said Morrel; “in that M. Noirtier may be right; you have not seemed to be well for the last fortnight.”
“Not very,” said Valentine. “And grandpapa has become my physician, and I have the greatest confidence in him, because he knows everything.”
“Do you then really suffer?” asked Morrel quickly.
“Oh, it must not be called suffering; I feel a general uneasiness, that is all. I have lost my appetite, and my stomach feels as if it were struggling to get accustomed to something.” Noirtier did not lose a word of what Valentine said. “And what treatment do you adopt for this singular complaint?”
“A very simple one,” said Valentine. “I swallow every morning a spoonful of the mixture prepared for my grandfather. When I say one spoonful, I began by one — now I take four. Grandpapa says it is a panacea.” Valentine smiled, but it was evident that she suffered.
Maximilian, in his devotedness, gazed silently at her. She was very beautiful, but her usual pallor had
increased; her eyes were more brilliant than ever, and her hands, which were generally white like
mother-of-pearl, now more resembled wax, to which time was adding a yellowish hue. From Valentine the young man looked towards Noirtier. The latter watched with strange and deep interest the young girl,
absorbed by her affection, and he also, like Morrel, followed those traces of inward suffering which was so little perceptible to a common observer that they escaped the notice of every one but the grandfather and the
“But,” said Morrel, “I thought this mixture, of which you now take four spoonfuls, was prepared for M. Noirtier?”
“I know it is very bitter,” said Valentine; “so bitter, that all I drink afterwards appears to have the same taste.” Noirtier looked inquiringly at his granddaughter. “Yes, grandpapa,” said Valentine; “it is so. Just now, before I came down to you, I drank a glass of sugared water; I left half, because it seemed so bitter.” Noirtier turned
pale, and made a sign that he wished to speak. Valentine rose to fetch the dictionary. Noirtier watched her with evident anguish. In fact, the blood was rushing to the young girl’s head already, her cheeks were becoming red. “Oh,” cried she, without losing any of her cheerfulness, “this is singular! I can’t see! Did the sun shine in my eyes?” And she leaned against the window.
“The sun is not shining,” said Morrel, more alarmed by Noirtier’s expression than by Valentine’s indisposition.
He ran towards her. The young girl smiled. “Cheer up,” said she to Noirtier. “Do not be alarmed, Maximilian;
it is nothing, and has already passed away. But listen! Do I not hear a carriage in the court-yard?” She opened Noirtier’s door, ran to a window in the passage, and returned hastily. “Yes,” said she, “it is Madame Danglars and her daughter, who have come to call on us. Good-by; — I must run away, for they would send here for me,
or, rather, farewell till I see you again. Stay with grandpapa, Maximilian; I promise you not to persuade them
Morrel watched her as she left the room; he heard her ascend the little staircase which led both to Madame de Villefort’s apartments and to hers. As soon as she was gone, Noirtier made a sign to Morrel to take the dictionary. Morrel obeyed; guided by Valentine, he had learned how to understand the old man quickly. Accustomed, however, as he was to the work, he had to repeat most of the letters of the alphabet and to find every word in the dictionary, so that it was ten minutes before the thought of the old man was translated by
these words, “Fetch the glass of water and the decanter from Valentine’s room.”
Morrel rang immediately for the servant who had taken Barrois’s situation, and in Noirtier’s name gave that
order. The servant soon returned. The decanter and the glass were completely empty. Noirtier made a sign that
he wished to speak. “Why are the glass and decanter empty?” asked he; “Valentine said she only drank half
the glassful.” The translation of this new question occupied another five minutes. “I do not know,” said the servant, “but the housemaid is in Mademoiselle Valentine’s room: perhaps she has emptied them.”
“Ask her,” said Morrel, translating Noirtier’s thought this time by his look. The servant went out, but returned almost immediately. “Mademoiselle Valentine passed through the room to go to Madame de Villefort’s,” said
he; “and in passing, as she was thirsty, she drank what remained in the glass; as for the decanter, Master
Edward had emptied that to make a pond for his ducks.” Noirtier raised his eyes to heaven, as a gambler does who stakes his all on one stroke. From that moment the old man’s eyes were fixed on the door, and did not
It was indeed Madame Danglars and her daughter whom Valentine had seen; they had been ushered into Madame de Villefort’s room, who had said she would receive them there. That is why Valentine passed through her room, which was on a level with Valentine’s, and only separated from it by Edward’s. The two ladies entered the drawing-room with that sort of official stiffness which preludes a formal communication. Among worldly people manner is contagious. Madame de Villefort received them with equal solemnity.
Valentine entered at this moment, and the formalities were resumed. “My dear friend,” said the baroness,
while the two young people were shaking hands, “I and Eugenie are come to be the first to announce to you
the approaching marriage of my daughter with Prince Cavalcanti.” Danglars kept up the title of prince. The popular banker found that it answered better than count. “Allow me to present you my sincere congratulations,” replied Madame de Villefort. “Prince Cavalcanti appears to be a young man of rare qualities.”
“Listen,” said the baroness, smiling; “speaking to you as a friend I can say that the prince does not yet appear
all he will be. He has about him a little of that foreign manner by which French persons recognize, at first sight, the Italian or German nobleman. Besides, he gives evidence of great kindness of disposition, much
keenness of wit, and as to suitability, M. Danglars assures me that his fortune is majestic — that is his word.”
“And then,” said Eugenie, while turning over the leaves of Madame de Villefort’s album, “add that you have taken a great fancy to the young man.”
“And,” said Madame de Villefort, “I need not ask you if you share that fancy.”
“I?” replied Eugenie with her usual candor. “Oh, not the least in the world, madame! My wish was not to confine myself to domestic cares, or the caprices of any man, but to be an artist, and consequently free in
heart, in person, and in thought.” Eugenie pronounced these words with so firm a tone that the color mounted
to Valentine’s cheeks. The timid girl could not understand that vigorous nature which appeared to have none
of the timidities of woman.
“At any rate,” said she, “since I am to be married whether I will or not, I ought to be thankful to providence
for having released me from my engagement with M. Albert de Morcerf, or I should this day have been the wife of a dishonored man.”
“It is true,” said the baroness, with that strange simplicity sometimes met with among fashionable ladies, and
of which plebeian intercourse can never entirely deprive them, — “it is very true that had not the Morcerfs hesitated, my daughter would have married Monsieur Albert. The general depended much on it; he even came
to force M. Danglars. We have had a narrow escape.”
“But,” said Valentine, timidly, “does all the father’s shame revert upon the son? Monsieur Albert appears to me quite innocent of the treason charged against the general.”
“Excuse me,” said the implacable young girl, “Monsieur Albert claims and well deserves his share. It appears that after having challenged M. de Monte Cristo at the Opera yesterday, he apologized on the ground to-day.”
“Impossible,” said Madame de Villefort.
“Ah, my dear friend,” said Madame Danglars, with the same simplicity we before noticed, “it is a fact. I heard
it from M. Debray, who was present at the explanation.” Valentine also knew the truth, but she did not
answer. A single word had reminded her that Morrel was expecting her in M. Noirtier’s room. Deeply engaged with a sort of inward contemplation, Valentine had ceased for a moment to join in the conversation. She
would, indeed, have found it impossible to repeat what had been said the last few minutes, when suddenly
Madame Danglars’ hand, pressed on her arm, aroused her from her lethargy.
“What is it?” said she, starting at Madame Danglars’ touch as she would have done from an electric shock. “It
is, my dear Valentine,” said the baroness, “that you are, doubtless, suffering.” “I?” said the young girl, passing her hand across her burning forehead.
“Yes, look at yourself in that glass; you have turned pale and then red successively, three or four times in one
“Indeed,” cried Eugenie, “you are very pale!”
“Oh, do not be alarmed; I have been so for many days.” Artless as she was, the young girl knew that this was
an opportunity to leave, and besides, Madame de Villefort came to her assistance. “Retire, Valentine,” said she; “you are really suffering, and these ladies will excuse you; drink a glass of pure water, it will restore you.” Valentine kissed Eugenie, bowed to Madame Danglars, who had already risen to take her leave, and
went out. “That poor child,” said Madame de Villefort when Valentine was gone, “she makes me very uneasy, and I should not be astonished if she had some serious illness.”
Meanwhile, Valentine, in a sort of excitement which she could not quite understand, had crossed Edward’s room without noticing some trick of the child, and through her own had reached the little staircase. She was within three steps of the bottom; she already heard Morrel’s voice, when suddenly a cloud passed over her
eyes, her stiffened foot missed the step, her hands had no power to hold the baluster, and falling against the wall she lost her balance wholly and toppled to the floor. Morrel bounded to the door, opened it, and found
Valentine stretched out at the bottom of the stairs. Quick as a flash, he raised her in his arms and placed her in
a chair. Valentine opened her eyes.
“Oh, what a clumsy thing I am,” said she with feverish volubility; “I don’t know my way. I forgot there were three more steps before the landing.”
“You have hurt yourself, perhaps,” said Morrel. “What can I do for you, Valentine?” Valentine looked around her; she saw the deepest terror depicted in Noirtier’s eyes. “Don’t worry, dear grandpapa,” said she,
endeavoring to smile; “it is nothing — it is nothing; I was giddy, that is all.”
“Another attack of giddiness,” said Morrel, clasping his hands. “Oh, attend to it, Valentine, I entreat you.”
“But no,” said Valentine, — “no, I tell you it is all past, and it was nothing. Now, let me tell you some news; Eugenie is to be married in a week, and in three days there is to be a grand feast, a betrothal festival. We are
all invited, my father, Madame de Villefort, and I — at least, I understood it so.”
“When will it be our turn to think of these things? Oh, Valentine, you who have so much influence over your grandpapa, try to make him answer — Soon.”
“And do you,” said Valentine, “depend on me to stimulate the tardiness and arouse the memory of grandpapa?”
“Yes,” cried Morrel, “make haste. So long as you are not mine, Valentine, I shall always think I may lose you.”
“Oh,” replied Valentine with a convulsive movement, “oh, indeed, Maximilian, you are too timid for an officer, for a soldier who, they say, never knows fear. Ah, ha, ha!” she burst into a forced and melancholy
laugh, her arms stiffened and twisted, her head fell back on her chair, and she remained motionless. The cry of terror which was stopped on Noirtier’s lips, seemed to start from his eyes. Morrel understood it; he knew he
must call assistance. The young man rang the bell violently; the housemaid who had been in Mademoiselle Valentine’s room, and the servant who had replaced Barrois, ran in at the same moment. Valentine was so pale, so cold, so inanimate that without listening to what was said to them they were seized with the fear which pervaded that house, and they flew into the passage crying for help. Madame Danglars and Eugenie
were going out at that moment; they heard the cause of the disturbance. “I told you so!” exclaimed Madame
de Villefort. “Poor child!”
At the same moment M. de Villefort’s voice was heard calling from his study, “What is the matter?” Morrel looked at Noirtier who had recovered his self-command, and with a glance indicated the closet where once before under somewhat similar circumstances, he had taken refuge. He had only time to get his hat and throw
himself breathless into the closet when the procureur’s footstep was heard in the passage. Villefort sprang into
the room, ran to Valentine, and took her in his arms. “A physician, a physician, — M. d’Avrigny!” cried Villefort; “or rather I will go for him myself.” He flew from the apartment, and Morrel at the same moment darted out at the other door. He had been struck to the heart by a frightful recollection — the conversation he had heard between the doctor and Villefort the night of Madame de Saint-Meran’s death, recurred to him;
these symptoms, to a less alarming extent, were the same which had preceded the death of Barrois. At the same time Monte Cristo’s voice seemed to resound in his ear with the words he had heard only two hours
before, “Whatever you want, Morrel, come to me; I have great power.” More rapidly than thought, he darted down the Rue Matignon, and thence to the Avenue des Champs Elysees.
Meanwhile M. de Villefort arrived in a hired cabriolet at M. d’Avrigny’s door. He rang so violently that the
porter was alarmed. Villefort ran up-stairs without saying a word. The porter knew him, and let him pass, only calling to him, “In his study, Monsieur Procureur — in his study!” Villefort pushed, or rather forced, the door open. “Ah,” said the doctor, “is it you?”
“Yes,” said Villefort, closing the door after him, “it is I, who am come in my turn to ask you if we are quite alone. Doctor, my house is accursed!”
“What?” said the latter with apparent coolness, but with deep emotion, “have you another invalid?” “Yes, doctor,” cried Villefort, clutching his hair, “yes!”
D’Avrigny’s look implied, “I told you it would be so.” Then he slowly uttered these words, “Who is now dying
in your house? What new victim is going to accuse you of weakness before God?” A mournful sob burst from
Villefort’s heart; he approached the doctor, and seizing his arm, — “Valentine,” said he, “it is Valentine’s turn!” “Your daughter?” cried d’Avrigny with grief and surprise.
“You see you were deceived,” murmured the magistrate; “come and see her, and on her bed of agony entreat her pardon for having suspected her.”
“Each time you have applied to me,” said the doctor, “it has been too late; still I will go. But let us make haste, sir; with the enemies you have to do with there is no time to be lost.”
“Oh, this time, doctor, you shall not have to reproach me with weakness. This time I will know the assassin, and will pursue him.”
“Let us try first to save the victim before we think of revenging her,” said d’Avrigny. “Come.” The same cabriolet which had brought Villefort took them back at full speed, and at this moment Morrel rapped at Monte Cristo’s door. The count was in his study and was reading with an angry look something which Bertuccio had brought in haste. Hearing the name of Morrel, who had left him only two hours before, the count raised his head, arose, and sprang to meet him. “What is the matter, Maximilian?” asked he; “you are
pale, and the perspiration rolls from your forehead.” Morrel fell into a chair. “Yes,” said he, “I came quickly; I
wanted to speak to you.”
“Are all your family well?” asked the count, with an affectionate benevolence, whose sincerity no one could
for a moment doubt.
“Thank you, count — thank you,” said the young man, evidently embarrassed how to begin the conversation; “yes, every one in my family is well.”
“So much the better; yet you have something to tell me?” replied the count with increased anxiety.
“Yes,” said Morrel, “it is true; I have but now left a house where death has just entered, to run to you.” “Are you then come from M. de Morcerf’s?” asked Monte Cristo.
“No,” said Morrel; “is some one dead in his house?”
“The general has just blown his brains out,” replied Monte Cristo with great coolness. “Oh, what a dreadful event!” cried Maximilian.
“Not for the countess, or for Albert,” said Monte Cristo; “a dead father or husband is better than a dishonored one, — blood washes out shame.”
“Poor countess,” said Maximilian, “I pity her very much; she is so noble a woman!”
“Pity Albert also, Maximilian; for believe me he is the worthy son of the countess. But let us return to yourself. You have hastened to me — can I have the happiness of being useful to you?”
“Yes, I need your help: that is I thought like a madman that you could lend me your assistance in a case where
God alone can succor me.”
“Tell me what it is,” replied Monte Cristo.
“Oh,” said Morrel, “I know not, indeed, if I may reveal this secret to mortal ears, but fatality impels me, necessity constrains me, count” — Morrel hesitated. “Do you think I love you?” said Monte Cristo, taking the young man’s hand affectionately in his.
“Oh, you encourage me, and something tells me there,” placing his hand on his heart, “that I ought to have no secret from you.”
“You are right, Morrel; God is speaking to your heart, and your heart speaks to you. Tell me what it says.” “Count, will you allow me to send Baptistin to inquire after some one you know?”
“I am at your service, and still more my servants.” “Oh, I cannot live if she is not better.”
“Shall I ring for Baptistin?”
“No, I will go and speak to him myself.” Morrel went out, called Baptistin, and whispered a few words to him. The valet ran directly. “Well, have you sent?” asked Monte Cristo, seeing Morrel return.
“Yes, and now I shall be more calm.”
“You know I am waiting,” said Monte Cristo, smiling.
“Yes, and I will tell you. One evening I was in a garden; a clump of trees concealed me; no one suspected I
was there. Two persons passed near me — allow me to conceal their names for the present; they were speaking
in an undertone, and yet I was so interested in what they said that I did not lose a single word.” “This is a gloomy introduction, if I may judge from your pallor and shuddering, Morrel.”
“Oh, yes, very gloomy, my friend. Some one had just died in the house to which that garden belonged. One of
the persons whose conversation I overheard was the master of the house; the other, the physician. The former was confiding to the latter his grief and fear, for it was the second time within a month that death had
suddenly and unexpectedly entered that house which was apparently destined to destruction by some exterminating angel, as an object of God’s anger.”
“Ah, indeed?” said Monte Cristo, looking earnestly at the young man, and by an imperceptible movement turning his chair, so that he remained in the shade while the light fell full on Maximilian’s face. “Yes,” continued Morrel, “death had entered that house twice within one month.”
“And what did the doctor answer?” asked Monte Cristo.
“He replied — he replied, that the death was not a natural one, and must be attributed” — “To what?”
“Indeed?” said Monte Cristo with a slight cough which in moments of extreme emotion helped him to disguise a blush, or his pallor, or the intense interest with which he listened; “indeed, Maximilian, did you hear that?”
“Yes, my dear count, I heard it; and the doctor added that if another death occurred in a similar way he must appeal to justice.” Monte Cristo listened, or appeared to do so, with the greatest calmness. “Well,” said Maximilian, “death came a third time, and neither the master of the house nor the doctor said a word. Death is now, perhaps, striking a fourth blow. Count, what am I bound to do, being in possession of this secret?”
“My dear friend,” said Monte Cristo, “you appear to be relating an adventure which we all know by heart. I
know the house where you heard it, or one very similar to it; a house with a garden, a master, a physician, and where there have been three unexpected and sudden deaths. Well, I have not intercepted your confidence, and
yet I know all that as well as you, and I have no conscientious scruples. No, it does not concern me. You say
an exterminating angel appears to have devoted that house to God’s anger — well, who says your supposition
is not reality? Do not notice things which those whose interest it is to see them pass over. If it is God’s justice, instead of his anger, which is walking through that house, Maximilian, turn away your face and let his justice accomplish its purpose.” Morrel shuddered. There was something mournful, solemn, and terrible in the count’s manner. “Besides,” continued he, in so changed a tone that no one would have supposed it was the same
person speaking — “besides, who says that it will begin again?”
“It has returned, count,” exclaimed Morrel; “that is why I hastened to you.”
“Well, what do you wish me to do? Do you wish me, for instance, to give information to the procureur?”
Monte Cristo uttered the last words with so much meaning that Morrel, starting up, cried out, “You know of whom I speak, count, do you not?”
“Perfectly well, my good friend; and I will prove it to you by putting the dots to the `i,’ or rather by naming
the persons. You were walking one evening in M. de Villefort’s garden; from what you relate, I suppose it to have been the evening of Madame de Saint-Meran’s death. You heard M. de Villefort talking to M. d’Avrigny about the death of M. de Saint-Meran, and that no less surprising, of the countess. M. d’Avrigny said he
believed they both proceeded from poison; and you, honest man, have ever since been asking your heart and sounding your conscience to know if you ought to expose or conceal this secret. Why do you torment them?
`Conscience, what hast thou to do with me?’ as Sterne said. My dear fellow, let them sleep on, if they are
asleep; let them grow pale in their drowsiness, if they are disposed to do so, and pray do you remain in peace, who have no remorse to disturb you.” Deep grief was depicted on Morrel’s features; he seized Monte Cristo’s hand. “But it is beginning again, I say!”
“Well,” said the Count, astonished at his perseverance, which he could not understand, and looking still more earnestly at Maximilian, “let it begin again, — it is like the house of the Atreidae;* God has condemned them, and they must submit to their punishment. They will all disappear, like the fabrics children build with cards,
and which fall, one by one, under the breath of their builder, even if there are two hundred of them. Three months since it was M. de Saint-Meran; Madame de Saint-Meran two months since; the other day it was Barrois; to-day, the old Noirtier, or young Valentine.”
* In the old Greek legend the Atreidae, or children of Atreus, were doomed to punishment because of the abominable crime of their father. The Agamemnon of Aeschylus is based on this legend.
“You knew it?” cried Morrel, in such a paroxysm of terror that Monte Cristo started, — he whom the falling heavens would have found unmoved; “you knew it, and said nothing?”
“And what is it to me?” replied Monte Cristo, shrugging his shoulders; “do I know those people? and must I
lose the one to save the other? Faith, no, for between the culprit and the victim I have no choice.” “But I,” cried Morrel, groaning with sorrow, “I love her!”
“You love? — whom?” cried Monte Cristo, starting to his feet, and seizing the two hands which Morrel was raising towards heaven.
“I love most fondly — I love madly — I love as a man who would give his life-blood to spare her a tear — I
love Valentine de Villefort, who is being murdered at this moment! Do you understand me? I love her; and I
ask God and you how I can save her?” Monte Cristo uttered a cry which those only can conceive who have heard the roar of a wounded lion. “Unhappy man,” cried he, wringing his hands in his turn; “you love
Valentine, — that daughter of an accursed race!” Never had Morrel witnessed such an expression — never had
so terrible an eye flashed before his face — never had the genius of terror he had so often seen, either on the battle-field or in the murderous nights of Algeria, shaken around him more dreadful fire. He drew back terrified.
As for Monte Cristo, after this ebullition he closed his eyes as if dazzled by internal light. In a moment he restrained himself so powerfully that the tempestuous heaving of his breast subsided, as turbulent and foaming waves yield to the sun’s genial influence when the cloud has passed. This silence, self-control, and struggle
lasted about twenty seconds, then the count raised his pallid face. “See,” said he, “my dear friend, how God punishes the most thoughtless and unfeeling men for their indifference, by presenting dreadful scenes to their view. I, who was looking on, an eager and curious spectator, — I, who was watching the working of this mournful tragedy, — I, who like a wicked angel was laughing at the evil men committed protected by secrecy
(a secret is easily kept by the rich and powerful), I am in my turn bitten by the serpent whose tortuous course I
was watching, and bitten to the heart!”
Morrel groaned. “Come, come,” continued the count, “complaints are unavailing, be a man, be strong, be full
of hope, for I am here and will watch over you.” Morrel shook his head sorrowfully. “I tell you to hope. Do
you understand me?” cried Monte Cristo. “Remember that I never uttered a falsehood and am never deceived.
It is twelve o’clock, Maximilian; thank heaven that you came at noon rather than in the evening, or to-morrow morning. Listen, Morrel — it is noon; if Valentine is not now dead, she will not die.”
“How so?” cried Morrel, “when I left her dying?” Monte Cristo pressed his hands to his forehead. What was passing in that brain, so loaded with dreadful secrets? What does the angel of light or the angel of darkness
say to that mind, at once implacable and generous? God only knows.
Monte Cristo raised his head once more, and this time he was calm as a child awaking from its sleep. “Maximilian,” said he, “return home. I command you not to stir — attempt nothing, not to let your countenance betray a thought, and I will send you tidings. Go.”
“Oh, count, you overwhelm me with that coolness. Have you, then, power against death? Are you superhuman? Are you an angel?” And the young man, who had never shrunk from danger, shrank before Monte Cristo with indescribable terror. But Monte Cristo looked at him with so melancholy and sweet a smile, that Maximilian felt the tears filling his eyes. “I can do much for you, my friend,” replied the count. “Go; I must be alone.” Morrel, subdued by the extraordinary ascendancy Monte Cristo exercised over everything around him, did not endeavor to resist it. He pressed the count’s hand and left. He stopped one moment at the door for Baptistin, whom he saw in the Rue Matignon, and who was running.
Meanwhile, Villefort and d’Avrigny had made all possible haste, Valentine had not revived from her fainting
fit on their arrival, and the doctor examined the invalid with all the care the circumstances demanded, and with an interest which the knowledge of the secret intensified twofold. Villefort, closely watching his
countenance and his lips, awaited the result of the examination. Noirtier, paler than even the young girl, more eager than Villefort for the decision, was watching also intently and affectionately. At last d’Avrigny slowly uttered these words: — “she is still alive!”
“Still?” cried Villefort; “oh, doctor, what a dreadful word is that.”
“Yes,” said the physician, “I repeat it; she is still alive, and I am astonished at it.” “But is she safe?” asked the father.
“Yes, since she lives.” At that moment d’Avrigny’s glance met Noirtier’s eye. It glistened with such
extraordinary joy, so rich and full of thought, that the physician was struck. He placed the young girl again on
the chair, — her lips were scarcely discernible, they were so pale and white, as well as her whole face, — and remained motionless, looking at Noirtier, who appeared to anticipate and commend all he did. “Sir,” said d’Avrigny to Villefort, “call Mademoiselle Valentine’s maid, if you please.” Villefort went himself to find her; and d’Avrigny approached Noirtier. “Have you something to tell me?” asked he. The old man winked his eyes expressively, which we may remember was his only way of expressing his approval.
“Well, I will remain with you.” At this moment Villefort returned, followed by the lady’s maid; and after her came Madame de Villefort.
“What is the matter, then, with this dear child? she has just left me, and she complained of being indisposed,
but I did not think seriously of it.” The young woman with tears in her eyes and every mark of affection of a true mother, approached Valentine and took her hand. D’Avrigny continued to look at Noirtier; he saw the
eyes of the old man dilate and become round, his cheeks turn pale and tremble; the perspiration stood in drops
upon his forehead. “Ah,” said he, involuntarily following Noirtier’s eyes, which were fixed on Madame de Villefort, who repeated, — “This poor child would be better in bed. Come, Fanny, we will put her to bed.” M. d’Avrigny, who saw that would be a means of his remaining alone with Noirtier, expressed his opinion that it was the best thing that could be done; but he forbade that anything should be given to her except what he ordered.
They carried Valentine away; she had revived, but could scarcely move or speak, so shaken was her frame by
the attack. She had, however, just power to give one parting look to her grandfather, who in losing her seemed
to be resigning his very soul. D’Avrigny followed the invalid, wrote a prescription, ordered Villefort to take a cabriolet, go in person to a chemist’s to get the prescribed medicine, bring it himself, and wait for him in his daughter’s room. Then, having renewed his injunction not to give Valentine anything, he went down again to Noirtier, shut the doors carefully, and after convincing himself that no one was listening, — “Do you,” said he, “know anything of this young lady’s illness?”
“Yes,” said the old man.
“We have no time to lose; I will question, and do you answer me.” Noirtier made a sign that he was ready to answer. “Did you anticipate the accident which has happened to your granddaughter?”
“Yes.” D’Avrigny reflected a moment; then approaching Noirtier, — “Pardon what I am going to say,” added
he, “but no indication should be neglected in this terrible situation. Did you see poor Barrois die?” Noirtier raised his eyes to heaven. “Do you know of what he died!” asked d’Avrigny, placing his hand on Noirtier’s shoulder.
“Yes,” replied the old man.
“Do you think he died a natural death?” A sort of smile was discernible on the motionless lips of Noirtier. “Then you have thought that Barrois was poisoned?”
“Do you think the poison he fell a victim to was intended for him?” “No.”
“Do you think the same hand which unintentionally struck Barrois has now attacked Valentine?” “Yes.”
“Then will she die too?” asked d’Avrigny, fixing his penetrating gaze on Noirtier. He watched the effect of this question on the old man. “No,” replied he with an air of triumph which would have puzzled the most clever diviner. “Then you hope?” said d’Avrigny, with surprise.
“What do you hope?” The old man made him understand with his eyes that he could not answer. “Ah, yes, it is true,” murmured d’Avrigny. Then, turning to Noirtier, — “Do you hope the assassin will be tried?”
“Then you hope the poison will take no effect on Valentine?”
“It is no news to you,” added d’Avrigny, “to tell you that an attempt has been made to poison her?” The old man made a sign that he entertained no doubt upon the subject. “Then how do you hope Valentine will
escape?” Noirtier kept his eyes steadfastly fixed on the same spot. D’Avrigny followed the direction and saw that they were fixed on a bottle containing the mixture which he took every morning. “Ah, indeed?” said
d’Avrigny, struck with a sudden thought, “has it occurred to you” — Noirtier did not let him finish. “Yes,” said
he. “To prepare her system to resist poison?” “Yes.”
“By accustoming her by degrees” —
“Yes, yes, yes,” said Noirtier, delighted to be understood.
“Of course. I had told you that there was brucine in the mixture I give you.” “Yes.”
“And by accustoming her to that poison, you have endeavored to neutralize the effect of a similar poison?” Noirtier’s joy continued. “And you have succeeded,” exclaimed d’Avrigny. “Without that precaution Valentine would have died before assistance could have been procured. The dose has been excessive, but she has only
been shaken by it; and this time, at any rate, Valentine will not die.” A superhuman joy expanded the old man’s eyes, which were raised towards heaven with an expression of infinite gratitude. At this moment Villefort returned. “Here, doctor,” said he, “is what you sent me for.”
“Was this prepared in your presence?” “Yes,” replied the procureur.
“Have you not let it go out of your hands?”
“No.” D’Avrigny took the bottle, poured some drops of the mixture it contained in the hollow of his hand, and swallowed them. “Well,” said he, “let us go to Valentine; I will give instructions to every one, and you, M. de Villefort, will yourself see that no one deviates from them.”
At the moment when d’Avrigny was returning to Valentine’s room, accompanied by Villefort, an Italian priest,
of serious demeanor and calm and firm tone, hired for his use the house adjoining the hotel of M. de Villefort.
No one knew how the three former tenants of that house left it. About two hours afterwards its foundation was reported to be unsafe; but the report did not prevent the new occupant establishing himself there with his
modest furniture the same day at five o’clock. The lease was drawn up for three, six, or nine years by the new tenant, who, according to the rule of the proprietor, paid six months in advance. This new tenant, who, as we have said, was an Italian, was called Il Signor Giacomo Busoni. Workmen were immediately called in, and
that same night the passengers at the end of the faubourg saw with surprise that carpenters and masons were occupied in repairing the lower part of the tottering house.
Father and Daughter.
We saw in a preceding chapter how Madame Danglars went formally to announce to Madame de Villefort the approaching marriage of Eugenie Danglars and M. Andrea Cavalcanti. This announcement, which implied or appeared to imply, the approval of all the persons concerned in this momentous affair, had been preceded by a scene to which our readers must be admitted. We beg them to take one step backward, and to transport themselves, the morning of that day of great catastrophes, into the showy, gilded salon we have before shown them, and which was the pride of its owner, Baron Danglars. In this room, at about ten o’clock in the morning,
the banker himself had been walking to and fro for some minutes thoughtfully and in evident uneasiness, watching both doors, and listening to every sound. When his patience was exhausted, he called his valet. “Etienne,” said he, “see why Mademoiselle Eugenie has asked me to meet her in the drawing-room, and why
she makes me wait so long.”
Having given this vent to his ill-humor, the baron became more calm; Mademoiselle Danglars had that morning requested an interview with her father, and had fixed on the gilded drawing-room as the spot. The
singularity of this step, and above all its formality, had not a little surprised the banker, who had immediately obeyed his daughter by repairing first to the drawing-room. Etienne soon returned from his errand. “Mademoiselle’s lady’s maid says, sir, that mademoiselle is finishing her toilette, and will be here shortly.”
