The Benedetto affair, as it was called at the Palais, and by people in general, had produced a tremendous sensation. Frequenting the Cafe de Paris, the Boulevard de Gand, and the Bois de Boulogne, during his brief career of splendor, the false Cavalcanti had formed a host of acquaintances. The papers had related his various adventures, both as the man of fashion and the galley-slave; and as every one who had been personally
acquainted with Prince Andrea Cavalcanti experienced a lively curiosity in his fate, they all determined to
spare no trouble in endeavoring to witness the trial of M. Benedetto for the murder of his comrade in chains.
In the eyes of many, Benedetto appeared, if not a victim to, at least an instance of, the fallibility of the law. M. Cavalcanti, his father, had been seen in Paris, and it was expected that he would re-appear to claim the
illustrious outcast. Many, also, who were not aware of the circumstances attending his withdrawal from Paris, were struck with the worthy appearance, the gentlemanly bearing, and the knowledge of the world displayed
by the old patrician, who certainly played the nobleman very well, so long as he said nothing, and made no arithmetical calculations. As for the accused himself, many remembered him as being so amiable, so
handsome, and so liberal, that they chose to think him the victim of some conspiracy, since in this world large fortunes frequently excite the malevolence and jealousy of some unknown enemy. Every one, therefore, ran to
the court; some to witness the sight, others to comment upon it. From seven o’clock in the morning a crowd was stationed at the iron gates, and an hour before the trial commenced the hall was full of the privileged. Before the entrance of the magistrates, and indeed frequently afterwards, a court of justice, on days when
some especial trial is to take place, resembles a drawing-room where many persons recognize each other and converse if they can do so without losing their seats; or, if they are separated by too great a number of
lawyers, communicate by signs.
It was one of the magnificent autumn days which make amends for a short summer; the clouds which M. de Villefort had perceived at sunrise had all disappeared as if by magic, and one of the softest and most brilliant days of September shone forth in all its splendor.
Beauchamp, one of the kings of the press, and therefore claiming the right of a throne everywhere, was eying everybody through his monocle. He perceived Chateau-Renaud and Debray, who had just gained the good
graces of a sergeant-at-arms, and who had persuaded the latter to let them stand before, instead of behind him,
as they ought to have done. The worthy sergeant had recognized the minister’s secretary and the millionnaire, and, by way of paying extra attention to his noble neighbors, promised to keep their places while they paid a
visit to Beauchamp.
“Well,” said Beauchamp, “we shall see our friend!”
“Yes, indeed!” replied Debray. “That worthy prince. Deuce take those Italian princes!”
“A man, too, who could boast of Dante for a genealogist, and could reckon back to the `Divine Comedy.'”
“A nobility of the rope!” said Chateau-Renaud phlegmatically.
“He will be condemned, will he not?” asked Debray of Beauchamp.
“My dear fellow, I think we should ask you that question; you know such news much better than we do. Did you see the president at the minister’s last night?”
“What did he say?”
“Something which will surprise you.”
“Oh, make haste and tell me, then; it is a long time since that has happened.”
“Well, he told me that Benedetto, who is considered a serpent of subtlety and a giant of cunning, is really but
a very commonplace, silly rascal, and altogether unworthy of the experiments that will be made on his phrenological organs after his death.”
“Bah,” said Beauchamp, “he played the prince very well.”
“Yes, for you who detest those unhappy princes, Beauchamp, and are always delighted to find fault with them; but not for me, who discover a gentleman by instinct, and who scent out an aristocratic family like a very bloodhound of heraldry.”
“Then you never believed in the principality?” “Yes. — in the principality, but not in the prince.”
“Not so bad,” said Beauchamp; “still, I assure you, he passed very well with many people; I saw him at the ministers’ houses.”
“Ah, yes,” said Chateau-Renaud. “The idea of thinking ministers understand anything about princes!” “There is something in what you have just said,” said Beauchamp, laughing.
“But,” said Debray to Beauchamp, “if I spoke to the president, you must have been with the procureur.”
“It was an impossibility; for the last week M. de Villefort has secluded himself. It is natural enough; this strange chain of domestic afflictions, followed by the no less strange death of his daughter” —
“Strange? What do you mean, Beauchamp?”
“Oh, yes; do you pretend that all this has been unobserved at the minister’s?” said Beauchamp, placing his eye-glass in his eye, where he tried to make it remain.
“My dear sir,” said Chateau-Renaud, “allow me to tell you that you do not understand that manoeuvre with the eye-glass half so well as Debray. Give him a lesson, Debray.”
“Stay,” said Beauchamp, “surely I am not deceived.” “What is it?”
“It is she!”
“Whom do you mean?” “They said she had left.”
“Mademoiselle Eugenie?” said Chateau-Renaud; “has she returned?” “No, but her mother.”
“Madame Danglars? Nonsense! Impossible!” said Chateau-Renaud; “only ten days after the flight of her
daughter, and three days from the bankruptcy of her husband?”
Debray colored slightly, and followed with his eyes the direction of Beauchamp’s glance. “Come,” he said, “it
is only a veiled lady, some foreign princess, perhaps the mother of Cavalcanti. But you were just speaking on
a very interesting topic, Beauchamp.” “I?”
“Yes; you were telling us about the extraordinary death of Valentine.” “Ah, yes, so I was. But how is it that Madame de Villefort is not here?”
“Poor, dear woman,” said Debray, “she is no doubt occupied in distilling balm for the hospitals, or in making cosmetics for herself or friends. Do you know she spends two or three thousand crowns a year in this amusement? But I wonder she is not here. I should have been pleased to see her, for I like her very much.”
“And I hate her,” said Chateau-Renaud. “Why?”
“I do not know. Why do we love? Why do we hate? I detest her, from antipathy.” “Or, rather, by instinct.”
“Perhaps so. But to return to what you were saying, Beauchamp.”
“Well, do you know why they die so multitudinously at M. de Villefort’s?” “`Multitudinously’ [drv] is good,” said Chateau-Renaud.
“My good fellow, you’ll find the word in Saint-Simon.”
“But the thing itself is at M. de Villefort’s; but let’s get back to the subject.”
“Talking of that,” said Debray, “Madame was making inquiries about that house, which for the last three months has been hung with black.”
“Who is Madame?” asked Chateau-Renaud. “The minister’s wife, pardieu!”
“Oh, your pardon! I never visit ministers; I leave that to the princes.”
“Really, You were only before sparkling, but now you are brilliant; take compassion on us, or, like Jupiter, you will wither us up.”
“I will not speak again,” said Chateau-Renaud; “pray have compassion upon me, and do not take up every word I say.”
“Come, let us endeavor to get to the end of our story, Beauchamp; I told you that yesterday Madame made inquiries of me upon the subject; enlighten me, and I will then communicate my information to her.”
“Well, gentlemen, the reason people die so multitudinously (I like the word) at M. de Villefort’s is that there is
an assassin in the house!” The two young men shuddered, for the same idea had more than once occurred to them. “And who is the assassin;” they asked together.
“Young Edward!” A burst of laughter from the auditors did not in the least disconcert the speaker, who continued, — “Yes, gentlemen; Edward, the infant phenomenon, who is quite an adept in the art of killing.”
“You are jesting.”
“Not at all. I yesterday engaged a servant, who had just left M. de Villefort — I intend sending him away
to-morrow, for he eats so enormously, to make up for the fast imposed upon him by his terror in that house. Well, now listen.”
“We are listening.”
“It appears the dear child has obtained possession of a bottle containing some drug, which he every now and then uses against those who have displeased him. First, M. and Madame de Saint-Meran incurred his
displeasure, so he poured out three drops of his elixir — three drops were sufficient; then followed Barrois, the
old servant of M. Noirtier, who sometimes rebuffed this little wretch — he therefore received the same
quantity of the elixir; the same happened to Valentine, of whom he was jealous; he gave her the same dose as
the others, and all was over for her as well as the rest.”
“Why, what nonsense are you telling us?” said Chateau-Renaud. “Yes, it is an extraordinary story,” said Beauchamp; “is it not?”
“It is absurd,” said Debray.
“Ah,” said Beauchamp, “you doubt me? Well, you can ask my servant, or rather him who will no longer be my servant to-morrow, it was the talk of the house.”
“And this elixir, where is it? what is it?” “The child conceals it.”
“But where did he find it?” “In his mother’s laboratory.”
“Does his mother then, keep poisons in her laboratory?”
“How can I tell? You are questioning me like a king’s attorney. I only repeat what I have been told, and like my informant I can do no more. The poor devil would eat nothing, from fear.”
“It is incredible!”
“No, my dear fellow, it is not at all incredible. You saw the child pass through the Rue Richelieu last year, who amused himself with killing his brothers and sisters by sticking pins in their ears while they slept. The generation who follow us are very precocious.”
“Come, Beauchamp,” said Chateau-Renaud, “I will bet anything you do not believe a word of all you have been telling us.”
“I do not see the Count of Monte Cristo here.”
“He is worn out,” said Debray; “besides, he could not well appear in public, since he has been the dupe of the
Cavalcanti, who, it appears, presented themselves to him with false letters of credit, and cheated him out of
100,000 francs upon the hypothesis of this principality.”
“By the way, M. de Chateau-Renaud,” asked Beauchamp, “how is Morrel?”
“Ma foi, I have called three times without once seeing him. Still, his sister did not seem uneasy, and told me that though she had not seen him for two or three days, she was sure he was well.”
“Ah, now I think of it, the Count of Monte Cristo cannot appear in the hall,” said Beauchamp. “Why not?”
“Because he is an actor in the drama.” “Has he assassinated any one, then?”
“No, on the contrary, they wished to assassinate him. You know that it was in leaving his house that M. de Caderousse was murdered by his friend Benedetto. You know that the famous waistcoat was found in his house, containing the letter which stopped the signature of the marriage-contract. Do you see the waistcoat? There it is, all blood-stained, on the desk, as a testimony of the crime.”
“Ah, very good.”
“Hush, gentlemen, here is the court; let us go back to our places.” A noise was heard in the hall; the sergeant called his two patrons with an energetic “hem!” and the door-keeper appearing, called out with that shrill
voice peculiar to his order, ever since the days of Beaumarchais, “The court, gentlemen!”
The judges took their places in the midst of the most profound silence; the jury took their seats; M. de Villefort, the object of unusual attention, and we had almost said of general admiration, sat in the arm-chair and cast a tranquil glance around him. Every one looked with astonishment on that grave and severe face,
whose calm expression personal griefs had been unable to disturb, and the aspect of a man who was a stranger
to all human emotions excited something very like terror. “Gendarmes,” said the president, “lead in the accused.”
At these words the public attention became more intense, and all eyes were turned towards the door through which Benedetto was to enter. The door soon opened and the accused appeared. The same impression was experienced by all present, and no one was deceived by the expression of his countenance. His features bore
no sign of that deep emotion which stops the beating of the heart and blanches the cheek. His hands,
gracefully placed, one upon his hat, the other in the opening of his white waistcoat, were not at all tremulous;
his eye was calm and even brilliant. Scarcely had he entered the hall when he glanced at the whole body of magistrates and assistants; his eye rested longer on the president, and still more so on the king’s attorney. By
the side of Andrea was stationed the lawyer who was to conduct his defence, and who had been appointed by
the court, for Andrea disdained to pay any attention to those details, to which he appeared to attach no importance. The lawyer was a young man with light hair whose face expressed a hundred times more emotion than that which characterized the prisoner.
The president called for the indictment, revised as we know, by the clever and implacable pen of Villefort. During the reading of this, which was long, the public attention was continually drawn towards Andrea, who bore the inspection with Spartan unconcern. Villefort had never been so concise and eloquent. The crime was depicted in the most vivid colors; the former life of the prisoner, his transformation, a review of his life from
the earliest period, were set forth with all the talent that a knowledge of human life could furnish to a mind
like that of the procureur. Benedetto was thus forever condemned in public opinion before the sentence of the law could be pronounced. Andrea paid no attention to the successive charges which were brought against him.
M. de Villefort, who examined him attentively, and who no doubt practiced upon him all the psychological studies he was accustomed to use, in vain endeavored to make him lower his eyes, notwithstanding the depth and profundity of his gaze. At length the reading of the indictment was ended.
“Accused,” said the president, “your name and surname?” Andrea arose. “Excuse me, Mr. President,” he said,
in a clear voice, “but I see you are going to adopt a course of questions through which I cannot follow you. I
have an idea, which I will explain by and by, of making an exception to the usual form of accusation. Allow
me, then, if you please, to answer in different order, or I will not do so at all.” The astonished president looked
at the jury, who in turn looked at Villefort. The whole assembly manifested great surprise, but Andrea appeared quite unmoved. “Your age?” said the president; “will you answer that question?”
“I will answer that question, as well as the rest, Mr. President, but in its turn.” “Your age?” repeated the president.
“I am twenty-one years old, or rather I shall be in a few days, as I was born the night of the 27th of September,
1817.” M. de Villefort, who was busy taking down some notes, raised his head at the mention of this date. “Where were you born?” continued the president.
“At Auteuil, near Paris.” M. de Villefort a second time raised his head, looked at Benedetto as if he had been gazing at the head of Medusa, and became livid. As for Benedetto, he gracefully wiped his lips with a fine
cambric pocket-handkerchief. “Your profession?”
“First I was a forger,” answered Andrea, as calmly as possible; “then I became a thief, and lately have become
an assassin.” A murmur, or rather storm, of indignation burst from all parts of the assembly. The judges themselves appeared to be stupefied, and the jury manifested tokens of disgust for cynicism so unexpected in
a man of fashion. M. de Villefort pressed his hand upon his brow, which, at first pale, had become red and burning; then he suddenly arose and looked around as though he had lost his senses — he wanted air.
“Are you looking for anything, Mr. Procureur?” asked Benedetto, with his most ingratiating smile. M. de Villefort answered nothing, but sat, or rather threw himself down again upon his chair. “And now, prisoner, will you consent to tell your name?” said the president. “The brutal affectation with which you have
enumerated and classified your crimes calls for a severe reprimand on the part of the court, both in the name
of morality, and for the respect due to humanity. You appear to consider this a point of honor, and it may be
for this reason, that you have delayed acknowledging your name. You wished it to be preceded by all these titles.”
“It is quite wonderful, Mr. President, how entirely you have read my thoughts,” said Benedetto, in his softest voice and most polite manner. “This is, indeed, the reason why I begged you to alter the order of the
questions.” The public astonishment had reached its height. There was no longer any deceit or bravado in the manner of the accused. The audience felt that a startling revelation was to follow this ominous prelude.
“Well,” said the president; “your name?”
“I cannot tell you my name, since I do not know it; but I know my father’s, and can tell it to you.”
A painful giddiness overwhelmed Villefort; great drops of acrid sweat fell from his face upon the papers which he held in his convulsed hand.
“Repeat your father’s name,” said the president. Not a whisper, not a breath, was heard in that vast assembly;
every one waited anxiously.
“My father is king’s attorney,” replied Andrea calmly.
“King’s attorney?” said the president, stupefied, and without noticing the agitation which spread over the face
of M. de Villefort; “king’s attorney?”
“Yes; and if you wish to know his name, I will tell it, — he is named Villefort.” The explosion, which had been
so long restrained from a feeling of respect to the court of justice, now burst forth like thunder from the
breasts of all present; the court itself did not seek to restrain the feelings of the audience. The exclamations,
the insults addressed to Benedetto, who remained perfectly unconcerned, the energetic gestures, the
movement of the gendarmes, the sneers of the scum of the crowd always sure to rise to the surface in case of any disturbance — all this lasted five minutes, before the door-keepers and magistrates were able to restore silence. In the midst of this tumult the voice of the president was heard to exclaim, — “Are you playing with justice, accused, and do you dare set your fellow-citizens an example of disorder which even in these times
has never been equalled?”
Several persons hurried up to M. de Villefort, who sat half bowed over in his chair, offering him consolation, encouragement, and protestations of zeal and sympathy. Order was re-established in the hall, except that a few people still moved about and whispered to one another. A lady, it was said, had just fainted; they had supplied
her with a smelling-bottle, and she had recovered. During the scene of tumult, Andrea had turned his smiling face towards the assembly; then, leaning with one hand on the oaken rail of the dock, in the most graceful
attitude possible, he said: “Gentlemen, I assure you I had no idea of insulting the court, or of making a useless
disturbance in the presence of this honorable assembly. They ask my age; I tell it. They ask where I was born;
I answer. They ask my name, I cannot give it, since my parents abandoned me. But though I cannot give my own name, not possessing one, I can tell them my father’s. Now I repeat, my father is named M. de Villefort, and I am ready to prove it.”
There was an energy, a conviction, and a sincerity in the manner of the young man, which silenced the tumult.
All eyes were turned for a moment towards the procureur, who sat as motionless as though a thunderbolt had changed him into a corpse. “Gentlemen,” said Andrea, commanding silence by his voice and manner; “I owe
you the proofs and explanations of what I have said.”
“But,” said the irritated president, “you called yourself Benedetto, declared yourself an orphan, and claimed
Corsica as your country.”
“I said anything I pleased, in order that the solemn declaration I have just made should not be withheld, which otherwise would certainly have been the case. I now repeat that I was born at Auteuil on the night of the 27th
of September, 1817, and that I am the son of the procureur, M. de Villefort. Do you wish for any further
details? I will give them. I was born in No. 28, Rue de la Fontaine, in a room hung with red damask; my father took me in his arms, telling my mother I was dead, wrapped me in a napkin marked with an H and an N, and carried me into a garden, where he buried me alive.”
