The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas [Pere]
Part 26 out of 31
"Well, we have time; look." Monte Cristo took the pistols he
held in his hand when Mercedes entered, and fixing an ace of
clubs against the iron plate, with four shots he
successively shot off the four sides of the club. At each
shot Morrel turned pale. He examined the bullets with which
Monte Cristo performed this dexterous feat, and saw that
they were no larger than buckshot. "It is astonishing," said
he. "Look, Emmanuel." Then turning towards Monte Cristo,
"Count," said he, "in the name of all that is dear to you, I
entreat you not to kill Albert! -- the unhappy youth has a
"You are right," said Monte Cristo; "and I have none." These
words were uttered in a tone which made Morrel shudder. "You
are the offended party, count."
"Doubtless; what does that imply?"
"That you will fire first."
"I fire first?"
"Oh, I obtained, or rather claimed that; we had conceded
enough for them to yield us that."
"And at what distance?"
"Twenty paces." A smile of terrible import passed over the
count's lips. "Morrel," said he, "do not forget what you
have just seen."
"The only chance for Albert's safety, then, will arise from
"I suffer from emotion?" said Monte Cristo.
"Or from your generosity, my friend; to so good a marksman
as you are, I may say what would appear absurd to another."
"What is that?"
"Break his arm -- wound him -- but do not kill him."
"I will tell you, Morrel," said the count, "that I do not
need entreating to spare the life of M. de Morcerf; he shall
be so well spared, that he will return quietly with his two
friends, while I" --
"That will be another thing; I shall be brought home."
"No, no," cried Maximilian, quite unable to restrain his
"As I told you, my dear Morrel, M. de Morcerf will kill me."
Morrel looked at him in utter amazement. "But what has
happened, then, since last evening, count?"
"The same thing that happened to Brutus the night before the
battle of Philippi; I have seen a ghost."
"And that ghost" --
"Told me, Morrel, that I had lived long enough." Maximilian
and Emmanuel looked at each other. Monte Cristo drew out his
watch. "Let us go," said he; "it is five minutes past seven,
and the appointment was for eight o'clock." A carriage was
in readiness at the door. Monte Cristo stepped into it with
his two friends. He had stopped a moment in the passage to
listen at a door, and Maximilian and Emmanuel, who had
considerately passed forward a few steps, thought they heard
him answer by a sigh to a sob from within. As the clock
struck eight they drove up to the place of meeting. "We are
first," said Morrel, looking out of the window. "Excuse me,
sir," said Baptistin, who had followed his master with
indescribable terror, "but I think I see a carriage down
there under the trees."
Monte Cristo sprang lightly from the carriage, and offered
his hand to assist Emmanuel and Maximilian. The latter
retained the count's hand between his. "I like," said he,
"to feel a hand like this, when its owner relies on the
goodness of his cause."
"It seems to me," said Emmanuel, "that I see two young men
down there, who are evidently, waiting." Monte Cristo drew
Morrel a step or two behind his brother-in-law.
"Maximilian," said he, "are your affections disengaged?"
Morrel looked at Monte Cristo with astonishment. "I do not
seek your confidence, my dear friend. I only ask you a
simple question; answer it; -- that is all I require."
"I love a young girl, count."
"Do you love her much?"
"More than my life."
"Another hope defeated!" said the count. Then, with a sigh,
"Poor Haidee!" murmured he.
"To tell the truth, count, if I knew less of you, I should
think that you were less brave than you are."
"Because I sigh when thinking of some one I am leaving?
Come, Morrel, it is not like a soldier to be so bad a judge
of courage. Do I regret life? What is it to me, who have
passed twenty years between life and death? Moreover, do not
alarm yourself, Morrel; this weakness, if it is such, is
betrayed to you alone. I know the world is a drawing-room,
from which we must retire politely and honestly; that is,
with a bow, and our debts of honor paid."
"That is to the purpose. Have you brought your arms?"
"I? -- what for? I hope these gentlemen have theirs."
"I will inquire," said Morrel.
"Do; but make no treaty -- you understand me?"
"You need not fear." Morrel advanced towards Beauchamp and
Chateau-Renaud, who, seeing his intention, came to meet him.
The three young men bowed to each other courteously, if not
"Excuse me, gentlemen," said Morrel, "but I do not see M. de
"He sent us word this morning," replied Chateau-Renaud,
"that he would meet us on the ground."