Danglars nodded, to signify that he was satisfied. To the world and to his servants Danglars assumed the character of the good-natured man and the indulgent father. This was one of his parts in the popular comedy
he was performing, — a make-up he had adopted and which suited him about as well as the masks worn on the classic stage by paternal actors, who seen from one side, were the image of geniality, and from the other
showed lips drawn down in chronic ill-temper. Let us hasten to say that in private the genial side descended to
the level of the other, so that generally the indulgent man disappeared to give place to the brutal husband and domineering father. “Why the devil does that foolish girl, who pretends to wish to speak to me, not come into
my study? and why on earth does she want to speak to me at all?”
He was turning this thought over in his brain for the twentieth time, when the door opened and Eugenie appeared, attired in a figured black satin dress, her hair dressed and gloves on, as if she were going to the
Italian Opera. “Well, Eugenie, what is it you want with me? and why in this solemn drawing-room when the study is so comfortable?”
“I quite understand why you ask, sir,” said Eugenie, making a sign that her father might be seated, “and in fact your two questions suggest fully the theme of our conversation. I will answer them both, and contrary to the
usual method, the last first, because it is the least difficult. I have chosen the drawing-room, sir, as our place
of meeting, in order to avoid the disagreeable impressions and influences of a banker’s study. Those gilded cashbooks, drawers locked like gates of fortresses, heaps of bank-bills, come from I know not where, and the quantities of letters from England, Holland, Spain, India, China, and Peru, have generally a strange influence
on a father’s mind, and make him forget that there is in the world an interest greater and more sacred than the good opinion of his correspondents. I have, therefore, chosen this drawing-room, where you see, smiling and happy in their magnificent frames, your portrait, mine, my mother’s, and all sorts of rural landscapes and touching pastorals. I rely much on external impressions; perhaps, with regard to you, they are immaterial, but
I should be no artist if I had not some fancies.”
“Very well,” replied M. Danglars, who had listened to all this preamble with imperturbable coolness, but
without understanding a word, since like every man burdened with thoughts of the past, he was occupied with seeking the thread of his own ideas in those of the speaker.
“There is, then, the second point cleared up, or nearly so,” said Eugenie, without the least confusion, and with
that masculine pointedness which distinguished her gesture and her language; “and you appear satisfied with
the explanation. Now, let us return to the first. You ask me why I have requested this interview; I will tell you
in two words, sir; I will not marry count Andrea Cavalcanti.”
Danglars leaped from his chair and raised his eyes and arms towards heaven.
“Yes, indeed, sir,” continued Eugenie, still quite calm; “you are astonished, I see; for since this little affair
began, I have not manifested the slightest opposition, and yet I am always sure, when the opportunity arrives,
to oppose a determined and absolute will to people who have not consulted me, and things which displease
me. However, this time, my tranquillity, or passiveness as philosophers say, proceeded from another source; it proceeded from a wish, like a submissive and devoted daughter” (a slight smile was observable on the purple
lips of the young girl), “to practice obedience.” “Well?” asked Danglars.
“Well, sir,” replied Eugenie, “I have tried to the very last and now that the moment has come, I feel in spite of
all my efforts that it is impossible.”
“But,” said Danglars, whose weak mind was at first quite overwhelmed with the weight of this pitiless logic, marking evident premeditation and force of will, “what is your reason for this refusal, Eugenie? what reason
do you assign?”
“My reason?” replied the young girl. “Well, it is not that the man is more ugly, more foolish, or more disagreeable than any other; no, M. Andrea Cavalcanti may appear to those who look at men’s faces and figures as a very good specimen of his kind. It is not, either, that my heart is less touched by him than any
other; that would be a schoolgirl’s reason, which I consider quite beneath me. I actually love no one, sir; you know it, do you not? I do not then see why, without real necessity, I should encumber my life with a perpetual companion. Has not some sage said, `Nothing too much’? and another, `I carry all my effects with me’? I have been taught these two aphorisms in Latin and in Greek; one is, I believe, from Phaedrus, and the other from
Bias. Well, my dear father, in the shipwreck of life — for life is an eternal shipwreck of our hopes — I cast into
the sea my useless encumbrance, that is all, and I remain with my own will, disposed to live perfectly alone, and consequently perfectly free.”
“Unhappy girl, unhappy girl!” murmured Danglars, turning pale, for he knew from long experience the solidity of the obstacle he had so suddenly encountered.
“Unhappy girl,” replied Eugenie, “unhappy girl, do you say, sir? No, indeed; the exclamation appears quite theatrical and affected. Happy, on the contrary, for what am I in want of! The world calls me beautiful. It is something to be well received. I like a favorable reception; it expands the countenance, and those around me
do not then appear so ugly. I possess a share of wit, and a certain relative sensibility, which enables me to
draw from life in general, for the support of mine, all I meet with that is good, like the monkey who cracks the
nut to get at its contents. I am rich, for you have one of the first fortunes in France. I am your only daughter, and you are not so exacting as the fathers of the Porte Saint-Martin and Gaiete, who disinherit their daughters
for not giving them grandchildren. Besides, the provident law has deprived you of the power to disinherit me,
at least entirely, as it has also of the power to compel me to marry Monsieur This or Monsieur That. And so — being, beautiful, witty, somewhat talented, as the comic operas say, and rich — and that is happiness, sir —
why do you call me unhappy?”
Danglars, seeing his daughter smiling, and proud even to insolence, could not entirely repress his brutal
feelings, but they betrayed themselves only by an exclamation. Under the fixed and inquiring gaze levelled at him from under those beautiful black eyebrows, he prudently turned away, and calmed himself immediately,
daunted by the power of a resolute mind. “Truly, my daughter,” replied he with a smile, “you are all you boast
of being, excepting one thing; I will not too hastily tell you which, but would rather leave you to guess it.” Eugenie looked at Danglars, much surprised that one flower of her crown of pride, with which she had so superbly decked herself, should be disputed. “My daughter,” continued the banker, “you have perfectly explained to me the sentiments which influence a girl like you, who is determined she will not marry; now it remains for me to tell you the motives of a father like me, who has decided that his daughter shall marry.” Eugenie bowed, not as a submissive daughter, but as an adversary prepared for a discussion.
“My daughter,” continued Danglars, “when a father asks his daughter to choose a husband, he has always
some reason for wishing her to marry. Some are affected with the mania of which you spoke just now, that of living again in their grandchildren. This is not my weakness, I tell you at once; family joys have no charm for me. I may acknowledge this to a daughter whom I know to be philosophical enough to understand my indifference, and not to impute it to me as a crime.”
“This is not to the purpose,” said Eugenie; “let us speak candidly, sir; I admire candor.”
“Oh,” said Danglars, “I can, when circumstances render it desirable, adopt your system, although it may not be
my general practice. I will therefore proceed. I have proposed to you to marry, not for your sake, for indeed I
did not think of you in the least at the moment (you admire candor, and will now be satisfied, I hope); but because it suited me to marry you as soon as possible, on account of certain commercial speculations I am desirous of entering into.” Eugenie became uneasy.
“It is just as I tell you, I assure you, and you must not be angry with me, for you have sought this disclosure. I
do not willingly enter into arithmetical explanations with an artist like you, who fears to enter my study lest
she should imbibe disagreeable or anti-poetic impressions and sensations. But in that same banker’s study, where you very willingly presented yourself yesterday to ask for the thousand francs I give you monthly for pocket-money, you must know, my dear young lady, that many things may be learned, useful even to a girl who will not marry. There one may learn, for instance, what, out of regard to your nervous susceptibility, I
will inform you of in the drawing-room, namely, that the credit of a banker is his physical and moral life; that credit sustains him as breath animates the body; and M. de Monte Cristo once gave me a lecture on that
subject, which I have never forgotten. There we may learn that as credit sinks, the body becomes a corpse, and this is what must happen very soon to the banker who is proud to own so good a logician as you for his
daughter.” But Eugenie, instead of stooping, drew herself up under the blow. “Ruined?” said she.
“Exactly, my daughter; that is precisely what I mean,” said Danglars, almost digging his nails into his breast, while he preserved on his harsh features the smile of the heartless though clever man; “ruined — yes, that is
“Ah!” said Eugenie.
“Yes, ruined! Now it is revealed, this secret so full of horror, as the tragic poet says. Now, my daughter, learn from my lips how you may alleviate this misfortune, so far as it will affect you.”
“Oh,” cried Eugenie, “you are a bad physiognomist, if you imagine I deplore on my own account the
catastrophe of which you warn me. I ruined? and what will that signify to me? Have I not my talent left? Can I not, like Pasta, Malibran, Grisi, acquire for myself what you would never have given me, whatever might have been your fortune, a hundred or a hundred and fifty thousand livres per annum, for which I shall be indebted
to no one but myself; and which, instead of being given as you gave me those poor twelve thousand francs,
with sour looks and reproaches for my prodigality, will be accompanied with acclamations, with bravos, and with flowers? And if I do not possess that talent, which your smiles prove to me you doubt, should I not still have that ardent love of independence, which will be a substitute for wealth, and which in my mind
supersedes even the instinct of self-preservation? No, I grieve not on my own account, I shall always find a
resource; my books, my pencils, my piano, all the things which cost but little, and which I shall be able to
procure, will remain my own.
“Do you think that I sorrow for Madame Danglars? Undeceive yourself again; either I am greatly mistaken, or
she has provided against the catastrophe which threatens you, and, which will pass over without affecting her. She has taken care for herself, — at least I hope so, — for her attention has not been diverted from her projects
by watching over me. She has fostered my independence by professedly indulging my love for liberty. Oh, no,
sir; from my childhood I have seen too much, and understood too much, of what has passed around me, for misfortune to have an undue power over me. From my earliest recollections, I have been beloved by no one —
so much the worse; that has naturally led me to love no one — so much the better — now you have my profession of faith.”
“Then,” said Danglars, pale with anger, which was not at all due to offended paternal love, — “then, mademoiselle, you persist in your determination to accelerate my ruin?”
“Your ruin? I accelerate your ruin? What do you mean? I do not understand you.” “So much the better, I have a ray of hope left; listen.”
“I am all attention,” said Eugenie, looking so earnestly at her father that it was an effort for the latter to endure her unrelenting gaze.
“M. Cavalcanti,” continued Danglars, “is about to marry you, and will place in my hands his fortune, amounting to three million livres.”
“That is admirable!” said Eugenie with sovereign contempt, smoothing her gloves out one upon the other.
“You think I shall deprive you of those three millions,” said Danglars; “but do not fear it. They are destined to produce at least ten. I and a brother banker have obtained a grant of a railway, the only industrial enterprise
which in these days promises to make good the fabulous prospects that Law once held out to the eternally deluded Parisians, in the fantastic Mississippi scheme. As I look at it, a millionth part of a railway is worth fully as much as an acre of waste land on the banks of the Ohio. We make in our case a deposit, on a mortgage, which is an advance, as you see, since we gain at least ten, fifteen, twenty, or a hundred livres’
worth of iron in exchange for our money. Well, within a week I am to deposit four millions for my share; the four millions, I promise you, will produce ten or twelve.”
“But during my visit to you the day before yesterday, sir, which you appear to recollect so well,” replied
Eugenie, “I saw you arranging a deposit — is not that the term? — of five millions and a half; you even pointed
it out to me in two drafts on the treasury, and you were astonished that so valuable a paper did not dazzle my eyes like lightning.”
“Yes, but those five millions and a half are not mine, and are only a proof of the great confidence placed in me; my title of popular banker has gained me the confidence of charitable institutions, and the five millions
and a half belong to them; at any other time I should not have hesitated to make use of them, but the great losses I have recently sustained are well known, and, as I told you, my credit is rather shaken. That deposit may be at any moment withdrawn, and if I had employed it for another purpose, I should bring on me a disgraceful bankruptcy. I do not despise bankruptcies, believe me, but they must be those which enrich, not
those which ruin. Now, if you marry M. Cavalcanti, and I get the three millions, or even if it is thought I am going to get them, my credit will be restored, and my fortune, which for the last month or two has been swallowed up in gulfs which have been opened in my path by an inconceivable fatality, will revive. Do you understand me?”
“Perfectly; you pledge me for three millions, do you not?”
“The greater the amount, the more flattering it is to you; it gives you an idea of your value.”
“Thank you. One word more, sir; do you promise me to make what use you can of the report of the fortune M. Cavalcanti will bring without touching the money? This is no act of selfishness, but of delicacy. I am willing
to help rebuild your fortune, but I will not be an accomplice in the ruin of others.” “But since I tell you,” cried Danglars, “that with these three million” —
“Do you expect to recover your position, sir, without touching those three million?”
“I hope so, if the marriage should take place and confirm my credit.”
“Shall you be able to pay M. Cavalcanti the five hundred thousand francs you promise for my dowry?” “He shall receive them on returning from the mayor’s.”*
* The performance of the civil marriage. “Very well!”
“What next? what more do you want?”
“I wish to know if, in demanding my signature, you leave me entirely free in my person?” “Absolutely.”
“Then, as I said before, sir, — very well; I am ready to marry M. Cavalcanti.” “But what are you up to?”
“Ah, that is my affair. What advantage should I have over you, if knowing your secret I were to tell you mine?” Danglars bit his lips. “Then,” said he, “you are ready to pay the official visits, which are absolutely indispensable?”
“Yes,” replied Eugenie.
“And to sign the contract in three days?” “Yes.”
“Then, in my turn, I also say, very well!” Danglars pressed his daughter’s hand in his. But, extraordinary to relate, the father did not say, “Thank you, my child,” nor did the daughter smile at her father. “Is the
conference ended?” asked Eugenie, rising. Danglars motioned that he had nothing more to say. Five minutes afterwards the piano resounded to the touch of Mademoiselle d’Armilly’s fingers, and Mademoiselle Danglars was singing Brabantio’s malediction on Desdemona. At the end of the piece Etienne entered, and announced
to Eugenie that the horses were in the carriage, and that the baroness was waiting for her to pay her visits. We have seen them at Villefort’s; they proceeded then on their course.
Three days after the scene we have just described, namely towards five o’clock in the afternoon of the day fixed for the signature of the contract between Mademoiselle Eugenie Danglars and Andrea Cavalcanti, — whom the banker persisted in calling prince, — a fresh breeze was stirring the leaves in the little garden in front of the Count of Monte Cristo’s house, and the count was preparing to go out. While his horses were
impatiently pawing the ground, — held in by the coachman, who had been seated a quarter of an hour on his box, — the elegant phaeton with which we are familiar rapidly turned the angle of the entrance-gate, and cast
out on the doorsteps M. Andrea Cavalcanti, as decked up and gay as if he were going to marry a princess. He inquired after the count with his usual familiarity, and ascending lightly to the second story met him at the top
of the stairs. The count stopped on seeing the young man. As for Andrea, he was launched, and when he was once launched nothing stopped him. “Ah, good morning, my dear count,” said he. “Ah, M. Andrea,” said the latter, with his half-jesting tone; “how do you do.”
“Charmingly, as you see. I am come to talk to you about a thousand things; but, first tell me, were you going out or just returned?”
“I was going out, sir.”
“Then, in order not to hinder you, I will get up with you if you please in your carriage, and Tom shall follow with my phaeton in tow.”
“No,” said the count, with an imperceptible smile of contempt, for he had no wish to be seen in the young
man’s society, — “no; I prefer listening to you here, my dear M. Andrea; we can chat better in-doors, and there
is no coachman to overhear our conversation.” The count returned to a small drawing-room on the first floor,
sat down, and crossing his legs motioned to the young man to take a seat also. Andrea assumed his gayest manner. “You know, my dear count,” said he, “the ceremony is to take place this evening. At nine o’clock the contract is to be signed at my father-in-law’s.”
“Ah, indeed?” said Monte Cristo.
“What; is it news to you? Has not M. Danglars informed you of the ceremony?”
“Oh, yes,” said the count; “I received a letter from him yesterday, but I do not think the hour was mentioned.” “Possibly my father-in-law trusted to its general notoriety.”
“Well,” said Monte Cristo, “you are fortunate, M. Cavalcanti; it is a most suitable alliance you are contracting, and Mademoiselle Danglars is a handsome girl.”
“Yes, indeed she is,” replied Cavalcanti, in a very modest tone.
“Above all, she is very rich, — at least, I believe so,” said Monte Cristo. “Very rich, do you think?” replied the young man.
“Doubtless; it is said M. Danglars conceals at least half of his fortune.”
“And he acknowledges fifteen or twenty millions,” said Andrea with a look sparkling with joy.
“Without reckoning,” added Monte Cristo, “that he is on the eve of entering into a sort of speculation already
in vogue in the United States and in England, but quite novel in France.”
“Yes, yes, I know what you mean, — the railway, of which he has obtained the grant, is it not?” “Precisely; it is generally believed he will gain ten millions by that affair.”
“Ten millions! Do you think so? It is magnificent!” said Cavalcanti, who was quite confounded at the metallic sound of these golden words. “Without reckoning,” replied Monte Cristo, “that all his fortune will come to
you, and justly too, since Mademoiselle Danglars is an only daughter. Besides, your own fortune, as your
father assured me, is almost equal to that of your betrothed. But enough of money matters. Do you know, M. Andrea, I think you have managed this affair rather skilfully?”
“Not badly, by any means,” said the young man; “I was born for a diplomatist.”
“Well, you must become a diplomatist; diplomacy, you know, is something that is not to be acquired; it is instinctive. Have you lost your heart?”
“Indeed, I fear it,” replied Andrea, in the tone in which he had heard Dorante or Valere reply to Alceste* at the
“Is your love returned?”
* In Moliere’s comedy, Le Misanthrope.
“I suppose so,” said Andrea with a triumphant smile, “since I am accepted. But I must not forget one grand point.”
“That I have been singularly assisted.” “Nonsense.”
“I have, indeed.”
“By circumstances?” “No; by you.”
“By me? Not at all, prince,” said Monte Cristo laying a marked stress on the title, “what have I done for you? Are not your name, your social position, and your merit sufficient?”
“No,” said Andrea, — “no; it is useless for you to say so, count. I maintain that the position of a man like you has done more than my name, my social position, and my merit.”
“You are completely mistaken, sir,” said Monte Cristo coldly, who felt the perfidious manoeuvre of the young man, and understood the bearing of his words; “you only acquired my protection after the influence and
fortune of your father had been ascertained; for, after all, who procured for me, who had never seen either you
or your illustrious father, the pleasure of your acquaintance? — two of my good friends, Lord Wilmore and the Abbe Busoni. What encouraged me not to become your surety, but to patronize you? — your father’s name, so well known in Italy and so highly honored. Personally, I do not know you.” This calm tone and perfect ease
made Andrea feel that he was, for the moment, restrained by a more muscular hand than his own, and that the
restraint could not be easily broken through.
“Oh, then my father has really a very large fortune, count?” “It appears so, sir,” replied Monte Cristo.
“Do you know if the marriage settlement he promised me has come?”
“I have been advised of it.” “But the three millions?”
“The three millions are probably on the road.” “Then I shall really have them?”
“Oh, well,” said the count, “I do not think you have yet known the want of money.” Andrea was so surprised that he pondered the matter for a moment. Then, arousing from his revery, — “Now, sir, I have one request to
make to you, which you will understand, even if it should be disagreeable to you.” “Proceed,” said Monte Cristo.
“I have formed an acquaintance, thanks to my good fortune, with many noted persons, and have, at least for
the moment, a crowd of friends. But marrying, as I am about to do, before all Paris, I ought to be supported by
an illustrious name, and in the absence of the paternal hand some powerful one ought to lead me to the altar;
now, my father is not coming to Paris, is he? He is old, covered with wounds, and suffers dreadfully, he says,
in travelling.” “Indeed?”
“Well, I am come to ask a favor of you.” “Of me?”
“Yes, of you.”
“And pray what may it be?” “Well, to take his part.”
“Ah, my dear sir! What? — after the varied relations I have had the happiness to sustain towards you, can it be that you know me so little as to ask such a thing? Ask me to lend you half a million and, although such a loan
is somewhat rare, on my honor, you would annoy me less! Know, then, what I thought I had already told you, that in participation in this world’s affairs, more especially in their moral aspects, the Count of Monte Cristo
has never ceased to entertain the scruples and even the superstitions of the East. I, who have a seraglio at
Cairo, one at Smyrna, and one at Constantinople, preside at a wedding? — never!” “Then you refuse me?”
“Decidedly; and were you my son or my brother I would refuse you in the same way.”
“But what must be done?” said Andrea, disappointed.
“You said just now that you had a hundred friends.” “Very true, but you introduced me at M. Danglars’.”
“Not at all! Let us recall the exact facts. You met him at a dinner party at my house, and you introduced yourself at his house; that is a totally different affair.”
“Yes, but, by my marriage, you have forwarded that.”
“I? — not in the least, I beg you to believe. Recollect what I told you when you asked me to propose you. `Oh,
I never make matches, my dear prince, it is my settled principle.'” Andrea bit his lips. “But, at least, you will be there?”
“Will all Paris be there?” “Oh, certainly.”
“Well, like all Paris, I shall be there too,” said the count. “And will you sign the contract?”
“I see no objection to that; my scruples do not go thus far.”
“Well, since you will grant me no more, I must be content with what you give me. But one word more, count.” “What is it?”
“Be careful; advice is worse than a service.”
“Oh, you can give me this without compromising yourself.” “Tell me what it is.”
“Is my wife’s fortune five hundred thousand livres?” “That is the sum M. Danglars himself announced.”
“Must I receive it, or leave it in the hands of the notary?”
“This is the way such affairs are generally arranged when it is wished to do them stylishly: Your two solicitors appoint a meeting, when the contract is signed, for the next or the following day; then they exchange the two portions, for which they each give a receipt; then, when the marriage is celebrated, they place the amount at
your disposal as the chief member of the alliance.”
“Because,” said Andrea, with a certain ill-concealed uneasiness, “I thought I heard my father-in-law say that
he intended embarking our property in that famous railway affair of which you spoke just now.”
“Well,” replied Monte Cristo, “it will be the way, everybody says, of trebling your fortune in twelve months.
Baron Danglars is a good father, and knows how to calculate.”
“In that case,” said Andrea, “everything is all right, excepting your refusal, which quite grieves me.” “You must attribute it only to natural scruples under similar circumstances.”
“Well,” said Andrea, “let it be as you wish. This evening, then, at nine o’clock.”
“Adieu till then.” Notwithstanding a slight resistance on the part of Monte Cristo, whose lips turned pale, but who preserved his ceremonious smile, Andrea seized the count’s hand, pressed it, jumped into his phaeton,
The four or five remaining hours before nine o’clock arrived, Andrea employed in riding, paying visits, — designed to induce those of whom he had spoken to appear at the banker’s in their gayest equipages, —
dazzling them by promises of shares in schemes which have since turned every brain, and in which Danglars was just taking the initiative. In fact, at half-past eight in the evening the grand salon, the gallery adjoining,
and the three other drawing-rooms on the same floor, were filled with a perfumed crowd, who sympathized
but little in the event, but who all participated in that love of being present wherever there is anything fresh to
be seen. An Academician would say that the entertainments of the fashionable world are collections of flowers which attract inconstant butterflies, famished bees, and buzzing drones.
No one could deny that the rooms were splendidly illuminated; the light streamed forth on the gilt mouldings and the silk hangings; and all the bad taste of decorations, which had only their richness to boast of, shone in
its splendor. Mademoiselle Eugenie was dressed with elegant simplicity in a figured white silk dress, and a white rose half concealed in her jet black hair was her only ornament, unaccompanied by a single jewel. Her
eyes, however, betrayed that perfect confidence which contradicted the girlish simplicity of this modest attire. Madame Danglars was chatting at a short distance with Debray, Beauchamp, and Chateau-Renaud.
Debray was admitted to the house for this grand ceremony, but on the same plane with every one else, and without any particular privilege. M. Danglars, surrounded by deputies and men connected with the revenue,
was explaining a new theory of taxation which he intended to adopt when the course of events had compelled
the government to call him into the ministry. Andrea, on whose arm hung one of the most consummate
dandies of the opera, was explaining to him rather cleverly, since he was obliged to be bold to appear at ease,
his future projects, and the new luxuries he meant to introduce to Parisian fashions with his hundred and seventy-five thousand livres per annum.
The crowd moved to and fro in the rooms like an ebb and flow of turquoises, rubies, emeralds, opals, and diamonds. As usual, the oldest women were the most decorated, and the ugliest the most conspicuous. If there was a beautiful lily, or a sweet rose, you had to search for it, concealed in some corner behind a mother with a turban, or an aunt with a bird of paradise.
At each moment, in the midst of the crowd, the buzzing, and the laughter, the door-keeper’s voice was heard announcing some name well known in the financial department, respected in the army, or illustrious in the literary world, and which was acknowledged by a slight movement in the different groups. But for one whose privilege it was to agitate that ocean of human waves, how many were received with a look of indifference or
a sneer of disdain! At the moment when the hand of the massive time-piece, representing Endymion asleep, pointed to nine on its golden face, and the hammer, the faithful type of mechanical thought, struck nine times,
the name of the Count of Monte Cristo resounded in its turn, and as if by an electric shock all the assembly turned towards the door.
The count was dressed in black and with his habitual simplicity; his white waistcoat displayed his expansive
noble chest and his black stock was singularly noticeable because of its contrast with the deadly paleness of
his face. His only jewellery was a chain, so fine that the slender gold thread was scarcely perceptible on his white waistcoat. A circle was immediately formed around the door. The count perceived at one glance
Madame Danglars at one end of the drawing-room, M. Danglars at the other, and Eugenie in front of him. He first advanced towards the baroness, who was chatting with Madame de Villefort, who had come alone, Valentine being still an invalid; and without turning aside, so clear was the road left for him, he passed from
the baroness to Eugenie, whom he complimented in such rapid and measured terms, that the proud artist was quite struck. Near her was Mademoiselle Louise d’Armilly, who thanked the count for the letters of
introduction he had so kindly given her for Italy, which she intended immediately to make use of. On leaving these ladies he found himself with Danglars, who had advanced to meet him.
Having accomplished these three social duties, Monte Cristo stopped, looking around him with that expression peculiar to a certain class, which seems to say, “I have done my duty, now let others do theirs.”
Andrea, who was in an adjoining room, had shared in the sensation caused by the arrival of Monte Cristo, and now came forward to pay his respects to the count. He found him completely surrounded; all were eager to
speak to him, as is always the case with those whose words are few and weighty. The solicitors arrived at this moment and arranged their scrawled papers on the velvet cloth embroidered with gold which covered the table prepared for the signature; it was a gilt table supported on lions’ claws. One of the notaries sat down, the other remained standing. They were about to proceed to the reading of the contract, which half Paris assembled was
to sign. All took their places, or rather the ladies formed a circle, while the gentlemen (more indifferent to the restraints of what Boileau calls the “energetic style”) commented on the feverish agitation of Andrea, on M. Danglars’ riveted attention, Eugenie’s composure, and the light and sprightly manner in which the baroness treated this important affair.
The contract was read during a profound silence. But as soon as it was finished, the buzz was redoubled
through all the drawing-rooms; the brilliant sums, the rolling millions which were to be at the command of the two young people, and which crowned the display of the wedding presents and the young lady’s diamonds,
which had been made in a room entirely appropriated for that purpose, had exercised to the full their delusions over the envious assembly. Mademoiselle Danglars’ charms were heightened in the opinion of the young men, and for the moment seemed to outvie the sun in splendor. As for the ladies, it is needless to say that while they
coveted the millions, they thought they did not need them for themselves, as they were beautiful enough
without them. Andrea, surrounded by his friends, complimented, flattered, beginning to believe in the reality
of his dream, was almost bewildered. The notary solemnly took the pen, flourished it above his head, and said, “Gentlemen, we are about to sign the contract.”
The baron was to sign first, then the representative of M. Cavalcanti, senior, then the baroness, afterwards the
“future couple,” as they are styled in the abominable phraseology of legal documents. The baron took the pen and signed, then the representative. The baroness approached, leaning on Madame de Villefort’s arm. “My
dear,” said she, as she took the pen, “is it not vexatious? An unexpected incident, in the affair of murder and theft at the Count of Monte Cristo’s, in which he nearly fell a victim, deprives us of the pleasure of seeing M.
“Indeed?” said M. Danglars, in the same tone in which he would have said, “Oh, well, what do I care?”
“As a matter of fact,” said Monte Cristo, approaching, “I am much afraid that I am the involuntary cause of his absence.”
“What, you, count?” said Madame Danglars, signing; “if you are, take care, for I shall never forgive you.” Andrea pricked up his ears.
“But it is not my fault, as I shall endeavor to prove.” Every one listened eagerly; Monte Cristo who so rarely opened his lips, was about to speak. “You remember,” said the count, during the most profound silence, “that
the unhappy wretch who came to rob me died at my house; the supposition is that he was stabbed by his
accomplice, on attempting to leave it.” “Yes,” said Danglars.
“In order that his wounds might be examined he was undressed, and his clothes were thrown into a corner,
where the police picked them up, with the exception of the waistcoat, which they overlooked.” Andrea turned pale, and drew towards the door; he saw a cloud rising in the horizon, which appeared to forebode a coming storm.
“Well, this waistcoat was discovered to-day, covered with blood, and with a hole over the heart.” The ladies screamed, and two or three prepared to faint. “It was brought to me. No one could guess what the dirty rag could be; I alone suspected that it was the waistcoat of the murdered man. My valet, in examining this mournful relic, felt a paper in the pocket and drew it out; it was a letter addressed to you, baron.”
“To me?” cried Danglars.
“Yes, indeed, to you; I succeeded in deciphering your name under the blood with which the letter was stained,” replied Monte Cristo, amid the general outburst of amazement.
“But,” asked Madame Danglars, looking at her husband with uneasiness, “how could that prevent M. de
“In this simple way, madame,” replied Monte Cristo; “the waistcoat and the letter were both what is termed circumstantial evidence; I therefore sent them to the king’s attorney. You understand, my dear baron, that legal methods are the safest in criminal cases; it was, perhaps, some plot against you.” Andrea looked steadily at
Monte Cristo and disappeared in the second drawing-room.
“Possibly,” said Danglars; “was not this murdered man an old galley-slave?”
“Yes,” replied the count; “a felon named Caderousse.” Danglars turned slightly pale; Andrea reached the anteroom beyond the little drawing-room.
“But go on signing,” said Monte Cristo; “I perceive that my story has caused a general emotion, and I beg to apologize to you, baroness, and to Mademoiselle Danglars.” The baroness, who had signed, returned the pen
to the notary. “Prince Cavalcanti,” said the latter; “Prince Cavalcanti, where are you?”
“Andrea, Andrea,” repeated several young people, who were already on sufficiently intimate terms with him
to call him by his Christian name.
“Call the prince; inform him that it is his turn to sign,” cried Danglars to one of the floorkeepers.