A shudder ran through the assembly when they saw that the confidence of the prisoner increased in proportion
to the terror of M. de Villefort. “But how have you become acquainted with all these details?” asked the president.
“I will tell you, Mr. President. A man who had sworn vengeance against my father, and had long watched his opportunity to kill him, had introduced himself that night into the garden in which my father buried me. He
was concealed in a thicket; he saw my father bury something in the ground, and stabbed him; then thinking
the deposit might contain some treasure he turned up the ground, and found me still living. The man carried
me to the foundling asylum, where I was registered under the number 37. Three months afterwards, a woman travelled from Rogliano to Paris to fetch me, and having claimed me as her son, carried me away. Thus, you
see, though born in Paris, I was brought up in Corsica.”
There was a moment’s silence, during which one could have fancied the hall empty, so profound was the stillness. “Proceed,” said the president.
“Certainly, I might have lived happily amongst those good people, who adored me, but my perverse
disposition prevailed over the virtues which my adopted mother endeavored to instil into my heart. I increased
in wickedness till I committed crime. One day when I cursed providence for making me so wicked, and
ordaining me to such a fate, my adopted father said to me, `Do not blaspheme, unhappy child, the crime is that
of your father, not yours, — of your father, who consigned you to hell if you died, and to misery if a miracle preserved you alive.’ After that I ceased to blaspheme, but I cursed my father. That is why I have uttered the words for which you blame me; that is why I have filled this whole assembly with horror. If I have committed
an additional crime, punish me, but if you will allow that ever since the day of my birth my fate has been sad, bitter, and lamentable, then pity me.”
“But your mother?” asked the president.
“My mother thought me dead; she is not guilty. I did not even wish to know her name, nor do I know it.” Just then a piercing cry, ending in a sob, burst from the centre of the crowd, who encircled the lady who had before
fainted, and who now fell into a violent fit of hysterics. She was carried out of the hall, the thick veil which concealed her face dropped off, and Madame Danglars was recognized. Notwithstanding his shattered nerves,
the ringing sensation in his ears, and the madness which turned his brain, Villefort rose as he perceived her.
“The proofs, the proofs!” said the president; “remember this tissue of horrors must be supported by the
clearest proofs ”
“The proofs?” said Benedetto, laughing; “do you want proofs?” “Yes.”
“Well, then, look at M. de Villefort, and then ask me for proofs.”
Every one turned towards the procureur, who, unable to bear the universal gaze now riveted on him alone, advanced staggering into the midst of the tribunal, with his hair dishevelled and his face indented with the
mark of his nails. The whole assembly uttered a long murmur of astonishment. “Father,” said Benedetto, “I am asked for proofs, do you wish me to give them?”
“No, no, it is useless,” stammered M. de Villefort in a hoarse voice; “no, it is useless!” “How useless?” cried the president, “what do you mean?”
“I mean that I feel it impossible to struggle against this deadly weight which crushes me. Gentlemen, I know I
am in the hands of an avenging God! We need no proofs; everything relating to this young man is true.” A dull, gloomy silence, like that which precedes some awful phenomenon of nature, pervaded the assembly, who shuddered in dismay. “What, M. de Villefort,” cried the president, “do you yield to an hallucination? What, are you no longer in possession of your senses? This strange, unexpected, terrible accusation has disordered your reason. Come, recover.”
The procureur dropped his head; his teeth chattered like those of a man under a violent attack of fever, and yet
he was deadly pale.
“I am in possession of all my senses, sir,” he said; “my body alone suffers, as you may suppose. I acknowledge myself guilty of all the young man has brought against me, and from this hour hold myself under the authority of the procureur who will succeed me.”
And as he spoke these words with a hoarse, choking voice, he staggered towards the door, which was mechanically opened by a door-keeper. The whole assembly were dumb with astonishment at the revelation
and confession which had produced a catastrophe so different from that which had been expected during the last fortnight by the Parisian world.
“Well,” said Beauchamp, “let them now say that drama is unnatural!”
“Ma foi!” said Chateau-Renaud, “I would rather end my career like M. de Morcerf; a pistol-shot seems quite delightful compared with this catastrophe.”
“And moreover, it kills,” said Beauchamp.
“And to think that I had an idea of marrying his daughter,” said Debray. “She did well to die, poor girl!”
“The sitting is adjourned, gentlemen,” said the president; “fresh inquiries will be made, and the case will be
tried next session by another magistrate.” As for Andrea, who was calm and more interesting than ever, he left
the hall, escorted by gendarmes, who involuntarily paid him some attention. “Well, what do you think of this,
my fine fellow?” asked Debray of the sergeant-at-arms, slipping a louis into his hand. “There will be extenuating circumstances,” he replied.
Notwithstanding the density of the crowd, M. de Villefort saw it open before him. There is something so
awe-inspiring in great afflictions that even in the worst times the first emotion of a crowd has generally been
to sympathize with the sufferer in a great catastrophe. Many people have been assassinated in a tumult, but
even criminals have rarely been insulted during trial. Thus Villefort passed through the mass of spectators and officers of the Palais, and withdrew. Though he had acknowledged his guilt, he was protected by his grief.
There are some situations which men understand by instinct, but which reason is powerless to explain; in such cases the greatest poet is he who gives utterance to the most natural and vehement outburst of sorrow. Those
who hear the bitter cry are as much impressed as if they listened to an entire poem, and when the sufferer is sincere they are right in regarding his outburst as sublime.
It would be difficult to describe the state of stupor in which Villefort left the Palais. Every pulse beat with
feverish excitement, every nerve was strained, every vein swollen, and every part of his body seemed to suffer distinctly from the rest, thus multiplying his agony a thousand-fold. He made his way along the corridors
through force of habit; he threw aside his magisterial robe, not out of deference to etiquette, but because it was
an unbearable burden, a veritable garb of Nessus, insatiate in torture. Having staggered as far as the Rue
Dauphine, he perceived his carriage, awoke his sleeping coachman by opening the door himself, threw
himself on the cushions, and pointed towards the Faubourg Saint-Honore; the carriage drove on. The weight
of his fallen fortunes seemed suddenly to crush him; he could not foresee the consequences; he could not contemplate the future with the indifference of the hardened criminal who merely faces a contingency already familiar. God was still in his heart. “God,” he murmured, not knowing what he said, — “God — God!” Behind
the event that had overwhelmed him he saw the hand of God. The carriage rolled rapidly onward. Villefort, while turning restlessly on the cushions, felt something press against him. He put out his hand to remove the
object; it was a fan which Madame de Villefort had left in the carriage; this fan awakened a recollection which darted through his mind like lightning. He thought of his wife.
“Oh!” he exclaimed, as though a redhot iron were piercing his heart. During the last hour his own crime had
alone been presented to his mind; now another object, not less terrible, suddenly presented itself. His wife! He had just acted the inexorable judge with her, he had condemned her to death, and she, crushed by remorse,
struck with terror, covered with the shame inspired by the eloquence of his irreproachable virtue, — she, a
poor, weak woman, without help or the power of defending herself against his absolute and supreme will, —
she might at that very moment, perhaps, be preparing to die! An hour had elapsed since her condemnation; at that moment, doubtless, she was recalling all her crimes to her memory; she was asking pardon for her sins; perhaps she was even writing a letter imploring forgiveness from her virtuous husband — a forgiveness she
was purchasing with her death! Villefort again groaned with anguish and despair. “Ah,” he exclaimed, “that woman became criminal only from associating with me! I carried the infection of crime with me, and she has caught it as she would the typhus fever, the cholera, the plague! And yet I have punished her — I have dared to
tell her — I have — `Repent and die!’ But no, she must not die; she shall live, and with me. We will flee from Paris and go as far as the earth reaches. I told her of the scaffold; oh, heavens, I forgot that it awaits me also! How could I pronounce that word? Yes, we will fly; I will confess all to her, — I will tell her daily that I also have committed a crime! — Oh, what an alliance — the tiger and the serpent; worthy wife of such as I am! She must live that my infamy may diminish hers.” And Villefort dashed open the window in front of the carriage.
“Faster, faster!” he cried, in a tone which electrified the coachman. The horses, impelled by fear, flew towards
“Yes, yes,” repeated Villefort, as he approached his home — “yes, that woman must live; she must repent, and educate my son, the sole survivor, with the exception of the indestructible old man, of the wreck of my house. She loves him; it was for his sake she has committed these crimes. We ought never to despair of softening the
heart of a mother who loves her child. She will repent, and no one will know that she has been guilty. The
events which have taken place in my house, though they now occupy the public mind, will be forgotten in
time, or if, indeed, a few enemies should persist in remembering them, why then I will add them to my list of crimes. What will it signify if one, two, or three more are added? My wife and child shall escape from this
gulf, carrying treasures with them; she will live and may yet be happy, since her child, in whom all her love is centred, will be with her. I shall have performed a good action, and my heart will be lighter.” And the
procureur breathed more freely than he had done for some time.
The carriage stopped at the door of the house. Villefort leaped out of the carriage, and saw that his servants were surprised at his early return; he could read no other expression on their features. Neither of them spoke
to him; they merely stood aside to let him pass by, as usual, nothing more. As he passed by M. Noirtier’s
room, he perceived two figures through the half-open door; but he experienced no curiosity to know who was visiting his father: anxiety carried him on further.
“Come,” he said, as he ascended the stairs leading to his wife’s room, “nothing is changed here.” He then
closed the door of the landing. “No one must disturb us,” he said; “I must speak freely to her, accuse myself, and say” — he approached the door, touched the crystal handle, which yielded to his hand. “Not locked,” he
cried; “that is well.” And he entered the little room in which Edward slept; for though the child went to school during the day, his mother could not allow him to be separated from her at night. With a single glance
Villefort’s eye ran through the room. “Not here,” he said; “doubtless she is in her bedroom.” He rushed
towards the door, found it bolted, and stopped, shuddering. “Heloise!” he cried. He fancied he heard the sound
of a piece of furniture being removed. “Heloise!” he repeated.
“Who is there?” answered the voice of her he sought. He thought that voice more feeble than usual.
“Open the door!” cried Villefort. “Open; it is I.” But notwithstanding this request, notwithstanding the tone of anguish in which it was uttered, the door remained closed. Villefort burst it open with a violent blow. At the entrance of the room which led to her boudoir, Madame de Villefort was standing erect, pale, her features contracted, and her eyes glaring horribly. “Heloise, Heloise!” he said, “what is the matter? Speak!” The young woman extended her stiff white hands towards him. “It is done, monsieur,” she said with a rattling noise
which seemed to tear her throat. “What more do you want?” and she fell full length on the floor. Villefort ran
to her and seized her hand, which convulsively clasped a crystal bottle with a golden stopper. Madame de
Villefort was dead. Villefort, maddened with horror, stepped back to the threshhold of the door, fixing his
eyes on the corpse: “My son!” he exclaimed suddenly, “where is my son? — Edward, Edward!” and he rushed
out of the room, still crying, “Edward, Edward!” The name was pronounced in such a tone of anguish that the servants ran up.
“Where is my son?” asked Villefort; “let him be removed from the house, that he may not see” — “Master Edward is not down-stairs, sir,” replied the valet.
“Then he must be playing in the garden; go and see.”
“No, sir; Madame de Villefort sent for him half an hour ago; he went into her room, and has not been
down-stairs since.” A cold perspiration burst out on Villefort’s brow; his legs trembled, and his thoughts flew about madly in his brain like the wheels of a disordered watch. “In Madame de Villefort’s room?” he
murmured and slowly returned, with one hand wiping his forehead, and with the other supporting himself against the wall. To enter the room he must again see the body of his unfortunate wife. To call Edward he
must reawaken the echo of that room which now appeared like a sepulchre; to speak seemed like violating the silence of the tomb. His tongue was paralyzed in his mouth.
“Edward!” he stammered — “Edward!” The child did not answer. Where, then, could he be, if he had entered
his mother’s room and not since returned? He stepped forward. The corpse of Madame de Villefort was
stretched across the doorway leading to the room in which Edward must be; those glaring eyes seemed to watch over the threshold, and the lips bore the stamp of a terrible and mysterious irony. Through the open
door was visible a portion of the boudoir, containing an upright piano and a blue satin couch. Villefort stepped forward two or three paces, and beheld his child lying — no doubt asleep — on the sofa. The unhappy man
uttered an exclamation of joy; a ray of light seemed to penetrate the abyss of despair and darkness. He had only to step over the corpse, enter the boudoir, take the child in his arms, and flee far, far away.
Villefort was no longer the civilized man; he was a tiger hurt unto death, gnashing his teeth in his wound. He
no longer feared realities, but phantoms. He leaped over the corpse as if it had been a burning brazier. He took
the child in his arms, embraced him, shook him, called him, but the child made no response. He pressed his burning lips to the cheeks, but they were icy cold and pale; he felt the stiffened limbs; he pressed his hand
upon the heart, but it no longer beat, — the child was dead. A folded paper fell from Edward’s breast. Villefort, thunderstruck, fell upon his knees; the child dropped from his arms, and rolled on the floor by the side of its mother. He picked up the paper, and, recognizing his wife’s writing, ran his eyes rapidly over its contents; it
ran as follows: —
“You know that I was a good mother, since it was for my son’s sake I became criminal. A good mother cannot depart without her son.”
Villefort could not believe his eyes, — he could not believe his reason; he dragged himself towards the child’s body, and examined it as a lioness contemplates its dead cub. Then a piercing cry escaped from his breast, and
he cried, “Still the hand of God.” The presence of the two victims alarmed him; he could not bear solitude
shared only by two corpses. Until then he had been sustained by rage, by his strength of mind, by despair, by
the supreme agony which led the Titans to scale the heavens, and Ajax to defy the gods. He now arose, his head bowed beneath the weight of grief, and, shaking his damp, dishevelled hair, he who had never felt
compassion for any one determined to seek his father, that he might have some one to whom he could relate
his misfortunes, — some one by whose side he might weep. He descended the little staircase with which we
are acquainted, and entered Noirtier’s room. The old man appeared to be listening attentively and as affectionately as his infirmities would allow to the Abbe Busoni, who looked cold and calm, as usual.
Villefort, perceiving the abbe, passed his hand across his brow. He recollected the call he had made upon him after the dinner at Auteuil, and then the visit the abbe had himself paid to his house on the day of Valentine’s death. “You here, sir!” he exclaimed; “do you, then, never appear but to act as an escort to death?”
Busoni turned around, and, perceiving the excitement depicted on the magistrate’s face, the savage lustre of
his eyes, he understood that the revelation had been made at the assizes; but beyond this he was ignorant. “I
came to pray over the body of your daughter.” “And now why are you here?”
“I come to tell you that you have sufficiently repaid your debt, and that from this moment I will pray to God to forgive you, as I do.”
“Good heavens!” exclaimed Villefort, stepping back fearfully, “surely that is not the voice of the Abbe
“No!” The abbe threw off his wig, shook his head, and his hair, no longer confined, fell in black masses around his manly face.
“It is the face of the Count of Monte Cristo!” exclaimed the procureur, with a haggard expression. “You are not exactly right, M. Procureur; you must go farther back.”
“That voice, that voice! — where did I first hear it?”
“You heard it for the first time at Marseilles, twenty-three years ago, the day of your marriage with
Mademoiselle de Saint-Meran. Refer to your papers.”
“You are not Busoni? — you are not Monte Cristo? Oh, heavens — you are, then, some secret, implacable, and mortal enemy! I must have wronged you in some way at Marseilles. Oh, woe to me!”
“Yes; you are now on the right path,” said the count, crossing his arms over his broad chest; “search — search!”
“But what have I done to you?” exclaimed Villefort, whose mind was balancing between reason and insanity,
in that cloud which is neither a dream nor reality; “what have I done to you? Tell me, then! Speak!”
“You condemned me to a horrible, tedious death; you killed my father; you deprived me of liberty, of love, and happiness.”
“Who are you, then? Who are you?”
“I am the spectre of a wretch you buried in the dungeons of the Chateau d’If. God gave that spectre the form of
the Count of Monte Cristo when he at length issued from his tomb, enriched him with gold and diamonds, and
led him to you!”
“Ah, I recognize you — I recognize you!” exclaimed the king’s attorney; “you are” —
“I am Edmond Dantes!”
“You are Edmond Dantes,” cried Villefort, seizing the count by the wrist; “then come here!” And up the stairs
he dragged Monte Cristo; who, ignorant of what had happened, followed him in astonishment, foreseeing some new catastrophe. “There, Edmond Dantes!” he said, pointing to the bodies of his wife and child, “see,
are you well avenged?” Monte Cristo became pale at this horrible sight; he felt that he had passed beyond the bounds of vengeance, and that he could no longer say, “God is for and with me.” With an expression of indescribable anguish he threw himself upon the body of the child, reopened its eyes, felt its pulse, and then rushed with him into Valentine’s room, of which he double-locked the door. “My child,” cried Villefort, “he carries away the body of my child! Oh, curses, woe, death to you!” and he tried to follow Monte Cristo; but as though in a dream he was transfixed to the spot, — his eyes glared as though they were starting through the sockets; he griped the flesh on his chest until his nails were stained with blood; the veins of his temples
swelled and boiled as though they would burst their narrow boundary, and deluge his brain with living fire. This lasted several minutes, until the frightful overturn of reason was accomplished; then uttering a loud cry
followed by a burst of laughter, he rushed down the stairs.
A quarter of an hour afterwards the door of Valentine’s room opened, and Monte Cristo reappeared. Pale, with
a dull eye and heavy heart, all the noble features of that face, usually so calm and serene, were overcast by grief. In his arms he held the child, whom no skill had been able to recall to life. Bending on one knee, he placed it reverently by the side of its mother, with its head upon her breast. Then, rising, he went out, and meeting a servant on the stairs, he asked, “Where is M. de Villefort?”
The servant, instead of answering, pointed to the garden. Monte Cristo ran down the steps, and advancing towards the spot designated beheld Villefort, encircled by his servants, with a spade in his hand, and digging
the earth with fury. “It is not here!” he cried. “It is not here!” And then he moved farther on, and began again
Monte Cristo approached him, and said in a low voice, with an expression almost humble, “Sir, you have
indeed lost a son; but” —
Villefort interrupted him; he had neither listened nor heard. “Oh, I will find it,” he cried; “you may pretend he
is not here, but I will find him, though I dig forever!” Monte Cristo drew back in horror. “Oh,” he said, “he is mad!” And as though he feared that the walls of the accursed house would crumble around him, he rushed into
the street, for the first time doubting whether he had the right to do as he had done. “Oh, enough of this, — enough of this,” he cried; “let me save the last.” On entering his house, he met Morrel, who wandered about like a ghost awaiting the heavenly mandate for return to the tomb. “Prepare yourself, Maximilian,” he said
with a smile; “we leave Paris to-morrow.”
“Have you nothing more to do there?” asked Morrel.
“No,” replied Monte Cristo; “God grant I may not have done too much already.”
The next day they indeed left, accompanied only by Baptistin. Haidee had taken away Ali, and Bertuccio remained with Noirtier.
The recent event formed the theme of conversation throughout all Paris. Emmanuel and his wife conversed with natural astonishment in their little apartment in the Rue Meslay upon the three successive, sudden, and
most unexpected catastrophes of Morcerf, Danglars, and Villefort. Maximilian, who was paying them a visit, listened to their conversation, or rather was present at it, plunged in his accustomed state of apathy. “Indeed,” said Julie, “might we not almost fancy, Emmanuel, that those people, so rich, so happy but yesterday, had forgotten in their prosperity that an evil genius — like the wicked fairies in Perrault’s stories who present themselves unbidden at a wedding or baptism — hovered over them, and appeared all at once to revenge
himself for their fatal neglect?”
“What a dire misfortune!” said Emmanuel, thinking of Morcerf and Danglars.
“What dreadful sufferings!” said Julie, remembering Valentine, but whom, with a delicacy natural to women, she did not name before her brother.
“If the Supreme Being has directed the fatal blow,” said Emmanuel, “it must be that he in his great goodness has perceived nothing in the past lives of these people to merit mitigation of their awful punishment.”
“Do you not form a very rash judgment, Emmanuel?” said Julie. “When my father, with a pistol in his hand, was once on the point of committing suicide, had any one then said, `This man deserves his misery,’ would
not that person have been deceived?”
“Yes; but your father was not allowed to fall. A being was commissioned to arrest the fatal hand of death about to descend on him.”
Emmanuel had scarcely uttered these words when the sound of the bell was heard, the well-known signal
given by the porter that a visitor had arrived. Nearly at the same instant the door was opened and the Count of
Monte Cristo appeared on the threshold. The young people uttered a cry of joy, while Maximilian raised his head, but let it fall again immediately. “Maximilian,” said the count, without appearing to notice the different impressions which his presence produced on the little circle, “I come to seek you.”
“To seek me?” repeated Morrel, as if awakening from a dream.
“Yes,” said Monte Cristo; “has it not been agreed that I should take you with me, and did I not tell you yesterday to prepare for departure?”
“I am ready,” said Maximilian; “I came expressly to wish them farewell.” “Whither are you going, count?” asked Julie.
“In the first instance to Marseilles, madame.” “To Marseilles!” exclaimed the young couple. “Yes, and I take your brother with me.”
“Oh, count.” said Julie, “will you restore him to us cured of his melancholy?” — Morrel turned away to conceal the confusion of his countenance.
“You perceive, then, that he is not happy?” said the count. “Yes,” replied the young woman; “and fear much
that he finds our home but a dull one.”
“I will undertake to divert him,” replied the count.
“I am ready to accompany you, sir,” said Maximilian. “Adieu, my kind friends! Emmanuel — Julie — farewell!”
“How farewell?” exclaimed Julie; “do you leave us thus, so suddenly, without any preparations for your journey, without even a passport?”
“Needless delays but increase the grief of parting,” said Monte Cristo, “and Maximilian has doubtless provided himself with everything requisite; at least, I advised him to do so.”
“I have a passport, and my clothes are ready packed,” said Morrel in his tranquil but mournful manner. “Good,” said Monte Cristo, smiling; “in these prompt arrangements we recognize the order of a
“And you leave us,” said Julie, “at a moment’s warning? you do not give us a day — no, not even an hour before your departure?”
“My carriage is at the door, madame, and I must be in Rome in five days.” “But does Maximilian go to Rome?” exclaimed Emmanuel.
“I am going wherever it may please the count to take me,” said Morrel, with a smile full of grief; “I am under
his orders for the next month.”
“Oh, heavens, how strangely he expresses himself, count!” said Julie.
“Maximilian goes with me,” said the count, in his kindest and most persuasive manner; “therefore do not make yourself uneasy on your brother’s account.”
“Once more farewell, my dear sister; Emmanuel, adieu!” Morrel repeated.
“His carelessness and indifference touch me to the heart,” said Julie. “Oh, Maximilian, Maximilian, you are certainly concealing something from us.”
“Pshaw!” said Monte Cristo, “you will see him return to you gay, smiling, and joyful.” Maximilian cast a look of disdain, almost of anger, on the count.
“We must leave you,” said Monte Cristo.
“Before you quit us, count,” said Julie, “will you permit us to express to you all that the other day” — “Madame,” interrupted the count, taking her two hands in his, “all that you could say in words would never
express what I read in your eyes; the thoughts of your heart are fully understood by mine. Like benefactors in romances, I should have left you without seeing you again, but that would have been a virtue beyond my strength, because I am a weak and vain man, fond of the tender, kind, and thankful glances of my
fellow-creatures. On the eve of departure I carry my egotism so far as to say, `Do not forget me, my kind
friends, for probably you will never see me again.'”
“Never see you again?” exclaimed Emmanuel, while two large tears rolled down Julie’s cheeks, “never behold you again? It is not a man, then, but some angel that leaves us, and this angel is on the point of returning to heaven after having appeared on earth to do good.”
“Say not so,” quickly returned Monte Cristo — “say not so, my friends; angels never err, celestial beings
remain where they wish to be. Fate is not more powerful than they; it is they who, on the contrary, overcome fate. No, Emmanuel, I am but a man, and your admiration is as unmerited as your words are sacrilegious.”
And pressing his lips on the hand of Julie, who rushed into his arms, he extended his other hand to Emmanuel; then tearing himself from this abode of peace and happiness, he made a sign to Maximilian, who followed him passively, with the indifference which had been perceptible in him ever since the death of Valentine had so stunned him. “Restore my brother to peace and happiness,” whispered Julie to Monte Cristo. And the count pressed her hand in reply, as he had done eleven years before on the staircase leading to Morrel’s study.
“You still confide, then, in Sinbad the Sailor?” asked he, smiling. “Oh, yes,” was the ready answer.
“Well, then, sleep in peace, and put your trust in heaven.” As we have before said, the postchaise was waiting;
four powerful horses were already pawing the ground with impatience, while Ali, apparently just arrived from
a long walk, was standing at the foot of the steps, his face bathed in perspiration. “Well,” asked the count in
Arabic, “have you been to see the old man?” Ali made a sign in the affirmative. “And have you placed the letter before him, as I ordered you to do?”
The slave respectfully signalized that he had. “And what did he say, or rather do?” Ali placed himself in the light, so that his master might see him distinctly, and then imitating in his intelligent manner the countenance
of the old man, he closed his eyes, as Noirtier was in the custom of doing when saying “Yes.” “Good; he accepts,” said Monte Cristo. “Now let us go.”
These words had scarcely escaped him, when the carriage was on its way, and the feet of the horses struck a shower of sparks from the pavement. Maximilian settled himself in his corner without uttering a word. Half an hour had passed when the carriage stopped suddenly; the count had just pulled the silken check-string, which
was fastened to Ali’s finger. The Nubian immediately descended and opened the carriage door. It was a lovely starlight night — they had just reached the top of the hill Villejuif, from whence Paris appears like a sombre
sea tossing its millions of phosphoric waves into light — waves indeed more noisy, more passionate, more changeable, more furious, more greedy, than those of the tempestuous ocean, — waves which never rest as those of the sea sometimes do, — waves ever dashing, ever foaming, ever ingulfing what falls within their grasp. The count stood alone, and at a sign from his hand, the carriage went on for a short distance. With
folded arms, he gazed for some time upon the great city. When he had fixed his piercing look on this modern
Babylon, which equally engages the contemplation of the religious enthusiast, the materialist, and the scoffer,
— “Great city,” murmured he, inclining his head, and joining his hands as if in prayer, “less than six months have elapsed since first I entered thy gates. I believe that the Spirit of God led my steps to thee and that he
also enables me to quit thee in triumph; the secret cause of my presence within thy walls I have confided alone
to him who only has had the power to read my heart. God only knows that I retire from thee without pride or hatred, but not without many regrets; he only knows that the power confided to me has never been made subservient to my personal good or to any useless cause. Oh, great city, it is in thy palpitating bosom that I
have found that which I sought; like a patient miner, I have dug deep into thy very entrails to root out evil thence. Now my work is accomplished, my mission is terminated, now thou canst neither afford me pain nor pleasure. Adieu, Paris, adieu!”
His look wandered over the vast plain like that of some genius of the night; he passed his hand over his brow,
got into the carriage, the door was closed on him, and the vehicle quickly disappeared down the other side of the hill in a whirlwind of noise and dust.
Ten leagues were passed and not a single word was uttered.
Morrel was dreaming, and Monte Cristo was looking at the dreamer.
“Morrel,” said the count to him at length, “do you repent having followed me?” “No, count; but to leave Paris” —
“If I thought happiness might await you in Paris, Morrel, I would have left you there.”
“Valentine reposes within the walls of Paris, and to leave Paris is like losing her a second time.”
“Maximilian,” said the count, “the friends that we have lost do not repose in the bosom of the earth, but are buried deep in our hearts, and it has been thus ordained that we may always be accompanied by them. I have
two friends, who in this way never depart from me; the one who gave me being, and the other who conferred knowledge and intelligence on me. Their spirits live in me. I consult them when doubtful, and if I ever do any good, it is due to their beneficent counsels. Listen to the voice of your heart, Morrel, and ask it whether you
ought to preserve this melancholy exterior towards me.”
“My friend,” said Maximilian, “the voice of my heart is very sorrowful, and promises me nothing but misfortune.”
“It is the way of weakened minds to see everything through a black cloud. The soul forms its own horizons;
your soul is darkened, and consequently the sky of the future appears stormy and unpromising.” “That may possibly be true,” said Maximilian, and he again subsided into his thoughtful mood.
The journey was performed with that marvellous rapidity which the unlimited power of the count ever commanded. Towns fled from them like shadows on their path, and trees shaken by the first winds of autumn seemed like giants madly rushing on to meet them, and retreating as rapidly when once reached. The
following morning they arrived at Chalons, where the count’s steamboat waited for them. Without the loss of
an instant, the carriage was placed on board and the two travellers embarked without delay. The boat was built
for speed; her two paddle-wheels were like two wings with which she skimmed the water like a bird. Morrel was not insensible to that sensation of delight which is generally experienced in passing rapidly through the
air, and the wind which occasionally raised the hair from his forehead seemed on the point of dispelling momentarily the clouds collected there.
As the distance increased between the travellers and Paris, almost superhuman serenity appeared to surround
the count; he might have been taken for an exile about to revisit his native land. Ere long Marseilles presented herself to view, — Marseilles, white, fervid, full of life and energy, — Marseilles, the younger sister of Tyre
and Carthage, the successor to them in the empire of the Mediterranean, — Marseilles, old, yet always young. Powerful memories were stirred within them by the sight of the round tower, Fort Saint-Nicolas, the City Hall designed by Puget,* the port with its brick quays, where they had both played in childhood, and it was with
one accord that they stopped on the Cannebiere. A vessel was setting sail for Algiers, on board of which the bustle usually attending departure prevailed. The passengers and their relations crowded on the deck, friends
taking a tender but sorrowful leave of each other, some weeping, others noisy in their grief, the whole forming
a spectacle that might be exciting even to those who witnessed similar sights daily, but which had no power to disturb the current of thought that had taken possession of the mind of Maximilian from the moment he had
set foot on the broad pavement of the quay.
* Pierre Puget, the sculptor-architect, was born at Marseilles in 1622.
“Here,” said he, leaning heavily on the arm of Monte Cristo, — “here is the spot where my father stopped, when the Pharaon entered the port; it was here that the good old man, whom you saved from death and dishonor, threw himself into my arms. I yet feel his warm tears on my face, and his were not the only tears
shed, for many who witnessed our meeting wept also.” Monte Cristo gently smiled and said, — “I was there;”
at the same time pointing to the corner of a street. As he spoke, and in the very direction he indicated, a groan, expressive of bitter grief, was heard, and a woman was seen waving her hand to a passenger on board the
vessel about to sail. Monte Cristo looked at her with an emotion that must have been remarked by Morrel had not his eyes been fixed on the vessel.
“Oh, heavens!” exclaimed Morrel, “I do not deceive myself — that young man who is waving his hat, that youth in the uniform of a lieutenant, is Albert de Morcerf!”
“Yes,” said Monte Cristo, “I recognized him.”
“How so? — you were looking the other way.” the count smiled, as he was in the habit of doing when he did
not want to make any reply, and he again turned towards the veiled woman, who soon disappeared at the corner of the street. Turning to his friend, — “Dear Maximilian,” said the count, “have you nothing to do in this land?”
“I have to weep over the grave of my father,” replied Morrel in a broken voice. “Well, then, go, — wait for me there, and I will soon join you.”
“You leave me, then?”
“Yes; I also have a pious visit to pay.”
Morrel allowed his hand to fall into that which the count extended to him; then with an inexpressibly
sorrowful inclination of the head he quitted the count and bent his steps to the east of the city. Monte Cristo remained on the same spot until Maximilian was out of sight; he then walked slowly towards the Allees de Meillan to seek out a small house with which our readers were made familiar at the beginning of this story. It
yet stood, under the shade of the fine avenue of lime-trees, which forms one of the most frequent walks of the idlers of Marseilles, covered by an immense vine, which spreads its aged and blackened branches over the
stone front, burnt yellow by the ardent sun of the south. Two stone steps worn away by the friction of many feet led to the door, which was made of three planks; the door had never been painted or varnished, so great cracks yawned in it during the dry season to close again when the rains came on. The house, with all its
crumbling antiquity and apparent misery, was yet cheerful and picturesque, and was the same that old Dantes formerly inhabited — the only difference being that the old man occupied merely the garret, while the whole house was now placed at the command of Mercedes by the count.
The woman whom the count had seen leave the ship with so much regret entered this house; she had scarcely closed the door after her when Monte Cristo appeared at the corner of a street, so that he found and lost her
again almost at the same instant. The worn out steps were old acquaintances of his; he knew better than any one else how to open that weather-beaten door with the large headed nail which served to raise the latch
within. He entered without knocking, or giving any other intimation of his presence, as if he had been a friend
or the master of the place. At the end of a passage paved with bricks, was a little garden, bathed in sunshine, and rich in warmth and light. In this garden Mercedes had found, at the place indicated by the count, the sum
of money which he, through a sense of delicacy, had described as having been placed there twenty-four years
previously. The trees of the garden were easily seen from the steps of the street-door. Monte Cristo, on
stepping into the house, heard a sigh that was almost a deep sob; he looked in the direction whence it came, and there under an arbor of Virginia jessamine,* with its thick foliage and beautiful long purple flowers, he saw Mercedes seated, with her head bowed, and weeping bitterly. She had raised her veil, and with her face hidden by her hands was giving free scope to the sighs and tears which had been so long restrained by the
presence of her son. Monte Cristo advanced a few steps, which were heard on the gravel. Mercedes raised her head, and uttered a cry of terror on beholding a man before her.
* The Carolina — not Virginia — jessamine, gelsemium sempervirens (properly speaking not a jessamine at all) has yellow blossoms. The reference is no doubt to the Wistaria frutescens. — Ed.
“Madame,” said the count, “it is no longer in my power to restore you to happiness, but I offer you consolation; will you deign to accept it as coming from a friend?”
“I am, indeed, most wretched,” replied Mercedes. “Alone in the world, I had but my son, and he has left me!” “He possesses a noble heart, madame,” replied the count, “and he has acted rightly. He feels that every man
owes a tribute to his country; some contribute their talents, others their industry; these devote their blood,
those their nightly labors, to the same cause. Had he remained with you, his life must have become a hateful burden, nor would he have participated in your griefs. He will increase in strength and honor by struggling
with adversity, which he will convert into prosperity. Leave him to build up the future for you, and I venture
to say you will confide it to safe hands.”