But at the same instant the crowd of guests rushed in alarm into the principal salon as if some frightful monster had entered the apartments, quaerens quem devoret. There was, indeed, reason to retreat, to be alarmed, and to scream. An officer was placing two soldiers at the door of each drawing-room, and was
advancing towards Danglars, preceded by a commissary of police, girded with his scarf. Madame Danglars uttered a scream and fainted. Danglars, who thought himself threatened (certain consciences are never calm),
— Danglars even before his guests showed a countenance of abject terror.
“What is the matter, sir?” asked Monte Cristo, advancing to meet the commissioner.
“Which of you gentlemen,” asked the magistrate, without replying to the count, “answers to the name of
Andrea Cavalcanti?” A cry of astonishment was heard from all parts of the room. They searched; they
questioned. “But who then is Andrea Cavalcanti?” asked Danglars in amazement. “A galley-slave, escaped from confinement at Toulon.”
“And what crime has he committed?”
“He is accused,” said the commissary with his inflexible voice, “of having assassinated the man named Caderousse, his former companion in prison, at the moment he was making his escape from the house of the Count of Monte Cristo.” Monte Cristo cast a rapid glance around him. Andrea was gone.
The Departure for Belgium.
A few minutes after the scene of confusion produced in the salons of M. Danglars by the unexpected appearance of the brigade of soldiers, and by the disclosure which had followed, the mansion was deserted
with as much rapidity as if a case of plague or of cholera morbus had broken out among the guests. In a few minutes, through all the doors, down all the staircases, by every exit, every one hastened to retire, or rather to
fly; for it was a situation where the ordinary condolences, — which even the best friends are so eager to offer
in great catastrophes, — were seen to be utterly futile. There remained in the banker’s house only Danglars, closeted in his study, and making his statement to the officer of gendarmes; Madame Danglars, terrified, in the boudoir with which we are acquainted; and Eugenie, who with haughty air and disdainful lip had retired to her room with her inseparable companion, Mademoiselle Louise d’Armilly. As for the numerous servants (more numerous that evening than usual, for their number was augmented by cooks and butlers from the Cafe de
Paris), venting on their employers their anger at what they termed the insult to which they had been subjected, they collected in groups in the hall, in the kitchens, or in their rooms, thinking very little of their duty, which
was thus naturally interrupted. Of all this household, only two persons deserve our notice; these are
Mademoiselle Eugenie Danglars and Mademoiselle Louise d’Armilly.
The betrothed had retired, as we said, with haughty air, disdainful lip, and the demeanor of an outraged queen, followed by her companion, who was paler and more disturbed than herself. On reaching her room Eugenie locked her door, while Louise fell on a chair. “Ah, what a dreadful thing,” said the young musician; “who
would have suspected it? M. Andrea Cavalcanti a murderer — a galley-slave escaped — a convict!” An ironical smile curled the lip of Eugenie. “In truth I was fated,” said she. “I escaped the Morcerf only to fall into the Cavalcanti.”
“Oh, do not confound the two, Eugenie.”
“Hold your tongue! The men are all infamous, and I am happy to be able now to do more than detest them — I
“What shall we do?” asked Louise. “What shall we do?”
“Why, the same we had intended doing three days since — set off.”
“What? — although you are not now going to be married, you intend still” —
“Listen, Louise. I hate this life of the fashionable world, always ordered, measured, ruled, like our music-paper. What I have always wished for, desired, and coveted, is the life of an artist, free and
independent, relying only on my own resources, and accountable only to myself. Remain here? What for? — that they may try, a month hence, to marry me again; and to whom? — M. Debray, perhaps, as it was once
proposed. No, Louise, no! This evening’s adventure will serve for my excuse. I did not seek one, I did not ask
for one. God sends me this, and I hail it joyfully!”
“How strong and courageous you are!” said the fair, frail girl to her brunette companion. “Did you not yet know me? Come, Louise, let us talk of our affairs. The post-chaise” —
“Was happily bought three days since.”
“Have you had it sent where we are to go for it?” “Yes.”
“Our passport?” “Here it is.”
And Eugenie, with her usual precision, opened a printed paper, and read, —
“M. Leon d’Armilly, twenty years of age; profession, artist; hair black, eyes black; travelling with his sister.” “Capital! How did you get this passport?”
“When I went to ask M. de Monte Cristo for letters to the directors of the theatres at Rome and Naples, I expressed my fears of travelling as a woman; he perfectly understood them, and undertook to procure for me a man’s passport, and two days after I received this, to which I have added with my own hand, `travelling with
“Well,” said Eugenie cheerfully, “we have then only to pack up our trunks; we shall start the evening of the signing of the contract, instead of the evening of the wedding — that is all.”
“But consider the matter seriously, Eugenie!”
“Oh, I am done with considering! I am tired of hearing only of market reports, of the end of the month, of the rise and fall of Spanish funds, of Haitian bonds. Instead of that, Louise — do you understand? — air, liberty, melody of birds, plains of Lombardy, Venetian canals, Roman palaces, the Bay of Naples. How much have
we, Louise?” The young girl to whom this question was addressed drew from an inlaid secretary a small portfolio with a lock, in which she counted twenty-three bank-notes.
“Twenty-three thousand francs,” said she.
“And as much, at least, in pearls, diamonds, and jewels,” said Eugenie. “We are rich. With forty-five thousand francs we can live like princesses for two years, and comfortably for four; but before six months — you with
your music, and I with my voice — we shall double our capital. Come, you shall take charge of the money, I of
the jewel-box; so that if one of us had the misfortune to lose her treasure, the other would still have hers left. Now, the portmanteau — let us make haste — the portmanteau!”
“Stop!” said Louise, going to listen at Madame Danglars’ door. “What do you fear?”
“That we may be discovered.” “The door is locked.”
“They may tell us to open it.”
“They may if they like, but we will not.”
“You are a perfect Amazon, Eugenie!” And the two young girls began to heap into a trunk all the things they
thought they should require. “There now,” said Eugenie, “while I change my costume do you lock the portmanteau.” Louise pressed with all the strength of her little hands on the top of the portmanteau. “But I cannot,” said she; “I am not strong enough; do you shut it.”
“Ah, you do well to ask,” said Eugenie, laughing; “I forgot that I was Hercules, and you only the pale Omphale!” And the young girl, kneeling on the top, pressed the two parts of the portmanteau together, and Mademoiselle d’Armilly passed the bolt of the padlock through. When this was done, Eugenie opened a drawer, of which she kept the key, and took from it a wadded violet silk travelling cloak. “Here,” said she, “you see I have thought of everything; with this cloak you will not be cold.”
“Oh, I am never cold, you know! Besides, with these men’s clothes” — “Will you dress here?”
“Shall you have time?”
“Do not be uneasy, you little coward! All our servants are busy, discussing the grand affair. Besides, what is there astonishing, when you think of the grief I ought to be in, that I shut myself up? — tell me!”
“No, truly — you comfort me.” “Come and help me.”
From the same drawer she took a man’s complete costume, from the boots to the coat, and a provision of
linen, where there was nothing superfluous, but every requisite. Then, with a promptitude which indicated that this was not the first time she had amused herself by adopting the garb of the opposite sex, Eugenie drew on
the boots and pantaloons, tied her cravat, buttoned her waistcoat up to the throat, and put on a coat which admirably fitted her beautiful figure. “Oh, that is very good — indeed, it is very good!” said Louise, looking at
her with admiration; “but that beautiful black hair, those magnificent braids, which made all the ladies sigh with envy, — will they go under a man’s hat like the one I see down there?”
“You shall see,” said Eugenie. And with her left hand seizing the thick mass, which her long fingers could scarcely grasp, she took in her right hand a pair of long scissors, and soon the steel met through the rich and splendid hair, which fell in a cluster at her feet as she leaned back to keep it from her coat. Then she grasped
the front hair, which she also cut off, without expressing the least regret; on the contrary, her eyes sparkled with greater pleasure than usual under her ebony eyebrows. “Oh, the magnificent hair!” said Louise, with regret.
“And am I not a hundred times better thus?” cried Eugenie, smoothing the scattered curls of her hair, which had now quite a masculine appearance; “and do you not think me handsomer so?”
“Oh, you are beautiful — always beautiful!” cried Louise. “Now, where are you going?”
“To Brussels, if you like; it is the nearest frontier. We can go to Brussels, Liege, Aix-la-Chapelle; then up the
Rhine to Strasburg. We will cross Switzerland, and go down into Italy by the Saint-Gothard. Will that do?” “Yes.”
“What are you looking at?”
“I am looking at you; indeed you are adorable like that! One would say you were carrying me off.” “And they would be right, pardieu!”
“Oh, I think you swore, Eugenie.” And the two young girls, whom every one might have thought plunged in grief, the one on her own account, the other from interest in her friend, burst out laughing, as they cleared
away every visible trace of the disorder which had naturally accompanied the preparations for their escape. Then, having blown out the lights, the two fugitives, looking and listening eagerly, with outstretched necks,
opened the door of a dressing-room which led by a side staircase down to the yard, — Eugenie going first, and holding with one arm the portmanteau, which by the opposite handle Mademoiselle d’Armilly scarcely raised with both hands. The yard was empty; the clock was striking twelve. The porter was not yet gone to bed.
Eugenie approached softly, and saw the old man sleeping soundly in an arm-chair in his lodge. She returned to
Louise, took up the portmanteau, which she had placed for a moment on the ground, and they reached the archway under the shadow of the wall.
Eugenie concealed Louise in an angle of the gateway, so that if the porter chanced to awake he might see but one person. Then placing herself in the full light of the lamp which lit the yard, — “Gate!” cried she, with her finest contralto voice, and rapping at the window.
The porter got up as Eugenie expected, and even advanced some steps to recognize the person who was going out, but seeing a young man striking his boot impatiently with his riding-whip, he opened it immediately.
Louise slid through the half-open gate like a snake, and bounded lightly forward. Eugenie, apparently calm, although in all probability her heart beat somewhat faster than usual, went out in her turn. A porter was
passing and they gave him the portmanteau; then the two young girls, having told him to take it to No. 36, Rue de la Victoire, walked behind this man, whose presence comforted Louise. As for Eugenie, she was as
strong as a Judith or a Delilah. They arrived at the appointed spot. Eugenie ordered the porter to put down the portmanteau, gave him some pieces of money, and having rapped at the shutter sent him away. The shutter
where Eugenie had rapped was that of a little laundress, who had been previously warned, and was not yet gone to bed. She opened the door.
“Mademoiselle,” said Eugenie, “let the porter get the post-chaise from the coach-house, and fetch some post-horses from the hotel. Here are five francs for his trouble.”
“Indeed,” said Louise, “I admire you, and I could almost say respect you.” The laundress looked on in astonishment, but as she had been promised twenty louis, she made no remark.
In a quarter of an hour the porter returned with a post-boy and horses, which were harnessed, and put in the post-chaise in a minute, while the porter fastened the portmanteau on with the assistance of a cord and strap.
“Here is the passport,” said the postilion, “which way are we going, young gentleman?” “To Fontainebleau,” replied Eugenie with an almost masculine voice.
“What do you say?” said Louise.
“I am giving them the slip,” said Eugenie; “this woman to whom we have given twenty louis may betray us
for forty; we will soon alter our direction.” And the young girl jumped into the britzska, which was admirably arranged for sleeping in, without scarcely touching the step. “You are always right,” said the music teacher, seating herself by the side of her friend.
A quarter of an hour afterwards the postilion, having been put in the right road, passed with a crack of his
whip through the gateway of the Barriere Saint-Martin. “Ah,” said Louise, breathing freely, “here we are out
“Yes, my dear, the abduction is an accomplished fact,” replied Eugenie. “Yes, and without violence,” said
“I shall bring that forward as an extenuating circumstance,” replied Eugenie. These words were lost in the noise which the carriage made in rolling over the pavement of La Villette. M. Danglars no longer had a daughter.
The Bell and Bottle Tavern.
And now let us leave Mademoiselle Danglars and her friend pursuing their way to Brussels, and return to poor
Andrea Cavalcanti, so inopportunely interrupted in his rise to fortune. Notwithstanding his youth, Master
Andrea was a very skilful and intelligent boy. We have seen that on the first rumor which reached the salon he had gradually approached the door, and crossing two or three rooms at last disappeared. But we have
forgotten to mention one circumstance, which nevertheless ought not to be omitted; in one of the rooms he crossed, the trousseau of the bride-elect was on exhibition. There were caskets of diamonds, cashmere shawls, Valenciennes lace, English veilings, and in fact all the tempting things, the bare mention of which makes the hearts of young girls bound with joy, and which is called the “corbeille.”* Now, in passing through this room, Andrea proved himself not only to be clever and intelligent, but also provident, for he helped himself to the
most valuable of the ornaments before him.
* Literally, “the basket,” because wedding gifts were originally brought in such a receptacle.
Furnished with this plunder, Andrea leaped with a lighter heart from the window, intending to slip through the hands of the gendarmes. Tall and well proportioned as an ancient gladiator, and muscular as a Spartan, he
walked for a quarter of an hour without knowing where to direct his steps, actuated by the sole idea of getting away from the spot where if he lingered he knew that he would surely be taken. Having passed through the
Rue Mont Blanc, guided by the instinct which leads thieves always to take the safest path, he found himself at
the end of the Rue Lafayette. There he stopped, breathless and panting. He was quite alone; on one side was
the vast wilderness of the Saint-Lazare, on the other, Paris enshrouded in darkness. “Am I to be captured?” he cried; “no, not if I can use more activity than my enemies. My safety is now a mere question of speed.” At this moment he saw a cab at the top of the Faubourg Poissonniere. The dull driver, smoking his pipe, was
plodding along toward the limits of the Faubourg Saint-Denis, where no doubt he ordinarily had his station. “Ho, friend!” said Benedetto.
“What do you want, sir?” asked the driver. “Is your horse tired?”
“Tired? oh, yes, tired enough — he has done nothing the whole of this blessed day! Four wretched fares, and twenty sous over, making in all seven francs, are all that I have earned, and I ought to take ten to the owner.”
“Will you add these twenty francs to the seven you have?”
“With pleasure, sir; twenty francs are not to be despised. Tell me what I am to do for this.” “A very easy thing, if your horse isn’t tired.”
“I tell you he’ll go like the wind, — only tell me which way to drive.” “Towards the Louvres.”
“Ah, I know the way — you get good sweetened rum over there.”
“Exactly so; I merely wish to overtake one of my friends, with whom I am going to hunt to-morrow at
Chapelle-en-Serval. He should have waited for me here with a cabriolet till half-past eleven; it is twelve, and, tired of waiting, he must have gone on.”
“It is likely.”
“Well, will you try and overtake him?” “Nothing I should like better.”
“If you do not overtake him before we reach Bourget you shall have twenty francs; if not before Louvres, thirty.”
“And if we do overtake him?”
“Forty,” said Andrea, after a moment’s hesitation, at the end of which he remembered that he might safely promise. “That’s all right,” said the man; “hop in, and we’re off! Who-o-o-p, la!”
Andrea got into the cab, which passed rapidly through the Faubourg Saint-Denis, along the Faubourg
Saint-Martin, crossed the barrier, and threaded its way through the interminable Villette. They never overtook
the chimerical friend, yet Andrea frequently inquired of people on foot whom he passed and at the inns which were not yet closed, for a green cabriolet and bay horse; and as there are a great many cabriolets to be seen on
the road to the Low Countries, and as nine-tenths of them are green, the inquiries increased at every step. Every one had just seen it pass; it was only five hundred, two hundred, one hundred steps in advance; at length they reached it, but it was not the friend. Once the cab was also passed by a calash rapidly whirled along by two post-horses. “Ah,” said Cavalcanti to himself, “if I only had that britzska, those two good
post-horses, and above all the passport that carries them on!” And he sighed deeply. The calash contained Mademoiselle Danglars and Mademoiselle d’Armilly. “Hurry, hurry!” said Andrea, “we must overtake him soon.” And the poor horse resumed the desperate gallop it had kept up since leaving the barrier, and arrived steaming at Louvres.
“Certainly,” said Andrea, “I shall not overtake my friend, but I shall kill your horse, therefore I had better stop. Here are thirty francs; I will sleep at the Red Horse, and will secure a place in the first coach. Good-night,
friend.” And Andrea, after placing six pieces of five francs each in the man’s hand, leaped lightly on to the pathway. The cabman joyfully pocketed the sum, and turned back on his road to Paris. Andrea pretended to go towards the Red Horse inn, but after leaning an instant against the door, and hearing the last sound of the cab, which was disappearing from view, he went on his road, and with a lusty stride soon traversed the space of
two leagues. Then he rested; he must be near Chapelle-en-Serval, where he pretended to be going. It was not fatigue that stayed Andrea here; it was that he might form some resolution, adopt some plan. It would be impossible to make use of a diligence, equally so to engage post-horses; to travel either way a passport was necessary. It was still more impossible to remain in the department of the Oise, one of the most open and
strictly guarded in France; this was quite out of the question, especially to a man like Andrea, perfectly conversant with criminal matters.
He sat down by the side of the moat, buried his face in his hands and reflected. Ten minutes after he raised his head; his resolution was made. He threw some dust over the topcoat, which he had found time to unhook from
the ante-chamber and button over his ball costume, and going to Chapelle-en-Serval he knocked loudly at the door of the only inn in the place. The host opened. “My friend,” said Andrea, “I was coming from
Montefontaine to Senlis, when my horse, which is a troublesome creature, stumbled and threw me. I must
reach Compiegne to-night, or I shall cause deep anxiety to my family. Could you let me hire a horse of you?”
An inn-keeper has always a horse to let, whether it be good or bad. The host called the stable-boy, and ordered him to saddle “Whitey,” then he awoke his son, a child of seven years, whom he ordered to ride before the gentleman and bring back the horse. Andrea gave the inn-keeper twenty francs, and in taking them from his pocket dropped a visiting card. This belonged to one of his friends at the Cafe de Paris, so that the innkeeper, picking it up after Andrea had left, was convinced that he had let his horse to the Count of Mauleon, 25 Rue
Saint-Dominique, that being the name and address on the card. “Whitey” was not a fast animal, but he kept up
an easy, steady pace; in three hours and a half Andrea had traversed the nine leagues which separated him
from Compiegne, and four o’clock struck as he reached the place where the coaches stop. There is an excellent tavern at Compiegne, well remembered by those who have ever been there. Andrea, who had often stayed
there in his rides about Paris, recollected the Bell and Bottle inn; he turned around, saw the sign by the light of
a reflected lamp, and having dismissed the child, giving him all the small coin he had about him, he began knocking at the door, very reasonably concluding that having now three or four hours before him he had best fortify himself against the fatigues of the morrow by a sound sleep and a good supper. A waiter opened the
“My friend,” said Andrea, “I have been dining at Saint-Jean-au-Bois, and expected to catch the coach which passes by at midnight, but like a fool I have lost my way, and have been walking for the last four hours in the forest. Show me into one of those pretty little rooms which overlook the court, and bring me a cold fowl and a bottle of Bordeaux.” The waiter had no suspicions; Andrea spoke with perfect composure, he had a cigar in
his mouth, and his hands in the pocket of his top coat; his clothes were fashionably made, his chin smooth, his boots irreproachable; he looked merely as if he had stayed out very late, that was all. While the waiter was preparing his room, the hostess arose; Andrea assumed his most charming smile, and asked if he could have
No. 3, which he had occupied on his last stay at Compiegne. Unfortunately, No. 3 was engaged by a young man who was travelling with his sister. Andrea appeared in despair, but consoled himself when the hostess
assured him that No. 7, prepared for him, was situated precisely the same as No. 3, and while warming his feet and chatting about the last races at Chantilly, he waited until they announced his room to be ready.
Andrea had not spoken without cause of the pretty rooms looking out upon the court of the Bell Tavern, which with its triple galleries like those of a theatre, with the jessamine and clematis twining round the light
columns, forms one of the prettiest entrances to an inn that you can imagine. The fowl was tender, the wine old, the fire clear and sparkling, and Andrea was surprised to find himself eating with as good an appetite as though nothing had happened. Then he went to bed and almost immediately fell into that deep sleep which is sure to visit men of twenty years of age, even when they are torn with remorse. Now, here we are obliged to own that Andrea ought to have felt remorse, but that he did not. This was the plan which had appealed to him
to afford the best chance of his security. Before daybreak he would awake, leave the inn after rigorously paying his bill, and reaching the forest, he would, under pretence of making studies in painting, test the hospitality of some peasants, procure himself the dress of a woodcutter and a hatchet, casting off the lion’s
skin to assume that of the woodman; then, with his hands covered with dirt, his hair darkened by means of a leaden comb, his complexion embrowned with a preparation for which one of his old comrades had given him
the recipe, he intended, by following the wooded districts, to reach the nearest frontier, walking by night and sleeping in the day in the forests and quarries, and only entering inhabited regions to buy a loaf from time to time.
Once past the frontier, Andrea proposed making money of his diamonds; and by uniting the proceeds to ten bank-notes he always carried about with him in case of accident, he would then find himself possessor of
about 50,000 livres, which he philosophically considered as no very deplorable condition after all. Moreover,
he reckoned much on the interest of the Danglars to hush up the rumor of their own misadventures. These were the reasons which, added to the fatigue, caused Andrea to sleep so soundly. In order that he might awaken early he did not close the shutters, but contented himself with bolting the door and placing on the table an unclasped and long-pointed knife, whose temper he well knew, and which was never absent from him. About seven in the morning Andrea was awakened by a ray of sunlight, which played, warm and brilliant, upon his face. In all well-organized brains, the predominating idea — and there always is one — is sure to be the last thought before sleeping, and the first upon waking in the morning. Andrea had scarcely
opened his eyes when his predominating idea presented itself, and whispered in his ear that he had slept too
long. He jumped out of bed and ran to the window. A gendarme was crossing the court. A gendarme is one of
the most striking objects in the world, even to a man void of uneasiness; but for one who has a timid conscience, and with good cause too, the yellow, blue, and white uniform is really very alarming.
“Why is that gendarme there?” asked Andrea of himself. Then, all at once, he replied, with that logic which
the reader has, doubtless, remarked in him, “There is nothing astonishing in seeing a gendarme at an inn; instead of being astonished, let me dress myself.” And the youth dressed himself with a facility his valet de chambre had failed to rob him of during the two months of fashionable life he had led in Paris. “Now then,”
said Andrea, while dressing himself, “I’ll wait till he leaves, and then I’ll slip away.” And, saying this, Andrea, who had now put on his boots and cravat, stole gently to the window, and a second time lifted up the muslin curtain. Not only was the first gendarme still there, but the young man now perceived a second yellow, blue,
and white uniform at the foot of the staircase, the only one by which he could descend, while a third, on horseback, holding a musket in his fist, was posted as a sentinel at the great street door which alone afforded
the means of egress.
The appearance of the third gendarme settled the matter, for a crowd of curious loungers was extended before him, effectually blocking the entrance to the hotel. “They’re after me!” was Andrea’s first thought. “The
devil!” A pallor overspread the young man’s forehead, and he looked around him with anxiety. His room, like
all those on the same floor, had but one outlet to the gallery in the sight of everybody. “I am lost!” was his second thought; and, indeed, for a man in Andrea’s situation, an arrest meant the assizes, trial, and death, — death without mercy or delay. For a moment he convulsively pressed his head within his hands, and during that brief period he became nearly mad with terror; but soon a ray of hope glimmered in the multitude of thoughts which bewildered his mind, and a faint smile played upon his white lips and pallid cheeks. He
looked around and saw the objects of his search upon the chimney-piece; they were a pen, ink, and paper.
With forced composure he dipped the pen in the ink, and wrote the following lines upon a sheet of paper: —
“I have no money to pay my bill, but I am not a dishonest man; I leave behind me as a pledge this pin, worth ten times the amount. I shall be excused for leaving at daybreak, for I was ashamed.”
He then drew the pin from his cravat and placed it on the paper. This done, instead of leaving the door fastened, he drew back the bolts and even placed the door ajar, as though he had left the room, forgetting to close it, and slipping into the chimney like a man accustomed to that kind of gymnastic exercise, having
effaced the marks of his feet upon the floor, he commenced climbing the only opening which afforded him the means of escape. At this precise time, the first gendarme Andrea had noticed walked up-stairs, preceded by
the commissary of police, and supported by the second gendarme who guarded the staircase and was himself
re-enforced by the one stationed at the door.
Andrea was indebted for this visit to the following circumstances. At daybreak, the telegraphs were set at work in all directions, and almost immediately the authorities in every district had exerted their utmost
endeavors to arrest the murderer of Caderousse. Compiegne, that royal residence and fortified town, is well furnished with authorities, gendarmes, and commissaries of police; they therefore began operations as soon as
the telegraphic despatch arrived, and the Bell and Bottle being the best-known hotel in the town, they had naturally directed their first inquiries there.
Now, besides the reports of the sentinels guarding the Hotel de Ville, which is next door to the Bell and
Bottle, it had been stated by others that a number of travellers had arrived during the night. The sentinel who was relieved at six o’clock in the morning, remembered perfectly that just as he was taking his post a few minutes past four a young man arrived on horseback, with a little boy before him. The young man, having dismissed the boy and horse, knocked at the door of the hotel, which was opened, and again closed after his entrance. This late arrival had attracted much suspicion, and the young man being no other than Andrea, the commissary and gendarme, who was a brigadier, directed their steps towards his room.
They found the door ajar. “Oh, ho,” said the brigadier, who thoroughly understood the trick; “a bad sign to find the door open! I would rather find it triply bolted.” And, indeed, the little note and pin upon the table
confirmed, or rather corroborated, the sad truth. Andrea had fled. We say corroborated, because the brigadier was too experienced to be convinced by a single proof. He glanced around, looked in the bed, shook the
curtains, opened the closets, and finally stopped at the chimney. Andrea had taken the precaution to leave no
traces of his feet in the ashes, but still it was an outlet, and in this light was not to be passed over without serious investigation.
The brigadier sent for some sticks and straw, and having filled the chimney with them, set a light to it. The fire crackled, and the smoke ascended like the dull vapor from a volcano; but still no prisoner fell down, as
they expected. The fact was, that Andrea, at war with society ever since his youth, was quite as deep as a gendarme, even though he were advanced to the rank of brigadier, and quite prepared for the fire, he had climbed out on the roof and was crouching down against the chimney-pots. At one time he thought he was saved, for he heard the brigadier exclaim in a loud voice, to the two gendarmes, “He is not here!” But venturing to peep, he perceived that the latter, instead of retiring, as might have been reasonably expected upon this announcement, were watching with increased attention.
It was now his turn to look about him; the Hotel de Ville, a massive sixteenth century building, was on his
right; any one could descend from the openings in the tower, and examine every corner of the roof below, and
Andrea expected momentarily to see the head of a gendarme appear at one of these openings. If once discovered, he knew he would be lost, for the roof afforded no chance of escape; he therefore resolved to
descend, not through the same chimney by which he had come up, but by a similar one conducting to another room. He looked around for a chimney from which no smoke issued, and having reached it, he disappeared through the orifice without being seen by any one. At the same minute, one of the little windows of the Hotel
de Ville was thrown open, and the head of a gendarme appeared. For an instant it remained motionless as one
of the stone decorations of the building, then after a long sigh of disappointment the head disappeared. The brigadier, calm and dignified as the law he represented, passed through the crowd, without answering the thousand questions addressed to him, and re-entered the hotel.
“Well?” asked the two gendarmes.
“Well, my boys,” said the brigadier, “the brigand must really have escaped early this morning; but we will
send to the Villers-Coterets and Noyon roads, and search the forest, when we shall catch him, no doubt.” The honorable functionary had scarcely expressed himself thus, in that intonation which is peculiar to brigadiers of
the gendarmerie, when a loud scream, accompanied by the violent ringing of a bell, resounded through the court of the hotel. “Ah, what is that?” cried the brigadier.
“Some traveller seems impatient,” said the host. “What number was it that rang?” “Number 3.”
“Run, waiter!” At this moment the screams and ringing were redoubled. “Ah,” said the brigadier, stopping the servant, “the person who is ringing appears to want something more than a waiter; we will attend upon him
with a gendarme. Who occupies Number 3?”
“The little fellow who arrived last night in a post-chaise with his sister, and who asked for an apartment with two beds.” The bell here rang for the third time, with another shriek of anguish.
“Follow me, Mr. Commissary!” said the brigadier; “tread in my steps.”
“Wait an instant,” said the host; “Number 3 has two staircases, — inside and outside.” “Good,” said the brigadier. “I will take charge of the inside one. Are the carbines loaded?” “Yes, brigadier.”
“Well, you guard the exterior, and if he attempts to fly, fire upon him; he must be a great criminal, from what
the telegraph says.”
The brigadier, followed by the commissary, disappeared by the inside staircase, accompanied by the noise
which his assertions respecting Andrea had excited in the crowd. This is what had happened. Andrea had very cleverly managed to descend two-thirds of the chimney, but then his foot slipped, and notwithstanding his endeavors, he came into the room with more speed and noise than he intended. It would have signified little
had the room been empty, but unfortunately it was occupied. Two ladies, sleeping in one bed, were awakened
by the noise, and fixing their eyes upon the spot whence the sound proceeded, they saw a man. One of these ladies, the fair one, uttered those terrible shrieks which resounded through the house, while the other, rushing
to the bell-rope, rang with all her strength. Andrea, as we can see, was surrounded by misfortune.
“For pity’s sake,” he cried, pale and bewildered, without seeing whom he was addressing, — “for pity’s sake do not call assistance! Save me! — I will not harm you.”
“Andrea, the murderer!” cried one of the ladies.
“Eugenie! Mademoiselle Danglars!” exclaimed Andrea, stupefied.
“Help, help!” cried Mademoiselle d’Armilly, taking the bell from her companion’s hand, and ringing it yet
more violently. “Save me, I am pursued!” said Andrea, clasping his hands. “For pity, for mercy’s sake do not deliver me up!”
“It is too late, they are coming,” said Eugenie.
“Well, conceal me somewhere; you can say you were needlessly alarmed; you can turn their suspicions and save my life!”
The two ladies, pressing closely to one another, and drawing the bedclothes tightly around them, remained silent to this supplicating voice, repugnance and fear taking possession of their minds.
“Well, be it so,” at length said Eugenie; “return by the same road you came, and we will say nothing about you, unhappy wretch.”
“Here he is, here he is!” cried a voice from the landing; “here he is! I see him!” The brigadier had put his eye
to the keyhole, and had discovered Andrea in a posture of entreaty. A violent blow from the butt end of the musket burst open the lock, two more forced out the bolts, and the broken door fell in. Andrea ran to the other door, leading to the gallery, ready to rush out; but he was stopped short, and he stood with his body a little
thrown back, pale, and with the useless knife in his clinched hand.
“Fly, then!” cried Mademoiselle d’Armilly, whose pity returned as her fears diminished; “fly!”
“Or kill yourself!” said Eugenie (in a tone which a Vestal in the amphitheatre would have used, when urging
the victorious gladiator to finish his vanquished adversary). Andrea shuddered, and looked on the young girl with an expression which proved how little he understood such ferocious honor. “Kill myself?” he cried, throwing down his knife; “why should I do so?”