“Oh,” replied the wretched woman, mournfully shaking her head, “the prosperity of which you speak, and
which, from the bottom of my heart, I pray God in his mercy to grant him, I can never enjoy. The bitter cup of adversity has been drained by me to the very dregs, and I feel that the grave is not far distant. You have acted kindly, count, in bringing me back to the place where I have enjoyed so much bliss. I ought to meet death on
the same spot where happiness was once all my own.”
“Alas,” said Monte Cristo, “your words sear and embitter my heart, the more so as you have every reason to hate me. I have been the cause of all your misfortunes; but why do you pity, instead of blaming me? You render me still more unhappy” —
“Hate you, blame you — you, Edmond! Hate, reproach, the man that has spared my son’s life! For was it not
your fatal and sanguinary intention to destroy that son of whom M. de Morcerf was so proud? Oh, look at me closely, and discover if you can even the semblance of a reproach in me.” The count looked up and fixed his eyes on Mercedes, who arose partly from her seat and extended both her hands towards him. “Oh, look at
me,” continued she, with a feeling of profound melancholy, “my eyes no longer dazzle by their brilliancy, for
the time has long fled since I used to smile on Edmond Dantes, who anxiously looked out for me from the window of yonder garret, then inhabited by his old father. Years of grief have created an abyss between those days and the present. I neither reproach you nor hate you, my friend. Oh, no, Edmond, it is myself that I
blame, myself that I hate! Oh, miserable creature that I am!” cried she, clasping her hands, and raising her
eyes to heaven. “I once possessed piety, innocence, and love, the three ingredients of the happiness of angels, and now what am I?” Monte Cristo approached her, and silently took her hand. “No,” said she, withdrawing it
gently — “no, my friend, touch me not. You have spared me, yet of all those who have fallen under your vengeance I was the most guilty. They were influenced by hatred, by avarice, and by self-love; but I was base, and for want of courage acted against my judgment. Nay, do not press my hand, Edmond; you are thinking, I
am sure, of some kind speech to console me, but do not utter it to me, reserve it for others more worthy of
your kindness. See” (and she exposed her face completely to view) — “see, misfortune has silvered my hair,
my eyes have shed so many tears that they are encircled by a rim of purple, and my brow is wrinkled. You, Edmond, on the contrary, — you are still young, handsome, dignified; it is because you have had faith; because you have had strength, because you have had trust in God, and God has sustained you. But as for me, I have
been a coward; I have denied God and he has abandoned me.”
Mercedes burst into tears; her woman’s heart was breaking under its load of memories. Monte Cristo took her hand and imprinted a kiss on it; but she herself felt that it was a kiss of no greater warmth than he would have bestowed on the hand of some marble statue of a saint. “It often happens,” continued she, “that a first fault destroys the prospects of a whole life. I believed you dead; why did I survive you? What good has it done me
to mourn for you eternally in the secret recesses of my heart? — only to make a woman of thirty-nine look like
a woman of fifty. Why, having recognized you, and I the only one to do so — why was I able to save my son alone? Ought I not also to have rescued the man that I had accepted for a husband, guilty though he were? Yet
I let him die! What do I say? Oh, merciful heavens, was I not accessory to his death by my supine
insensibility, by my contempt for him, not remembering, or not willing to remember, that it was for my sake
he had become a traitor and a perjurer? In what am I benefited by accompanying my son so far, since I now abandon him, and allow him to depart alone to the baneful climate of Africa? Oh, I have been base, cowardly,
I tell you; I have abjured my affections, and like all renegades I am of evil omen to those who surround me!”
“No, Mercedes,” said Monte Cristo, “no; you judge yourself with too much severity. You are a noble-minded woman, and it was your grief that disarmed me. Still I was but an agent, led on by an invisible and offended Deity, who chose not to withhold the fatal blow that I was destined to hurl. I take that God to witness, at
whose feet I have prostrated myself daily for the last ten years, that I would have sacrificed my life to you, and with my life the projects that were indissolubly linked with it. But — and I say it with some pride,
Mercedes — God needed me, and I lived. Examine the past and the present, and endeavor to dive into futurity, and then say whether I am not a divine instrument. The most dreadful misfortunes, the most frightful
sufferings, the abandonment of all those who loved me, the persecution of those who did not know me, formed the trials of my youth; when suddenly, from captivity, solitude, misery, I was restored to light and
liberty, and became the possessor of a fortune so brilliant, so unbounded, so unheard-of, that I must have been blind not to be conscious that God had endowed me with it to work out his own great designs. From that time
I looked upon this fortune as something confided to me for an especial purpose. Not a thought was given to a
life which you once, Mercedes, had the power to render blissful; not one hour of peaceful calm was mine; but
I felt myself driven on like an exterminating angel. Like adventurous captains about to embark on some enterprise full of danger, I laid in my provisions, I loaded my weapons, I collected every means of attack and
defence; I inured my body to the most violent exercises, my soul to the bitterest trials; I taught my arm to slay, my eyes to behold excruciating sufferings, and my mouth to smile at the most horrid spectacles.
Good-natured, confiding, and forgiving as I had been, I became revengeful, cunning, and wicked, or rather, immovable as fate. Then I launched out into the path that was opened to me. I overcame every obstacle, and reached the goal; but woe to those who stood in my pathway!”
“Enough,” said Mercedes; “enough, Edmond! Believe me, that she who alone recognized you has been the only one to comprehend you; and had she crossed your path, and you had crushed her like glass, still,
Edmond, still she must have admired you! Like the gulf between me and the past, there is an abyss between
you, Edmond, and the rest of mankind; and I tell you freely that the comparison I draw between you and other men will ever be one of my greatest tortures. No, there is nothing in the world to resemble you in worth and goodness! But we must say farewell, Edmond, and let us part.”
“Before I leave you, Mercedes, have you no request to make?” said the count.
“I desire but one thing in this world, Edmond, — the happiness of my son.”
“Pray to the Almighty to spare his life, and I will take upon myself to promote his happiness.” “Thank you, Edmond.”
“But have you no request to make for yourself, Mercedes?”
“For myself I want nothing. I live, as it were, between two graves. One is that of Edmond Dantes, lost to me
long, long since. He had my love! That word ill becomes my faded lip now, but it is a memory dear to my
heart, and one that I would not lose for all that the world contains. The other grave is that of the man who met
his death from the hand of Edmond Dantes. I approve of the deed, but I must pray for the dead.” “Your son shall be happy, Mercedes,” repeated the count.
“Then I shall enjoy as much happiness as this world can possibly confer.” “But what are your intentions?”
“To say that I shall live here, like the Mercedes of other times, gaining my bread by labor, would not be true, nor would you believe me. I have no longer the strength to do anything but to spend my days in prayer. However, I shall have no occasion to work, for the little sum of money buried by you, and which I found in
the place you mentioned, will be sufficient to maintain me. Rumor will probably be busy respecting me, my occupations, my manner of living — that will signify but little.”
“Mercedes,” said the count, “I do not say it to blame you, but you made an unnecessary sacrifice in
relinquishing the whole of the fortune amassed by M. de Morcerf; half of it at least by right belonged to you,
in virtue of your vigilance and economy.”
“I perceive what you are intending to propose to me; but I cannot accept it, Edmond — my son would not permit it.”
“Nothing shall be done without the full approbation of Albert de Morcerf. I will make myself acquainted with
his intentions and will submit to them. But if he be willing to accept my offers, will you oppose them?”
“You well know, Edmond, that I am no longer a reasoning creature; I have no will, unless it be the will never
to decide. I have been so overwhelmed by the many storms that have broken over my head, that I am become passive in the hands of the Almighty, like a sparrow in the talons of an eagle. I live, because it is not ordained
for me to die. If succor be sent to me, I will accept it.”
“Ah, madame,” said Monte Cristo, “you should not talk thus! It is not so we should evince our resignation to the will of heaven; on the contrary, we are all free agents.”
“Alas!” exclaimed Mercedes, “if it were so, if I possessed free-will, but without the power to render that will efficacious, it would drive me to despair.” Monte Cristo dropped his head and shrank from the vehemence of
her grief. “Will you not even say you will see me again?” he asked.
“On the contrary, we shall meet again,” said Mercedes, pointing to heaven with solemnity. “I tell you so to prove to you that I still hope.” And after pressing her own trembling hand upon that of the count, Mercedes rushed up the stairs and disappeared. Monte Cristo slowly left the house and turned towards the quay. But Mercedes did not witness his departure, although she was seated at the little window of the room which had
been occupied by old Dantes. Her eyes were straining to see the ship which was carrying her son over the vast sea; but still her voice involuntarily murmured softly, “Edmond, Edmond, Edmond!”
The count departed with a sad heart from the house in which he had left Mercedes, probably never to behold
her again. Since the death of little Edward a great change had taken place in Monte Cristo. Having reached the summit of his vengeance by a long and tortuous path, he saw an abyss of doubt yawning before him. More
than this, the conversation which had just taken place between Mercedes and himself had awakened so many recollections in his heart that he felt it necessary to combat with them. A man of the count’s temperament
could not long indulge in that melancholy which can exist in common minds, but which destroys superior ones. He thought he must have made an error in his calculations if he now found cause to blame himself.
“I cannot have deceived myself,” he said; “I must look upon the past in a false light. What!” he continued,
“can I have been following a false path? — can the end which I proposed be a mistaken end? — can one hour
have sufficed to prove to an architect that the work upon which he founded all his hopes was an impossible, if
not a sacrilegious, undertaking? I cannot reconcile myself to this idea — it would madden me. The reason why
I am now dissatisfied is that I have not a clear appreciation of the past. The past, like the country through
which we walk, becomes indistinct as we advance. My position is like that of a person wounded in a dream;
he feels the wound, though he cannot recollect when he received it. Come, then, thou regenerate man, thou extravagant prodigal, thou awakened sleeper, thou all-powerful visionary, thou invincible millionaire, — once again review thy past life of starvation and wretchedness, revisit the scenes where fate and misfortune
conducted, and where despair received thee. Too many diamonds, too much gold and splendor, are now reflected by the mirror in which Monte Cristo seeks to behold Dantes. Hide thy diamonds, bury thy gold,
shroud thy splendor, exchange riches for poverty, liberty for a prison, a living body for a corpse!” As he thus reasoned, Monte Cristo walked down the Rue de la Caisserie. It was the same through which, twenty-four
years ago, he had been conducted by a silent and nocturnal guard; the houses, to-day so smiling and animated, were on that night dark, mute, and closed. “And yet they were the same,” murmured Monte Cristo, “only now
it is broad daylight instead of night; it is the sun which brightens the place, and makes it appear so cheerful.”
He proceeded towards the quay by the Rue Saint-Laurent, and advanced to the Consigne; it was the point where he had embarked. A pleasure-boat with striped awning was going by. Monte Cristo called the owner,
who immediately rowed up to him with the eagerness of a boatman hoping for a good fare. The weather was magnificent, and the excursion a treat.
The sun, red and flaming, was sinking into the embrace of the welcoming ocean. The sea, smooth as crystal,
was now and then disturbed by the leaping of fish, which were pursued by some unseen enemy and sought for safety in another element; while on the extreme verge of the horizon might be seen the fishermen’s boats,
white and graceful as the sea-gull, or the merchant vessels bound for Corsica or Spain.
But notwithstanding the serene sky, the gracefully formed boats, and the golden light in which the whole
scene was bathed, the Count of Monte Cristo, wrapped in his cloak, could think only of this terrible voyage,
the details of which were one by one recalled to his memory. The solitary light burning at the Catalans; that
first sight of the Chateau d’If, which told him whither they were leading him; the struggle with the gendarmes when he wished to throw himself overboard; his despair when he found himself vanquished, and the sensation when the muzzle of the carbine touched his forehead — all these were brought before him in vivid and
frightful reality. Like the streams which the heat of the summer has dried up, and which after the autumnal storms gradually begin oozing drop by drop, so did the count feel his heart gradually fill with the bitterness which formerly nearly overwhelmed Edmond Dantes. Clear sky, swift-flitting boats, and brilliant sunshine disappeared; the heavens were hung with black, and the gigantic structure of the Chateau d’If seemed like the phantom of a mortal enemy. As they reached the shore, the count instinctively shrunk to the extreme end of
the boat, and the owner was obliged to call out, in his sweetest tone of voice, “Sir, we are at the landing.”
Monte Cristo remembered that on that very spot, on the same rock, he had been violently dragged by the
guards, who forced him to ascend the slope at the points of their bayonets. The journey had seemed very long
to Dantes, but Monte Cristo found it equally short. Each stroke of the oar seemed to awaken a new throng of ideas, which sprang up with the flying spray of the sea.
There had been no prisoners confined in the Chateau d’If since the revolution of July; it was only inhabited by
a guard, kept there for the prevention of smuggling. A concierge waited at the door to exhibit to visitors this monument of curiosity, once a scene of terror. The count inquired whether any of the ancient jailers were still there; but they had all been pensioned, or had passed on to some other employment. The concierge who
attended him had only been there since 1830. He visited his own dungeon. He again beheld the dull light
vainly endeavoring to penetrate the narrow opening. His eyes rested upon the spot where had stood his bed, since then removed, and behind the bed the new stones indicated where the breach made by the Abbe Faria
had been. Monte Cristo felt his limbs tremble; he seated himself upon a log of wood.
“Are there any stories connected with this prison besides the one relating to the poisoning of Mirabeau?”
asked the count; “are there any traditions respecting these dismal abodes, — in which it is difficult to believe men can ever have imprisoned their fellow-creatures?”
“Yes, sir; indeed, the jailer Antoine told me one connected with this very dungeon.”
Monte Cristo shuddered; Antoine had been his jailer. He had almost forgotten his name and face, but at the mention of the name he recalled his person as he used to see it, the face encircled by a beard, wearing the brown jacket, the bunch of keys, the jingling of which he still seemed to hear. The count turned around, and fancied he saw him in the corridor, rendered still darker by the torch carried by the concierge. “Would you
like to hear the story, sir?”
“Yes; relate it,” said Monte Cristo, pressing his hand to his heart to still its violent beatings; he felt afraid of hearing his own history.
“This dungeon,” said the concierge, “was, it appears, some time ago occupied by a very dangerous prisoner,
the more so since he was full of industry. Another person was confined in the Chateau at the same time, but he was not wicked, he was only a poor mad priest.”
“Ah, indeed? — mad!” repeated Monte Cristo; “and what was his mania?” “He offered millions to any one who would set him at liberty.”
Monte Cristo raised his eyes, but he could not see the heavens; there was a stone veil between him and the firmament. He thought that there had been no less thick a veil before the eyes of those to whom Faria offered
the treasures. “Could the prisoners see each other?” he asked.
“Oh, no, sir, it was expressly forbidden; but they eluded the vigilance of the guards, and made a passage from one dungeon to the other.”
“And which of them made this passage?”
“Oh, it must have been the young man, certainly, for he was strong and industrious, while the abbe was aged and weak; besides, his mind was too vacillating to allow him to carry out an idea.”
“Blind fools!” murmured the count.
“However, be that as it may, the young man made a tunnel, how or by what means no one knows; but he made
it, and there is the evidence yet remaining of his work. Do you see it?” and the man held the torch to the wall.
“Ah, yes; I see,” said the count, in a voice hoarse from emotion.
“The result was that the two men communicated with one another; how long they did so, nobody knows. One day the old man fell ill and died. Now guess what the young one did?”
“He carried off the corpse, which he placed in his own bed with its face to the wall; then he entered the empty dungeon, closed the entrance, and slipped into the sack which had contained the dead body. Did you ever hear
of such an idea?” Monte Cristo closed his eyes, and seemed again to experience all the sensations he had felt when the coarse canvas, yet moist with the cold dews of death, had touched his face. The jailer continued:
“Now this was his project. He fancied that they buried the dead at the Chateau d’If, and imagining they would
not expend much labor on the grave of a prisoner, he calculated on raising the earth with his shoulders, but unfortunately their arrangements at the Chateau frustrated his projects. They never buried the dead; they
merely attached a heavy cannon-ball to the feet, and then threw them into the sea. This is what was done. The young man was thrown from the top of the rock; the corpse was found on the bed next day, and the whole
truth was guessed, for the men who performed the office then mentioned what they had not dared to speak of before, that at the moment the corpse was thrown into the deep, they heard a shriek, which was almost immediately stifled by the water in which it disappeared.” The count breathed with difficulty; the cold drops
ran down his forehead, and his heart was full of anguish.
“No,” he muttered, “the doubt I felt was but the commencement of forgetfulness; but here the wound reopens, and the heart again thirsts for vengeance. And the prisoner,” he continued aloud, “was he ever heard of afterwards?”
“Oh, no; of course not. You can understand that one of two things must have happened; he must either have fallen flat, in which case the blow, from a height of ninety feet, must have killed him instantly, or he must
have fallen upright, and then the weight would have dragged him to the bottom, where he remained — poor fellow!”
“Then you pity him?” said the count.
“Ma foi, yes; though he was in his own element.” “What do you mean?”
“The report was that he had been a naval officer, who had been confined for plotting with the Bonapartists.”
“Great is truth,” muttered the count, “fire cannot burn, nor water drown it! Thus the poor sailor lives in the recollection of those who narrate his history; his terrible story is recited in the chimney-corner, and a shudder
is felt at the description of his transit through the air to be swallowed by the deep.” Then, the count added aloud, “Was his name ever known?”
“Oh, yes; but only as No. 34.”
“Oh, Villefort, Villefort,” murmured the count, “this scene must often have haunted thy sleepless hours!” “Do you wish to see anything more, sir?” said the concierge.
“Yes, especially if you will show me the poor abbe’s room.”
“Ah — No. 27.”
“Yes; No. 27.” repeated the count, who seemed to hear the voice of the abbe answering him in those very words through the wall when asked his name.
“Wait,” said Monte Cristo, “I wish to take one final glance around this room.” “This is fortunate,” said the guide; “I have forgotten the other key.”
“Go and fetch it.”
“I will leave you the torch, sir.”
“No, take it away; I can see in the dark.”
“Why, you are like No. 34. They said he was so accustomed to darkness that he could see a pin in the darkest corner of his dungeon.”
“He spent fourteen years to arrive at that,” muttered the count.
The guide carried away the torch. The count had spoken correctly. Scarcely had a few seconds elapsed, ere he saw everything as distinctly as by daylight. Then he looked around him, and really recognized his dungeon.
“Yes,” he said, “there is the stone upon which I used to sit; there is the impression made by my shoulders on
the wall; there is the mark of my blood made when one day I dashed my head against the wall. Oh, those
figures, how well I remember them! I made them one day to calculate the age of my father, that I might know whether I should find him still living, and that of Mercedes, to know if I should find her still free. After
finishing that calculation, I had a minute’s hope. I did not reckon upon hunger and infidelity!” and a bitter
laugh escaped the count. He saw in fancy the burial of his father, and the marriage of Mercedes. On the other side of the dungeon he perceived an inscription, the white letters of which were still visible on the green wall.
“`O God,'” he read, “`preserve my memory!’ Oh, yes,” he cried, “that was my only prayer at last; I no longer begged for liberty, but memory; I dreaded to become mad and forgetful. O God, thou hast preserved my
memory; I thank thee, I thank thee!” At this moment the light of the torch was reflected on the wall; the guide was coming; Monte Cristo went to meet him.
“Follow me, sir;” and without ascending the stairs the guide conducted him by a subterraneous passage to another entrance. There, again, Monte Cristo was assailed by a multitude of thoughts. The first thing that met
his eye was the meridian, drawn by the abbe on the wall, by which he calculated the time; then he saw the remains of the bed on which the poor prisoner had died. The sight of this, instead of exciting the anguish experienced by the count in the dungeon, filled his heart with a soft and grateful sentiment, and tears fell from
“This is where the mad abbe was kept, sir, and that is where the young man entered; “and the guide pointed to
the opening, which had remained unclosed. “From the appearance of the stone,” he continued, “a learned gentleman discovered that the prisoners might have communicated together for ten years. Poor things! Those must have been ten weary years.”
Dantes took some louis from his pocket, and gave them to the man who had twice unconsciously pitied him.
The guide took them, thinking them merely a few pieces of little value; but the light of the torch revealed their true worth. “Sir,” he said, “you have made a mistake; you have given me gold.”
“I know it.” The concierge looked upon the count with surprise. “Sir,” he cried, scarcely able to believe his
good fortune — “sir, I cannot understand your generosity!”
“Oh, it is very simple, my good fellow; I have been a sailor, and your story touched me more than it would others.”
“Then, sir, since you are so liberal, I ought to offer you something.”
“What have you to offer to me, my friend? Shells? Straw-work? Thank you!” “No, sir, neither of those; something connected with this story.”
“Really? What is it?”
“Listen,” said the guide; “I said to myself, `Something is always left in a cell inhabited by one prisoner for fifteen years,’ so I began to sound the wall.”
“Ah,” cried Monte Cristo, remembering the abbe’s two hiding-places.
“After some search, I found that the floor gave a hollow sound near the head of the bed, and at the hearth.” “Yes,” said the count, “yes.”
“I raised the stones, and found” — “A rope-ladder and some tools?”
“How do you know that?” asked the guide in astonishment.
“I do not know — I only guess it, because that sort of thing is generally found in prisoners’ cells.” “Yes, sir, a rope-ladder and tools.”
“And have you them yet?”
“No, sir; I sold them to visitors, who considered them great curiosities; but I have still something left.” “What is it?” asked the count, impatiently.
“A sort of book, written upon strips of cloth.”
“Go and fetch it, my good fellow; and if it be what I hope, you will do well.”
“I will run for it, sir;” and the guide went out. Then the count knelt down by the side of the bed, which death had converted into an altar. “Oh, second father,” he exclaimed, “thou who hast given me liberty, knowledge,
riches; thou who, like beings of a superior order to ourselves, couldst understand the science of good and evil;
if in the depths of the tomb there still remain something within us which can respond to the voice of those
who are left on earth; if after death the soul ever revisit the places where we have lived and suffered, — then, noble heart, sublime soul, then I conjure thee by the paternal love thou didst bear me, by the filial obedience I vowed to thee, grant me some sign, some revelation! Remove from me the remains of doubt, which, if it
change not to conviction, must become remorse!” The count bowed his head, and clasped his hands together.
“Here, sir,” said a voice behind him.
Monte Cristo shuddered, and arose. The concierge held out the strips of cloth upon which the Abbe Faria had spread the riches of his mind. The manuscript was the great work by the Abbe Faria upon the kingdoms of
Italy. The count seized it hastily, his eyes immediately fell upon the epigraph, and he read, “`Thou shalt tear out the dragons’ teeth, and shall trample the lions under foot, saith the Lord.'”
“Ah,” he exclaimed, “here is my answer. Thanks, father, thanks.” And feeling in his pocket, he took thence a small pocket-book, which contained ten bank-notes, each of 1,000 francs.
“Here,” he said, “take this pocket-book.” “Do you give it to me?”
“Yes; but only on condition that you will not open it till I am gone;” and placing in his breast the treasure he had just found, which was more valuable to him than the richest jewel, he rushed out of the corridor, and reaching his boat, cried, “To Marseilles!” Then, as he departed, he fixed his eyes upon the gloomy prison. “Woe,” he cried, “to those who confined me in that wretched prison; and woe to those who forgot that I was
there!” As he repassed the Catalans, the count turned around and burying his head in his cloak murmured the name of a woman. The victory was complete; twice he had overcome his doubts. The name he pronounced, in
a voice of tenderness, amounting almost to love, was that of Haidee.
On landing, the count turned towards the cemetery, where he felt sure of finding Morrel. He, too, ten years
ago, had piously sought out a tomb, and sought it vainly. He, who returned to France with millions, had been unable to find the grave of his father, who had perished from hunger. Morrel had indeed placed a cross over
the spot, but it had fallen down and the grave-digger had burnt it, as he did all the old wood in the churchyard. The worthy merchant had been more fortunate. Dying in the arms of his children, he had been by them laid by
the side of his wife, who had preceded him in eternity by two years. Two large slabs of marble, on which were inscribed their names, were placed on either side of a little enclosure, railed in, and shaded by four
cypress-trees. Morrel was leaning against one of these, mechanically fixing his eyes on the graves. His grief was so profound that he was nearly unconscious. “Maximilian,” said the count, “you should not look on the graves, but there;” and he pointed upwards.
“The dead are everywhere,” said Morrel; “did you not yourself tell me so as we left Paris?” “Maximilian,” said the count, “you asked me during the journey to allow you to remain some days at
Marseilles. Do you still wish to do so?”
“I have no wishes, count; only I fancy I could pass the time less painfully here than anywhere else.” “So much the better, for I must leave you; but I carry your word with me, do I not?”
“Ah, count, I shall forget it.”
“No, you will not forget it, because you are a man of honor, Morrel, because you have taken an oath, and are about to do so again.”
“Oh, count, have pity upon me. I am so unhappy.”
“I have known a man much more unfortunate than you, Morrel.” “Impossible!”
“Alas,” said Monte Cristo, “it is the infirmity of our nature always to believe ourselves much more unhappy
than those who groan by our sides!”
“What can be more wretched than the man who has lost all he loved and desired in the world?”
“Listen, Morrel, and pay attention to what I am about to tell you. I knew a man who like you had fixed all his hopes of happiness upon a woman. He was young, he had an old father whom he loved, a betrothed bride
whom he adored. He was about to marry her, when one of the caprices of fate, — which would almost make us doubt the goodness of providence, if that providence did not afterwards reveal itself by proving that all is but a means of conducting to an end, — one of those caprices deprived him of his mistress, of the future of which he
had dreamed (for in his blindness he forgot he could only read the present), and cast him into a dungeon.” “Ah,” said Morrel, “one quits a dungeon in a week, a month, or a year.”
“He remained there fourteen years, Morrel,” said the count, placing his hand on the young man’s shoulder. Maximilian shuddered.
“Fourteen years!” he muttered — “Fourteen years!” repeated the count. “During that time he had many moments of despair. He also, Morrel, like you, considered himself the unhappiest of men.”
“Well?” asked Morrel.
“Well, at the height of his despair God assisted him through human means. At first, perhaps, he did not
recognize the infinite mercy of the Lord, but at last he took patience and waited. One day he miraculously left
the prison, transformed, rich, powerful. His first cry was for his father; but that father was dead.” “My father, too, is dead,” said Morrel.
“Yes; but your father died in your arms, happy, respected, rich, and full of years; his father died poor, despairing, almost doubtful of providence; and when his son sought his grave ten years afterwards, his tomb had disappeared, and no one could say, `There sleeps the father you so well loved.'”
“Oh!” exclaimed Morrel.
“He was, then, a more unhappy son than you, Morrel, for he could not even find his father’s grave.” “But then he had the woman he loved still remaining?”
“You are deceived, Morrel, that woman” — “She was dead?”
“Worse than that, she was faithless, and had married one of the persecutors of her betrothed. You see, then, Morrel, that he was a more unhappy lover than you.”
“And has he found consolation?” “He has at least found peace.”
“And does he ever expect to be happy?”
“He hopes so, Maximilian.” The young man’s head fell on his breast.
“You have my promise,” he said, after a minute’s pause, extending his hand to Monte Cristo. “Only
“On the 5th of October, Morrel, I shall expect you at the Island of Monte Cristo. On the 4th a yacht will wait
for you in the port of Bastia, it will be called the Eurus. You will give your name to the captain, who will bring you to me. It is understood — is it not?”
“But, count, do you remember that the 5th of October” —
“Child,” replied the count, “not to know the value of a man’s word! I have told you twenty times that if you wish to die on that day, I will assist you. Morrel, farewell!”
“Do you leave me?”
“Yes; I have business in Italy. I leave you alone with your misfortunes, and with hope, Maximilian.” “When do you leave?”
“Immediately; the steamer waits, and in an hour I shall be far from you. Will you accompany me to the harbor, Maximilian?”
“I am entirely yours, count.” Morrel accompanied the count to the harbor. The white steam was ascending like
a plume of feathers from the black chimney. The steamer soon disappeared, and in an hour afterwards, as the count had said, was scarcely distinguishable in the horizon amidst the fogs of the night.
At the same time that the steamer disappeared behind Cape Morgion, a man travelling post on the road from Florence to Rome had just passed the little town of Aquapendente. He was travelling fast enough to cover a great deal of ground without exciting suspicion. This man was dressed in a greatcoat, or rather a surtout, a
little worse for the journey, but which exhibited the ribbon of the Legion of Honor still fresh and brilliant, a decoration which also ornamented the under coat. He might be recognized, not only by these signs, but also from the accent with which he spoke to the postilion, as a Frenchman. Another proof that he was a native of
the universal country was apparent in the fact of his knowing no other Italian words than the terms used in music, and which like the “goddam” of Figaro, served all possible linguistic requirements. “Allegro!” he
called out to the postilions at every ascent. “Moderato!” he cried as they descended. And heaven knows there
are hills enough between Rome and Florence by the way of Aquapendente! These two words greatly amused
the men to whom they were addressed. On reaching La Storta, the point from whence Rome is first visible, the traveller evinced none of the enthusiastic curiosity which usually leads strangers to stand up and endeavor to
catch sight of the dome of St. Peter’s, which may be seen long before any other object is distinguishable. No,
he merely drew a pocketbook from his pocket, and took from it a paper folded in four, and after having examined it in a manner almost reverential, he said — “Good! I have it still!”
The carriage entered by the Porto del Popolo, turned to the left, and stopped at the Hotel d’Espagne. Old
Pastrini, our former acquaintance, received the traveller at the door, hat in hand. The traveller alighted,
ordered a good dinner, and inquired the address of the house of Thomson & French, which was immediately given to him, as it was one of the most celebrated in Rome. It was situated in the Via dei Banchi, near St. Peter’s. In Rome, as everywhere else, the arrival of a post-chaise is an event. Ten young descendants of
Marius and the Gracchi, barefooted and out at elbows, with one hand resting on the hip and the other
gracefully curved above the head, stared at the traveller, the post-chaise, and the horses; to these were added about fifty little vagabonds from the Papal States, who earned a pittance by diving into the Tiber at high water from the bridge of St. Angelo. Now, as these street Arabs of Rome, more fortunate than those of Paris,
understand every language, more especially the French, they heard the traveller order an apartment, a dinner, and finally inquire the way to the house of Thomson & French. The result was that when the new-comer left
the hotel with the cicerone, a man detached himself from the rest of the idlers, and without having been seen
by the traveller, and appearing to excite no attention from the guide, followed the stranger with as much skill
as a Parisian police agent would have used.
The Frenchman had been so impatient to reach the house of Thomson & French that he would not wait for the horses to be harnessed, but left word for the carriage to overtake him on the road, or to wait for him at the bankers’ door. He reached it before the carriage arrived. The Frenchman entered, leaving in the anteroom his guide, who immediately entered into conversation with two or three of the industrious idlers who are always
to be found in Rome at the doors of banking-houses, churches, museums, or theatres. With the Frenchman, the man who had followed him entered too; the Frenchman knocked at the inner door, and entered the first room;
his shadow did the same.
“Messrs. Thomson & French?” inquired the stranger.
An attendant arose at a sign from a confidential clerk at the first desk. “Whom shall I announce?” said the attendant.
“Follow me,” said the man. A door opened, through which the attendant and the baron disappeared. The man who had followed Danglars sat down on a bench. The clerk continued to write for the next five minutes; the
man preserved profound silence, and remained perfectly motionless. Then the pen of the clerk ceased to move
over the paper; he raised his head, and appearing to be perfectly sure of privacy, — “Ah, ha,” he said, “here you are, Peppino!”
“Yes,” was the laconic reply. “You have found out that there is something worth having about this large gentleman?”
“There is no great merit due to me, for we were informed of it.” “You know his business here, then.”
“Pardieu, he has come to draw, but I don’t know how much!” “You will know presently, my friend.”
“Very well, only do not give me false information as you did the other day.”
“What do you mean? — of whom do you speak? Was it the Englishman who carried off 3,000 crowns from here the other day?”
“No; he really had 3,000 crowns, and we found them. I mean the Russian prince, who you said had 30,000
livres, and we only found 22,000.” “You must have searched badly.” “Luigi Vampa himself searched.”
“Indeed? But you must let me make my observations, or the Frenchman will transact his business without my knowing the sum.” Peppino nodded, and taking a rosary from his pocket began to mutter a few prayers while
the clerk disappeared through the same door by which Danglars and the attendant had gone out. At the
expiration of ten minutes the clerk returned with a beaming countenance. “Well?” asked Peppino of his friend. “Joy, joy — the sum is large!”
“Five or six millions, is it not?” “Yes, you know the amount.”
“On the receipt of the Count of Monte Cristo?”
“Why, how came you to be so well acquainted with all this?” “I told you we were informed beforehand.”
“Then why do you apply to me?”
“That I may be sure I have the right man.”
“Yes, it is indeed he. Five millions — a pretty sum, eh, Peppino?”
“Hush — here is our man!” The clerk seized his pen, and Peppino his beads; one was writing and the other praying when the door opened. Danglars looked radiant with joy; the banker accompanied him to the door.
Peppino followed Danglars.
According to the arrangements, the carriage was waiting at the door. The guide held the door open. Guides are useful people, who will turn their hands to anything. Danglars leaped into the carriage like a young man of twenty. The cicerone reclosed the door, and sprang up by the side of the coachman. Peppino mounted the seat behind.
“Will your excellency visit St. Peter’s?” asked the cicerone.
“I did not come to Rome to see,” said Danglars aloud; then he added softly, with an avaricious smile, “I came
to touch!” and he rapped his pocket-book, in which he had just placed a letter. “Then your excellency is going” —
“To the hotel.”
“Casa Pastrini!” said the cicerone to the coachman, and the carriage drove rapidly on. Ten minutes afterwards
the baron entered his apartment, and Peppino stationed himself on the bench outside the door of the hotel,
after having whispered something in the ear of one of the descendants of Marius and the Gracchi whom we noticed at the beginning of the chapter, who immediately ran down the road leading to the Capitol at his
fullest speed. Danglars was tired and sleepy; he therefore went to bed, placing his pocketbook under his
pillow. Peppino had a little spare time, so he had a game of mora with the facchini, lost three crowns, and then
to console himself drank a bottle of Orvieto.