“Why, you said,” answered Mademoiselle Danglars, “that you would be condemned to die like the worst criminals.”
“Bah,” said Cavalcanti, crossing his arms, “one has friends.”
The brigadier advanced to him, sword in hand. “Come, come,” said Andrea, “sheathe your sword, my fine
fellow; there is no occasion to make such a fuss, since I give myself up;” and he held out his hands to be manacled. The girls looked with horror upon this shameful metamorphosis, the man of the world shaking off
his covering and appearing as a galley-slave. Andrea turned towards them, and with an impertinent smile
asked, — “Have you any message for your father, Mademoiselle Danglars, for in all probability I shall return
Eugenie covered her face with her hands. “Oh, ho!” said Andrea, “you need not be ashamed, even though you did post after me. Was I not nearly your husband?”
And with this raillery Andrea went out, leaving the two girls a prey to their own feelings of shame, and to the comments of the crowd. An hour after they stepped into their calash, both dressed in feminine attire. The gate
of the hotel had been closed to screen them from sight, but they were forced, when the door was open, to pass through a throng of curious glances and whispering voices. Eugenie closed her eyes; but though she could not see, she could hear, and the sneers of the crowd reached her in the carriage. “Oh, why is not the world a wilderness?” she exclaimed, throwing herself into the arms of Mademoiselle d’Armilly, her eyes sparkling
with the same kind of rage which made Nero wish that the Roman world had but one neck, that he might sever
it at a single blow. The next day they stopped at the Hotel de Flandre, at Brussels. The same evening Andrea was incarcerated in the Conciergerie.
We have seen how quietly Mademoiselle Danglars and Mademoiselle d’Armilly accomplished their transformation and flight; the fact being that every one was too much occupied in his or her own affairs to think of theirs. We will leave the banker contemplating the enormous magnitude of his debt before the phantom of bankruptcy, and follow the baroness, who after being momentarily crushed under the weight of
the blow which had struck her, had gone to seek her usual adviser, Lucien Debray. The baroness had looked forward to this marriage as a means of ridding her of a guardianship which, over a girl of Eugenie’s character, could not fail to be rather a troublesome undertaking; for in the tacit relations which maintain the bond of
family union, the mother, to maintain her ascendancy over her daughter, must never fail to be a model of wisdom and a type of perfection.
Now, Madame Danglars feared Eugenie’s sagacity and the influence of Mademoiselle d’Armilly; she had frequently observed the contemptuous expression with which her daughter looked upon Debray, — an expression which seemed to imply that she understood all her mother’s amorous and pecuniary relationships with the intimate secretary; moreover, she saw that Eugenie detested Debray, — not only because he was a source of dissension and scandal under the paternal roof, but because she had at once classed him in that catalogue of bipeds whom Plato endeavors to withdraw from the appellation of men, and whom Diogenes designated as animals upon two legs without feathers.
Unfortunately, in this world of ours, each person views things through a certain medium, and so is prevented from seeing in the same light as others, and Madame Danglars, therefore, very much regretted that the
marriage of Eugenie had not taken place, not only because the match was good, and likely to insure the happiness of her child, but because it would also set her at liberty. She ran therefore to Debray, who, after having like the rest of Paris witnessed the contract scene and the scandal attending it, had retired in haste to
his club, where he was chatting with some friends upon the events which served as a subject of conversation
for three-fourths of that city known as the capital of the world.
At the precise time when Madame Danglars, dressed in black and concealed in a long veil, was ascending the stairs leading to Debray’s apartments, — notwithstanding the assurances of the concierge that the young man was not at home, — Debray was occupied in repelling the insinuations of a friend, who tried to persuade him
that after the terrible scene which had just taken place he ought, as a friend of the family, to marry
Mademoiselle Danglars and her two millions. Debray did not defend himself very warmly, for the idea had sometimes crossed his mind; still, when he recollected the independent, proud spirit of Eugenie, he positively rejected it as utterly impossible, though the same thought again continually recurred and found a resting-place
in his heart. Tea, play, and the conversation, which had become interesting during the discussion of such serious affairs, lasted till one o’clock in the morning.
Meanwhile Madame Danglars, veiled and uneasy, awaited the return of Debray in the little green room, seated between two baskets of flowers, which she had that morning sent, and which, it must be confessed, Debray
had himself arranged and watered with so much care that his absence was half excused in the eyes of the poor woman.
At twenty minutes of twelve, Madame Danglars, tired of waiting, returned home. Women of a certain grade
are like prosperous grisettes in one respect, they seldom return home after twelve o’clock. The baroness
returned to the hotel with as much caution as Eugenie used in leaving it; she ran lightly up-stairs, and with an aching heart entered her apartment, contiguous, as we know, to that of Eugenie. She was fearful of exciting
any remark, and believed firmly in her daughter’s innocence and fidelity to the paternal roof. She listened at Eugenie’s door, and hearing no sound tried to enter, but the bolts were in place. Madame Danglars then concluded that the young girl had been overcome with the terrible excitement of the evening, and had gone to
bed and to sleep. She called the maid and questioned her.
“Mademoiselle Eugenie,” said the maid, “retired to her apartment with Mademoiselle d’Armilly; they then
took tea together, after which they desired me to leave, saying that they needed me no longer.” Since then the maid had been below, and like every one else she thought the young ladies were in their own room; Madame Danglars, therefore, went to bed without a shadow of suspicion, and began to muse over the recent events. In proportion as her memory became clearer, the occurrences of the evening were revealed in their true light;
what she had taken for confusion was a tumult; what she had regarded as something distressing, was in reality
a disgrace. And then the baroness remembered that she had felt no pity for poor Mercedes, who had been afflicted with as severe a blow through her husband and son.
“Eugenie,” she said to herself, “is lost, and so are we. The affair, as it will be reported, will cover us with
shame; for in a society such as ours satire inflicts a painful and incurable wound. How fortunate that Eugenie
is possessed of that strange character which has so often made me tremble!” And her glance was turned towards heaven, where a mysterious providence disposes all things, and out of a fault, nay, even a vice,
sometimes produces a blessing. And then her thoughts, cleaving through space like a bird in the air, rested on
Cavalcanti. This Andrea was a wretch, a robber, an assassin, and yet his manners showed the effects of a sort
of education, if not a complete one; he had been presented to the world with the appearance of an immense fortune, supported by an honorable name. How could she extricate herself from this labyrinth? To whom
would she apply to help her out of this painful situation? Debray, to whom she had run, with the first instinct
of a woman towards the man she loves, and who yet betrays her, — Debray could but give her advice, she must apply to some one more powerful than he.
The baroness then thought of M. de Villefort. It was M. de Villefort who had remorselessly brought
misfortune into her family, as though they had been strangers. But, no; on reflection, the procureur was not a merciless man; and it was not the magistrate, slave to his duties, but the friend, the loyal friend, who roughly
but firmly cut into the very core of the corruption; it was not the executioner, but the surgeon, who wished to withdraw the honor of Danglars from ignominious association with the disgraced young man they had
presented to the world as their son-in-law. And since Villefort, the friend of Danglars, had acted in this way,
no one could suppose that he had been previously acquainted with, or had lent himself to, any of Andrea’s intrigues. Villefort’s conduct, therefore, upon reflection, appeared to the baroness as if shaped for their mutual advantage. But the inflexibility of the procureur should stop there; she would see him the next day, and if she could not make him fail in his duties as a magistrate, she would, at least, obtain all the indulgence he could
allow. She would invoke the past, recall old recollections; she would supplicate him by the remembrance of guilty, yet happy days. M. de Villefort would stifle the affair; he had only to turn his eyes on one side, and allow Andrea to fly, and follow up the crime under that shadow of guilt called contempt of court. And after
this reasoning she slept easily.
At nine o’clock next morning she arose, and without ringing for her maid or giving the least sign of her
activity, she dressed herself in the same simple style as on the previous night; then running down-stairs, she
left the hotel. walked to the Rue de Provence, called a cab, and drove to M. de Villefort’s house. For the last month this wretched house had presented the gloomy appearance of a lazaretto infected with the plague. Some
of the apartments were closed within and without; the shutters were only opened to admit a minute’s air, showing the scared face of a footman, and immediately afterwards the window would be closed, like a gravestone falling on a sepulchre, and the neighbors would say to each other in a low voice, “Will there be another funeral to-day at the procureur’s house?” Madame Danglars involuntarily shuddered at the desolate aspect of the mansion; descending from the cab, she approached the door with trembling knees, and rang the bell. Three times did the bell ring with a dull, heavy sound, seeming to participate, in the general sadness,
before the concierge appeared and peeped through the door, which he opened just wide enough to allow his words to be heard. He saw a lady, a fashionable, elegantly dressed lady, and yet the door remained almost closed.
“Do you intend opening the door?” said the baroness.
“First, madame, who are you?”
“Who am I? You know me well enough.” “We no longer know any one, madame.”
“You must be mad, my friend,” said the baroness. “Where do you come from?”
“Oh, this is too much!”
“Madame, these are my orders; excuse me. Your name?” “The baroness Danglars; you have seen me twenty times.” “Possibly, madame. And now, what do you want?”
“Oh, how extraordinary! I shall complain to M. de Villefort of the impertinence of his servants.”
“Madame, this is precaution, not impertinence; no one enters here without an order from M. d’Avrigny, or without speaking to the procureur.”
“Well, I have business with the procureur.” “Is it pressing business?”
“You can imagine so, since I have not even brought my carriage out yet. But enough of this — here is my card, take it to your master.”
“Madame will await my return?”
“Yes; go.” The concierge closed the door, leaving Madame Danglars in the street. She had not long to wait; directly afterwards the door was opened wide enough to admit her, and when she had passed through, it was again shut. Without losing sight of her for an instant, the concierge took a whistle from his pocket as soon as they entered the court, and blew it. The valet de chambre appeared on the door-steps. “You will excuse this poor fellow, madame,” he said, as he preceded the baroness, “but his orders are precise, and M. de Villefort
begged me to tell you that he could not act otherwise.”
In the court showing his merchandise, was a tradesman who had been admitted with the same precautions.
The baroness ascended the steps; she felt herself strongly infected with the sadness which seemed to magnify
her own, and still guided by the valet de chambre, who never lost sight of her for an instant, she was
introduced to the magistrate’s study. Preoccupied as Madame Danglars had been with the object of her visit,
the treatment she had received from these underlings appeared to her so insulting, that she began by complaining of it. But Villefort, raising his head, bowed down by grief, looked up at her with so sad a smile
that her complaints died upon her lips. “Forgive my servants,” he said, “for a terror I cannot blame them for;
from being suspected they have become suspicious.”
Madame Danglars had often heard of the terror to which the magistrate alluded, but without the evidence of
her own eyesight she could never have believed that the sentiment had been carried so far. “You too, then, are
unhappy?” she said. “Yes, madame,” replied the magistrate.
“Then you pity me!” “Sincerely, madame.”
“And you understand what brings me here?”
“You wish to speak to me about the circumstance which has just happened?” “Yes, sir, — a fearful misfortune.”
“You mean a mischance.”
“A mischance?” repeated the baroness.
“Alas, madame,” said the procureur with his imperturbable calmness of manner, “I consider those alone misfortunes which are irreparable.”
“And do you suppose this will be forgotten?”
“Everything will be forgotten, madame,” said Villefort. “Your daughter will be married to-morrow, if not
to-day — in a week, if not to-morrow; and I do not think you can regret the intended husband of your daughter.”
Madame Danglars gazed on Villefort, stupefied to find him so almost insultingly calm. “Am I come to a
friend?” she asked in a tone full of mournful dignity. “You know that you are, madame,” said Villefort, whose pale cheeks became slightly flushed as he gave her the assurance. And truly this assurance carried him back to different events from those now occupying the baroness and him. “Well, then, be more affectionate, my dear Villefort,” said the baroness. “Speak to me not as a magistrate, but as a friend; and when I am in bitter anguish
of spirit, do not tell me that I ought to be gay.” Villefort bowed. “When I hear misfortunes named, madame,”
he said, “I have within the last few months contracted the bad habit of thinking of my own, and then I cannot
help drawing up an egotistical parallel in my mind. That is the reason that by the side of my misfortunes yours appear to me mere mischances; that is why my dreadful position makes yours appear enviable. But this
annoys you; let us change the subject. You were saying, madame” —
“I came to ask you, my friend,” said the baroness, “what will be done with this impostor?”
“Impostor,” repeated Villefort; “certainly, madame, you appear to extenuate some cases, and exaggerate
others. Impostor, indeed! — M. Andrea Cavalcanti, or rather M. Benedetto, is nothing more nor less than an assassin!”
“Sir, I do not deny the justice of your correction, but the more severely you arm yourself against that unfortunate man, the more deeply will you strike our family. Come, forget him for a moment, and instead of pursuing him let him go.”
“You are too late, madame; the orders are issued.”
“Well, should he be arrested — do they think they will arrest him?”
“I hope so.”
“If they should arrest him (I know that sometimes prisoners afford means of escape), will you leave him in
prison?” — The procureur shook his head. “At least keep him there till my daughter be married.” “Impossible, madame; justice has its formalities.”
“What, even for me?” said the baroness, half jesting, half in earnest. “For all, even for myself among the rest,”
“Ah,” exclaimed the baroness, without expressing the ideas which the exclamation betrayed. Villefort looked
at her with that piercing glance which reads the secrets of the heart. “Yes, I know what you mean,” he said; “you refer to the terrible rumors spread abroad in the world, that the deaths which have kept me in mourning
for the last three months, and from which Valentine has only escaped by a miracle, have not happened by natural means.”
“I was not thinking of that,” replied Madame Danglars quickly. “Yes, you were thinking of it, and with justice. You could not help thinking of it, and saying to yourself, `you, who pursue crime so vindictively, answer now, why are there unpunished crimes in your dwelling?'” The baroness became pale. “You were saying this, were
“Well, I own it.”
“I will answer you.”
Villefort drew his armchair nearer to Madame Danglars; then resting both hands upon his desk he said in a voice more hollow than usual: “There are crimes which remain unpunished because the criminals are unknown, and we might strike the innocent instead of the guilty; but when the culprits are discovered” (Villefort here extended his hand toward a large crucifix placed opposite to his desk) — “when they are
discovered, I swear to you, by all I hold most sacred, that whoever they may be they shall die. Now, after the oath I have just taken, and which I will keep, madame, dare you ask for mercy for that wretch!”
“But, sir, are you sure he is as guilty as they say?”
“Listen; this is his description: `Benedetto, condemned, at the age of sixteen, for five years to the galleys for forgery.’ He promised well, as you see — first a runaway, then an assassin.”
“And who is this wretch?”
“Who can tell? — a vagabond, a Corsican.” “Has no one owned him?”
“No one; his parents are unknown.”
“But who was the man who brought him from Lucca?”
“Another rascal like himself, perhaps his accomplice.” The baroness clasped her hands. “Villefort,” she exclaimed in her softest and most captivating manner.
“For heaven’s sake, madame,” said Villefort, with a firmness of expression not altogether free from harshness
— “for heaven’s sake, do not ask pardon of me for a guilty wretch! What am I? — the law. Has the law any
eyes to witness your grief? Has the law ears to be melted by your sweet voice? Has the law a memory for all
those soft recollections you endeavor to recall? No, madame; the law has commanded, and when it commands
it strikes. You will tell me that I am a living being, and not a code — a man, and not a volume. Look at me,
madame — look around me. Have mankind treated me as a brother? Have they loved me? Have they spared me? Has any one shown the mercy towards me that you now ask at my hands? No, madame, they struck me,
always struck me!
“Woman, siren that you are, do you persist in fixing on me that fascinating eye, which reminds me that I ought
to blush? Well, be it so; let me blush for the faults you know, and perhaps — perhaps for even more than those! But having sinned myself, — it may be more deeply than others, — I never rest till I have torn the
disguises from my fellow-creatures, and found out their weaknesses. I have always found them; and more, — I
repeat it with joy, with triumph, — I have always found some proof of human perversity or error. Every
criminal I condemn seems to me living evidence that I am not a hideous exception to the rest. Alas, alas, alas;
all the world is wicked; let us therefore strike at wickedness!”
Villefort pronounced these last words with a feverish rage, which gave a ferocious eloquence to his words. “But”‘ said Madame Danglars, resolving to make a last effort, “this young man, though a murderer, is an
orphan, abandoned by everybody.”
“So much the worse, or rather, so much the better; it has been so ordained that he may have none to weep his fate.”
“But this is trampling on the weak, sir.” “The weakness of a murderer!”
“His dishonor reflects upon us.” “Is not death in my house?”
“Oh, sir,” exclaimed the baroness, “you are without pity for others, well, then, I tell you they will have no mercy on you!”
“Be it so!” said Villefort, raising his arms to heaven.
“At least, delay the trial till the next assizes; we shall then have six months before us.”
“No, madame,” said Villefort; “instructions have been given. There are yet five days left; five days are more than I require. Do you not think that I also long for forgetfulness? While working night and day, I sometimes lose all recollection of the past, and then I experience the same sort of happiness I can imagine the dead feel; still, it is better than suffering.”
“But, sir, he has fled; let him escape — inaction is a pardonable offence.”
“I tell you it is too late; early this morning the telegraph was employed, and at this very minute” —
“Sir,” said the valet de chambre, entering the room, “a dragoon has brought this despatch from the minister of
the interior.” Villefort seized the letter, and hastily broke the seal. Madame Danglars trembled with fear; Villefort started with joy. “Arrested!” he exclaimed; “he was taken at Compiegne, and all is over.” Madame Danglars rose from her seat, pale and cold. “Adieu, sir,” she said. “Adieu, madame,” replied the king’s
attorney, as in an almost joyful manner he conducted her to the door. Then, turning to his desk, he said, striking the letter with the back of his right hand, “Come, I had a forgery, three robberies, and two cases of arson, I only wanted a murder, and here it is. It will be a splendid session!”
As the procureur had told Madame Danglars, Valentine was not yet recovered. Bowed down with fatigue, she was indeed confined to her bed; and it was in her own room, and from the lips of Madame de Villefort, that
she heard all the strange events we have related, — we mean the flight of Eugenie and the arrest of Andrea
Cavalcanti, or rather Benedetto, together with the accusation of murder pronounced against him. But
Valentine was so weak that this recital scarcely produced the same effect it would have done had she been in
her usual state of health. Indeed, her brain was only the seat of vague ideas, and confused forms, mingled with strange fancies, alone presented themselves before her eyes.
During the daytime Valentine’s perceptions remained tolerably clear, owing to the constant presence of M. Noirtier, who caused himself to be carried to his granddaughter’s room, and watched her with his paternal tenderness; Villefort also, on his return from the law courts, frequently passed an hour or two with his father
and child. At six o’clock Villefort retired to his study, at eight M. d’Avrigny himself arrived, bringing the night draught prepared for the young girl, and then M. Noirtier was carried away. A nurse of the doctor’s choice succeeded them, and never left till about ten or eleven o’clock, when Valentine was asleep. As she went
down-stairs she gave the keys of Valentine’s room to M. de Villefort, so that no one could reach the sick-room excepting through that of Madame de Villefort and little Edward.
Every morning Morrel called on Noirtier to receive news of Valentine, and, extraordinary as it seemed, each day found him less uneasy. Certainly, though Valentine still labored under dreadful nervous excitement, she was better; and moreover, Monte Cristo had told him when, half distracted, he had rushed to the count’s
house, that if she were not dead in two hours she would be saved. Now four days had elapsed, and Valentine still lived.
The nervous excitement of which we speak pursued Valentine even in her sleep, or rather in that state of somnolence which succeeded her waking hours; it was then, in the silence of night, in the dim light shed from
the alabaster lamp on the chimney-piece, that she saw the shadows pass and repass which hover over the bed
of sickness, and fan the fever with their trembling wings. First she fancied she saw her stepmother threatening her, then Morrel stretched his arms towards her; sometimes mere strangers, like the Count of Monte Cristo
came to visit her; even the very furniture, in these moments of delirium, seemed to move, and this state lasted
till about three o’clock in the morning, when a deep, heavy slumber overcame the young girl, from which she
did not awake till daylight. On the evening of the day on which Valentine had learned of the flight of Eugenie and the arrest of Benedetto, — Villefort having retired as well as Noirtier and d’Avrigny, — her thoughts
wandered in a confused maze, alternately reviewing her own situation and the events she had just heard.
Eleven o’clock had struck. The nurse, having placed the beverage prepared by the doctor within reach of the patient, and locked the door, was listening with terror to the comments of the servants in the kitchen, and
storing her memory with all the horrible stories which had for some months past amused the occupants of the ante-chambers in the house of the king’s attorney. Meanwhile an unexpected scene was passing in the room which had been so carefully locked. Ten minutes had elapsed since the nurse had left; Valentine, who for the
last hour had been suffering from the fever which returned nightly, incapable of controlling her ideas, was forced to yield to the excitement which exhausted itself in producing and reproducing a succession and
recurrence of the same fancies and images. The night-lamp threw out countless rays, each resolving itself into some strange form to her disordered imagination, when suddenly by its flickering light Valentine thought she
saw the door of her library, which was in the recess by the chimney-piece, open slowly, though she in vain listened for the sound of the hinges on which it turned.
At any other time Valentine would have seized the silken bell-pull and summoned assistance, but nothing astonished her in her present situation. Her reason told her that all the visions she beheld were but the children
of her imagination, and the conviction was strengthened by the fact that in the morning no traces remained of
the nocturnal phantoms, who disappeared with the coming of daylight. From behind the door a human figure appeared, but the girl was too familiar with such apparitions to be alarmed, and therefore only stared, hoping
to recognize Morrel. The figure advanced towards the bed and appeared to listen with profound attention. At this moment a ray of light glanced across the face of the midnight visitor.
“It is not he,” she murmured, and waited, in the assurance that this was but a dream, for the man to disappear
or assume some other form. Still, she felt her pulse, and finding it throb violently she remembered that the
best method of dispelling such illusions was to drink, for a draught of the beverage prepared by the doctor to allay her fever seemed to cause a reaction of the brain, and for a short time she suffered less. Valentine
therefore reached her hand towards the glass, but as soon as her trembling arm left the bed the apparition advanced more quickly towards her, and approached the young girl so closely that she fancied she heard his breath, and felt the pressure of his hand.
This time the illusion, or rather the reality, surpassed anything Valentine had before experienced; she began to believe herself really alive and awake, and the belief that her reason was this time not deceived made her
shudder. The pressure she felt was evidently intended to arrest her arm, and she slowly withdrew it. Then the figure, from whom she could not detach her eyes, and who appeared more protecting than menacing, took the glass, and walking towards the night-light held it up, as if to test its transparency. This did not seem sufficient;
the man, or rather the ghost — for he trod so softly that no sound was heard — then poured out about a
spoonful into the glass, and drank it. Valentine witnessed this scene with a sentiment of stupefaction. Every minute she had expected that it would vanish and give place to another vision; but the man, instead of dissolving like a shadow, again approached her, and said in an agitated voice, “Now you may drink.”
Valentine shuddered. It was the first time one of these visions had ever addressed her in a living voice, and
she was about to utter an exclamation. The man placed his finger on her lips. “The Count of Monte Cristo!”
It was easy to see that no doubt now remained in the young girl’s mind as to the reality of the scene; her eyes started with terror, her hands trembled, and she rapidly drew the bedclothes closer to her. Still, the presence of Monte Cristo at such an hour, his mysterious, fanciful, and extraordinary entrance into her room through the
wall, might well seem impossibilities to her shattered reason. “Do not call any one — do not be alarmed,” said
the Count; “do not let a shade of suspicion or uneasiness remain in your breast; the man standing before you, Valentine (for this time it is no ghost), is nothing more than the tenderest father and the most respectful friend you could dream of.”
Valentine could not reply; the voice which indicated the real presence of a being in the room, alarmed her so much that she feared to utter a syllable; still the expression of her eyes seemed to inquire, “If your intentions
are pure, why are you here?” The count’s marvellous sagacity understood all that was passing in the young girl’s mind.
“Listen to me,” he said, “or, rather, look upon me; look at my face, paler even than usual, and my eyes, red
with weariness — for four days I have not closed them, for I have been constantly watching you, to protect and preserve you for Maximilian.” The blood mounted rapidly to the cheeks of Valentine, for the name just announced by the count dispelled all the fear with which his presence had inspired her. “Maximilian!” she exclaimed, and so sweet did the sound appear to her, that she repeated it — “Maximilian! — has he then owned
all to you?”
“Everything. He told me your life was his, and I have promised him that you shall live.” “You have promised him that I shall live?”
“But, sir, you spoke of vigilance and protection. Are you a doctor?” “Yes; the best you could have at the present time, believe me.”
“But you say you have watched?” said Valentine uneasily; “where have you been? — I have not seen you.”
The count extended his hand towards the library. “I was hidden behind that door,” he said, “which leads into
the next house, which I have rented.” Valentine turned her eyes away, and, with an indignant expression of pride and modest fear, exclaimed: “Sir, I think you have been guilty of an unparalleled intrusion, and that
what you call protection is more like an insult.”
“Valentine,” he answered, “during my long watch over you, all I have observed has been what people visited you, what nourishment was prepared, and what beverage was served; then, when the latter appeared
dangerous to me, I entered, as I have now done, and substituted, in the place of the poison, a healthful draught; which, instead of producing the death intended, caused life to circulate in your veins.”
“Poison — death!” exclaimed Valentine, half believing herself under the influence of some feverish hallucination; “what are you saying, sir?”
“Hush, my child,” said Monte Cristo, again placing his finger upon her lips, “I did say poison and death. But drink some of this;” and the count took a bottle from his pocket, containing a red liquid, of which he poured a few drops into the glass. “Drink this, and then take nothing more to-night.” Valentine stretched out her hand,
but scarcely had she touched the glass when she drew back in fear. Monte Cristo took the glass, drank half its contents, and then presented it to Valentine, who smiled and swallowed the rest. “Oh, yes,” she exclaimed, “I recognize the flavor of my nocturnal beverage which refreshed me so much, and seemed to ease my aching brain. Thank you, sir, thank you!”
“This is how you have lived during the last four nights, Valentine,” said the count. “But, oh, how I passed that time! Oh, the wretched hours I have endured — the torture to which I have submitted when I saw the deadly poison poured into your glass, and how I trembled lest you should drink it before I could find time to throw it away!”
“Sir,” said Valentine, at the height of her terror, “you say you endured tortures when you saw the deadly poison poured into my glass; but if you saw this, you must also have seen the person who poured it?”
“Yes.” Valentine raised herself in bed, and drew over her chest, which appeared whiter than snow, the embroidered cambric, still moist with the cold dews of delirium, to which were now added those of terror. “You saw the person?” repeated the young girl. “Yes,” repeated the count.
“What you tell me is horrible, sir. You wish to make me believe something too dreadful. What? — attempt to murder me in my father’s house, in my room, on my bed of sickness? Oh, leave me, sir; you are tempting me
— you make me doubt the goodness of providence — it is impossible, it cannot be!”
“Are you the first that this hand has stricken? Have you not seen M. de Saint-Meran, Madame de Saint-Meran, Barrois, all fall? would not M. Noirtier also have fallen a victim, had not the treatment he has been pursuing
for the last three years neutralized the effects of the poison?”
“Oh, heaven,” said Valentine; “is this the reason why grandpapa has made me share all his beverages during the last month?”
“And have they all tasted of a slightly bitter flavor, like that of dried orange-peel?”
“Oh, yes, yes!”
“Then that explains all,” said Monte Cristo. “Your grandfather knows, then, that a poisoner lives here; perhaps
he even suspects the person. He has been fortifying you, his beloved child, against the fatal effects of the poison, which has failed because your system was already impregnated with it. But even this would have availed little against a more deadly medium of death employed four days ago, which is generally but too fatal.”
“But who, then, is this assassin, this murderer?”
“Let me also ask you a question. Have you never seen any one enter your room at night?”
“Oh, yes; I have frequently seen shadows pass close to me, approach, and disappear; but I took them for
visions raised by my feverish imagination, and indeed when you entered I thought I was under the influence
“Then you do not know who it is that attempts your life?” “No,” said Valentine; “who could desire my death?”
“You shall know it now, then,” said Monte Cristo, listening.
“How do you mean?” said Valentine, looking anxiously around.
“Because you are not feverish or delirious to-night, but thoroughly awake; midnight is striking, which is the hour murderers choose.”
“Oh, heavens,” exclaimed Valentine, wiping off the drops which ran down her forehead. Midnight struck
slowly and sadly; every hour seemed to strike with leaden weight upon the heart of the poor girl. “Valentine,”
said the count, “summon up all your courage; still the beatings of your heart; do not let a sound escape you,
and feign to be asleep; then you will see.” Valentine seized the count’s hand. “I think I hear a noise,” she said; “leave me.”
“Good-by, for the present,” replied the count, walking upon tiptoe towards the library door, and smiling with
an expression so sad and paternal that the young girl’s heart was filled with gratitude. Before closing the door
he turned around once more, and said, “Not a movement — not a word; let them think you asleep, or perhaps you may be killed before I have the power of helping you.” And with this fearful injunction the count disappeared through the door, which noiselessly closed after him.
Valentine was alone; two other clocks, slower than that of Saint-Philippe du Roule, struck the hour of midnight from different directions, and excepting the rumbling of a few carriages all was silent. Then
Valentine’s attention was engrossed by the clock in her room, which marked the seconds. She began counting them, remarking that they were much slower than the beatings of her heart; and still she doubted, — the inoffensive Valentine could not imagine that any one should desire her death. Why should they? To what end? What had she done to excite the malice of an enemy? There was no fear of her falling asleep. One terrible idea pressed upon her mind, — that some one existed in the world who had attempted to assassinate her, and who
was about to endeavor to do so again. Supposing this person, wearied at the inefficacy of the poison, should,
as Monte Cristo intimated, have recourse to steel! — What if the count should have no time to run to her rescue! — What if her last moments were approaching, and she should never again see Morrel! When this
terrible chain of ideas presented itself, Valentine was nearly persuaded to ring the bell, and call for help. But through the door she fancied she saw the luminous eye of the count — that eye which lived in her memory, and
the recollection overwhelmed her with so much shame that she asked herself whether any amount of gratitude could ever repay his adventurous and devoted friendship.
Twenty minutes, twenty tedious minutes, passed thus, then ten more, and at last the clock struck the half-flour. Just then the sound of finger-nails slightly grating against the door of the library informed
Valentine that the count was still watching, and recommended her to do the same; at the same time, on the opposite side, that is towards Edward’s room, Valentine fancied that she heard the creaking of the floor; she listened attentively, holding her breath till she was nearly suffocated; the lock turned, and the door slowly opened. Valentine had raised herself upon her elbow, and had scarcely time to throw herself down on the bed
and shade her eyes with her arm; then, trembling, agitated, and her heart beating with indescribable terror, she awaited the event.