The next morning Danglars awoke late, though he went to bed so early; he had not slept well for five or six nights, even if he had slept at all. He breakfasted heartily, and caring little, as he said, for the beauties of the Eternal City, ordered post-horses at noon. But Danglars had not reckoned upon the formalities of the police and the idleness of the posting-master. The horses only arrived at two o’clock, and the cicerone did not bring
the passport till three. All these preparations had collected a number of idlers round the door of Signor
Pastrini’s; the descendants of Marius and the Gracchi were also not wanting. The baron walked triumphantly through the crowd, who for the sake of gain styled him “your excellency.” As Danglars had hitherto contented himself with being called a baron, he felt rather flattered at the title of excellency, and distributed a dozen
silver coins among the beggars, who were ready, for twelve more, to call him “your highness.”
“Which road?” asked the postilion in Italian. “The Ancona road,” replied the baron. Signor Pastrini interpreted
the question and answer, and the horses galloped off. Danglars intended travelling to Venice, where he would receive one part of his fortune, and then proceeding to Vienna, where he would find the rest, he meant to take
up his residence in the latter town, which he had been told was a city of pleasure.
He had scarcely advanced three leagues out of Rome when daylight began to disappear. Danglars had not intended starting so late, or he would have remained; he put his head out and asked the postilion how long it would be before they reached the next town. “Non capisco” (do not understand), was the reply. Danglars bent
his head, which he meant to imply, “Very well.” The carriage again moved on. “I will stop at the first posting-house,” said Danglars to himself.
He still felt the same self-satisfaction which he had experienced the previous evening, and which had procured him so good a night’s rest. He was luxuriously stretched in a good English calash, with double springs; he was drawn by four good horses, at full gallop; he knew the relay to be at a distance of seven leagues. What subject
of meditation could present itself to the banker, so fortunately become bankrupt?
Danglars thought for ten minutes about his wife in Paris; another ten minutes about his daughter travelling with Mademoiselle d’Armilly; the same period was given to his creditors, and the manner in which he
intended spending their money; and then, having no subject left for contemplation, he shut his eyes, and fell
asleep. Now and then a jolt more violent than the rest caused him to open his eyes; then he felt that he was still being carried with great rapidity over the same country, thickly strewn with broken aqueducts, which looked like granite giants petrified while running a race. But the night was cold, dull, and rainy, and it was much more pleasant for a traveller to remain in the warm carriage than to put his head out of the window to
make inquiries of a postilion whose only answer was “Non capisco.”
Danglars therefore continued to sleep, saying to himself that he would be sure to awake at the posting-house. The carriage stopped. Danglars fancied that they had reached the long-desired point; he opened his eyes and looked through the window, expecting to find himself in the midst of some town, or at least village; but he
saw nothing except what seemed like a ruin, where three or four men went and came like shadows. Danglars waited a moment, expecting the postilion to come and demand payment with the termination of his stage. He intended taking advantage of the opportunity to make fresh inquiries of the new conductor; but the horses
were unharnessed, and others put in their places, without any one claiming money from the traveller. Danglars, astonished, opened the door; but a strong hand pushed him back, and the carriage rolled on. The baron was completely roused. “Eh?” he said to the postilion, “eh, mio caro?”
This was another little piece of Italian the baron had learned from hearing his daughter sing Italian duets with
Cavalcanti. But mio caro did not reply. Danglars then opened the window.
“Come, my friend,” he said, thrusting his hand through the opening, “where are we going?”
“Dentro la testa!” answered a solemn and imperious voice, accompanied by a menacing gesture. Danglars thought dentro la testa meant, “Put in your head!” He was making rapid progress in Italian. He obeyed, not without some uneasiness, which, momentarily increasing, caused his mind, instead of being as unoccupied as
it was when he began his journey, to fill with ideas which were very likely to keep a traveller awake, more especially one in such a situation as Danglars. His eyes acquired that quality which in the first moment of
strong emotion enables them to see distinctly, and which afterwards fails from being too much taxed. Before
we are alarmed, we see correctly; when we are alarmed, we see double; and when we have been alarmed, we
see nothing but trouble. Danglars observed a man in a cloak galloping at the right hand of the carriage.
“Some gendarme!” he exclaimed. “Can I have been intercepted by French telegrams to the pontifical authorities?” He resolved to end his anxiety. “Where are you taking me?” he asked. “Dentro la testa,” replied
the same voice, with the same menacing accent.
Danglars turned to the left; another man on horseback was galloping on that side. “Decidedly,” said Danglars, with the perspiration on his forehead, “I must be under arrest.” And he threw himself back in the calash, not
this time to sleep, but to think. Directly afterwards the moon rose. He then saw the great aqueducts, those
stone phantoms which he had before remarked, only then they were on the right hand, now they were on the left. He understood that they had described a circle, and were bringing him back to Rome. “Oh, unfortunate!”
he cried, “they must have obtained my arrest.” The carriage continued to roll on with frightful speed. An hour
of terror elapsed, for every spot they passed showed that they were on the road back. At length he saw a dark mass, against which it seemed as if the carriage was about to dash; but the vehicle turned to one side, leaving
the barrier behind and Danglars saw that it was one of the ramparts encircling Rome.
“Mon dieu!” cried Danglars, “we are not returning to Rome; then it is not justice which is pursuing me! Gracious heavens; another idea presents itself — what if they should be” —
His hair stood on end. He remembered those interesting stories, so little believed in Paris, respecting Roman bandits; he remembered the adventures that Albert de Morcerf had related when it was intended that he should marry Mademoiselle Eugenie. “They are robbers, perhaps,” he muttered. Just then the carriage rolled on something harder than gravel road. Danglars hazarded a look on both sides of the road, and perceived
monuments of a singular form, and his mind now recalled all the details Morcerf had related, and comparing
them with his own situation, he felt sure that he must be on the Appian Way. On the left, in a sort of valley, he perceived a circular excavation. It was Caracalla’s circus. On a word from the man who rode at the side of the carriage, it stopped. At the same time the door was opened. “Scendi!” exclaimed a commanding voice.
Danglars instantly descended; although he did not yet speak Italian, he understood it very well. More dead than alive, he looked around him. Four men surrounded him, besides the postilion.
“Di qua,” said one of the men, descending a little path leading out of the Appian Way. Danglars followed his guide without opposition, and had no occasion to turn around to see whether the three others were following him. Still it appeared as though they were stationed at equal distances from one another, like sentinels. After walking for about ten minutes, during which Danglars did not exchange a single word with his guide, he
found himself between a hillock and a clump of high weeds; three men, standing silent, formed a triangle, of which he was the centre. He wished to speak, but his tongue refused to move. “Avanti!” said the same sharp
and imperative voice.
This time Danglars had double reason to understand, for if the word and gesture had not explained the
speaker’s meaning, it was clearly expressed by the man walking behind him, who pushed him so rudely that
he struck against the guide. This guide was our friend Peppino, who dashed into the thicket of high weeds, through a path which none but lizards or polecats could have imagined to be an open road. Peppino stopped before a pit overhung by thick hedges; the pit, half open, afforded a passage to the young man, who disappeared like the evil spirits in the fairy tales. The voice and gesture of the man who followed Danglars
ordered him to do the same. There was no longer any doubt, the bankrupt was in the hands of Roman banditti. Danglars acquitted himself like a man placed between two dangerous positions, and who is rendered brave by fear. Notwithstanding his large stomach, certainly not intended to penetrate the fissures of the Campagna, he
slid down like Peppino, and closing his eyes fell upon his feet. As he touched the ground, he opened his eyes. The path was wide, but dark. Peppino, who cared little for being recognized now that he was in his own territories, struck a light and lit a torch. Two other men descended after Danglars forming the rearguard, and pushing Danglars whenever he happened to stop, they came by a gentle declivity to the intersection of two
corridors. The walls were hollowed out in sepulchres, one above the other, and which seemed in contrast with
the white stones to open their large dark eyes, like those which we see on the faces of the dead. A sentinel struck the rings of his carbine against his left hand. “Who comes there?” he cried.
“A friend, a friend!” said Peppino; “but where is the captain?”
“There,” said the sentinel, pointing over his shoulder to a spacious crypt, hollowed out of the rock, the lights from which shone into the passage through the large arched openings. “Fine spoil, captain, fine spoil!” said Peppino in Italian, and taking Danglars by the collar of his coat he dragged him to an opening resembling a door, through which they entered the apartment which the captain appeared to have made his dwelling-place.
“Is this the man?” asked the captain, who was attentively reading Plutarch’s “Life of Alexander.” “Himself, captain — himself.”
“Very well, show him to me.” At this rather impertinent order, Peppino raised his torch to the face of
Danglars, who hastily withdrew that he might not have his eyelashes burnt. His agitated features presented the appearance of pale and hideous terror. “The man is tired,” said the captain, “conduct him to his bed.”
“Oh,” murmured Danglars,” that bed is probably one of the coffins hollowed in the wall, and the sleep I shall enjoy will be death from one of the poniards I see glistening in the darkness.”
From their beds of dried leaves or wolf-skins at the back of the chamber now arose the companions of the man who had been found by Albert de Morcerf reading “Caesar’s Commentaries,” and by Danglars studying the
“Life of Alexander.” The banker uttered a groan and followed his guide; he neither supplicated nor exclaimed.
He no longer possessed strength, will, power, or feeling; he followed where they led him. At length he found himself at the foot of a staircase, and he mechanically lifted his foot five or six times. Then a low door was opened before him, and bending his head to avoid striking his forehead he entered a small room cut out of the rock. The cell was clean, though empty, and dry, though situated at an immeasurable distance under the earth.
A bed of dried grass covered with goat-skins was placed in one corner. Danglars brightened up on beholding
it, fancying that it gave some promise of safety. “Oh, God be praised,” he said; “it is a real bed!”
“Ecco!” said the guide, and pushing Danglars into the cell, he closed the door upon him. A bolt grated and Danglars was a prisoner. If there had been no bolt, it would have been impossible for him to pass through the midst of the garrison who held the catacombs of St. Sebastian, encamped round a master whom our readers
must have recognized as the famous Luigi Vampa. Danglars, too, had recognized the bandit, whose existence
he would not believe when Albert de Morcerf mentioned him in Paris; and not only did he recognize him, but
the cell in which Albert had been confined, and which was probably kept for the accommodation of strangers. These recollections were dwelt upon with some pleasure by Danglars, and restored him to some degree of tranquillity. Since the bandits had not despatched him at once, he felt that they would not kill him at all. They
had arrested him for the purpose of robbery, and as he had only a few louis about him, he doubted not he would be ransomed. He remembered that Morcerf had been taxed at 4,000 crowns, and as he considered himself of much greater importance than Morcerf he fixed his own price at 8,000 crowns. Eight thousand crowns amounted to 48,000 livres; he would then have about 5,050,000 francs left. With this sum he could manage to keep out of difficulties. Therefore, tolerably secure in being able to extricate himself from his
position, provided he were not rated at the unreasonable sum of 5,050,000 francs, he stretched himself on his bed, and after turning over two or three times, fell asleep with the tranquillity of the hero whose life Luigi Vampa was studying.
Luigi Vampa’s Bill of Fare.
We awake from every sleep except the one dreaded by Danglars. He awoke. To a Parisian accustomed to silken curtains, walls hung with velvet drapery, and the soft perfume of burning wood, the white smoke of which diffuses itself in graceful curves around the room, the appearance of the whitewashed cell which greeted his eyes on awakening seemed like the continuation of some disagreeable dream. But in such a
situation a single moment suffices to change the strongest doubt into certainty. “Yes, yes,” he murmured, “I
am in the hands of the brigands of whom Albert de Morcerf spoke.” His first idea was to breathe, that he
might know whether he was wounded. He borrowed this from “Don Quixote,” the only book he had ever read, but which he still slightly remembered.
“No,” he cried, “they have not wounded, but perhaps they have robbed me!” and he thrust his hands into his pockets. They were untouched; the hundred louis he had reserved for his journey from Rome to Venice were
in his trousers pocket, and in that of his great-coat he found the little note-case containing his letter of credit
for 5,050,000 francs. “Singular bandits!” he exclaimed; “they have left me my purse and pocket-book. As I was saying last night, they intend me to be ransomed. Hallo, here is my watch! Let me see what time it is.” Danglars’ watch, one of Breguet’s repeaters, which he had carefully wound up on the previous night, struck half past five. Without this, Danglars would have been quite ignorant of the time, for daylight did not reach
his cell. Should he demand an explanation from the bandits, or should he wait patiently for them to propose it? The last alternative seemed the most prudent, so he waited until twelve o’clock. During all this time a sentinel, who had been relieved at eight o’clock, had been watching his door. Danglars suddenly felt a strong
inclination to see the person who kept watch over him. He had noticed that a few rays, not of daylight, but from a lamp, penetrated through the ill-joined planks of the door; he approached just as the brigand was
refreshing himself with a mouthful of brandy, which, owing to the leathern bottle containing it, sent forth an odor which was extremely unpleasant to Danglars. “Faugh!” he exclaimed, retreating to the farther corner of
At twelve this man was replaced by another functionary, and Danglars, wishing to catch sight of his new guardian, approached the door again. He was an athletic, gigantic bandit, with large eyes, thick lips, and a flat nose; his red hair fell in dishevelled masses like snakes around his shoulders. “Ah, ha,” cried Danglars, “this fellow is more like an ogre than anything else; however, I am rather too old and tough to be very good
eating!” We see that Danglars was collected enough to jest; at the same time, as though to disprove the ogreish propensities, the man took some black bread, cheese, and onions from his wallet, which he began
devouring voraciously. “May I be hanged,” said Danglars, glancing at the bandit’s dinner through the crevices
of the door, — “may I be hanged if I can understand how people can eat such filth!” and he withdrew to seat himself upon his goat-skin, which reminded him of the smell of the brandy.
But the mysteries of nature are incomprehensible, and there are certain invitations contained in even the coarsest food which appeal very irresistibly to a fasting stomach. Danglars felt his own not to be very well
supplied just then, and gradually the man appeared less ugly, the bread less black, and the cheese more fresh, while those dreadful vulgar onions recalled to his mind certain sauces and side-dishes, which his cook
prepared in a very superior manner whenever he said, “Monsieur Deniseau, let me have a nice little fricassee
to-day.” He got up and knocked on the door; the bandit raised his head. Danglars knew that he was heard, so
he redoubled his blows. “Che cosa?” asked the bandit. “Come, come,” said Danglars, tapping his fingers against the door, “I think it is quite time to think of giving me something to eat!” But whether he did not understand him, or whether he had received no orders respecting the nourishment of Danglars, the giant, without answering, went on with his dinner. Danglars’ feelings were hurt, and not wishing to put himself under obligations to the brute, the banker threw himself down again on his goat-skin and did not breathe another word.
Four hours passed by and the giant was replaced by another bandit. Danglars, who really began to experience
sundry gnawings at the stomach, arose softly, again applied his eye to the crack of the door, and recognized
the intelligent countenance of his guide. It was, indeed, Peppino who was preparing to mount guard as comfortably as possible by seating himself opposite to the door, and placing between his legs an earthen pan, containing chick-pease stewed with bacon. Near the pan he also placed a pretty little basket of Villetri grapes
and a flask of Orvieto. Peppino was decidedly an epicure. Danglars watched these preparations and his mouth watered. “Come,” he said to himself, “let me try if he will be more tractable than the other;” and he tapped
gently at the door. “On y va,” (coming) exclaimed Peppino, who from frequenting the house of Signor Pastrini understood French perfectly in all its idioms.
Danglars immediately recognized him as the man who had called out in such a furious manner, “Put in your head!” But this was not the time for recrimination, so he assumed his most agreeable manner and said with a gracious smile, — “Excuse me, sir, but are they not going to give me any dinner?”
“Does your excellency happen to be hungry?”
“Happen to be hungry, — that’s pretty good, when I haven’t eaten for twenty-four hours!” muttered Danglars. Then he added aloud, “Yes, sir, I am hungry — very hungry.”
“What would your excellency like?” and Peppino placed his pan on the ground, so that the steam rose directly under the nostrils of Danglars. “Give your orders.”
“Have you kitchens here?”
“Kitchens? — of course — complete ones.” “And cooks?”
“Well, a fowl, fish, game, — it signifies little, so that I eat.”
“As your excellency pleases. You mentioned a fowl, I think?”
“Yes, a fowl.” Peppino, turning around, shouted, “A fowl for his excellency!” His voice yet echoed in the archway when a handsome, graceful, and half-naked young man appeared, bearing a fowl in a silver dish on
his head, without the assistance of his hands. “I could almost believe myself at the Cafe de Paris,” murmured
“Here, your excellency,” said Peppino, taking the fowl from the young bandit and placing it on the
worm-eaten table, which with the stool and the goat-skin bed formed the entire furniture of the cell. Danglars asked for a knife and fork. “Here, excellency,” said Peppino, offering him a little blunt knife and a boxwood fork. Danglars took the knife in one hand and the fork in the other, and was about to cut up the fowl. “Pardon me, excellency,” said Peppino, placing his hand on the banker’s shoulder; “people pay here before they eat.
They might not be satisfied, and” —
“Ah, ha,” thought Danglars, “this is not so much like Paris, except that I shall probably be skinned! Never mind, I’ll fix that all right. I have always heard how cheap poultry is in Italy; I should think a fowl is worth about twelve sous at Rome. — There,” he said, throwing a louis down. Peppino picked up the louis, and
Danglars again prepared to carve the fowl. “Stay a moment, your excellency,” said Peppino, rising; “you still owe me something.”
“I said they would skin me,” thought Danglars; but resolving to resist the extortion, he said, “Come, how
much do I owe you for this fowl?”