Some one approached the bed and drew back the curtains. Valentine summoned every effort, and breathed with that regular respiration which announces tranquil sleep. “Valentine!” said a low voice. Still silent: Valentine had promised not to awake. Then everything was still, excepting that Valentine heard the almost noiseless sound of some liquid being poured into the glass she had just emptied. Then she ventured to open
her eyelids, and glance over her extended arm. She saw a woman in a white dressing-gown pouring a liquor from a phial into her glass. During this short time Valentine must have held her breath, or moved in some
slight degree, for the woman, disturbed, stopped and leaned over the bed, in order the better to ascertain whether Valentine slept — it was Madame de Villefort.
On recognizing her step-mother, Valentine could not repress a shudder, which caused a vibration in the bed. Madame de Villefort instantly stepped back close to the wall, and there, shaded by the bed-curtains, she
silently and attentively watched the slightest movement of Valentine. The latter recollected the terrible caution
of Monte Cristo; she fancied that the hand not holding the phial clasped a long sharp knife. Then collecting all
her remaining strength, she forced herself to close her eyes; but this simple operation upon the most delicate organs of our frame, generally so easy to accomplish, became almost impossible at this moment, so much did curiosity struggle to retain the eyelid open and learn the truth. Madame de Villefort, however, reassured by the silence, which was alone disturbed by the regular breathing of Valentine, again extended her hand, and half
hidden by the curtains succeeded in emptying the contents of the phial into the glass. Then she retired so
gently that Valentine did not know she had left the room. She only witnessed the withdrawal of the arm — the fair round arm of a woman but twenty-five years old, and who yet spread death around her.
It is impossible to describe the sensations experienced by Valentine during the minute and a half Madame de Villefort remained in the room. The grating against the library-door aroused the young girl from the stupor in which she was plunged, and which almost amounted to insensibility. She raised her head with an effort. The
noiseless door again turned on its hinges, and the Count of Monte Cristo reappeared. “Well,” said he, “do you
“Oh,” murmured the young girl. “Have you seen?”
“Did you recognize?” Valentine groaned. “Oh, yes;” she said, “I saw, but I cannot believe!” “Would you rather die, then, and cause Maximilian’s death?”
“Oh,” repeated the young girl, almost bewildered, “can I not leave the house? — can I not escape?”
“Valentine, the hand which now threatens you will pursue you everywhere; your servants will be seduced with gold, and death will be offered to you disguised in every shape. You will find it in the water you drink from
the spring, in the fruit you pluck from the tree.”
“But did you not say that my kind grandfather’s precaution had neutralized the poison?”
“Yes, but not against a strong dose; the poison will be changed, and the quantity increased.” He took the glass and raised it to his lips. “It is already done,” he said; “brucine is no longer employed, but a simple narcotic! I
can recognize the flavor of the alcohol in which it has been dissolved. If you had taken what Madame de
Villefort has poured into your glass, Valentine — Valentine — you would have been doomed!” “But,” exclaimed the young girl, “why am I thus pursued?”
“Why? — are you so kind — so good — so unsuspicious of ill, that you cannot understand, Valentine?” “No, I have never injured her.”
“But you are rich, Valentine; you have 200,000 livres a year, and you prevent her son from enjoying these
“How so? The fortune is not her gift, but is inherited from my relations.”
“Certainly; and that is why M. and Madame de Saint-Meran have died; that is why M. Noirtier was sentenced
the day he made you his heir; that is why you, in your turn, are to die — it is because your father would inherit your property, and your brother, his only son, succeed to his.”
“Edward? Poor child! Are all these crimes committed on his account?” “Ah, then you at length understand?”
“Heaven grant that this may not be visited upon him!” “Valentine, you are an angel!”
“But why is my grandfather allowed to live?”
“It was considered, that you dead, the fortune would naturally revert to your brother, unless he were
disinherited; and besides, the crime appearing useless, it would be folly to commit it.”
“And is it possible that this frightful combination of crimes has been invented by a woman?”
“Do you recollect in the arbor of the Hotel des Postes, at Perugia, seeing a man in a brown cloak, whom your stepmother was questioning upon aqua tofana? Well, ever since then, the infernal project has been ripening in
“Ah, then, indeed, sir,” said the sweet girl, bathed in tears, “I see that I am condemned to die!”
“No, Valentine, for I have foreseen all their plots; no, your enemy is conquered since we know her, and you will live, Valentine — live to be happy yourself, and to confer happiness upon a noble heart; but to insure this
you must rely on me.”
“Command me, sir — what am I to do?” “You must blindly take what I give you.”
“Alas, were it only for my own sake, I should prefer to die!” “You must not confide in any one — not even in your father.”
“My father is not engaged in this fearful plot, is he, sir?” asked Valentine, clasping her hands.
“No; and yet your father, a man accustomed to judicial accusations, ought to have known that all these deaths have not happened naturally; it is he who should have watched over you — he should have occupied my place
— he should have emptied that glass — he should have risen against the assassin. Spectre against spectre!” he murmured in a low voice, as he concluded his sentence.
“Sir,” said Valentine, “I will do all I can to live. for there are two beings whose existence depends upon mine
— my grandfather and Maximilian.”
“I will watch over them as I have over you.”
“Well, sir, do as you will with me;” and then she added, in a low voice, “oh, heavens, what will befall me?” “Whatever may happen, Valentine, do not be alarmed; though you suffer; though you lose sight, hearing,
consciousness, fear nothing; though you should awake and be ignorant where you are, still do not fear; even though you should find yourself in a sepulchral vault or coffin. Reassure yourself, then, and say to yourself:
`At this moment, a friend, a father, who lives for my happiness and that of Maximilian, watches over me!'” “Alas, alas, what a fearful extremity!”
“Valentine, would you rather denounce your stepmother?” “I would rather die a hundred times — oh, yes, die!”
“No, you will not die; but will you promise me, whatever happens, that you will not complain, but hope?”
“I will think of Maximilian!”
“You are my own darling child, Valentine! I alone can save you, and I will.” Valentine in the extremity of her
terror joined her hands, — for she felt that the moment had arrived to ask for courage, — and began to pray,
and while uttering little more than incoherent words, she forgot that her white shoulders had no other covering than her long hair, and that the pulsations of her heart could he seen through the lace of her nightdress. Monte Cristo gently laid his hand on the young girl’s arm, drew the velvet coverlet close to her throat, and said with a paternal smile, — “My child, believe in my devotion to you as you believe in the goodness of providence and
the love of Maximilian.”
Then he drew from his waistcoat-pocket the little emerald box, raised the golden lid, and took from it a
pastille about the size of a pea, which he placed in her hand. She took it, and looked attentively on the count; there was an expression on the face of her intrepid protector which commanded her veneration. She evidently interrogated him by her look. “Yes,” said he. Valentine carried the pastille to her mouth, and swallowed it.
“And now, my dear child, adieu for the present. I will try and gain a little sleep, for you are saved.” “Go,” said Valentine, “whatever happens, I promise you not to fear.”
Monte Cristo for some time kept his eyes fixed on the young girl, who gradually fell asleep, yielding to the effects of the narcotic the count had given her. Then he took the glass, emptied three parts of the contents in
the fireplace, that it might be supposed Valentine had taken it, and replaced it on the table; then he
disappeared, after throwing a farewell glance on Valentine, who slept with the confidence and innocence of an angel.
The night-light continued to burn on the chimney-piece, exhausting the last drops of oil which floated on the surface of the water. The globe of the lamp appeared of a reddish hue, and the flame, brightening before it expired, threw out the last flickerings which in an inanimate object have been so often compared with the convulsions of a human creature in its final agonies. A dull and dismal light was shed over the bedclothes and curtains surrounding the young girl. All noise in the streets had ceased, and the silence was frightful. It was
then that the door of Edward’s room opened, and a head we have before noticed appeared in the glass opposite; it was Madame de Villefort, who came to witness the effects of the drink she had prepared. She
stopped in the doorway, listened for a moment to the flickering of the lamp, the only sound in that deserted
room, and then advanced to the table to see if Valentine’s glass were empty. It was still about a quarter full, as
we before stated. Madame de Villefort emptied the contents into the ashes, which she disturbed that they might the more readily absorb the liquid; then she carefully rinsed the glass, and wiping it with her handkerchief replaced it on the table.
If any one could have looked into the room just then he would have noticed the hesitation with which
Madame de Villefort approached the bed and looked fixedly on Valentine. The dim light, the profound
silence, and the gloomy thoughts inspired by the hour, and still more by her own conscience, all combined to produce a sensation of fear; the poisoner was terrified at the contemplation of her own work. At length she rallied, drew aside the curtain, and leaning over the pillow gazed intently on Valentine. The young girl no
longer breathed, no breath issued through the half-closed teeth; the white lips no longer quivered — the eyes were suffused with a bluish vapor, and the long black lashes rested on a cheek white as wax. Madame de Villefort gazed upon the face so expressive even in its stillness; then she ventured to raise the coverlet and
press her hand upon the young girl’s heart. It was cold and motionless. She only felt the pulsation in her own fingers, and withdrew her hand with a shudder. One arm was hanging out of the bed; from shoulder to elbow
it was moulded after the arms of Germain Pillon’s “Graces,”* but the fore-arm seemed to be slightly distorted
by convulsion, and the hand, so delicately formed, was resting with stiff outstretched fingers on the framework of the bed. The nails, too, were turning blue.
* Germain Pillon was a famous French sculptor (1535-1598). His best known work is “The Three Graces,”
now in the Louvre.
Madame de Villefort had no longer any doubt; all was over — she had consummated the last terrible work she had to accomplish. There was no more to do in the room, so the poisoner retired stealthily, as though fearing
to hear the sound of her own footsteps; but as she withdrew she still held aside the curtain, absorbed in the irresistible attraction always exerted by the picture of death, so long as it is merely mysterious and does not excite disgust. Just then the lamp again flickered; the noise startled Madame de Villefort, who shuddered and dropped the curtain. Immediately afterwards the light expired, and the room was plunged in frightful
obscurity, while the clock at that minute struck half-past four. Overpowered with agitation, the poisoner succeeded in groping her way to the door, and reached her room in an agony of fear.
The darkness lasted two hours longer; then by degrees a cold light crept through the Venetian blinds, until at length it revealed the objects in the room. About this time the nurse’s cough was heard on the stairs and the woman entered the room with a cup in her hand. To the tender eye of a father or a lover, the first glance would have sufficed to reveal Valentine’s condition; but to this hireling, Valentine only appeared to sleep. “Good,”
she exclaimed, approaching the table, “she has taken part of her draught; the glass is three-quarters empty.”
Then she went to the fireplace and lit the fire, and although she had just left her bed, she could not resist the temptation offered by Valentine’s sleep, so she threw herself into an arm-chair to snatch a little more rest. The clock striking eight awoke her. Astonished at the prolonged slumber of the patient, and frightened to see that
the arm was still hanging out of the bed, she advanced towards Valentine, and for the first time noticed the
white lips. She tried to replace the arm, but it moved with a frightful rigidity which could not deceive a sick-nurse. She screamed aloud; then running to the door exclaimed, — “Help, help!”
“What is the matter?” asked M. d’Avrigny, at the foot of the stairs, it being the hour he usually visited her. “What is it?” asked Villefort, rushing from his room. “Doctor, do you hear them call for help?”
“Yes, yes; let us hasten up; it was in Valentine’s room.” But before the doctor and the father could reach the room, the servants who were on the same floor had entered, and seeing Valentine pale and motionless on her bed, they lifted up their hands towards heaven and stood transfixed, as though struck by lightening. “Call
Madame de Villefort! — wake Madame de Villefort!” cried the procureur from the door of his chamber, which apparently he scarcely dared to leave. But instead of obeying him, the servants stood watching M. d’Avrigny,
who ran to Valentine, and raised her in his arms. “What? — this one, too?” he exclaimed. “Oh, where will be
the end?” Villefort rushed into the room. “What are you saying, doctor?” he exclaimed, raising his hands to heaven.
“I say that Valentine is dead!” replied d’Avrigny, in a voice terrible in its solemn calm.
M. de Villefort staggered and buried his head in the bed. On the exclamation of the doctor and the cry of the father, the servants all fled with muttered imprecations; they were heard running down the stairs and through
the long passages, then there was a rush in the court, afterwards all was still; they had, one and all, deserted
the accursed house. Just then, Madame de Villefort, in the act of slipping on her dressing-gown, threw aside
the drapery and for a moment stood motionless, as though interrogating the occupants of the room, while she endeavored to call up some rebellious tears. On a sudden she stepped, or rather bounded, with outstretched
arms, towards the table. She saw d’Avrigny curiously examining the glass, which she felt certain of having emptied during the night. It was now a third full, just as it was when she threw the contents into the ashes. The spectre of Valentine rising before the poisoner would have alarmed her less. It was, indeed, the same color as
the draught she had poured into the glass, and which Valentine had drank; it was indeed the poison, which
could not deceive M. d’Avrigny, which he now examined so closely; it was doubtless a miracle from heaven, that, notwithstanding her precautions, there should be some trace, some proof remaining to reveal the crime. While Madame de Villefort remained rooted to the spot like a statue of terror, and Villefort, with his head
hidden in the bedclothes, saw nothing around him, d’Avrigny approached the window, that he might the better examine the contents of the glass, and dipping the tip of his finger in, tasted it. “Ah,” he exclaimed, “it is no longer brucine that is used; let me see what it is!”
Then he ran to one of the cupboards in Valentine’s room, which had been transformed into a medicine closet, and taking from its silver case a small bottle of nitric acid, dropped a little of it into the liquor, which immediately changed to a blood-red color. “Ah,” exclaimed d’Avrigny, in a voice in which the horror of a
judge unveiling the truth was mingled with the delight of a student making a discovery. Madame de Villefort was overpowered, her eyes first flashed and then swam, she staggered towards the door and disappeared. Directly afterwards the distant sound of a heavy weight falling on the ground was heard, but no one paid any attention to it; the nurse was engaged in watching the chemical analysis, and Villefort was still absorbed in
grief. M. d’Avrigny alone had followed Madame de Villefort with his eyes, and watched her hurried retreat.
He lifted up the drapery over the entrance to Edward’s room, and his eye reaching as far as Madame de Villefort’s apartment, he beheld her extended lifeless on the floor. “Go to the assistance of Madame de Villefort,” he said to the nurse. “Madame de Villefort is ill.”
“But Mademoiselle de Villefort” — stammered the nurse.
“Mademoiselle de Villefort no longer requires help,” said d’Avrigny, “since she is dead.”
“Dead, — dead!” groaned forth Villefort, in a paroxysm of grief, which was the more terrible from the novelty
of the sensation in the iron heart of that man.
“Dead!” repeated a third voice. “Who said Valentine was dead?”
The two men turned round, and saw Morrel standing at the door, pale and terror-stricken. This is what had happened. At the usual time, Morrel had presented himself at the little door leading to Noirtier’s room.
Contrary to custom, the door was open, and having no occasion to ring he entered. He waited for a moment in
the hall and called for a servant to conduct him to M. Noirtier; but no one answered, the servants having, as
we know, deserted the house. Morrel had no particular reason for uneasiness; Monte Cristo had promised him that Valentine should live, and so far he had always fulfilled his word. Every night the count had given him
news, which was the next morning confirmed by Noirtier. Still this extraordinary silence appeared strange to him, and he called a second and third time; still no answer. Then he determined to go up. Noirtier’s room was opened, like all the rest. The first thing he saw was the old man sitting in his arm-chair in his usual place, but
his eyes expressed alarm, which was confirmed by the pallor which overspread his features. “How are you, sir?” asked Morrel, with a sickness of heart.
“Well,” answered the old man, by closing his eyes; but his appearance manifested increasing uneasiness. “You are thoughtful, sir,” continued Morrel; “you want something; shall I call one of the servants?”
“Yes,” replied Noirtier.
Morrel pulled the bell, but though he nearly broke the cord no one answered. He turned towards Noirtier; the pallor and anguish expressed on his countenance momentarily increased.
“Oh,” exclaimed Morrel, “why do they not come? Is any one ill in the house?” The eyes of Noirtier seemed as though they would start from their sockets. “What is the matter? You alarm me. Valentine? Valentine?”
“Yes, yes,” signed Noirtier. Maximilian tried to speak, but he could articulate nothing; he staggered, and supported himself against the wainscot. Then he pointed to the door.
“Yes, yes, yes!” continued the old man. Maximilian rushed up the little staircase, while Noirtier’s eyes seemed
to say, — “Quicker, quicker!”
In a minute the young man darted through several rooms, till at length he reached Valentine’s. There was no occasion to push the door, it was wide open. A sob was the only sound he heard. He saw as though in a mist, a black figure kneeling and buried in a confused mass of white drapery. A terrible fear transfixed him. It was
then he heard a voice exclaim “Valentine is dead!” and another voice which, like an echo repeated, — “Dead,
Villefort rose, half ashamed of being surprised in such a paroxysm of grief. The terrible office he had held for twenty-five years had succeeded in making him more or less than man. His glance, at first wandering, fixed
itself upon Morrel. “Who are you, sir,” he asked, “that forget that this is not the manner to enter a house stricken with death? Go, sir, go!” But Morrel remained motionless; he could not detach his eyes from that
disordered bed, and the pale corpse of the young girl who was lying on it. “Go! — do you hear?” said Villefort, while d’Avrigny advanced to lead Morrel out. Maximilian stared for a moment at the corpse, gazed all around
the room, then upon the two men; he opened his mouth to speak, but finding it impossible to give utterance to
the innumerable ideas that occupied his brain, he went out, thrusting his hands through his hair in such a manner that Villefort and d’Avrigny, for a moment diverted from the engrossing topic, exchanged glances, which seemed to say, — “He is mad!”
But in less than five minutes the staircase groaned beneath an extraordinary weight. Morrel was seen carrying, with superhuman strength, the arm-chair containing Noirtier up-stairs. When he reached the landing he placed
the arm-chair on the floor and rapidly rolled it into Valentine’s room. This could only have been accomplished
by means of unnatural strength supplied by powerful excitement. But the most fearful spectacle was Noirtier being pushed towards the bed, his face expressing all his meaning, and his eyes supplying the want of every other faculty. That pale face and flaming glance appeared to Villefort like a frightful apparition. Each time he had been brought into contact with his father, something terrible had happened. “See what they have done!”
cried Morrel, with one hand leaning on the back of the chair, and the other extended towards Valentine. “See, my father, see!”
Villefort drew back and looked with astonishment on the young man, who, almost a stranger to him, called Noirtier his father. At this moment the whole soul of the old man seemed centred in his eyes which became bloodshot; the veins of the throat swelled; his cheeks and temples became purple, as though he was struck with epilepsy; nothing was wanting to complete this but the utterance of a cry. And the cry issued from his pores, if we may thus speak — a cry frightful in its silence. D’Avrigny rushed towards the old man and made
him inhale a powerful restorative.
“Sir,” cried Morrel, seizing the moist hand of the paralytic, “they ask me who I am, and what right I have to be here. Oh, you know it, tell them, tell them!” And the young man’s voice was choked by sobs. As for the old
man, his chest heaved with his panting respiration. One could have thought that he was undergoing the
agonies preceding death. At length, happier than the young man, who sobbed without weeping, tears glistened
in the eyes of Noirtier. “Tell them,” said Morrel in a hoarse voice, “tell them that I am her betrothed. Tell them
she was my beloved, my noble girl, my only blessing in the world. Tell them — oh, tell them, that corpse belongs to me!”
The young man overwhelmed by the weight of his anguish, fell heavily on his knees before the bed, which his fingers grasped with convulsive energy. D’Avrigny, unable to bear the sight of this touching emotion, turned away; and Villefort, without seeking any further explanation, and attracted towards him by the irresistible magnetism which draws us towards those who have loved the people for whom we mourn, extended his hand towards the young man. But Morrel saw nothing; he had grasped the hand of Valentine, and unable to weep vented his agony in groans as he bit the sheets. For some time nothing was heard in that chamber but sobs, exclamations, and prayers. At length Villefort, the most composed of all, spoke: “Sir,” said he to Maximilian, “you say you loved Valentine, that you were betrothed to her. I knew nothing of this engagement, of this love,
yet I, her father, forgive you, for I see that your grief is real and deep; and besides my own sorrow is too great
for anger to find a place in my heart. But you see that the angel whom you hoped for has left this earth — she
has nothing more to do with the adoration of men. Take a last farewell, sir, of her sad remains; take the hand you expected to possess once more within your own, and then separate yourself from her forever. Valentine
now requires only the ministrations of the priest.”
“You are mistaken, sir,” exclaimed Morrel, raising himself on one knee, his heart pierced by a more acute
pang than any he had yet felt — “you are mistaken; Valentine, dying as she has, not only requires a priest, but
an avenger. You, M. de Villefort, send for the priest; I will be the avenger.”
“What do you mean, sir?” asked Villefort, trembling at the new idea inspired by the delirium of Morrel.
“I tell you, sir, that two persons exist in you; the father has mourned sufficiently, now let the procureur fulfil
The eyes of Noirtier glistened, and d’Avrigny approached.
“Gentlemen,” said Morrel, reading all that passed through the minds of the witnesses to the scene, “I know what I am saying, and you know as well as I do what I am about to say — Valentine has been assassinated!” Villefort hung his head, d’Avrigny approached nearer, and Noirtier said “Yes” with his eyes. “Now, sir,”
continued Morrel, “in these days no one can disappear by violent means without some inquiries being made as
to the cause of her disappearance, even were she not a young, beautiful, and adorable creature like Valentine. Mr. Procureur,” said Morrel with increasing vehemence, “no mercy is allowed; I denounce the crime; it is
your place to seek the assassin.” The young man’s implacable eyes interrogated Villefort, who, on his side, glanced from Noirtier to d’Avrigny. But instead of finding sympathy in the eyes of the doctor and his father,
he only saw an expression as inflexible as that of Maximilian. “Yes,” indicated the old man. “Assuredly,” said d’Avrigny.
“Sir,” said Villefort, striving to struggle against this triple force and his own emotion, — “sir, you are
deceived; no one commits crimes here. I am stricken by fate. It is horrible, indeed, but no one assassinates.”
The eyes of Noirtier lighted up with rage, and d’Avrigny prepared to speak. Morrel, however, extended his
arm, and commanded silence. “And I say that murders are committed here,” said Morrel, whose voice, though lower in tone, lost none of its terrible distinctness: “I tell you that this is the fourth victim within the last four months. I tell you, Valentine’s life was attempted by poison four days ago, though she escaped, owing to the precautions of M. Noirtier. I tell you that the dose has been double, the poison changed, and that this time it
has succeeded. I tell you that you know these things as well as I do, since this gentleman has forewarned you, both as a doctor and as a friend.”
“Oh, you rave, sir,” exclaimed Villefort, in vain endeavoring to escape the net in which he was taken.
“I rave?” said Morrel; “well, then, I appeal to M. d’Avrigny himself. Ask him, sir, if he recollects the words he uttered in the garden of this house on the night of Madame de Saint-Meran’s death. You thought yourselves
alone, and talked about that tragical death, and the fatality you mentioned then is the same which has caused
the murder of Valentine.” Villefort and d’Avrigny exchanged looks. “Yes, yes,” continued Morrel; “recall the scene, for the words you thought were only given to silence and solitude fell into my ears. Certainly, after witnessing the culpable indolence manifested by M. de Villefort towards his own relations, I ought to have denounced him to the authorities; then I should not have been an accomplice to thy death, as I now am, sweet, beloved Valentine; but the accomplice shall become the avenger. This fourth murder is apparent to all, and if
thy father abandon thee, Valentine, it is I, and I swear it, that shall pursue the assassin.” And this time, as
though nature had at least taken compassion on the vigorous frame, nearly bursting with its own strength, the words of Morrel were stifled in his throat; his breast heaved; the tears, so long rebellious, gushed from his
eyes; and he threw himself weeping on his knees by the side of the bed.
Then d’Avrigny spoke. “And I, too,” he exclaimed in a low voice, “I unite with M. Morrel in demanding
justice for crime; my blood boils at the idea of having encouraged a murderer by my cowardly concession.”
“Oh, merciful heavens!” murmured Villefort. Morrel raised his head, and reading the eyes of the old man, which gleamed with unnatural lustre, — “Stay,” he said, “M. Noirtier wishes to speak.”
“Yes,” indicated Noirtier, with an expression the more terrible, from all his faculties being centred in his glance.
“Do you know the assassin?” asked Morrel. “Yes,” replied Noirtier.
“And will you direct us?” exclaimed the young man. “Listen, M. d’Avrigny, listen!” Noirtier looked upon Morrel with one of those melancholy smiles which had so often made Valentine happy, and thus fixed his attention. Then, having riveted the eyes of his interlocutor on his own, he glanced towards the door.
“Do you wish me to leave?” said Morrel, sadly. “Yes,” replied Noirtier.
“Alas, alas, sir, have pity on me!”
The old man’s eyes remained fixed on the door. “May I, at least, return?” asked Morrel.
“Must I leave alone?” “No.”
“Whom am I to take with me? The procureur?” “No.”
“The doctor?” “Yes.”
“You wish to remain alone with M. de Villefort?” “Yes.”
“But can he understand you?” “Yes.”
“Oh,” said Villefort, inexpressibly delighted to think that the inquiries were to be made by him alone, — “oh,
be satisfied, I can understand my father.” D’Avrigny took the young man’s arm, and led him out of the room.
A more than deathlike silence then reigned in the house. At the end of a quarter of an hour a faltering footstep was heard, and Villefort appeared at the door of the apartment where d’Avrigny and Morrel had been staying,
one absorbed in meditation, the other in grief. “You can come,” he said, and led them back to Noirtier. Morrel
looked attentively on Villefort. His face was livid, large drops rolled down his face, and in his fingers he held
the fragments of a quill pen which he had torn to atoms.
“Gentlemen,” he said in a hoarse voice, “give me your word of honor that this horrible secret shall forever remain buried amongst ourselves!” The two men drew back.
“I entreat you.” — continued Villefort.
“But,” said Morrel, “the culprit — the murderer — the assassin.”
“Do not alarm yourself, sir; justice will be done,” said Villefort. “My father has revealed the culprit’s name;
my father thirsts for revenge as much as you do, yet even he conjures you as I do to keep this secret. Do you not, father?”
“Yes,” resolutely replied Noirtier. Morrel suffered an exclamation of horror and surprise to escape him. “Oh, sir,” said Villefort, arresting Maximilian by the arm, “if my father, the inflexible man, makes this request, it is because he knows, be assured, that Valentine will be terribly revenged. Is it not so, father?” The old man made
a sign in the affirmative. Villefort continued: “He knows me, and I have pledged my word to him. Rest
assured, gentlemen, that within three days, in a less time than justice would demand, the revenge I shall have taken for the murder of my child will be such as to make the boldest heart tremble;” and as he spoke these
words he ground his teeth, and grasped the old man’s senseless hand.
“Will this promise be fulfilled, M. Noirtier?” asked Morrel, while d’Avrigny looked inquiringly. “Yes,” replied Noirtier with an expression of sinister joy.
“Swear, then,” said Villefort, joining the hands of Morrel and d’Avrigny, “swear that you will spare the honor
of my house, and leave me to avenge my child.” D’Avrigny turned round and uttered a very feeble “Yes,” but Morrel, disengaging his hand, rushed to the bed, and after having pressed the cold lips of Valentine with his own, hurriedly left, uttering a long, deep groan of despair and anguish. We have before stated that all the servants had fled. M. de Villefort was therefore obliged to request M. d’Avrigny to superintend all the arrangements consequent upon a death in a large city, more especially a death under such suspicious circumstances.
It was something terrible to witness the silent agony, the mute despair of Noirtier, whose tears silently rolled down his cheeks. Villefort retired to his study, and d’Avrigny left to summon the doctor of the mayoralty,
whose office it is to examine bodies after decease, and who is expressly named “the doctor of the dead.” M. Noirtier could not be persuaded to quit his grandchild. At the end of a quarter of an hour M. d’Avrigny
returned with his associate; they found the outer gate closed, and not a servant remaining in the house;
Villefort himself was obliged to open to them. But he stopped on the landing; he had not the courage to again visit the death chamber. The two doctors, therefore, entered the room alone. Noirtier was near the bed, pale,
motionless, and silent as the corpse. The district doctor approached with the indifference of a man accustomed
to spend half his time amongst the dead; he then lifted the sheet which was placed over the face, and just unclosed the lips.
“Alas,” said d’Avrigny, “she is indeed dead, poor child!”
“Yes,” answered the doctor laconically, dropping the sheet he had raised. Noirtier uttered a kind of hoarse,
rattling sound; the old man’s eyes sparkled, and the good doctor understood that he wished to behold his child.
He therefore approached the bed, and while his companion was dipping the fingers with which he had touched
the lips of the corpse in chloride of lime, he uncovered the calm and pale face, which looked like that of a
sleeping angel. A tear, which appeared in the old man’s eye, expressed his thanks to the doctor. The doctor of
the dead then laid his permit on the corner of the table, and having fulfilled his duty, was conducted out by d’Avrigny. Villefort met them at the door of his study; having in a few words thanked the district doctor, he turned to d’Avrigny, and said, — “And now the priest.”
“Is there any particular priest you wish to pray with Valentine?” asked d’Avrigny. “No.” said Villefort; “fetch the nearest.”
“The nearest,” said the district doctor, “is a good Italian abbe, who lives next door to you. Shall I call on him
as I pass?”
“D’Avrigny,” said Villefort, “be so kind, I beseech you, as to accompany this gentleman. Here is the key of the door, so that you can go in and out as you please; you will bring the priest with you, and will oblige me by introducing him into my child’s room.”
“Do you wish to see him?”
“I only wish to be alone. You will excuse me, will you not? A priest can understand a father’s grief.” And M.
de Villefort, giving the key to d’Avrigny, again bade farewell to the strange doctor, and retired to his study, where he began to work. For some temperaments work is a remedy for all afflictions. As the doctors entered
the street, they saw a man in a cassock standing on the threshold of the next door. “This is the abbe of whom I
spoke,” said the doctor to d’Avrigny. D’Avrigny accosted the priest. “Sir,” he said, “are you disposed to confer
a great obligation on an unhappy father who has just lost his daughter? I mean M. de Villefort, the king’s attorney.”
“Ah,” said the priest, in a marked Italian accent; “yes, I have heard that death is in that house.” “Then I need not tell you what kind of service he requires of you.”
“I was about to offer myself, sir,” said the priest; “it is our mission to forestall our duties.” “It is a young girl.”
“I know it, sir; the servants who fled from the house informed me. I also know that her name is Valentine, and
I have already prayed for her.”
“Thank you, sir,” said d’Avrigny; “since you have commenced your sacred office, deign to continue it. Come and watch by the dead, and all the wretched family will be grateful to you.”
“I am going, sir; and I do not hesitate to say that no prayers will be more fervent than mine.” D’Avrigny took
the priest’s hand, and without meeting Villefort, who was engaged in his study, they reached Valentine’s room, which on the following night was to be occupied by the undertakers. On entering the room, Noirtier’s eyes met those of the abbe, and no doubt he read some particular expression in them, for he remained in the room. D’Avrigny recommended the attention of the priest to the living as well as to the dead, and the abbe promised
to devote his prayers to Valentine and his attentions to Noirtier. In order, doubtless, that he might not be
disturbed while fulfilling his sacred mission, the priest rose as soon as d’Avrigny departed, and not only bolted
the door through which the doctor had just left, but also that leading to Madame de Villefort’s room.
The next morning dawned dull and cloudy. During the night the undertakers had executed their melancholy office, and wrapped the corpse in the winding-sheet, which, whatever may be said about the equality of death,
is at least a last proof of the luxury so pleasing in life. This winding-sheet was nothing more than a beautiful piece of cambric, which the young girl had bought a fortnight before. During the evening two men, engaged
for the purpose, had carried Noirtier from Valentine’s room into his own, and contrary to all expectation there was no difficulty in withdrawing him from his child. The Abbe Busoni had watched till daylight, and then left without calling any one. D’Avrigny returned about eight o’clock in the morning; he met Villefort on his way to
Noirtier’s room, and accompanied him to see how the old man had slept. They found him in the large
arm-chair, which served him for a bed, enjoying a calm, nay, almost a smiling sleep. They both stood in amazement at the door.
“See,” said d’Avrigny to Villefort, “nature knows how to alleviate the deepest sorrow. No one can say that M. Noirtier did not love his child, and yet he sleeps.”
“Yes, you are right,” replied Villefort, surprised; “he sleeps, indeed! And this is the more strange, since the least contradiction keeps him awake all night.”
“Grief has stunned him,” replied d’Avrigny; and they both returned thoughtfully to the procureur’s study.
“See, I have not slept,” said Villefort, showing his undisturbed bed; “grief does not stun me. I have not been in bed for two nights; but then look at my desk; see what I have written during these two days and nights. I have filled those papers, and have made out the accusation against the assassin Benedetto. Oh, work, work, — my passion, my joy, my delight, — it is for thee to alleviate my sorrows!” and he convulsively grasped the hand of d’Avrigny.
“Do you require my services now?” asked d’Avrigny.
“No,” said Villefort; “only return again at eleven o’clock; at twelve the — the — oh, heavens, my poor, poor child!” and the procureur again becoming a man, lifted up his eyes and groaned.
“Shall you be present in the reception room?”
“No; I have a cousin who has undertaken this sad office. I shall work, doctor — when I work I forget
everything.” And, indeed, no sooner had the doctor left the room, than he was again absorbed in study. On the doorsteps d’Avrigny met the cousin whom Villefort had mentioned, a personage as insignificant in our story
as in the world he occupied — one of those beings designed from their birth to make themselves useful to others. He was punctual, dressed in black, with crape around his hat, and presented himself at his cousin’s with a face made up for the occasion, and which he could alter as might be required. At twelve o’clock the
mourning-coaches rolled into the paved court, and the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore was filled with a crowd
of idlers, equally pleased to witness the festivities or the mourning of the rich, and who rush with the same avidity to a funeral procession as to the marriage of a duchess.
Gradually the reception-room filled, and some of our old friends made their appearance — we mean Debray, Chateau-Renaud, and Beauchamp, accompanied by all the leading men of the day at the bar, in literature, or
the army, for M. de Villefort moved in the first Parisian circles, less owing to his social position than to his personal merit. The cousin standing at the door ushered in the guests, and it was rather a relief to the
indifferent to see a person as unmoved as themselves, and who did not exact a mournful face or force tears, as would have been the case with a father, a brother, or a lover. Those who were acquainted soon formed into
little groups. One of them was made of Debray, Chateau-Renaud, and Beauchamp.
“Poor girl,” said Debray, like the rest, paying an involuntary tribute to the sad event, — “poor girl, so young,
so rich, so beautiful! Could you have imagined this scene, Chateau-Renaud, when we saw her, at the most three weeks ago, about to sign that contract?”
“Indeed, no,” said Chateau-Renaud — “Did you know her?”
“I spoke to her once or twice at Madame de Morcerf’s, among the rest; she appeared to me charming, though rather melancholy. Where is her stepmother? Do you know?”
“She is spending the day with the wife of the worthy gentleman who is receiving us.” “Who is he?”
“Whom do you mean?”
“The gentleman who receives us? Is he a deputy?”
“Oh, no. I am condemned to witness those gentlemen every day,” said Beauchamp; “but he is perfectly unknown to me.”
“Have you mentioned this death in your paper?”
“It has been mentioned, but the article is not mine; indeed, I doubt if it will please M. Villefort, for it says that
if four successive deaths had happened anywhere else than in the house of the king’s attorney, he would have interested himself somewhat more about it.”
“Still,” said Chateau-Renaud, “Dr. d’Avrigny, who attends my mother, declares he is in despair about it. But whom are you seeking, Debray?”
“I am seeking the Count of Monte Cristo” said the young man.
“I met him on the boulevard, on my way here,” said Beauchamp. “I think he is about to leave Paris; he was going to his banker.”
“His banker? Danglars is his banker, is he not?” asked Chateau-Renaud of Debray.
“I believe so,” replied the secretary with slight uneasiness. “But Monte Cristo is not the only one I miss here; I
do not see Morrel.”
“Morrel? Do they know him?” asked Chateau-Renaud. “I think he has only been introduced to Madame de
“Still, he ought to have been here,” said Debray; “I wonder what will be talked about to-night; this funeral is
the news of the day. But hush, here comes our minister of justice; he will feel obliged to make some little speech to the cousin,” and the three young men drew near to listen. Beauchamp told the truth when he said that on his way to the funeral he had met Monte Cristo, who was directing his steps towards the Rue de la Chausse d’Antin, to M. Danglars’.
The banker saw the carriage of the count enter the court yard, and advanced to meet him with a sad, though affable smile. “Well,” said he, extending his hand to Monte Cristo, “I suppose you have come to sympathize
with me, for indeed misfortune has taken possession of my house. When I perceived you, I was just asking
myself whether I had not wished harm towards those poor Morcerfs, which would have justified the proverb
of `He who wishes misfortunes to happen to others experiences them himself.’ Well, on my word of honor, I answered, `No!’ I wished no ill to Morcerf; he was a little proud, perhaps, for a man who like myself has risen from nothing; but we all have our faults. Do you know, count, that persons of our time of life — not that you belong to the class, you are still a young man, — but as I was saying, persons of our time of life have been
very unfortunate this year. For example, look at the puritanical procureur, who has just lost his daughter, and
in fact nearly all his family, in so singular a manner; Morcerf dishonored and dead; and then myself covered with ridicule through the villany of Benedetto; besides” —
“Besides what?” asked the Count. “Alas, do you not know?”
“What new calamity?” “My daughter” —
“Mademoiselle Danglars?” “Eugenie has left us!”
“Good heavens, what are you telling me?”
“The truth, my dear count. Oh, how happy you must be in not having either wife or children!” “Do you think so?”
“Indeed I do.”
“And so Mademoiselle Danglars” —
“She could not endure the insult offered to us by that wretch, so she asked permission to travel.” “And is she gone?”
“The other night she left.” “With Madame Danglars?”
“No, with a relation. But still, we have quite lost our dear Eugenie; for I doubt whether her pride will ever allow her to return to France.”
“Still, baron,” said Monte Cristo, “family griefs, or indeed any other affliction which would crush a man whose child was his only treasure, are endurable to a millionaire. Philosophers may well say, and practical
men will always support the opinion, that money mitigates many trials; and if you admit the efficacy of this sovereign balm, you ought to be very easily consoled — you, the king of finance, the focus of immeasurable power.”
Danglars looked at him askance, as though to ascertain whether he spoke seriously. “Yes,” he answered, “if a fortune brings consolation, I ought to be consoled; I am rich.”
“So rich, dear sir, that your fortune resembles the pyramids; if you wished to demolish them you could not,
and if it were possible, you would not dare!” Danglars smiled at the good-natured pleasantry of the count. “That reminds me,” he said, “that when you entered I was on the point of signing five little bonds; I have already signed two: will you allow me to do the same to the others?”
“Pray do so.”
There was a moment’s silence, during which the noise of the banker’s pen was alone heard, while Monte
Cristo examined the gilt mouldings on the ceiling. “Are they Spanish, Haitian, or Neapolitan bonds?” said
Monte Cristo. “No,” said Danglars, smiling, “they are bonds on the bank of France, payable to bearer. Stay, count,” he added, “you, who may be called the emperor, if I claim the title of king of finance, have you many pieces of paper of this size, each worth a million?” The count took into his hands the papers, which Danglars
had so proudly presented to him, and read: —
“To the Governor of the Bank. Please pay to my order, from the fund deposited by me, the sum of a million, and charge the same to my account.
“One, two, three, four, five,” said Monte Cristo; “five millions — why what a Croesus you are!” “This is how I transact business,” said Danglars.
“It is really wonderful,” said the count; “above all, if, as I suppose, it is payable at sight.” “It is, indeed, said Danglars.
“It is a fine thing to have such credit; really, it is only in France these things are done. Five millions on five little scraps of paper! — it must be seen to be believed.”
“You do not doubt it?” “No!”
“You say so with an accent — stay, you shall be convinced; take my clerk to the bank, and you will see him leave it with an order on the Treasury for the same sum.”
“No,” said Monte Cristo folding the five notes, “most decidedly not; the thing is so curious, I will make the experiment myself. I am credited on you for six millions. I have drawn nine hundred thousand francs, you therefore still owe me five millions and a hundred thousand francs. I will take the five scraps of paper that I now hold as bonds, with your signature alone, and here is a receipt in full for the six millions between us. I had prepared it beforehand, for I am much in want of money to-day.” And Monte Cristo placed the bonds in
his pocket with one hand, while with the other he held out the receipt to Danglars. If a thunderbolt had fallen
at the banker’s feet, he could not have experienced greater terror.
“What,” he stammered, “do you mean to keep that money? Excuse me, excuse me, but I owe this money to the charity fund, — a deposit which I promised to pay this morning.”
“Oh, well, then,” said Monte Cristo, “I am not particular about these five notes, pay me in a different form; I wished, from curiosity, to take these, that I might be able to say that without any advice or preparation the house of Danglars had paid me five millions without a minute’s delay; it would have been remarkable. But
here are your bonds; pay me differently;” and he held the bonds towards Danglars, who seized them like a
vulture extending its claws to withhold the food that is being wrested from its grasp. Suddenly he rallied,
made a violent effort to restrain himself, and then a smile gradually widened the features of his disturbed countenance.
“Certainly,” he said, “your receipt is money.”
“Oh dear, yes; and if you were at Rome, the house of Thomson & French would make no more difficulty about paying the money on my receipt than you have just done.”
“Pardon me, count, pardon me.” “Then I may keep this money?”
“Yes,” said Danglars, while the perspiration started from the roots of his hair. “Yes, keep it — keep it.”
Monte Cristo replaced the notes in his pocket with that indescribable expression which seemed to say, “Come, reflect; if you repent there is till time.”
“No,” said Danglars, “no, decidedly no; keep my signatures. But you know none are so formal as bankers in transacting business; I intended this money for the charity fund, and I seemed to be robbing them if I did not pay them with these precise bonds. How absurd — as if one crown were not as good as another. Excuse me;” and he began to laugh loudly, but nervously.
“Certainly, I excuse you,” said Monte Cristo graciously, “and pocket them.” And he placed the bonds in his pocket-book.
“But,” said Danglars, “there is still a sum of one hundred thousand francs?”
“Oh, a mere nothing,” said Monte Cristo. “The balance would come to about that sum; but keep it, and we shall be quits.”
“Count.” said Danglars, “are you speaking seriously?”
“I never joke with bankers,” said Monte Cristo in a freezing manner, which repelled impertinence; and he turned to the door, just as the valet de chambre announced, — “M. de Boville, receiver-general of the charities.”
“Ma foi,” said Monte Cristo; “I think I arrived just in time to obtain your signatures, or they would have been disputed with me.”
Danglars again became pale, and hastened to conduct the count out. Monte Cristo exchanged a ceremonious
bow with M. de Boville, who was standing in the waiting-room, and who was introduced into Danglars’ room
as soon as the count had left. The count’s sad face was illumined by a faint smile, as he noticed the portfolio which the receiver-general held in his hand. At the door he found his carriage, and was immediately driven to
the bank. Meanwhile Danglars, repressing all emotion, advanced to meet the receiver-general. We need not
say that a smile of condescension was stamped upon his lips. “Good-morning, creditor,” said he; “for I wager anything it is the creditor who visits me.”
“You are right, baron,” answered M. de Boville; “the charities present themselves to you through me: the widows and orphans depute me to receive alms to the amount of five millions from you.”
“And yet they say orphans are to be pitied,” said Danglars, wishing to prolong the jest. “Poor things!”
“Here I am in their name,” said M. de Boville; “but did you receive my letter yesterday?”
“I have brought my receipt.”
“My dear M. de Boville, your widows and orphans must oblige me by waiting twenty-four hours, since M. de
Monte Cristo whom you just saw leaving here — you did see him, I think?” “Yes; well?”
“Well, M. de Monte Cristo has just carried off their five millions.” “How so?”
“The count has an unlimited credit upon me; a credit opened by Thomson & French, of Rome; he came to demand five millions at once, which I paid him with checks on the bank. My funds are deposited there, and you can understand that if I draw out ten millions on the same day it will appear rather strange to the
governor. Two days will be a different thing,” said Danglars, smiling.
“Come,” said Boville, with a tone of entire incredulity, “five millions to that gentleman who just left, and who bowed to me as though he knew me?”
“Perhaps he knows you, though you do not know him; M. de Monte Cristo knows everybody.” “Five millions!”
“Here is his receipt. Believe your own eyes.” M. de Boville took the paper Danglars presented him, and read:
“Received of Baron Danglars the sum of five million one hundred thousand francs, to be repaid on demand by
the house of Thomson & French of Rome.” “It is really true,” said M. de Boville.
“Do you know the house of Thomson & French?”
“Yes, I once had business to transact with it to the amount of 200,000 francs; but since then I have not heard it mentioned.”
“It is one of the best houses in Europe,” said Danglars, carelessly throwing down the receipt on his desk. “And he had five millions in your hands alone! Why, this Count of Monte Cristo must be a nabob?”
“Indeed I do not know what he is; he has three unlimited credits — one on me, one on Rothschild, one on
Lafitte; and, you see,” he added carelessly, “he has given me the preference, by leaving a balance of 100,000 francs.” M. de Boville manifested signs of extraordinary admiration. “I must visit him,” he said, “and obtain some pious grant from him.”
“Oh, you may make sure of him; his charities alone amount to 20,000 francs a month.”
“It is magnificent! I will set before him the example of Madame de Morcerf and her son.”
“They gave all their fortune to the hospitals.” “What fortune?”
“Their own — M. de Morcerf’s, who is deceased.” “For what reason?”
“Because they would not spend money so guiltily acquired.” “And what are they to live upon?”
“The mother retires into the country, and the son enters the army.” “Well, I must confess, these are scruples.”
“I registered their deed of gift yesterday.” “And how much did they possess?”
“Oh, not much — from twelve to thirteen hundred thousand francs. But to return to our millions.” “Certainly,” said Danglars, in the most natural tone in the world. “Are you then pressed for this money?” “Yes; for the examination of our cash takes place to-morrow.”
“To-morrow? Why did you not tell me so before? Why, it is as good as a century! At what hour does the examination take place?”
“At two o’clock.”
“Send at twelve,” said Danglars, smiling. M. de Boville said nothing, but nodded his head, and took up the portfolio. “Now I think of it, you can do better,” said Danglars.
“How do you mean?”
“The receipt of M. de Monte Cristo is as good as money; take it to Rothschild’s or Lafitte’s, and they will take
it off your hands at once.”
“What, though payable at Rome?”
“Certainly; it will only cost you a discount of 5,000 or 6,000 francs.” The receiver started back. “Ma foi,” he said, “I prefer waiting till to-morrow. What a proposition!”
“I thought, perhaps,” said Danglars with supreme impertinence, “that you had a deficiency to make up?” “Indeed,” said the receiver.
“And if that were the case it would be worth while to make some sacrifice.”
“Thank you, no, sir.”
“Then it will be to-morrow.” “Yes; but without fail.”
“Ah, you are laughing at me; send to-morrow at twelve, and the bank shall be notified.”
“I will come myself.”
“Better still, since it will afford me the pleasure of seeing you.” They shook hands. “By the way,” said M. de
Boville, “are you not going to the funeral of poor Mademoiselle de Villefort, which I met on my road here?”
“No,” said the banker; “I have appeared rather ridiculous since that affair of Benedetto, so I remain in the background.”
“Bah, you are wrong. How were you to blame in that affair?”
“Listen — when one bears an irreproachable name, as I do, one is rather sensitive.” “Everybody pities you, sir; and, above all, Mademoiselle Danglars!”
“Poor Eugenie!” said Danglars; “do you know she is going to embrace a religious life?” “No.”
“Alas, it is unhappily but too true. The day after the event, she decided on leaving Paris with a nun of her acquaintance; they are gone to seek a very strict convent in Italy or Spain.”
“Oh, it is terrible!” and M. de Boville retired with this exclamation, after expressing acute sympathy with the father. But he had scarcely left before Danglars, with an energy of action those can alone understand who
have seen Robert Macaire represented by Frederic,* exclaimed, — “Fool!” Then enclosing Monte Cristo’s receipt in a little pocket-book, he added: — “Yes, come at twelve o’clock; I shall then be far away.” Then he double-locked his door, emptied all his drawers, collected about fifty thousand francs in bank-notes, burned several papers, left others exposed to view, and then commenced writing a letter which he addressed:
“To Madame la Baronne Danglars.”
* Frederic Lemaitre — French actor (1800-1876). Robert Macaire is the hero of two favorite melodramas — “Chien de Montargis” and “Chien d’Aubry” — and the name is applied to bold criminals as a term of derision.
“I will place it on her table myself to-night,” he murmured. Then taking a passport from his drawer he said, — “Good, it is available for two months longer.”
The Cemetery of Pere-la-Chaise.
M. de Boville had indeed met the funeral procession which was taking Valentine to her last home on earth.
The weather was dull and stormy, a cold wind shook the few remaining yellow leaves from the boughs of the trees, and scattered them among the crowd which filled the boulevards. M. de Villefort, a true Parisian, considered the cemetery of Pere-la-Chaise alone worthy of receiving the mortal remains of a Parisian family; there alone the corpses belonging to him would be surrounded by worthy associates. He had therefore
purchased a vault, which was quickly occupied by members of his family. On the front of the monument was inscribed: “The families of Saint-Meran and Villefort,” for such had been the last wish expressed by poor
Renee, Valentine’s mother. The pompous procession therefore wended its way towards Pere-la-Chaise from
the Faubourg Saint-Honore. Having crossed Paris, it passed through the Faubourg du Temple, then leaving the exterior boulevards, it reached the cemetery. More than fifty private carriages followed the twenty
mourning-coaches, and behind them more than five hundred persons joined in the procession on foot.
These last consisted of all the young people whom Valentine’s death had struck like a thunderbolt, and who, notwithstanding the raw chilliness of the season, could not refrain from paying a last tribute to the memory of
the beautiful, chaste, and adorable girl, thus cut off in the flower of her youth. As they left Paris, an equipage with four horses, at full speed, was seen to draw up suddenly; it contained Monte Cristo. The count left the carriage and mingled in the crowd who followed on foot. Chateau-Renaud perceived him and immediately alighting from his coupe, joined him.
The count looked attentively through every opening in the crowd; he was evidently watching for some one,
but his search ended in disappointment. “Where is Morrel?” he asked; “do either of these gentlemen know where he is?”
“We have already asked that question,” said Chateau-Renaud, “for none of us has seen him.” The count was silent, but continued to gaze around him. At length they arrived at the cemetery. The piercing eye of Monte Cristo glanced through clusters of bushes and trees, and was soon relieved from all anxiety, for seeing a
shadow glide between the yew-trees, Monte Cristo recognized him whom he sought. One funeral is generally very much like another in this magnificent metropolis. Black figures are seen scattered over the long white avenues; the silence of earth and heaven is alone broken by the noise made by the crackling branches of
hedges planted around the monuments; then follows the melancholy chant of the priests, mingled now and then with a sob of anguish, escaping from some woman concealed behind a mass of flowers.
The shadow Monte Cristo had noticed passed rapidly behind the tomb of Abelard and Heloise, placed itself
close to the heads of the horses belonging to the hearse, and following the undertaker’s men, arrived with them
at the spot appointed for the burial. Each person’s attention was occupied. Monte Cristo saw nothing but the shadow, which no one else observed. Twice the count left the ranks to see whether the object of his interest had any concealed weapon beneath his clothes. When the procession stopped, this shadow was recognized as Morrel, who, with his coat buttoned up to his throat, his face livid, and convulsively crushing his hat between
his fingers, leaned against a tree, situated on an elevation commanding the mausoleum, so that none of the funeral details could escape his observation. Everything was conducted in the usual manner. A few men, the least impressed of all by the scene, pronounced a discourse, some deploring this premature death, others expatiating on the grief of the father, and one very ingenious person quoting the fact that Valentine had
solicited pardon of her father for criminals on whom the arm of justice was ready to fall — until at length they exhausted their stores of metaphor and mournful speeches.
Monte Cristo heard and saw nothing, or rather he only saw Morrel, whose calmness had a frightful effect on
those who knew what was passing in his heart. “See,” said Beauchamp, pointing out Morrel to Debray. “What
is he doing up there?” And they called Chateau-Renaud’s attention to him.
“How pale he is!” said Chateau-Renaud, shuddering.
“He is cold,” said Debray.
“Not at all,” said Chateau-Renaud, slowly; “I think he is violently agitated. He is very susceptible.” “Bah,” said Debray; “he scarcely knew Mademoiselle de Villefort; you said so yourself.”
“True. Still I remember he danced three times with her at Madame de Morcerf’s. Do you recollect that ball, count, where you produced such an effect?”
“No, I do not,” replied Monte Cristo, without even knowing of what or to whom he was speaking, so much was he occupied in watching Morrel, who was holding his breath with emotion. “The discourse is over;
farewell, gentlemen,” said the count. And he disappeared without anyone seeing whither he went. The funeral being over, the guests returned to Paris. Chateau-Renaud looked for a moment for Morrel; but while they were watching the departure of the count, Morrel had quitted his post, and Chateau-Renaud, failing in his search,
joined Debray and Beauchamp.
Monte Cristo concealed himself behind a large tomb and awaited the arrival of Morrel, who by degrees approached the tomb now abandoned by spectators and workmen. Morrel threw a glance around, but before it reached the spot occupied by Monte Cristo the latter had advanced yet nearer, still unperceived. The young
man knelt down. The count, with outstretched neck and glaring eyes, stood in an attitude ready to pounce
upon Morrel upon the first occasion. Morrel bent his head till it touched the stone, then clutching the grating with both hands, he murmured, — “Oh, Valentine!” The count’s heart was pierced by the utterance of these
two words; he stepped forward, and touching the young man’s shoulder, said, — “I was looking for you, my friend.” Monte Cristo expected a burst of passion, but he was deceived, for Morrel turning round, said calmly,
“You see I was praying.” The scrutinizing glance of the count searched the young man from head to foot. He then seemed more easy.
“Shall I drive you back to Paris?” he asked. “No, thank you.”
“Do you wish anything?”
“Leave me to pray.” The count withdrew without opposition, but it was only to place himself in a situation where he could watch every movement of Morrel, who at length arose, brushed the dust from his knees, and
turned towards Paris, without once looking back. He walked slowly down the Rue de la Roquette. The count, dismissing his carriage, followed him about a hundred paces behind. Maximilian crossed the canal and
entered the Rue Meslay by the boulevards. Five minutes after the door had been closed on Morrel’s entrance,
it was again opened for the count. Julie was at the entrance of the garden, where she was attentively watching
Penelon, who, entering with zeal into his profession of gardener, was very busy grafting some Bengal roses. “Ah, count,” she exclaimed, with the delight manifested by every member of the family whenever he visited
the Rue Meslay.
“Maximilian has just returned, has he not, madame?” asked the count. “Yes, I think I saw him pass; but pray, call Emmanuel.”
“Excuse me, madame, but I must go up to Maximilian’s room this instant,” replied Monte Cristo, “I have
something of the greatest importance to tell him.”
“Go, then,” she said with a charming smile, which accompanied him until he had disappeared. Monte Cristo soon ran up the staircase conducting from the ground-floor to Maximilian’s room; when he reached the
landing he listened attentively, but all was still. Like many old houses occupied by a single family, the room door was panelled with glass; but it was locked, Maximilian was shut in, and it was impossible to see what
was passing in the room, because a red curtain was drawn before the glass. The count’s anxiety was manifested by a bright color which seldom appeared on the face of that imperturbable man.
“What shall I do!” he uttered, and reflected for a moment; “shall I ring? No, the sound of a bell, announcing a visitor, will but accelerate the resolution of one in Maximilian’s situation, and then the bell would be followed
by a louder noise.” Monte Cristo trembled from head to foot and as if his determination had been taken with
the rapidity of lightning, he struck one of the panes of glass with his elbow; the glass was shivered to atoms, then withdrawing the curtain he saw Morrel, who had been writing at his desk, bound from his seat at the
noise of the broken window.
“I beg a thousand pardons,” said the count, “there is nothing the matter, but I slipped down and broke one of your panes of glass with my elbow. Since it is opened, I will take advantage of it to enter your room; do not disturb yourself — do not disturb yourself!” And passing his hand through the broken glass, the count opened
the door. Morrel, evidently discomposed, came to meet Monte Cristo less with the intention of receiving him than to exclude his entry. “Ma foi,” said Monte Cristo, rubbing his elbow, “it’s all your servant’s fault; your
stairs are so polished, it is like walking on glass.” “Are you hurt, sir?” coldly asked Morrel.
“I believe not. But what are you about there? You were writing.” “I?”
“Your fingers are stained with ink.”
“Ah, true, I was writing. I do sometimes, soldier though I am.”
Monte Cristo advanced into the room; Maximilian was obliged to let him pass, but he followed him. “You were writing?” said Monte Cristo with a searching look.
“I have already had the honor of telling you I was,” said Morrel.
The count looked around him. “Your pistols are beside your desk,” said Monte Cristo, pointing with his finger
to the pistols on the table.
“I am on the point of starting on a journey,” replied Morrel disdainfully. “My friend,” exclaimed Monte Cristo in a tone of exquisite sweetness. “Sir?”
“My friend, my dear Maximilian, do not make a hasty resolution, I entreat you.”
“I make a hasty resolution?” said Morrel, shrugging his shoulders; “is there anything extraordinary in a journey?”
“Maximilian,” said the count, “let us both lay aside the mask we have assumed. You no more deceive me with
that false calmness than I impose upon you with my frivolous solicitude. You can understand, can you not,
that to have acted as I have done, to have broken that glass, to have intruded on the solitude of a friend — you
can understand that, to have done all this, I must have been actuated by real uneasiness, or rather by a terrible conviction. Morrel, you are going to destroy yourself!”
“Indeed, count,” said Morrel, shuddering; “what has put this into your head?”
“I tell you that you are about to destroy yourself,” continued the count, “and here is proof of what I say;” and, approaching the desk, he removed the sheet of paper which Morrel had placed over the letter he had begun,
and took the latter in his hands.
Morrel rushed forward to tear it from him, but Monte Cristo perceiving his intention, seized his wrist with his iron grasp. “You wish to destroy yourself,” said the count; “you have written it.”
“Well,” said Morrel, changing his expression of calmness for one of violence — “well, and if I do intend to
turn this pistol against myself, who shall prevent me — who will dare prevent me? All my hopes are blighted,
my heart is broken, my life a burden, everything around me is sad and mournful; earth has become distasteful
to me, and human voices distract me. It is a mercy to let me die, for if I live I shall lose my reason and become mad. When, sir, I tell you all this with tears of heartfelt anguish, can you reply that I am wrong, can you
prevent my putting an end to my miserable existence? Tell me, sir, could you have the courage to do so?”
“Yes, Morrel,” said Monte Cristo, with a calmness which contrasted strangely with the young man’s excitement; “yes, I would do so.”
“You?” exclaimed Morrel, with increasing anger and reproach — “you, who have deceived me with false hopes, who have cheered and soothed me with vain promises, when I might, if not have saved her, at least have seen her die in my arms! You, who pretend to understand everything, even the hidden sources of
knowledge, — and who enact the part of a guardian angel upon earth, and could not even find an antidote to a poison administered to a young girl! Ah, sir, indeed you would inspire me with pity, were you not hateful in
my eyes.” “Morrel” —
“Yes; you tell me to lay aside the mask, and I will do so, be satisfied! When you spoke to me at the cemetery,
I answered you — my heart was softened; when you arrived here, I allowed you to enter. But since you abuse
my confidence, since you have devised a new torture after I thought I had exhausted them all, then, Count of
Monte Cristo my pretended benefactor — then, Count of Monte Cristo, the universal guardian, be satisfied, you shall witness the death of your friend;” and Morrel, with a maniacal laugh, again rushed towards the pistols.
“And I again repeat, you shall not commit suicide.”
“Prevent me, then!” replied Morrel, with another struggle, which, like the first, failed in releasing him from the count’s iron grasp.
“I will prevent you.”
“And who are you, then, that arrogate to yourself this tyrannical right over free and rational beings?”
“Who am I?” repeated Monte Cristo. “Listen; I am the only man in the world having the right to say to you,
`Morrel, your father’s son shall not die to-day;'” and Monte Cristo, with an expression of majesty and
sublimity, advanced with arms folded toward the young man, who, involuntarily overcome by the
commanding manner of this man, recoiled a step.
“Why do you mention my father?” stammered he; “why do you mingle a recollection of him with the affairs
“Because I am he who saved your father’s life when he wished to destroy himself, as you do to-day — because
I am the man who sent the purse to your young sister, and the Pharaon to old Morrel — because I am the
Edmond Dantes who nursed you, a child, on my knees.” Morrel made another step back, staggering,
breathless, crushed; then all his strength give way, and he fell prostrate at the feet of Monte Cristo. Then his admirable nature underwent a complete and sudden revulsion; he arose, rushed out of the room and to the stairs, exclaiming energetically, “Julie, Julie — Emmanuel, Emmanuel!”
Monte Cristo endeavored also to leave, but Maximilian would have died rather than relax his hold of the handle of the door, which he closed upon the count. Julie, Emmanuel, and some of the servants, ran up in alarm on hearing the cries of Maximilian. Morrel seized their hands, and opening the door exclaimed in a
voice choked with sobs, “On your knees — on your knees — he is our benefactor — the saviour of our father!
He is” —
He would have added “Edmond Dantes,” but the count seized his arm and prevented him. Julie threw herself into the arms of the count; Emmanuel embraced him as a guardian angel; Morrel again fell on his knees, and struck the ground with his forehead. Then the iron-hearted man felt his heart swell in his breast; a flame
seemed to rush from his throat to his eyes, he bent his head and wept. For a while nothing was heard in the room but a succession of sobs, while the incense from their grateful hearts mounted to heaven. Julie had scarcely recovered from her deep emotion when she rushed out of the room, descended to the next floor, ran into the drawing-room with childlike joy and raised the crystal globe which covered the purse given by the unknown of the Allees de Meillan. Meanwhile, Emmanuel in a broken voice said to the count, “Oh, count,
how could you, hearing us so often speak of our unknown benefactor, seeing us pay such homage of gratitude and adoration to his memory, — how could you continue so long without discovering yourself to us? Oh, it
was cruel to us, and — dare I say it? — to you also.”