“Your excellency has given me a louis on account.” “A louis on account for a fowl?”
“Certainly; and your excellency now owes me 4,999 louis.” Danglars opened his enormous eyes on hearing this gigantic joke. “Come, come, this is very droll — very amusing — I allow; but, as I am very hungry, pray
allow me to eat. Stay, here is another louis for you.”
“Then that will make only 4,998 louis more,” said Peppino with the same indifference. “I shall get them all in time.”
“Oh, as for that,” said Danglars, angry at this prolongation of the jest, — “as for that you won’t get them at all.
Go to the devil! You do not know with whom you have to deal!” Peppino made a sign, and the youth hastily removed the fowl. Danglars threw himself upon his goat-skin, and Peppino, reclosing the door, again began
eating his pease and bacon. Though Danglars could not see Peppino, the noise of his teeth allowed no doubt as
to his occupation. He was certainly eating, and noisily too, like an ill-bred man. “Brute!” said Danglars. Peppino pretended not to hear him, and without even turning his head continued to eat slowly. Danglars’
stomach felt so empty, that it seemed as if it would be impossible ever to fill it again; still he had patience for another half-hour, which appeared to him like a century. He again arose and went to the door. “Come, sir, do
not keep me starving here any longer, but tell me what they want.”
“Nay, your excellency, it is you who should tell us what you want. Give your orders, and we will execute them.”
“Then open the door directly.” Peppino obeyed. “Now look here, I want something to eat! To eat — do you hear?”
“Are you hungry?”
“Come, you understand me.”
“What would your excellency like to eat?”
“A piece of dry bread, since the fowls are beyond all price in this accursed place.”
“Bread? Very well. Hallo, there, some bread!” he called. The youth brought a small loaf. “How much?” asked
“Four thousand nine hundred and ninety-eight louis,” said Peppino; “You have paid two louis in advance.” “What? One hundred thousand francs for a loaf?”
“One hundred thousand francs,” repeated Peppino. “But you only asked 100,000 francs for a fowl!”
“We have a fixed price for all our provisions. It signifies nothing whether you eat much or little — whether you have ten dishes or one — it is always the same price.”
“What, still keeping up this silly jest? My dear fellow, it is perfectly ridiculous — stupid! You had better tell
me at once that you intend starving me to death.”
“Oh, dear, no, your excellency, unless you intend to commit suicide. Pay and eat.”
“And what am I to pay with, brute?” said Danglars, enraged. “Do you suppose I carry 100,000 francs in my pocket?”
“Your excellency has 5,050,000 francs in your pocket; that will be fifty fowls at 100,000 francs apiece, and half a fowl for the 50,000.”
Danglars shuddered. The bandage fell from his eyes, and he understood the joke, which he did not think quite
so stupid as he had done just before. “Come,” he said, “if I pay you the 100,000 francs, will you be satisfied, and allow me to eat at my ease?”
“Certainly,” said Peppino. “But how can I pay them?”
“Oh, nothing easier; you have an account open with Messrs. Thomson & French, Via dei Banchi, Rome; give
me a draft for 4,998 louis on these gentlemen, and our banker shall take it.” Danglars thought it as well to
comply with a good grace, so he took the pen, ink, and paper Peppino offered him, wrote the draft, and signed
it. “Here,” he said, “here is a draft at sight.”
“And here is your fowl.” Danglars sighed while he carved the fowl; it appeared very thin for the price it had
cost. As for Peppino, he examined the paper attentively, put it into his pocket, and continued eating his pease.
The next day Danglars was again hungry; certainly the air of that dungeon was very provocative of appetite. The prisoner expected that he would be at no expense that day, for like an economical man he had concealed
half of his fowl and a piece of the bread in the corner of his cell. But he had no sooner eaten than he felt
thirsty; he had forgotten that. He struggled against his thirst till his tongue clave to the roof of his mouth; then,
no longer able to resist, he called out. The sentinel opened the door; it was a new face. He thought it would be better to transact business with his old acquaintance, so he sent for Peppino. “Here I am, your excellency,”
said Peppino, with an eagerness which Danglars thought favorable to him. “What do you want?” “Something to drink.”
“Your excellency knows that wine is beyond all price near Rome.” “Then give me water,” cried Danglars, endeavoring to parry the blow.
“Oh, water is even more scarce than wine, your excellency, — there has been such a drought.”
“Come,” thought Danglars, “it is the same old story.” And while he smiled as he attempted to regard the affair
as a joke, he felt his temples get moist with perspiration.
“Come, my friend,” said Danglars, seeing that he made no impression on Peppino, “you will not refuse me a glass of wine?”
“I have already told you that we do not sell at retail.” “Well, then, let me have a bottle of the least expensive.” “They are all the same price.”
“And what is that?”
“Twenty-five thousand francs a bottle.”
“Tell me,” cried Danglars, in a tone whose bitterness Harpagon* alone has been capable of revealing — “tell me that you wish to despoil me of all; it will be sooner over than devouring me piecemeal.”
* The miser in Moliere’s comedy of “L’Avare.” — Ed. “It is possible such may be the master’s intention.” “The master? — who is he?”
“The person to whom you were conducted yesterday.” “Where is he?”
“Let me see him.”
“Certainly.” And the next moment Luigi Vampa appeared before Danglars.
“You sent for me?” he said to the prisoner.
“Are you, sir, the chief of the people who brought me here?” “Yes, your excellency. What then?”
“How much do you require for my ransom?”
“Merely the 5,000,000 you have about you.” Danglars felt a dreadful spasm dart through his heart. “But this is
all I have left in the world,” he said, “out of an immense fortune. If you deprive me of that, take away my life also.”
“We are forbidden to shed your blood.” “And by whom are you forbidden?”
“By him we obey.”
“You do, then, obey some one?” “Yes, a chief.”
“I thought you said you were the chief?”
“So I am of these men; but there is another over me.”
“And did your superior order you to treat me in this way?” “Yes.”
“But my purse will be exhausted.” “Probably.”
“Come,” said Danglars, “will you take a million?” “No.”
“Two millions? — three? — four? Come, four? I will give them to you on condition that you let me go.”
“Why do you offer me 4,000,000 for what is worth 5,000,000? This is a kind of usury, banker, that I do not understand.”
“Take all, then — take all, I tell you, and kill me!”
“Come, come, calm yourself. You will excite your blood, and that would produce an appetite it would require
a million a day to satisfy. Be more economical.”
“But when I have no more money left to pay you?” asked the infuriated Danglars.
“Then you must suffer hunger.”
“Suffer hunger?” said Danglars, becoming pale. “Most likely,” replied Vampa coolly.
“But you say you do not wish to kill me?” “No.”
“And yet you will let me perish with hunger?” “Ah, that is a different thing.”
“Well, then, wretches,” cried Danglars, “I will defy your infamous calculations — I would rather die at once! You may torture, torment, kill me, but you shall not have my signature again!”
“As your excellency pleases,” said Vampa, as he left the cell. Danglars, raving, threw himself on the
goat-skin. Who could these men be? Who was the invisible chief? What could be his intentions towards him? And why, when every one else was allowed to be ransomed, might he not also be? Oh, yes; certainly a speedy,
violent death would be a fine means of deceiving these remorseless enemies, who appeared to pursue him
with such incomprehensible vengeance. But to die? For the first time in his life, Danglars contemplated death with a mixture of dread and desire; the time had come when the implacable spectre, which exists in the mind
of every human creature, arrested his attention and called out with every pulsation of his heart, “Thou shalt die!”
Danglars resembled a timid animal excited in the chase; first it flies, then despairs, and at last, by the very
force of desperation, sometimes succeeds in eluding its pursuers. Danglars meditated an escape; but the walls were solid rock, a man was sitting reading at the only outlet to the cell, and behind that man shapes armed
with guns continually passed. His resolution not to sign lasted two days, after which he offered a million for some food. They sent him a magnificent supper, and took his million.
From this time the prisoner resolved to suffer no longer, but to have everything he wanted. At the end of twelve days, after having made a splendid dinner, he reckoned his accounts, and found that he had only
50,000 francs left. Then a strange reaction took place; he who had just abandoned 5,000,000 endeavored to save the 50,000 francs he had left, and sooner than give them up he resolved to enter again upon a life of privation — he was deluded by the hopefulness that is a premonition of madness. He who for so long a time
had forgotten God, began to think that miracles were possible — that the accursed cavern might be discovered
by the officers of the Papal States, who would release him; that then he would have 50,000 remaining, which would be sufficient to save him from starvation; and finally he prayed that this sum might be preserved to
him, and as he prayed he wept. Three days passed thus, during which his prayers were frequent, if not heartfelt. Sometimes he was delirious, and fancied he saw an old man stretched on a pallet; he, also, was dying of hunger.
On the fourth, he was no longer a man, but a living corpse. He had picked up every crumb that had been left from his former meals, and was beginning to eat the matting which covered the floor of his cell. Then he
entreated Peppino, as he would a guardian angel, to give him food; he offered him 1,000 francs for a mouthful
of bread. But Peppino did not answer. On the fifth day he dragged himself to the door of the cell.
“Are you not a Christian?” he said, falling on his knees. “Do you wish to assassinate a man who, in the eyes of heaven, is a brother? Oh, my former friends, my former friends!” he murmured, and fell with his face to the ground. Then rising in despair, he exclaimed, “The chief, the chief!”
“Here I am,” said Vampa, instantly appearing; “what do you want?”
“Take my last gold,” muttered Danglars, holding out his pocket-book, “and let me live here; I ask no more for liberty — I only ask to live!”
“Then you suffer a great deal?” “Oh, yes, yes, cruelly!”
“Still, there have been men who suffered more than you.” “I do not think so.”
“Yes; those who have died of hunger.”
Danglars thought of the old man whom, in his hours of delirium, he had seen groaning on his bed. He struck
his forehead on the ground and groaned. “Yes,” he said, “there have been some who have suffered more than I
have, but then they must have been martyrs at least.”
“Do you repent?” asked a deep, solemn voice, which caused Danglars’ hair to stand on end. His feeble eyes endeavored to distinguish objects, and behind the bandit he saw a man enveloped in a cloak, half lost in the shadow of a stone column.
“Of what must I repent?” stammered Danglars. “Of the evil you have done,” said the voice.
“Oh, yes; oh, yes, I do indeed repent.” And he struck his breast with his emaciated fist. “Then I forgive you,” said the man, dropping his cloak, and advancing to the light.
“The Count of Monte Cristo!” said Danglars, more pale from terror than he had been just before from hunger and misery.
“You are mistaken — I am not the Count of Monte Cristo.” “Then who are you?”
“I am he whom you sold and dishonored — I am he whose betrothed you prostituted — I am he upon whom
you trampled that you might raise yourself to fortune — I am he whose father you condemned to die of hunger
— I am he whom you also condemned to starvation, and who yet forgives you, because he hopes to be
forgiven — I am Edmond Dantes!” Danglars uttered a cry, and fell prostrate. “Rise,” said the count, “your life
is safe; the same good fortune has not happened to your accomplices — one is mad, the other dead. Keep the
50,000 francs you have left — I give them to you. The 5,000,000 you stole from the hospitals has been restored
to them by an unknown hand. And now eat and drink; I will entertain you to-night. Vampa, when this man is satisfied, let him be free.” Danglars remained prostrate while the count withdrew; when he raised his head he saw disappearing down the passage nothing but a shadow, before which the bandits bowed. According to the count’s directions, Danglars was waited on by Vampa, who brought him the best wine and fruits of Italy; then, having conducted him to the road, and pointed to the post-chaise, left him leaning against a tree. He remained
there all night, not knowing where he was. When daylight dawned he saw that he was near a stream; he was thirsty, and dragged himself towards it. As he stooped down to drink, he saw that his hair had become entirely white.
The Fifth of October.
It was about six o’clock in the evening; an opal-colored light, through which an autumnal sun shed its golden rays, descended on the blue ocean. The heat of the day had gradually decreased, and a light breeze arose, seeming like the respiration of nature on awakening from the burning siesta of the south. A delicious zephyr played along the coasts of the Mediterranean, and wafted from shore to shore the sweet perfume of plants, mingled with the fresh smell of the sea.
A light yacht, chaste and elegant in its form, was gliding amidst the first dews of night over the immense lake, extending from Gibraltar to the Dardanelles, and from Tunis to Venice. The vessel resembled a swan with its wings opened towards the wind, gliding on the water. It advanced swiftly and gracefully, leaving behind it a glittering stretch of foam. By degrees the sun disappeared behind the western horizon; but as though to prove
the truth of the fanciful ideas in heathen mythology, its indiscreet rays reappeared on the summit of every wave, as if the god of fire had just sunk upon the bosom of Amphitrite, who in vain endeavored to hide her
lover beneath her azure mantle. The yacht moved rapidly on, though there did not appear to be sufficient wind
to ruffle the curls on the head of a young girl. Standing on the prow was a tall man, of a dark complexion, who saw with dilating eyes that they were approaching a dark mass of land in the shape of a cone, which rose from
the midst of the waves like the hat of a Catalan. “Is that Monte Cristo?” asked the traveller, to whose orders the yacht was for the time submitted, in a melancholy voice.
“Yes, your excellency,” said the captain, “we have reached it.”
“We have reached it!” repeated the traveller in an accent of indescribable sadness. Then he added, in a low tone, “Yes; that is the haven.” And then he again plunged into a train of thought, the character of which was better revealed by a sad smile, than it would have been by tears. A few minutes afterwards a flash of light, which was extinguished instantly, was seen on the land, and the sound of firearms reached the yacht.
“Your excellency,” said the captain, “that was the land signal, will you answer yourself?”
“What signal?” The captain pointed towards the island, up the side of which ascended a volume of smoke, increasing as it rose. “Ah, yes,” he said, as if awaking from a dream. “Give it to me.”
The captain gave him a loaded carbine; the traveller slowly raised it, and fired in the air. Ten minutes
afterwards, the sails were furled, and they cast anchor about a hundred fathoms from the little harbor. The gig was already lowered, and in it were four oarsmen and a coxswain. The traveller descended, and instead of
sitting down at the stern of the boat, which had been decorated with a blue carpet for his accommodation, stood up with his arms crossed. The rowers waited, their oars half lifted out of the water, like birds drying their wings.
“Give way,” said the traveller. The eight oars fell into the sea simultaneously without splashing a drop of
water, and the boat, yielding to the impulsion, glided forward. In an instant they found themselves in a little harbor, formed in a natural creek; the boat grounded on the fine sand.
“Will your excellency be so good as to mount the shoulders of two of our men, they will carry you ashore?” The young man answered this invitation with a gesture of indifference, and stepped out of the boat; the sea immediately rose to his waist. “Ah, your excellency,” murmured the pilot, “you should not have done so; our
master will scold us for it.” The young man continued to advance, following the sailors, who chose a firm footing. Thirty strides brought them to dry land; the young man stamped on the ground to shake off the wet,
and looked around for some one to show him his road, for it was quite dark. Just as he turned, a hand rested on
his shoulder, and a voice which made him shudder exclaimed, — “Good-evening, Maximilian; you are
punctual, thank you!”
“Ah, is it you, count?” said the young man, in an almost joyful accent, pressing Monte Cristo’s hand with both
“Yes; you see I am as exact as you are. But you are dripping, my dear fellow; you must change your clothes,
as Calypso said to Telemachus. Come, I have a habitation prepared for you in which you will soon forget fatigue and cold.” Monte Cristo perceived that the young man had turned around; indeed, Morrel saw with
surprise that the men who had brought him had left without being paid, or uttering a word. Already the sound
of their oars might be heard as they returned to the yacht. “Oh, yes,” said the count, “you are looking for the sailors.” “Yes, I paid them nothing, and yet they are gone.”
“Never mind that, Maximilian,” said Monte Cristo, smiling. “I have made an agreement with the navy, that the access to my island shall be free of all charge. I have made a bargain.” Morrel looked at the count with
surprise. “Count,” he said, “you are not the same here as in Paris.” “How so?”
“Here you laugh.” The count’s brow became clouded. “You are right to recall me to myself, Maximilian,” he said; “I was delighted to see you again, and forgot for the moment that all happiness is fleeting.”
“Oh, no, no, count,” cried Maximilian, seizing the count’s hands, “pray laugh; be happy, and prove to me, by your indifference, that life is endurable to sufferers. Oh, how charitable, kind, and good you are; you affect
this gayety to inspire me with courage.”
“You are wrong, Morrel; I was really happy.” “Then you forget me, so much the better.” “How so?”
“Yes; for as the gladiator said to the emperor, when he entered the arena, `He who is about to die salutes you.'”
“Then you are not consoled?” asked the count, surprised.
“Oh,” exclaimed Morrel, with a glance full of bitter reproach, “do you think it possible that I could be?” “Listen,” said the count. “Do you understand the meaning of my words? You cannot take me for a
commonplace man, a mere rattle, emitting a vague and senseless noise. When I ask you if you are consoled, I
speak to you as a man for whom the human heart has no secrets. Well, Morrel, let us both examine the depths
of your heart. Do you still feel the same feverish impatience of grief which made you start like a wounded
lion? Have you still that devouring thirst which can only be appeased in the grave? Are you still actuated by
the regret which drags the living to the pursuit of death; or are you only suffering from the prostration of
fatigue and the weariness of hope deferred? Has the loss of memory rendered it impossible for you to weep?
Oh, my dear friend, if this be the case, — if you can no longer weep, if your frozen heart be dead, if you put all your trust in God, then, Maximilian, you are consoled — do not complain.”
“Count,” said Morrel, in a firm and at the same time soft voice, “listen to me, as to a man whose thoughts are
raised to heaven, though he remains on earth; I come to die in the arms of a friend. Certainly, there are people
whom I love. I love my sister Julie, — I love her husband Emmanuel; but I require a strong mind to smile on
my last moments. My sister would be bathed in tears and fainting; I could not bear to see her suffer. Emmanuel would tear the weapon from my hand, and alarm the house with his cries. You, count, who are more than mortal, will, I am sure, lead me to death by a pleasant path, will you not?”
“My friend,” said the count, “I have still one doubt, — are you weak enough to pride yourself upon your sufferings?”
“No, indeed, — I am calm,” said Morrel, giving his hand to the count; “my pulse does not beat slower or faster than usual. No, I feel that I have reached the goal, and I will go no farther. You told me to wait and hope; do
you know what you did, unfortunate adviser? I waited a month, or rather I suffered for a month! I did hope
(man is a poor wretched creature), I did hope. What I cannot tell, — something wonderful, an absurdity, a
miracle, — of what nature he alone can tell who has mingled with our reason that folly we call hope. Yes, I did wait — yes, I did hope, count, and during this quarter of an hour we have been talking together, you have unconsciously wounded, tortured my heart, for every word you have uttered proved that there was no hope for me. Oh, count, I shall sleep calmly, deliciously in the arms of death.” Morrel uttered these words with an
energy which made the count shudder. “My friend,” continued Morrel, “you named the fifth of October as the end of the period of waiting, — to-day is the fifth of October,” he took out his watch, “it is now nine o’clock, —
I have yet three hours to live.”
“Be it so,” said the count, “come.” Morrel mechanically followed the count, and they had entered the grotto before he perceived it. He felt a carpet under his feet, a door opened, perfumes surrounded him, and a brilliant light dazzled his eyes. Morrel hesitated to advance; he dreaded the enervating effect of all that he saw. Monte Cristo drew him in gently. “Why should we not spend the last three hours remaining to us of life, like those ancient Romans, who when condemned by Nero, their emperor and heir, sat down at a table covered with flowers, and gently glided into death, amid the perfume of heliotropes and roses?” Morrel smiled. “As you
please,” he said; “death is always death, — that is forgetfulness, repose, exclusion from life, and therefore from grief.” He sat down, and Monte Cristo placed himself opposite to him. They were in the marvellous
dining-room before described, where the statues had baskets on their heads always filled with fruits and flowers. Morrel had looked carelessly around, and had probably noticed nothing.
“Let us talk like men,” he said, looking at the count. “Go on!”
“Count,” said Morrel, “you are the epitome of all human knowledge, and you seem like a being descended from a wiser and more advanced world than ours.”
“There is something true in what you say,” said the count, with that smile which made him so handsome; “I
have descended from a planet called grief.”
“I believe all you tell me without questioning its meaning; for instance, you told me to live, and I did live; you told me to hope, and I almost did so. I am almost inclined to ask you, as though you had experienced death, `is
it painful to die?'”
Monte Cristo looked upon Morrel with indescribable tenderness. “Yes,” he said, “yes, doubtless it is painful, if you violently break the outer covering which obstinately begs for life. If you plunge a dagger into your flesh,
if you insinuate a bullet into your brain, which the least shock disorders, — then certainly, you will suffer pain, and you will repent quitting a life for a repose you have bought at so dear a price.”
“Yes; I know that there is a secret of luxury and pain in death, as well as in life; the only thing is to understand
“You have spoken truly, Maximilian; according to the care we bestow upon it, death is either a friend who rocks us gently as a nurse, or an enemy who violently drags the soul from the body. Some day, when the
world is much older, and when mankind will be masters of all the destructive powers in nature, to serve for
the general good of humanity; when mankind, as you were just saying, have discovered the secrets of death, then that death will become as sweet and voluptuous as a slumber in the arms of your beloved.”
“And if you wished to die, you would choose this death, count?” “Yes.”
Morrel extended his hand. “Now I understand,” he said, “why you had me brought here to this desolate spot,
in the midst of the ocean, to this subterranean palace; it was because you loved me, was it not, count? It was because you loved me well enough to give me one of those sweet means of death of which we were speaking;
a death without agony, a death which allows me to fade away while pronouncing Valentine’s name and pressing your hand.”
“Yes, you have guessed rightly, Morrel,” said the count, “that is what I intended.” “Thanks; the idea that tomorrow I shall no longer suffer, is sweet to my heart.”
“Do you then regret nothing?” “No,” replied Morrel.
“Not even me?” asked the count with deep emotion. Morrel’s clear eye was for the moment clouded, then it shone with unusual lustre, and a large tear rolled down his cheek.
“What,” said the count, “do you still regret anything in the world, and yet die?”
“Oh, I entreat you,” exclaimed Morrel in a low voice, “do not speak another word, count; do not prolong my punishment.” The count fancied that he was yielding, and this belief revived the horrible doubt that had overwhelmed him at the Chateau d’If. “I am endeavoring,” he thought, “to make this man happy; I look upon this restitution as a weight thrown into the scale to balance the evil I have wrought. Now, supposing I am deceived, supposing this man has not been unhappy enough to merit happiness. Alas, what would become of
me who can only atone for evil by doing good?” Then he said aloud: “Listen, Morrel, I see your grief is great,
but still you do not like to risk your soul.” Morrel smiled sadly. “Count,” he said, “I swear to you my soul is
no longer my own.”
“Maximilian, you know I have no relation in the world. I have accustomed myself to regard you as my son:
well, then, to save my son, I will sacrifice my life, nay, even my fortune.” “What do you mean?”
“I mean, that you wish to quit life because you do not understand all the enjoyments which are the fruits of a large fortune. Morrel, I possess nearly a hundred millions and I give them to you; with such a fortune you can attain every wish. Are you ambitious? Every career is open to you. Overturn the world, change its character,
yield to mad ideas, be even criminal — but live.”
“Count, I have your word,” said Morrel coldly; then taking out his watch, he added, “It is half-past eleven.”
“Morrel, can you intend it in my house, under my very eyes?”
“Then let me go,” said Maximilian, “or I shall think you did not love me for my own sake, but for yours;” and
“It is well,” said Monte Cristo whose countenance brightened at these words; “you wish — you are inflexible. Yes, as you said, you are indeed wretched and a miracle alone can cure you. Sit down, Morrel, and wait.”
Morrel obeyed; the count arose, and unlocking a closet with a key suspended from his gold chain, took from it
a little silver casket, beautifully carved and chased, the corners of which represented four bending figures,
similar to the Caryatides, the forms of women, symbols of the angels aspiring to heaven. He placed the casket
on the table; then opening it took out a little golden box, the top of which flew open when touched by a secret spring. This box contained an unctuous substance partly solid, of which it was impossible to discover the
color, owing to the reflection of the polished gold, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, which ornamented the box. It was a mixed mass of blue, red, and gold. The count took out a small quantity of this with a gilt spoon, and offered it to Morrel, fixing a long steadfast glance upon him. It was then observable that the substance was greenish.
“This is what you asked for,” he said, “and what I promised to give you.”
“I thank you from the depths of my heart,” said the young man, taking the spoon from the hands of Monte
Cristo. The count took another spoon, and again dipped it into the golden box. “What are you going to do, my friend?” asked Morrel, arresting his hand.
“Well, the fact is, Morrel, I was thinking that I too am weary of life, and since an opportunity presents itself”
“Stay!” said the young man. “You who love, and are beloved; you, who have faith and hope, — oh, do not follow my example. In your case it would be a crime. Adieu, my noble and generous friend, adieu; I will go and tell Valentine what you have done for me.” And slowly, though without any hesitation, only waiting to
press the count’s hand fervently, he swallowed the mysterious substance offered by Monte Cristo. Then they were both silent. Ali, mute and attentive, brought the pipes and coffee, and disappeared. By degrees, the light
of the lamps gradually faded in the hands of the marble statues which held them, and the perfumes appeared less powerful to Morrel. Seated opposite to him, Monte Cristo watched him in the shadow, and Morrel saw nothing but the bright eyes of the count. An overpowering sadness took possession of the young man, his
hands relaxed their hold, the objects in the room gradually lost their form and color, and his disturbed vision seemed to perceive doors and curtains open in the walls.
“Friend,” he cried, “I feel that I am dying; thanks!” He made a last effort to extend his hand, but it fell powerless beside him. Then it appeared to him that Monte Cristo smiled, not with the strange and fearful
expression which had sometimes revealed to him the secrets of his heart, but with the benevolent kindness of
a father for a child. At the same time the count appeared to increase in stature, his form, nearly double its
usual height, stood out in relief against the red tapestry, his black hair was thrown back, and he stood in the attitude of an avenging angel. Morrel, overpowered, turned around in the arm-chair; a delicious torpor permeated every vein. A change of ideas presented themselves to his brain, like a new design on the kaleidoscope. Enervated, prostrate, and breathless, he became unconscious of outward objects; he seemed to
be entering that vague delirium preceding death. He wished once again to press the count’s hand, but his own was immovable. He wished to articulate a last farewell, but his tongue lay motionless and heavy in his throat, like a stone at the mouth of a sepulchre. Involuntarily his languid eyes closed, and still through his eyelashes a
well-known form seemed to move amid the obscurity with which he thought himself enveloped.
The count had just opened a door. Immediately a brilliant light from the next room, or rather from the palace
adjoining, shone upon the room in which he was gently gliding into his last sleep. Then he saw a woman of
marvellous beauty appear on the threshold of the door separating the two rooms. Pale, and sweetly smiling,
she looked like an angel of mercy conjuring the angel of vengeance. “Is it heaven that opens before me?” thought the dying man; “that angel resembles the one I have lost.” Monte Cristo pointed out Morrel to the young woman, who advanced towards him with clasped hands and a smile upon her lips.
“Valentine, Valentine!” he mentally ejaculated; but his lips uttered no sound, and as though all his strength were centred in that internal emotion, he sighed and closed his eyes. Valentine rushed towards him; his lips again moved.
“He is calling you,” said the count; “he to whom you have confided your destiny — he from whom death would have separated you, calls you to him. Happily, I vanquished death. Henceforth, Valentine, you will never again be separated on earth, since he has rushed into death to find you. Without me, you would both have died. May God accept my atonement in the preservation of these two existences!”
Valentine seized the count’s hand, and in her irresistible impulse of joy carried it to her lips.
“Oh, thank me again!” said the count; “tell me till you are weary, that I have restored you to happiness; you do not know how much I require this assurance.”
“Oh, yes, yes, I thank you with all my heart,” said Valentine; “and if you doubt the sincerity of my gratitude,
oh, then, ask Haidee! ask my beloved sister Haidee, who ever since our departure from France, has caused me
to wait patiently for this happy day, while talking to me of you.”
“You then love Haidee?” asked Monte Cristo with an emotion he in vain endeavored to dissimulate. “Oh, yes, with all my soul.”
“Well, then, listen, Valentine,” said the count; “I have a favor to ask of you.” “Of me? Oh, am I happy enough for that?”
“Yes; you have called Haidee your sister, — let her become so indeed, Valentine; render her all the gratitude you fancy that you owe to me; protect her, for” (the count’s voice was thick with emotion) “henceforth she
will be alone in the world.”
“Alone in the world!” repeated a voice behind the count, “and why?”
Monte Cristo turned around; Haidee was standing pale, motionless, looking at the count with an expression of fearful amazement.
“Because to-morrow, Haidee, you will be free; you will then assume your proper position in society, for I will
not allow my destiny to overshadow yours. Daughter of a prince, I restore to you the riches and name of your father.”
Haidee became pale, and lifting her transparent hands to heaven, exclaimed in a voice stifled with tears, “Then you leave me, my lord?”
“Haidee, Haidee, you are young and beautiful; forget even my name, and be happy.”
“It is well,” said Haidee; “your order shall be executed, my lord; I will forget even your name, and be happy.” And she stepped back to retire.
“Oh, heavens,” exclaimed Valentine, who was supporting the head of Morrel on her shoulder, “do you not see
how pale she is? Do you not see how she suffers?”
Haidee answered with a heartrending expression, “Why should he understand this, my sister? He is my master, and I am his slave; he has the right to notice nothing.”
The count shuddered at the tones of a voice which penetrated the inmost recesses of his heart; his eyes met those of the young girl and he could not bear their brilliancy. “Oh, heavens,” exclaimed Monte Cristo, “can
my suspicions be correct? Haidee, would it please you not to leave me?”
“I am young,” gently replied Haidee; “I love the life you have made so sweet to me, and I should be sorry to die.”
“You mean, then, that if I leave you, Haidee” — “I should die; yes, my lord.”
“Do you then love me?”
“Oh, Valentine, he asks if I love him. Valentine, tell him if you love Maximilian.” The count felt his heart
dilate and throb; he opened his arms, and Haidee, uttering a cry, sprang into them. “Oh, yes,” she cried, “I do love you! I love you as one loves a father, brother, husband! I love you as my life, for you are the best, the noblest of created beings!”
“Let it be, then, as you wish, sweet angel; God has sustained me in my struggle with my enemies, and has given me this reward; he will not let me end my triumph in suffering; I wished to punish myself, but he has pardoned me. Love me then, Haidee! Who knows? perhaps your love will make me forget all that I do not wish to remember.”
“What do you mean, my lord?”
“I mean that one word from you has enlightened me more than twenty years of slow experience; I have but you in the world, Haidee; through you I again take hold on life, through you I shall suffer, through you rejoice.”
“Do you hear him, Valentine?” exclaimed Haidee; “he says that through me he will suffer — through me, who would yield my life for his.” The count withdrew for a moment. “Have I discovered the truth?” he said; “but whether it be for recompense or punishment, I accept my fate. Come, Haidee, come!” and throwing his arm around the young girl’s waist, he pressed the hand of Valentine, and disappeared.
An hour had nearly passed, during which Valentine, breathless and motionless, watched steadfastly over Morrel. At length she felt his heart beat, a faint breath played upon his lips, a slight shudder, announcing the return of life, passed through the young man’s frame. At length his eyes opened, but they were at first fixed
and expressionless; then sight returned, and with it feeling and grief. “Oh,” he cried, in an accent of despair, “the count has deceived me; I am yet living;” and extending his hand towards the table, he seized a knife.
“Dearest,” exclaimed Valentine, with her adorable smile, “awake, and look at me!” Morrel uttered a loud exclamation, and frantic, doubtful, dazzled, as though by a celestial vision, he fell upon his knees.
The next morning at daybreak, Valentine and Morrel were walking arm-in-arm on the sea-shore, Valentine relating how Monte Cristo had appeared in her room, explained everything, revealed the crime, and, finally, how he had saved her life by enabling her to simulate death. They had found the door of the grotto opened,
and gone forth; on the azure dome of heaven still glittered a few remaining stars. Morrel soon perceived a man
standing among the rocks, apparently awaiting a sign from them to advance, and pointed him out to Valentine. “Ah, it is Jacopo,” she said, “the captain of the yacht;” and she beckoned him towards them.
“Do you wish to speak to us?” asked Morrel. “I have a letter to give you from the count.”
“From the count!” murmured the two young people. “Yes; read it.” Morrel opened the letter, and read: — “My Dear Maximilian, —
“There is a felucca for you at anchor. Jacopo will carry you to Leghorn, where Monsieur Noirtier awaits his granddaughter, whom he wishes to bless before you lead her to the altar. All that is in this grotto, my friend,
my house in the Champs Elysees, and my chateau at Treport, are the marriage gifts bestowed by Edmond Dantes upon the son of his old master, Morrel. Mademoiselle de Villefort will share them with you; for I entreat her to give to the poor the immense fortune reverting to her from her father, now a madman, and her brother who died last September with his mother. Tell the angel who will watch over your future destiny, Morrel, to pray sometimes for a man, who like Satan thought himself for an instant equal to God, but who
now acknowledges with Christian humility that God alone possesses supreme power and infinite wisdom. Perhaps those prayers may soften the remorse he feels in his heart. As for you, Morrel, this is the secret of my conduct towards you. There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme
happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of living.
“Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget that until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words, — `Wait and hope.’ Your friend,
“Edmond Dantes, Count of Monte Cristo.”
During the perusal of this letter, which informed Valentine for the first time of the madness of her father and
the death of her brother, she became pale, a heavy sigh escaped from her bosom, and tears, not the less painful because they were silent, ran down her cheeks; her happiness cost her very dear. Morrel looked around
uneasily. “But,” he said, “the count’s generosity is too overwhelming; Valentine will be satisfied with my humble fortune. Where is the count, friend? Lead me to him.” Jacopo pointed towards the horizon. “What do you mean?” asked Valentine. “Where is the count? — where is Haidee?”
“Look!” said Jacopo.
The eyes of both were fixed upon the spot indicated by the sailor, and on the blue line separating the sky from
the Mediterranean Sea, they perceived a large white sail. “Gone,” said Morrel; “gone! — adieu, my friend — adieu, my father!”
“Gone,” murmured Valentine; “adieu, my sweet Haidee — adieu, my sister!”
“Who can say whether we shall ever see them again?” said Morrel with tearful eyes.
“Darling,” replied Valentine, “has not the count just told us that all human wisdom is summed up in two words? — `Wait and hope.'”