“Listen, my friends,” said the count — “I may call you so since we have really been friends for the last eleven years — the discovery of this secret has been occasioned by a great event which you must never know. I wish
to bury it during my whole life in my own bosom, but your brother Maximilian wrested it from me by a violence he repents of now, I am sure.” Then turning around, and seeing that Morrel, still on his knees, had thrown himself into an arm-chair, be added in a low voice, pressing Emmanuel’s hand significantly, “Watch over him.”
“Why so?” asked the young man, surprised.
“I cannot explain myself; but watch over him.” Emmanuel looked around the room and caught sight of the pistols; his eyes rested on the weapons, and he pointed to them. Monte Cristo bent his head. Emmanuel went towards the pistols. “Leave them,” said Monte Cristo. Then walking towards Morrel, he took his hand; the tumultuous agitation of the young man was succeeded by a profound stupor. Julie returned, holding the silken purse in her hands, while tears of joy rolled down her cheeks, like dewdrops on the rose.
“Here is the relic,” she said; “do not think it will be less dear to us now we are acquainted with our benefactor!”
“My child,” said Monte Cristo, coloring, “allow me to take back that purse? Since you now know my face, I
wish to be remembered alone through the affection I hope you will grant me.
“Oh,” said Julie, pressing the purse to her heart, “no, no, I beseech you do not take it, for some unhappy day
you will leave us, will you not?”
“You have guessed rightly, madame,” replied Monte Cristo, smiling; “in a week I shall have left this country, where so many persons who merit the vengeance of heaven lived happily, while my father perished of hunger and grief.” While announcing his departure, the count fixed his eyes on Morrel, and remarked that the words,
“I shall have left this country,” had failed to rouse him from his lethargy. He then saw that he must make
another struggle against the grief of his friend, and taking the hands of Emmanuel and Julie, which he pressed within his own, he said with the mild authority of a father, “My kind friends, leave me alone with
Maximilian.” Julie saw the means offered of carrying off her precious relic, which Monte Cristo had
forgotten. She drew her husband to the door. “Let us leave them,” she said. The count was alone with Morrel, who remained motionless as a statue.
“Come,” said Monte-Cristo, touching his shoulder with his finger, “are you a man again, Maximilian?” “Yes; for I begin to suffer again.”
The count frowned, apparently in gloomy hesitation.
“Maximilian, Maximilian,” he said, “the ideas you yield to are unworthy of a Christian.”
“Oh, do not fear, my friend,” said Morrel, raising his head, and smiling with a sweet expression on the count;
“I shall no longer attempt my life.”
“Then we are to have no more pistols — no more despair?”
“No; I have found a better remedy for my grief than either a bullet or a knife.” “Poor fellow, what is it?”
“My grief will kill me of itself.”
“My friend,” said Monte Cristo, with an expression of melancholy equal to his own, “listen to me. One day, in
a moment of despair like yours, since it led to a similar resolution, I also wished to kill myself; one day your father, equally desperate, wished to kill himself too. If any one had said to your father, at the moment he
raised the pistol to his head — if any one had told me, when in my prison I pushed back the food I had not tasted for three days — if anyone had said to either of us then, `Live — the day will come when you will be
happy, and will bless life!’ — no matter whose voice had spoken, we should have heard him with the smile of doubt, or the anguish of incredulity, — and yet how many times has your father blessed life while embracing
you — how often have I myself” —
“Ah,” exclaimed Morrel, interrupting the count, “you had only lost your liberty, my father had only lost his fortune, but I have lost Valentine.”
“Look at me,” said Monte Cristo, with that expression which sometimes made him so eloquent and persuasive
— “look at me. There are no tears in my eyes, nor is there fever in my veins, yet I see you suffer — you, Maximilian, whom I love as my own son. Well, does not this tell you that in grief, as in life, there is always something to look forward to beyond? Now, if I entreat, if I order you to live, Morrel, it is in the conviction that one day you will thank me for having preserved your life.”
“Oh, heavens,” said the young man, “oh, heavens — what are you saying, count? Take care. But perhaps you have never loved!”
“Child!” replied the count.
“I mean, as I love. You see, I have been a soldier ever since I attained manhood. I reached the age of
twenty-nine without loving, for none of the feelings I before then experienced merit the appellation of love. Well, at twenty-nine I saw Valentine; for two years I have loved her, for two years I have seen written in her heart, as in a book, all the virtues of a daughter and wife. Count, to possess Valentine would have been a happiness too infinite, too ecstatic, too complete, too divine for this world, since it has been denied me; but without Valentine the earth is desolate.”
“I have told you to hope,” said the count.
“Then have a care, I repeat, for you seek to persuade me, and if you succeed I should lose my reason, for I
should hope that I could again behold Valentine.” The count smiled. “My friend, my father,” said Morrel with excitement, “have a care, I again repeat, for the power you wield over me alarms me. Weigh your words
before you speak, for my eyes have already become brighter, and my heart beats strongly; be cautious, or you will make me believe in supernatural agencies. I must obey you, though you bade me call forth the dead or
walk upon the water.”
“Hope, my friend,” repeated the count.
“Ah,” said Morrel, falling from the height of excitement to the abyss of despair — “ah, you are playing with me, like those good, or rather selfish mothers who soothe their children with honeyed words, because their screams annoy them. No, my friend, I was wrong to caution you; do not fear, I will bury my grief so deep in
my heart, I will disguise it so, that you shall not even care to sympathize with me. Adieu, my friend, adieu!”
“On the contrary,” said the count, “after this time you must live with me — you must not leave me, and in a week we shall have left France behind us.”
“And you still bid me hope?”
“I tell you to hope, because I have a method of curing you.”
“Count, you render me sadder than before, if it be possible. You think the result of this blow has been to produce an ordinary grief, and you would cure it by an ordinary remedy — change of scene.” And Morrel
dropped his head with disdainful incredulity. “What can I say more?” asked Monte Cristo. “I have confidence
in the remedy I propose, and only ask you to permit me to assure you of its efficacy.” “Count, you prolong my agony.”
“Then,” said the count, “your feeble spirit will not even grant me the trial I request? Come — do you know of what the Count of Monte Cristo is capable? do you know that he holds terrestrial beings under his control?
nay, that he can almost work a miracle? Well, wait for the miracle I hope to accomplish, or” — “Or?” repeated Morrel.
“Or, take care, Morrel, lest I call you ungrateful.” “Have pity on me, count!”
“I feel so much pity towards you, Maximilian, that — listen to me attentively — if I do not cure you in a month,
to the day, to the very hour, mark my words, Morrel, I will place loaded pistols before you, and a cup of the deadliest Italian poison — a poison more sure and prompt than that which has killed Valentine.”
“Will you promise me?”
“Yes; for I am a man, and have suffered like yourself, and also contemplated suicide; indeed, often since misfortune has left me I have longed for the delights of an eternal sleep.”
“But you are sure you will promise me this?” said Morrel, intoxicated. “I not only promise, but swear it!” said
Monte Cristo extending his hand.
“In a month, then, on your honor, if I am not consoled, you will let me take my life into my own hands, and whatever may happen you will not call me ungrateful?”
“In a month, to the day, the very hour and the date are sacred, Maximilian. I do not know whether you
remember that this is the 5th of September; it is ten years to-day since I saved your father’s life, who wished to die.” Morrel seized the count’s hand and kissed it; the count allowed him to pay the homage he felt due to him.
“In a month you will find on the table, at which we shall be then sitting, good pistols and a delicious draught;
but, on the other hand, you must promise me not to attempt your life before that time.”
“Oh, I also swear it!” Monte Cristo drew the young man towards him, and pressed him for some time to his
heart. “And now,” he said, “after to-day, you will come and live with me; you can occupy Haidee’s apartment, and my daughter will at least be replaced by my son.”
“Haidee?” said Morrel, “what has become of her?” “She departed last night.”
“To leave you?”
“To wait for me. Hold yourself ready then to join me at the Champs Elysees, and lead me out of this house without any one seeing my departure.” Maximilian hung his head, and obeyed with childlike reverence.
Dividing the Proceeds.
The apartment on the second floor of the house in the Rue Saint-Germain-des-Pres, where Albert de Morcerf had selected a home for his mother, was let to a very mysterious person. This was a man whose face the concierge himself had never seen, for in the winter his chin was buried in one of the large red handkerchiefs worn by gentlemen’s coachmen on a cold night, and in the summer he made a point of always blowing his
nose just as he approached the door. Contrary to custom, this gentleman had not been watched, for as the report ran that he was a person of high rank, and one who would allow no impertinent interference, his incognito was strictly respected.
His visits were tolerably regular, though occasionally he appeared a little before or after his time, but
generally, both in summer and winter, he took possession of his apartment about four o’clock, though he never spent the night there. At half-past three in the winter the fire was lighted by the discreet servant, who had the superintendence of the little apartment, and in the summer ices were placed on the table at the same hour. At
four o’clock, as we have already stated, the mysterious personage arrived. Twenty minutes afterwards a carriage stopped at the house, a lady alighted in a black or dark blue dress, and always thickly veiled; she passed like a shadow through the lodge, and ran up-stairs without a sound escaping under the touch of her light foot. No one ever asked her where she was going. Her face, therefore, like that of the gentleman, was
perfectly unknown to the two concierges, who were perhaps unequalled throughout the capital for discretion.
We need not say she stopped at the second floor. Then she tapped in a peculiar manner at a door, which after being opened to admit her was again fastened, and curiosity penetrated no farther. They used the same precautions in leaving as in entering the house. The lady always left first, and as soon as she had stepped into
her carriage, it drove away, sometimes towards the right hand, sometimes to the left; then about twenty minutes afterwards the gentleman would also leave, buried in his cravat or concealed by his handkerchief.
The day after Monte Cristo had called upon Danglars, the mysterious lodger entered at ten o’clock in the morning instead of four in the afternoon. Almost directly afterwards, without the usual interval of time, a cab arrived, and the veiled lady ran hastily up-stairs. The door opened, but before it could be closed, the lady exclaimed: “Oh, Lucien — oh, my friend!” The concierge therefore heard for the first time that the lodger’s
name was Lucien; still, as he was the very perfection of a door-keeper, he made up his mind not to tell his
wife. “Well, what is the matter, my dear?” asked the gentleman whose name the lady’s agitation revealed; “tell
me what is the matter.”
“Oh, Lucien, can I confide in you?”
“Of course, you know you can do so. But what can be the matter? Your note of this morning has completely bewildered me. This precipitation — this unusual appointment. Come, ease me of my anxiety, or else frighten
me at once.”
“Lucien, a great event has happened!” said the lady, glancing inquiringly at Lucien, — “M. Danglars left last night!”
“Left? — M. Danglars left? Where has he gone?” “I do not know.”
“What do you mean? Has he gone intending not to return?”
“Undoubtedly; — at ten o’clock at night his horses took him to the barrier of Charenton; there a post-chaise was waiting for him — he entered it with his valet de chambre, saying that he was going to Fontainebleau.”
“Then what did you mean” —
“Stay — he left a letter for me.” “A letter?”
“Yes; read it.” And the baroness took from her pocket a letter which she gave to Debray. Debray paused a moment before reading, as if trying to guess its contents, or perhaps while making up his mind how to act, whatever it might contain. No doubt his ideas were arranged in a few minutes, for he began reading the letter which caused so much uneasiness in the heart of the baroness, and which ran as follows: —
“Madame and most faithful wife.”
Debray mechanically stopped and looked at the baroness, whose face became covered with blushes. “Read,”
Debray continued: —
“When you receive this, you will no longer have a husband. Oh, you need not be alarmed, you will only have lost him as you have lost your daughter; I mean that I shall be travelling on one of the thirty or forty roads leading out of France. I owe you some explanations for my conduct, and as you are a woman that can
perfectly understand me, I will give them. Listen, then. I received this morning five millions which I paid
away; almost directly afterwards another demand for the same sum was presented to me; I put this creditor off
till to-morrow and I intend leaving to-day, to escape that to-morrow, which would be rather too unpleasant for
me to endure. You understand this, do you not, my most precious wife? I say you understand this, because
you are as conversant with my affairs as I am; indeed, I think you understand them better, since I am ignorant
of what has become of a considerable portion of my fortune, once very tolerable, while I am sure, madame,
that you know perfectly well. For women have infallible instincts; they can even explain the marvellous by an algebraic calculation they have invented; but I, who only understand my own figures, know nothing more than that one day these figures deceived me. Have you admired the rapidity of my fall? Have you been slightly
dazzled at the sudden fusion of my ingots? I confess I have seen nothing but the fire; let us hope you have found some gold among the ashes. With this consoling idea, I leave you, madame, and most prudent wife, without any conscientious reproach for abandoning you; you have friends left, and the ashes I have already
mentioned, and above all the liberty I hasten to restore to you. And here, madame, I must add another word of explanation. So long as I hoped you were working for the good of our house and for the fortune of our
daughter, I philosophically closed my eyes; but as you have transformed that house into a vast ruin I will not
be the foundation of another man’s fortune. You were rich when I married you, but little respected. Excuse me
for speaking so very candidly, but as this is intended only for ourselves, I do not see why I should weigh my words. I have augmented our fortune, and it has continued to increase during the last fifteen years, till extraordinary and unexpected catastrophes have suddenly overturned it, — without any fault of mine, I can honestly declare. You, madame, have only sought to increase your own, and I am convinced that you have succeeded. I leave you, therefore, as I took you, — rich, but little respected. Adieu! I also intend from this time
to work on my own account. Accept my acknowledgments for the example you have set me, and which I
“Your very devoted husband, “Baron Danglars.”
The baroness had watched Debray while he read this long and painful letter, and saw him, notwithstanding his self-control, change color once or twice. When he had ended the perusal, he folded the letter and resumed his pensive attitude. “Well?” asked Madame Danglars, with an anxiety easy to be understood.
“Well, madame?” unhesitatingly repeated Debray.
“With what ideas does that letter inspire you?”
“Oh, it is simple enough, madame; it inspires me with the idea that M. Danglars has left suspiciously.” “Certainly; but is this all you have to say to me?”
“I do not understand you,” said Debray with freezing coldness. “He is gone! Gone, never to return!”
“Oh, madame, do not think that!”
“I tell you he will never return. I know his character; he is inflexible in any resolutions formed for his own interests. If he could have made any use of me, he would have taken me with him; he leaves me in Paris, as
our separation will conduce to his benefit; — therefore he has gone, and I am free forever,” added Madame Danglars, in the same supplicating tone. Debray, instead of answering, allowed her to remain in an attitude of nervous inquiry. “Well?” she said at length, “do you not answer me?”
“I have but one question to ask you, — what do you intend to do?”
“I was going to ask you,” replied the baroness with a beating heart. “Ah, then, you wish to ask advice of me?”
“Yes; I do wish to ask your advice,” said Madame Danglars with anxious expectation.
“Then if you wish to take my advice,” said the young man coldly, “I would recommend you to travel.” “To travel!” she murmured.
“Certainly; as M. Danglars says, you are rich, and perfectly free. In my opinion, a withdrawal from Paris is absolutely necessary after the double catastrophe of Mademoiselle Danglars’ broken contract and M. Danglars’ disappearance. The world will think you abandoned and poor, for the wife of a bankrupt would never be
forgiven, were she to keep up an appearance of opulence. You have only to remain in Paris for about a fortnight, telling the world you are abandoned, and relating the details of this desertion to your best friends, who will soon spread the report. Then you can quit your house, leaving your jewels and giving up your
jointure, and every one’s mouth will be filled with praises of your disinterestedness. They will know you are deserted, and think you also poor, for I alone know your real financial position, and am quite ready to give up
my accounts as an honest partner.” The dread with which the pale and motionless baroness listened to this, was equalled by the calm indifference with which Debray had spoken. “Deserted?” she repeated; “ah, yes, I am, indeed, deserted! You are right, sir, and no one can doubt my position.” These were the only words that
this proud and violently enamoured woman could utter in response to Debray.
“But then you are rich, — very rich, indeed,” continued Debray, taking out some papers from his pocket-book, which he spread upon the table. Madame Danglars did not see them; she was engaged in stilling the beatings
of her heart, and restraining the tears which were ready to gush forth. At length a sense of dignity prevailed, and if she did not entirely master her agitation, she at least succeeded in preventing the fall of a single tear. “Madame,” said Debray, “it is nearly six months since we have been associated. You furnished a principal of
100,000 francs. Our partnership began in the month of April. In May we commenced operations, and in the course of the month gained 450,000 francs. In June the profit amounted to 900,000. In July we added
1,700,000 francs, — it was, you know, the month of the Spanish bonds. In August we lost 300,000 francs at
the beginning of the month, but on the 13th we made up for it, and we now find that our accounts, reckoning from the first day of partnership up to yesterday, when I closed them, showed a capital of 2,400,000 francs,
that is, 1,200,000 for each of us. Now, madame,” said Debray, delivering up his accounts in the methodical manner of a stockbroker, “there are still 80,000 francs, the interest of this money, in my hands.”
“But,” said the baroness, “I thought you never put the money out to interest.”
“Excuse me, madame,” said Debray coldly, “I had your permission to do so, and I have made use of it. There are, then, 40,000 francs for your share, besides the 100,000 you furnished me to begin with, making in all
1,340,000 francs for your portion. Now, madame, I took the precaution of drawing out your money the day before yesterday; it is not long ago, you see, and I was in continual expectation of being called on to deliver
up my accounts. There is your money, — half in bank-notes, the other half in checks payable to bearer. I say there, for as I did not consider my house safe enough, or lawyers sufficiently discreet, and as landed property carries evidence with it, and moreover since you have no right to possess anything independent of your
husband, I have kept this sum, now your whole fortune, in a chest concealed under that closet, and for greater security I myself concealed it there.
“Now, madame,” continued Debray, first opening the closet, then the chest; — “now, madame, here are 800
notes of 1,000 francs each, resembling, as you see, a large book bound in iron; to this I add a certificate in the funds of 25,000 francs; then, for the odd cash, making I think about 110,000 francs, here is a check upon my banker, who, not being M. Danglars, will pay you the amount, you may rest assured.” Madame Danglars mechanically took the check, the bond, and the heap of bank-notes. This enormous fortune made no great appearance on the table. Madame Danglars, with tearless eyes, but with her breast heaving with concealed emotion, placed the bank-notes in her bag, put the certificate and check into her pocket-book, and then,
standing pale and mute, awaited one kind word of consolation. But she waited in vain.
“Now, madame,” said Debray, “you have a splendid fortune, an income of about 60,000 livres a year, which is enormous for a woman who cannot keep an establishment here for a year, at least. You will be able to indulge
all your fancies; besides, should you find your income insufficient, you can, for the sake of the past, madame, make use of mine; and I am ready to offer you all I possess, on loan.”
“Thank you, sir — thank you,” replied the baroness; “you forget that what you have just paid me is much more than a poor woman requires, who intends for some time, at least, to retire from the world.”
Debray was, for a moment, surprised, but immediately recovering himself, he bowed with an air which seemed to say, “As you please, madame.”
Madame Danglars had until then, perhaps, hoped for something; but when she saw the careless bow of
Debray, and the glance by which it was accompanied, together with his significant silence, she raised her
head, and without passion or violence or even hesitation, ran down-stairs, disdaining to address a last farewell
to one who could thus part from her. “Bah,” said Debray, when she had left, “these are fine projects! She will remain at home, read novels, and speculate at cards, since she can no longer do so on the Bourse.” Then
taking up his account book, he cancelled with the greatest care all the entries of the amounts he had just paid away. “I have 1,060,000 francs remaining,” he said. “What a pity Mademoiselle de Villefort is dead! She
suited me in every respect, and I would have married her.” And he calmly waited until the twenty minutes had elapsed after Madame Danglars’ departure before he left the house. During this time he occupied himself in making figures, with his watch by his side.
Asmodeus — that diabolical personage, who would have been created by every fertile imagination if Le Sage had not acquired the priority in his great masterpiece — would have enjoyed a singular spectacle, if he had
lifted up the roof of the little house in the Rue Saint-Germain-des-Pres, while Debray was casting up his
figures. Above the room in which Debray had been dividing two millions and a half with Madame Danglars
was another, inhabited by persons who have played too prominent a part in the incidents we have related for their appearance not to create some interest. Mercedes and Albert were in that room. Mercedes was much changed within the last few days; not that even in her days of fortune she had ever dressed with the
magnificent display which makes us no longer able to recognize a woman when she appears in a plain and
simple attire; nor indeed, had she fallen into that state of depression where it is impossible to conceal the garb
of misery; no, the change in Mercedes was that her eye no longer sparkled, her lips no longer smiled, and there was now a hesitation in uttering the words which formerly sprang so fluently from her ready wit.
It was not poverty which had broken her spirit; it was not a want of courage which rendered her poverty burdensome. Mercedes, although deposed from the exalted position she had occupied, lost in the sphere she had now chosen, like a person passing from a room splendidly lighted into utter darkness, appeared like a
queen, fallen from her palace to a hovel, and who, reduced to strict necessity, could neither become reconciled
to the earthen vessels she was herself forced to place upon the table, nor to the humble pallet which had become her bed. The beautiful Catalane and noble countess had lost both her proud glance and charming
smile, because she saw nothing but misery around her; the walls were hung with one of the gray papers which economical landlords choose as not likely to show the dirt; the floor was uncarpeted; the furniture attracted
the attention to the poor attempt at luxury; indeed, everything offended eyes accustomed to refinement and elegance.
Madame de Morcerf had lived there since leaving her house; the continual silence of the spot oppressed her;
still, seeing that Albert continually watched her countenance to judge the state of her feelings, she constrained herself to assume a monotonous smile of the lips alone, which, contrasted with the sweet and beaming
expression that usually shone from her eyes, seemed like “moonlight on a statue,” — yielding light without warmth. Albert, too, was ill at ease; the remains of luxury prevented him from sinking into his actual position.
If he wished to go out without gloves, his hands appeared too white; if he wished to walk through the town,
his boots seemed too highly polished. Yet these two noble and intelligent creatures, united by the indissoluble ties of maternal and filial love, had succeeded in tacitly understanding one another, and economizing their
stores, and Albert had been able to tell his mother without extorting a change of countenance, — “Mother, we have no more money.”
Mercedes had never known misery; she had often, in her youth, spoken of poverty, but between want and necessity, those synonymous words, there is a wide difference. Amongst the Catalans, Mercedes wished for a thousand things, but still she never really wanted any. So long as the nets were good, they caught fish; and so long as they sold their fish, they were able to buy twine for new nets. And then, shut out from friendship,
having but one affection, which could not be mixed up with her ordinary pursuits, she thought of herself — of
no one but herself. Upon the little she earned she lived as well as she could; now there were two to be supported, and nothing to live upon.
Winter approached. Mercedes had no fire in that cold and naked room — she, who was accustomed to stoves which heated the house from the hall to the boudoir; she had not even one little flower — she whose apartment
had been a conservatory of costly exotics. But she had her son. Hitherto the excitement of fulfilling a duty had sustained them. Excitement, like enthusiasm, sometimes renders us unconscious to the things of earth. But the excitement had calmed down, and they felt themselves obliged to descend from dreams to reality; after having exhausted the ideal, they found they must talk of the actual.
“Mother,” exclaimed Albert, just as Madame Danglars was descending the stairs, “let us reckon our riches, if you please; I want capital to build my plans upon.”
“Capital — nothing!” replied Mercedes with a mournful smile.
“No, mother, — capital 3,000 francs. And I have an idea of our leading a delightful life upon this 3,000
“Child!” sighed Mercedes.
“Alas, dear mother,” said the young man, “I have unhappily spent too much of your money not to know the value of it. These 3,000 francs are enormous, and I intend building upon this foundation a miraculous
certainty for the future.”
“You say this, my dear boy; but do you think we ought to accept these 3,000 francs?” said Mercedes, coloring.
“I think so,” answered Albert in a firm tone. “We will accept them the more readily, since we have them not here; you know they are buried in the garden of the little house in the Allees de Meillan, at Marseilles. With
200 francs we can reach Marseilles.”
“With 200 francs? — are you sure, Albert?”
“Oh, as for that, I have made inquiries respecting the diligences and steamboats, and my calculations are made. You will take your place in the coupe to Chalons. You see, mother, I treat you handsomely for
thirty-five francs.” Albert then took a pen, and wrote: —
Frs. Coupe, thirty-five francs ………………………. 35 From Chalons to Lyons you will go on by the steamboat —
six francs ………………………………….. 6 From Lyons to Avignon (still by steamboat), sixteen francs
………………………………… 16 From Avignon to Marseilles, seven franc……………. 7 Expenses on the road, about fifty francs …………. 50 Total………………………………………… 114 frs.
“Let us put down 120,” added Albert, smiling. “You see I am generous, am I not, mother?” “But you, my poor child?”
“I? do you not see that I reserve eighty francs for myself? A young man does not require luxuries; besides, I
know what travelling is.”
“With a post-chaise and valet de chambre?” “Any way, mother.”
“Well, be it so. But these 200 francs?”
“Here they are, and 200 more besides. See, I have sold my watch for 100 francs, and the guard and seals for
300. How fortunate that the ornaments were worth more than the watch. Still the same story of superfluities! Now I think we are rich, since instead of the 114 francs we require for the journey we find ourselves in possession of 250.”
“But we owe something in this house?”
“Thirty francs; but I pay that out of my 150 francs, — that is understood, — and as I require only eighty francs
for my journey, you see I am overwhelmed with luxury. But that is not all. What do you say to this, mother?”
And Albert took out of a little pocket-book with golden clasps, a remnant of his old fancies, or perhaps a tender souvenir from one of the mysterious and veiled ladies who used to knock at his little door, — Albert took out of this pocket-book a note of 1,000 francs.
“What is this?” asked Mercedes.
“A thousand francs.”
“But whence have you obtained them?”
“Listen to me, mother, and do not yield too much to agitation.” And Albert, rising, kissed his mother on both cheeks, then stood looking at her. “You cannot imagine, mother, how beautiful I think you!” said the young man, impressed with a profound feeling of filial love. “You are, indeed, the most beautiful and most noble woman I ever saw!”
“Dear child!” said Mercedes, endeavoring in vain to restrain a tear which glistened in the corner of her eye. “Indeed, you only wanted misfortune to change my love for you to admiration. I am not unhappy while I possess my son!”
“Ah, just so,” said Albert; “here begins the trial. Do you know the decision we have come to, mother?” “Have we come to any?”
“Yes; it is decided that you are to live at Marseilles, and that I am to leave for Africa, where I will earn for myself the right to use the name I now bear, instead of the one I have thrown aside.” Mercedes sighed. “Well, mother, I yesterday engaged myself as substitute in the Spahis,”* added the young man, lowering his eyes
with a certain feeling of shame, for even he was unconscious of the sublimity of his self-abasement. “I thought
my body was my own, and that I might sell it. I yesterday took the place of another. I sold myself for more than I thought I was worth,” he added, attempting to smile; “I fetched 2,000 francs.”
* The Spahis are French cavalry reserved for service in Africa. “Then these 1,000 francs” — said Mercedes, shuddering —
“Are the half of the sum, mother; the other will be paid in a year.”
Mercedes raised her eyes to heaven with an expression it would be impossible to describe, and tears, which had hitherto been restrained, now yielded to her emotion, and ran down her cheeks.
“The price of his blood!” she murmured.
“Yes, if I am killed,” said Albert, laughing. “But I assure you, mother, I have a strong intention of defending my person, and I never felt half so strong an inclination to live as I do now.”
“Besides, mother, why should you make up your mind that I am to be killed? Has Lamoriciere, that Ney of the South, been killed? Has Changarnier been killed? Has Bedeau been killed? Has Morrel, whom we know, been killed? Think of your joy, mother, when you see me return with an embroidered uniform! I declare, I expect to look magnificent in it, and chose that regiment only from vanity.” Mercedes sighed while endeavoring to
smile; the devoted mother felt that she ought not to allow the whole weight of the sacrifice to fall upon her
son. “Well, now you understand, mother!” continued Albert; “here are more than 4,000 francs settled on you;
upon these you can live at least two years.”
“Do you think so?” said Mercedes. These words were uttered in so mournful a tone that their real meaning did
not escape Albert; he felt his heart beat, and taking his mother’s hand within his own he said, tenderly, —
“Yes, you will live!”
“I shall live! — then you will not leave me, Albert?”
“Mother, I must go,” said Albert in a firm, calm voice; “you love me too well to wish me to remain useless and idle with you; besides, I have signed.”
“You will obey your own wish and the will of heaven!”
“Not my own wish, mother, but reason — necessity. Are we not two despairing creatures? What is life to you?
— Nothing. What is life to me? — Very little without you, mother; for believe me, but for you I should have ceased to live on the day I doubted my father and renounced his name. Well, I will live, if you promise me
still to hope; and if you grant me the care of your future prospects, you will redouble my strength. Then I will
go to the governor of Algeria; he has a royal heart, and is essentially a soldier; I will tell him my gloomy
story. I will beg him to turn his eyes now and then towards me, and if he keep his word and interest himself
for me, in six months I shall be an officer, or dead. If I am an officer, your fortune is certain, for I shall have money enough for both, and, moreover, a name we shall both be proud of, since it will be our own. If I am killed — well then mother, you can also die, and there will be an end of our misfortunes.”
“It is well,” replied Mercedes, with her eloquent glance; “you are right, my love; let us prove to those who are watching our actions that we are worthy of compassion.”
“But let us not yield to gloomy apprehensions,” said the young man; “I assure you we are, or rather we shall
be, very happy. You are a woman at once full of spirit and resignation; I have become simple in my tastes, and
am without passion, I hope. Once in service, I shall be rich — once in M. Dantes’ house, you will be at rest. Let
us strive, I beseech you, — let us strive to be cheerful.”
“Yes, let us strive, for you ought to live, and to be happy, Albert.”
“And so our division is made, mother,” said the young man, affecting ease of mind. “We can now part; come,
I shall engage your passage.” “And you, my dear boy?”
“I shall stay here for a few days longer; we must accustom ourselves to parting. I want recommendations and some information relative to Africa. I will join you again at Marseilles.”
“Well, be it so — let us part,” said Mercedes, folding around her shoulders the only shawl she had taken away, and which accidentally happened to be a valuable black cashmere. Albert gathered up his papers hastily, rang
the bell to pay the thirty francs he owed to the landlord, and offering his arm to his mother, they descended the stairs. Some one was walking down before them, and this person, hearing the rustling of a silk dress, turned around. “Debray!” muttered Albert.
“You, Morcerf?” replied the secretary, resting on the stairs. Curiosity had vanquished the desire of preserving
his incognito, and he was recognized. It was, indeed, strange in this unknown spot to find the young man whose misfortunes had made so much noise in Paris.
“Morcerf!” repeated Debray. Then noticing in the dim light the still youthful and veiled figure of Madame de
Morcerf: — “Pardon me,” he added with a smile, “I leave you, Albert.” Albert understood his thoughts. “Mother,” he said, turning towards Mercedes, “this is M. Debray, secretary of the minister for the interior, once a friend of mine.”
“How once?” stammered Debray; “what do you mean?”
“I say so, M. Debray, because I have no friends now, and I ought not to have any. I thank you for having recognized me, sir.” Debray stepped forward, and cordially pressed the hand of his interlocutor. “Believe me, dear Albert,” he said, with all the emotion he was capable of feeling, — “believe me, I feel deeply for your misfortunes, and if in any way I can serve you, I am yours.”
“Thank you, sir,” said Albert, smiling. “In the midst of our misfortunes, we are still rich enough not to require assistance from any one. We are leaving Paris, and when our journey is paid, we shall have 5,000 francs left.” The blood mounted to the temples of Debray, who held a million in his pocket-book, and unimaginative as he was he could not help reflecting that the same house had contained two women, one of whom, justly
dishonored, had left it poor with 1,500,000 francs under her cloak, while the other, unjustly stricken, but sublime in her misfortune, was yet rich with a few deniers. This parallel disturbed his usual politeness, the philosophy he witnessed appalled him, he muttered a few words of general civility and ran down-stairs.
That day the minister’s clerks and the subordinates had a great deal to put up with from his ill-humor. But that same night, he found himself the possessor of a fine house, situated on the Boulevard de la Madeleine, and an income of 50,000 livres. The next day, just as Debray was signing the deed, that is about five o’clock in the afternoon, Madame de Morcerf, after having affectionately embraced her son, entered the coupe of the
diligence, which closed upon her. A man was hidden in Lafitte’s banking-house, behind one of the little arched windows which are placed above each desk; he saw Mercedes enter the diligence, and he also saw Albert withdraw. Then he passed his hand across his forehead, which was clouded with doubt. “Alas,” he
exclaimed, “how can I restore the happiness I have taken away from these poor innocent creatures? God help me!”
The Lions’ Den.
One division of La Force, in which the most dangerous and desperate prisoners are confined, is called the
court of Saint-Bernard. The prisoners, in their expressive language, have named it the “Lions’ Den,” probably because the captives possess teeth which frequently gnaw the bars, and sometimes the keepers also. It is a
prison within a prison; the walls are double the thickness of the rest. The gratings are every day carefully examined by jailers, whose herculean proportions and cold pitiless expression prove them to have been chosen
to reign over their subjects for their superior activity and intelligence. The court-yard of this quarter is
enclosed by enormous walls, over which the sun glances obliquely, when it deigns to penetrate into this gulf
of moral and physical deformity. On this paved yard are to be seen, — pacing to and fro from morning till night, pale, careworn, and haggard, like so many shadows, — the men whom justice holds beneath the steel
she is sharpening. There, crouched against the side of the wall which attracts and retains the most heat, they may be seen sometimes talking to one another, but more frequently alone, watching the door, which
sometimes opens to call forth one from the gloomy assemblage, or to throw in another outcast from society.
The court of Saint-Bernard has its own particular apartment for the reception of guests; it is a long rectangle, divided by two upright gratings placed at a distance of three feet from one another to prevent a visitor from shaking hands with or passing anything to the prisoners. It is a wretched, damp, nay, even horrible spot, more especially when we consider the agonizing conferences which have taken place between those iron bars. And
yet, frightful though this spot may be, it is looked upon as a kind of paradise by the men whose days are numbered; it is so rare for them to leave the Lions’ Den for any other place than the barrier Saint-Jacques or
In the court which we have attempted to describe, and from which a damp vapor was rising, a young man with
his hands in his pockets, who had excited much curiosity among the inhabitants of the “Den,” might be seen walking. The cut of his clothes would have made him pass for an elegant man, if those clothes had not been torn to shreds; still they did not show signs of wear, and the fine cloth, beneath the careful hands of the
prisoner, soon recovered its gloss in the parts which were still perfect, for the wearer tried his best to make it assume the appearance of a new coat. He bestowed the same attention upon the cambric front of a shirt, which had considerably changed in color since his entrance into the prison, and he polished his varnished boots with
the corner of a handkerchief embroidered with initials surmounted by a coronet. Some of the inmates of the
“Lions’ Den” were watching the operations of the prisoner’s toilet with considerable interest. “See, the prince
is pluming himself,” said one of the thieves. “He’s a fine looking fellow,” said another; “if he had only a comb and hair-grease, he’d take the shine off the gentlemen in white kids.”
“His coat looks almost new, and his boots shine like a nigger’s face. It’s pleasant to have such well-dressed comrades; but didn’t those gendarmes behave shameful? — must ‘a been jealous, to tear such clothes!”
“He looks like a big-bug,” said another; “dresses in fine style. And, then, to be here so young! Oh, what larks!” Meanwhile the object of this hideous admiration approached the wicket, against which one of the keepers was leaning. “Come, sir,” he said, “lend me twenty francs; you will soon be paid; you run no risks
with me. Remember, I have relations who possess more millions than you have deniers. Come, I beseech you, lend me twenty francs, so that I may buy a dressing-gown; it is intolerable always to be in a coat and boots!
And what a coat, sir, for a prince of the Cavalcanti!” The keeper turned his back, and shrugged his shoulders;
he did not even laugh at what would have caused any one else to do so; he had heard so many utter the same things, — indeed, he heard nothing else.
“Come,” said Andrea, “you are a man void of compassion; I’ll have you turned out.” This made the keeper
turn around, and he burst into a loud laugh. The prisoners then approached and formed a circle. “I tell you that with that wretched sum,” continued Andrea, “I could obtain a coat, and a room in which to receive the
illustrious visitor I am daily expecting.”
“Of course — of course,” said the prisoners; — “any one can see he’s a gentleman!”
“Well, then, lend him the twenty francs,” said the keeper, leaning on the other shoulder; “surely you will not refuse a comrade!”
“I am no comrade of these people,” said the young man, proudly, “you have no right to insult me thus.”
The thieves looked at one another with low murmurs, and a storm gathered over the head of the aristocratic prisoner, raised less by his own words than by the manner of the keeper. The latter, sure of quelling the
tempest when the waves became too violent, allowed them to rise to a certain pitch that he might be revenged
on the importunate Andrea, and besides it would afford him some recreation during the long day. The thieves had already approached Andrea, some screaming, “La savate — La savate!”* a cruel operation, which consists
in cuffing a comrade who may have fallen into disgrace, not with an old shoe, but with an iron-heeled one. Others proposed the “anguille,” another kind of recreation, in which a handkerchief is filled with sand, pebbles, and two-sous pieces, when they have them, which the wretches beat like a flail over the head and shoulders of the unhappy sufferer. “Let us horsewhip the fine gentleman!” said others.
* Savate: an old shoe.
But Andrea, turning towards them, winked his eyes, rolled his tongue around his cheeks, and smacked his lips
in a manner equivalent to a hundred words among the bandits when forced to be silent. It was a Masonic sign
Caderousse had taught him. He was immediately recognized as one of them; the handkerchief was thrown down, and the iron-heeled shoe replaced on the foot of the wretch to whom it belonged. Some voices were
heard to say that the gentleman was right; that he intended to be civil, in his way, and that they would set the example of liberty of conscience, — and the mob retired. The keeper was so stupefied at this scene that he took Andrea by the hands and began examining his person, attributing the sudden submission of the inmates of the Lions’ Den to something more substantial than mere fascination. Andrea made no resistance, although he protested against it. Suddenly a voice was heard at the wicket. “Benedetto!” exclaimed an inspector. The
keeper relaxed his hold. “I am called,” said Andrea. “To the visitors’ room!” said the same voice.
“You see some one pays me a visit. Ah, my dear sir, you will see whether a Cavalcanti is to be treated like a common person!” And Andrea, gliding through the court like a black shadow, rushed out through the wicket, leaving his comrades, and even the keeper, lost in wonder. Certainly a call to the visitors’ room had scarcely astonished Andrea less than themselves, for the wily youth, instead of making use of his privilege of waiting
to be claimed on his entry into La Force, had maintained a rigid silence. “Everything,” he said, “proves me to
be under the protection of some powerful person, — this sudden fortune, the facility with which I have overcome all obstacles, an unexpected family and an illustrious name awarded to me, gold showered down upon me, and the most splendid alliances about to be entered into. An unhappy lapse of fortune and the absence of my protector have cast me down, certainly, but not forever. The hand which has retreated for a
while will be again stretched forth to save me at the very moment when I shall think myself sinking into the abyss. Why should I risk an imprudent step? It might alienate my protector. He has two means of extricating
me from this dilemma, — the one by a mysterious escape, managed through bribery; the other by buying off
my judges with gold. I will say and do nothing until I am convinced that he has quite abandoned me, and then” —
Andrea had formed a plan which was tolerably clever. The unfortunate youth was intrepid in the attack, and rude in the defence. He had borne with the public prison, and with privations of all sorts; still, by degrees nature, or rather custom, had prevailed, and he suffered from being naked, dirty, and hungry. It was at this moment of discomfort that the inspector’s voice called him to the visiting-room. Andrea felt his heart leap
with joy. It was too soon for a visit from the examining magistrate, and too late for one from the director of
the prison, or the doctor; it must, then, be the visitor he hoped for. Behind the grating of the room into which
Andrea had been led, he saw, while his eyes dilated with surprise, the dark and intelligent face of M.
Bertuccio, who was also gazing with sad astonishment upon the iron bars, the bolted doors, and the shadow which moved behind the other grating.
“Ah,” said Andrea, deeply affected.
“Good morning, Benedetto,” said Bertuccio, with his deep, hollow voice. “You — you?” said the young man, looking fearfully around him.
“Do you not recognize me, unhappy child?”
“Silence, — be silent!” said Andrea, who knew the delicate sense of hearing possessed by the walls; “for heaven’s sake, do not speak so loud!”
“You wish to speak with me alone, do you not?” said Bertuccio. “Oh, yes.”
“That is well.” And Bertuccio, feeling in his pocket, signed to a keeper whom he saw through the window of the wicket.
“Read?” he said.
“What is that?” asked Andrea.
“An order to conduct you to a room, and to leave you there to talk to me.”
“Oh,” cried Andrea, leaping with joy. Then he mentally added, — “Still my unknown protector! I am not forgotten. They wish for secrecy, since we are to converse in a private room. I understand, Bertuccio has been sent by my protector.”
The keeper spoke for a moment with an official, then opened the iron gates and conducted Andrea to a room
on the first floor. The room was whitewashed, as is the custom in prisons, but it looked quite brilliant to a prisoner, though a stove, a bed, a chair, and a table formed the whole of its sumptuous furniture. Bertuccio sat down upon the chair, Andrea threw himself upon the bed; the keeper retired.
“Now,” said the steward, “what have you to tell me?” “And you?” said Andrea.
“You speak first.”
“Oh, no. You must have much to tell me, since you have come to seek me.”
“Well, be it so. You have continued your course of villany; you have robbed — you have assassinated.”
“Well, I should say! If you had me taken to a private room only to tell me this, you might have saved yourself
the trouble. I know all these things. But there are some with which, on the contrary, I am not acquainted. Let
us talk of those, if you please. Who sent you?”
“Come, come, you are going on quickly, M. Benedetto!”
“Yes, and to the point. Let us dispense with useless words. Who sends you?” “No one.”
“How did you know I was in prison?”
“I recognized you, some time since, as the insolent dandy who so gracefully mounted his horse in the Champs
“Oh, the Champs Elysees? Ah, yes; we burn, as they say at the game of pincette. The Champs Elysees? Come,
let us talk a little about my father.” “Who, then, am I?”
“You, sir? — you are my adopted father. But it was not you, I presume, who placed at my disposal 100,000 francs, which I spent in four or five months; it was not you who manufactured an Italian gentleman for my father; it was not you who introduced me into the world, and had me invited to a certain dinner at Auteuil,
which I fancy I am eating at this moment, in company with the most distinguished people in Paris — amongst
the rest with a certain procureur, whose acquaintance I did very wrong not to cultivate, for he would have
been very useful to me just now; — it was not you, in fact, who bailed me for one or two millions, when the fatal discovery of my little secret took place. Come, speak, my worthy Corsican, speak!”
“What do you wish me to say?”
“I will help you. You were speaking of the Champs Elysees just now, worthy foster-father.” “Well?”
“Well, in the Champs Elysees there resides a very rich gentleman.” “At whose house you robbed and murdered, did you not?”
“I believe I did.”
“The Count of Monte Cristo?”
“‘Tis you who have named him, as M. Racine says. Well, am I to rush into his arms, and strain him to my heart, crying, `My father, my father!’ like Monsieur Pixerecourt.”*
“Do not let us jest,” gravely replied Bertuccio, “and dare not to utter that name again as you have pronounced
* Guilbert de Pixerecourt, French dramatist (1775-1844).
“Bah,” said Andrea, a little overcome, by the solemnity of Bertuccio’s manner, “why not?”
“Because the person who bears it is too highly favored by heaven to be the father of such a wretch as you.” “Oh, these are fine words.”
“And there will be fine doings, if you do not take care.”
“Menaces — I do not fear them. I will say” —
“Do you think you are engaged with a pygmy like yourself?” said Bertuccio, in so calm a tone, and with so steadfast a look, that Andrea was moved to the very soul. “Do you think you have to do with galley-slaves, or novices in the world? Benedetto, you are fallen into terrible hands; they are ready to open for you — make use
of them. Do not play with the thunderbolt they have laid aside for a moment, but which they can take up again instantly, if you attempt to intercept their movements.”
“My father — I will know who my father is,” said the obstinate youth; “I will perish if I must, but I will know
it. What does scandal signify to me? What possessions, what reputation, what `pull,’ as Beauchamp says, —
have I? You great people always lose something by scandal, notwithstanding your millions. Come, who is my father?”
“I came to tell you.”
“Ah,” cried Benedetto, his eyes sparkling with joy. Just then the door opened, and the jailer, addressing himself to Bertuccio, said, — “Excuse me, sir, but the examining magistrate is waiting for the prisoner.”
“And so closes our interview,” said Andrea to the worthy steward; “I wish the troublesome fellow were at the devil!”
“I will return to-morrow,” said Bertuccio.
“Good! Gendarmes, I am at your service. Ah, sir, do leave a few crowns for me at the gate that I may have some things I am in need of!”
“It shall be done,” replied Bertuccio. Andrea extended his hand; Bertuccio kept his own in his pocket, and merely jingled a few pieces of money. “That’s what I mean,” said Andrea, endeavoring to smile, quite
overcome by the strange tranquillity of Bertuccio. “Can I be deceived?” he murmured, as he stepped into the oblong and grated vehicle which they call “the salad basket.” “Never mind, we shall see! To-morrow, then!”
he added, turning towards Bertuccio. “To-morrow!” replied the steward.
We remember that the Abbe Busoni remained alone with Noirtier in the chamber of death, and that the old
man and the priest were the sole guardians of the young girl’s body. Perhaps it was the Christian exhortations
of the abbe, perhaps his kind charity, perhaps his persuasive words, which had restored the courage of
Noirtier, for ever since he had conversed with the priest his violent despair had yielded to a calm resignation which surprised all who knew his excessive affection for Valentine. M. de Villefort had not seen his father
since the morning of the death. The whole establishment had been changed; another valet was engaged for himself, a new servant for Noirtier, two women had entered Madame de Villefort’s service, — in fact, everywhere, to the concierge and coachmen, new faces were presented to the different masters of the house, thus widening the division which had always existed between the members of the same family.
The assizes, also, were about to begin, and Villefort, shut up in his room, exerted himself with feverish anxiety in drawing up the case against the murderer of Caderousse. This affair, like all those in which the Count of Monte Cristo had interfered, caused a great sensation in Paris. The proofs were certainly not
convincing, since they rested upon a few words written by an escaped galley-slave on his death-bed, and who might have been actuated by hatred or revenge in accusing his companion. But the mind of the procureur was made up; he felt assured that Benedetto was guilty, and he hoped by his skill in conducting this aggravated
case to flatter his self-love, which was about the only vulnerable point left in his frozen heart.
The case was therefore prepared owing to the incessant labor of Villefort, who wished it to be the first on the
list in the coming assizes. He had been obliged to seclude himself more than ever, to evade the enormous number of applications presented to him for the purpose of obtaining tickets of admission to the court on the day of trial. And then so short a time had elapsed since the death of poor Valentine, and the gloom which
overshadowed the house was so recent, that no one wondered to see the father so absorbed in his professional duties, which were the only means he had of dissipating his grief.
Once only had Villefort seen his father; it was the day after that upon which Bertuccio had paid his second visit to Benedetto, when the latter was to learn his father’s name. The magistrate, harassed and fatigued, had descended to the garden of his house, and in a gloomy mood, similar to that in which Tarquin lopped off the
tallest poppies, he began knocking off with his cane the long and dying branches of the rose-trees, which, placed along the avenue, seemed like the spectres of the brilliant flowers which had bloomed in the past season. More than once he had reached that part of the garden where the famous boarded gate stood overlooking the deserted enclosure, always returning by the same path, to begin his walk again, at the same
pace and with the same gesture, when he accidentally turned his eyes towards the house, whence he heard the noisy play of his son, who had returned from school to spend the Sunday and Monday with his mother. While doing so, he observed M. Noirtier at one of the open windows, where the old man had been placed that he
might enjoy the last rays of the sun which yet yielded some heat, and was now shining upon the dying flowers and red leaves of the creeper which twined around the balcony.
The eye of the old man was riveted upon a spot which Villefort could scarcely distinguish. His glance was so
full of hate, of ferocity, and savage impatience, that Villefort turned out of the path he had been pursuing, to
see upon what person this dark look was directed. Then he saw beneath a thick clump of linden-trees, which
were nearly divested of foliage, Madame de Villefort sitting with a book in her hand, the perusal of which she frequently interrupted to smile upon her son, or to throw back his elastic ball, which he obstinately threw from
the drawing-room into the garden. Villefort became pale; he understood the old man’s meaning. Noirtier continued to look at the same object, but suddenly his glance was transferred from the wife to the husband, and Villefort himself had to submit to the searching investigation of eyes, which, while changing their direction and even their language, had lost none of their menacing expression. Madame de Villefort,
unconscious of the passions that exhausted their fire over her head, at that moment held her son’s ball, and was
making signs to him to reclaim it with a kiss. Edward begged for a long while, the maternal kiss probably not
offering sufficient recompense for the trouble he must take to obtain it; however at length he decided, leaped
out of the window into a cluster of heliotropes and daisies, and ran to his mother, his forehead streaming with perspiration. Madame de Villefort wiped his forehead, pressed her lips upon it, and sent him back with the
ball in one hand and some bonbons in the other.
Villefort, drawn by an irresistible attraction, like that of the bird to the serpent, walked towards the house. As
he approached it, Noirtier’s gaze followed him, and his eyes appeared of such a fiery brightness that Villefort
felt them pierce to the depths of his heart. In that earnest look might be read a deep reproach, as well as a
terrible menace. Then Noirtier raised his eyes to heaven, as though to remind his son of a forgotten oath. “It is well, sir,” replied Villefort from below, — “it is well; have patience but one day longer; what I have said I will do.” Noirtier seemed to be calmed by these words, and turned his eyes with indifference to the other side. Villefort violently unbuttoned his great-coat, which seemed to strangle him, and passing his livid hand across
his forehead, entered his study.
The night was cold and still; the family had all retired to rest but Villefort, who alone remained up, and worked till five o’clock in the morning, reviewing the last interrogatories made the night before by the
examining magistrates, compiling the depositions of the witnesses, and putting the finishing stroke to the deed
of accusation, which was one of the most energetic and best conceived of any he had yet delivered.
The next day, Monday, was the first sitting of the assizes. The morning dawned dull and gloomy, and
Villefort saw the dim gray light shine upon the lines he had traced in red ink. The magistrate had slept for a short time while the lamp sent forth its final struggles; its flickerings awoke him, and he found his fingers as damp and purple as though they had been dipped in blood. He opened the window; a bright yellow streak
crossed the sky, and seemed to divide in half the poplars, which stood out in black relief on the horizon. In the clover-fields beyond the chestnut-trees, a lark was mounting up to heaven, while pouring out her clear
morning song. The damps of the dew bathed the head of Villefort, and refreshed his memory. “To-day,” he said with an effort, — “to-day the man who holds the blade of justice must strike wherever there is guilt.”
Involuntarily his eyes wandered towards the window of Noirtier’s room, where he had seen him the preceding night. The curtain was drawn, and yet the image of his father was so vivid to his mind that he addressed the closed window as though it had been open, and as if through the opening he had beheld the menacing old
man. “Yes,” he murmured, — “yes, be satisfied.”
His head dropped upon his chest, and in this position he paced his study; then he threw himself, dressed as he was, upon a sofa, less to sleep than to rest his limbs, cramped with cold and study. By degrees every one
awoke. Villefort, from his study, heard the successive noises which accompany the life of a house, — the opening and shutting of doors, the ringing of Madame de Villefort’s bell, to summon the waiting-maid, mingled with the first shouts of the child, who rose full of the enjoyment of his age. Villefort also rang; his new valet brought him the papers, and with them a cup of chocolate.
“What are you bringing me?” said he. “A cup of chocolate.”
“I did not ask for it. Who has paid me this attention?”
“My mistress, sir. She said you would have to speak a great deal in the murder case, and that you should take something to keep up your strength;” and the valet placed the cup on the table nearest to the sofa, which was, like all the rest, covered with papers. The valet then left the room. Villefort looked for an instant with a
gloomy expression, then, suddenly, taking it up with a nervous motion, he swallowed its contents at one
draught. It might have been thought that he hoped the beverage would be mortal, and that he sought for death
to deliver him from a duty which he would rather die than fulfil. He then rose, and paced his room with a
smile it would have been terrible to witness. The chocolate was inoffensive, for M. de Villefort felt no effects.
The breakfast-hour arrived, but M. de Villefort was not at table. The valet re-entered.
“Madame de Villefort wishes to remind you, sir,” he said, “that eleven o’clock has just struck, and that the trial commences at twelve.”
“Well,” said Villefort, “what then?”
“Madame de Villefort is dressed; she is quite ready, and wishes to know if she is to accompany you, sir?” “Where to?”
“To the Palais.” “What to do?”
“My mistress wishes much to be present at the trial.”
“Ah,” said Villefort, with a startling accent; “does she wish that?” — The man drew back and said, “If you
wish to go alone, sir, I will go and tell my mistress.” Villefort remained silent for a moment, and dented his pale cheeks with his nails. “Tell your mistress,” he at length answered, “that I wish to speak to her, and I beg
she will wait for me in her own room.” “Yes, sir.”
“Then come to dress and shave me.”
“Directly, sir.” The valet re-appeared almost instantly, and, having shaved his master, assisted him to dress entirely in black. When he had finished, he said, —
“My mistress said she should expect you, sir, as soon as you had finished dressing.”
“I am going to her.” And Villefort, with his papers under his arm and hat in hand, directed his steps toward the apartment of his wife. At the door he paused for a moment to wipe his damp, pale brow. He then entered the room. Madame de Villefort was sitting on an ottoman and impatiently turning over the leaves of some
newspapers and pamphlets which young Edward, by way of amusing himself, was tearing to pieces before his mother could finish reading them. She was dressed to go out, her bonnet was placed beside her on a chair, and
her gloves were on her hands.
“Ah, here you are, monsieur,” she said in her naturally calm voice; “but how pale you are! Have you been
working all night? Why did you not come down to breakfast? Well, will you take me, or shall I take Edward?” Madame de Villefort had multiplied her questions in order to gain one answer, but to all her inquiries M. de Villefort remained mute and cold as a statue. “Edward,” said Villefort, fixing an imperious glance on the
child, “go and play in the drawing-room, my dear; I wish to speak to your mamma.” Madame de Villefort shuddered at the sight of that cold countenance, that resolute tone, and the awfully strange preliminaries. Edward raised his head, looked at his mother, and then, finding that she did not confirm the order, began cutting off the heads of his leaden soldiers.
“Edward,” cried M. de Villefort, so harshly that the child started up from the floor, “do you hear me? — Go!” The child, unaccustomed to such treatment, arose, pale and trembling; it would be difficult to say whether his
emotion were caused by fear or passion. His father went up to him, took him in his arms, and kissed his forehead. “Go,” he said: “go, my child.” Edward ran out. M. de Villefort went to the door, which he closed
behind the child, and bolted. “Dear me!” said the young woman, endeavoring to read her husband’s inmost
thoughts, while a smile passed over her countenance which froze the impassibility of Villefort; “what is the matter?”
“Madame, where do you keep the poison you generally use?” said the magistrate, without any introduction, placing himself between his wife and the door.
Madame de Villefort must have experienced something of the sensation of a bird which, looking up, sees the murderous trap closing over its head. A hoarse, broken tone, which was neither a cry nor a sigh, escaped from her, while she became deadly pale. “Monsieur,” she said, “I — I do not understand you.” And, in her first paroxysm of terror, she had raised herself from the sofa, in the next, stronger very likely than the other, she
fell down again on the cushions. “I asked you,” continued Villefort, in a perfectly calm tone, “where you conceal the poison by the aid of which you have killed my father-in-law, M. de Saint-Meran, my
mother-in-law, Madame de Saint-Meran, Barrois, and my daughter Valentine.”
“Ah, sir,” exclaimed Madame de Villefort, clasping her hands, “what do you say?” “It is not for you to interrogate, but to answer.”
“Is it to the judge or to the husband?” stammered Madame de Villefort. “To the judge — to the judge,
madame!” It was terrible to behold the frightful pallor of that woman, the anguish of her look, the trembling of her whole frame. “Ah, sir,” she muttered, “ah, sir,” and this was all.
“You do not answer, madame!” exclaimed the terrible interrogator. Then he added, with a smile yet more terrible than his anger, “It is true, then; you do not deny it!” She moved forward. “And you cannot deny it!” added Villefort, extending his hand toward her, as though to seize her in the name of justice. “You have accomplished these different crimes with impudent address, but which could only deceive those whose affections for you blinded them. Since the death of Madame de Saint-Meran, I have known that a poisoner lived in my house. M. d’Avrigny warned me of it. After the death of Barrois my suspicions were directed towards an angel, — those suspicions which, even when there is no crime, are always alive in my heart; but
after the death of Valentine, there has been no doubt in my mind, madame, and not only in mine, but in those
of others; thus your crime, known by two persons, suspected by many, will soon become public, and, as I told you just now, you no longer speak to the husband, but to the judge.”
The young woman hid her face in her hands. “Oh, sir,” she stammered, “I beseech you, do not believe appearances.”
“Are you, then, a coward?” cried Villefort, in a contemptuous voice. “But I have always observed that poisoners were cowards. Can you be a coward, — you who have had the courage to witness the death of two
old men and a young girl murdered by you?” “Sir! sir!”
“Can you be a coward?” continued Villefort, with increasing excitement, “you, who could count, one by one,
the minutes of four death agonies? You, who have arranged your infernal plans, and removed the beverages with a talent and precision almost miraculous? Have you, then, who have calculated everything with such nicety, have you forgotten to calculate one thing — I mean where the revelation of your crimes will lead you
to? Oh, it is impossible — you must have saved some surer, more subtle and deadly poison than any other, that you might escape the punishment that you deserve. You have done this — I hope so, at least.” Madame de Villefort stretched out her hands, and fell on her knees.
“I understand,” he said, “you confess; but a confession made to the judges, a confession made at the last
moment, extorted when the crime cannot be denied, diminishes not the punishment inflicted on the guilty!”
“The punishment?” exclaimed Madame de Villefort, “the punishment, monsieur? Twice you have pronounced that word!”
“Certainly. Did you hope to escape it because you were four times guilty? Did you think the punishment would be withheld because you are the wife of him who pronounces it? — No, madame, no; the scaffold awaits the poisoner, whoever she may be, unless, as I just said, the poisoner has taken the precaution of
keeping for herself a few drops of her deadliest potion.” Madame de Villefort uttered a wild cry, and a hideous and uncontrollable terror spread over her distorted features. “Oh, do not fear the scaffold, madame,” said the magistrate; “I will not dishonor you, since that would be dishonor to myself; no, if you have heard me
distinctly, you will understand that you are not to die on the scaffold.”
“No, I do not understand; what do you mean?” stammered the unhappy woman, completely overwhelmed. “I
mean that the wife of the first magistrate in the capital shall not, by her infamy, soil an unblemished name;
that she shall not, with one blow, dishonor her husband and her child.” “No, no — oh, no!”
“Well, madame, it will be a laudable action on your part, and I will thank you for it!” “You will thank me — for what?”
“For what you have just said.”
“What did I say? Oh, my brain whirls; I no longer understand anything. Oh, my God, my God!” And she rose, with her hair dishevelled, and her lips foaming.
“Have you answered the question I put to you on entering the room? — where do you keep the poison you generally use, madame?” Madame de Villefort raised her arms to heaven, and convulsively struck one hand against the other. “No, no,” she vociferated, “no, you cannot wish that!”
“What I do not wish, madame, is that you should perish on the scaffold. Do you understand?” asked Villefort. “Oh, mercy, mercy, monsieur!”
“What I require is, that justice be done. I am on the earth to punish, madame,” he added, with a flaming glance; “any other woman, were it the queen herself, I would send to the executioner; but to you I shall be merciful. To you I will say, `Have you not, madame, put aside some of the surest, deadliest, most speedy poison?'”
“Oh, pardon me, sir; let me live!” “She is cowardly,” said Villefort. “Reflect that I am your wife!” “You are a poisoner.”
“In the name of heaven!” “No!”
“In the name of the love you once bore me!”
“In the name of our child! Ah, for the sake of our child, let me live!”
“No, no, no, I tell you; one day, if I allow you to live, you will perhaps kill him, as you have the others!”
“I? — I kill my boy?” cried the distracted mother, rushing toward Villefort; “I kill my son? Ha, ha, ha!” and a frightful, demoniac laugh finished the sentence, which was lost in a hoarse rattle. Madame de Villefort fell at
her husband’s feet. He approached her. “Think of it, madame,” he said; “if, on my return, justice his not been satisfied, I will denounce you with my own mouth, and arrest you with my own hands!” She listened, panting, overwhelmed, crushed; her eye alone lived, and glared horribly. “Do you understand me?” he said. “I am
going down there to pronounce the sentence of death against a murderer. If I find you alive on my return, you shall sleep to-night in the conciergerie.” Madame de Villefort sighed; her nerves gave way, and she sunk on
the carpet. The king’s attorney seemed to experience a sensation of pity; he looked upon her less severely, and, bowing to her, said slowly, “Farewell, madame, farewell!” That farewell struck Madame de Villefort like the executioner’s knife. She fainted. The procureur went out, after having double-locked the door.