"Ah," said Morrel. Beauchamp pulled out his watch. "It is
only five minutes past eight," said he to Morrel; "there is
not much time lost yet."
"Oh, I made no allusion of that kind," replied Morrel.
"There is a carriage coming," said Chateau-Renaud. It
advanced rapidly along one of the avenues leading towards
the open space where they were assembled. "You are doubtless
provided with pistols, gentlemen? M. de Monte Cristo yields
his right of using his."
"We had anticipated this kindness on the part of the count,"
said Beauchamp, "and I have brought some weapons which I
bought eight or ten days since, thinking to want them on a
similar occasion. They are quite new, and have not yet been
used. Will you examine them."
"Oh, M. Beauchamp, if you assure me that M. de Morcerf does
not know these pistols, you may readily believe that your
word will be quite sufficient."
"Gentlemen," said Chateau-Renaud, "it is not Morcerf coming
in that carriage; -- faith, it is Franz and Debray!" The two
young men he announced were indeed approaching. "What chance
brings you here, gentlemen?" said Chateau-Renaud, shaking
hands with each of them. "Because," said Debray, "Albert
sent this morning to request us to come." Beauchamp and
Chateau-Renaud exchanged looks of astonishment. "I think I
understand his reason," said Morrel.
"What is it?"
"Yesterday afternoon I received a letter from M. de Morcerf,
begging me to attend the opera."
"And I," said Debray.
"And I also," said Franz.
"And we, too," added Beauchamp and Chateau-Renaud.
"Having wished you all to witness the challenge, he now
wishes you to be present at the combat."
"Exactly so," said the young men; "you have probably guessed
"But, after all these arrangements, he does not come
himself," said Chateau-Renaud. "Albert is ten minutes after
"There he comes," said Beauchamp, "on horseback, at full
gallop, followed by a servant."
"How imprudent," said Chateau-Renaud, "to come on horseback
to fight a duel with pistols, after all the instructions I
had given him."
"And besides," said Beauchamp, "with a collar above his
cravat, an open coat and white waistcoat! Why has he not
painted a spot upon his heart? -- it would have been more
simple." Meanwhile Albert had arrived within ten paces of
the group formed by the five young men. He jumped from his
horse, threw the bridle on his servant's arms, and joined
them. He was pale, and his eyes were red and swollen; it was
evident that he had not slept. A shade of melancholy gravity
overspread his countenance, which was not natural to him. "I
thank you, gentlemen," said he, "for having complied with my
request; I feel extremely grateful for this mark of
friendship." Morrel had stepped back as Morcerf approached,
and remained at a short distance. "And to you also, M.
Morrel, my thanks are due. Come, there cannot be too many."
"Sir," said Maximilian, "you are not perhaps aware that I am
M. de Monte Cristo's friend?"
"I was not sure, but I thought it might be so. So much the
better; the more honorable men there are here the better I
shall be satisfied."
"M. Morrel," said Chateau-Renaud, "will you apprise the
Count of Monte Cristo that M. de Morcerf is arrived, and we
are at his disposal?" Morrel was preparing to fulfil his
commission. Beauchamp had meanwhile drawn the box of pistols
from the carriage. "Stop, gentlemen," said Albert; "I have
two words to say to the Count of Monte Cristo."
"In private?" asked Morrel.
"No, sir; before all who are here."
Albert's witnesses looked at each other. Franz and Debray
exchanged some words in a whisper, and Morrel, rejoiced at
this unexpected incident, went to fetch the count, who was
walking in a retired path with Emmanuel. "What does he want
with me?" said Monte Cristo.
"I do not know, but he wishes to speak to you."
"Ah?" said Monte Cristo, "I trust he is not going to tempt
me by some fresh insult!"
"I do not think that such is his intention," said Morrel.
The count advanced, accompanied by Maximilian and Emmanuel.
His calm and serene look formed a singular contrast to
Albert's grief-stricken face, who approached also, followed
by the other four young men. When at three paces distant
from each other, Albert and the count stopped.
"Approach, gentlemen," said Albert; "I wish you not to lose
one word of what I am about to have the honor of saying to
the Count of Monte Cristo, for it must be repeated by you to
all who will listen to it, strange as it may appear to you."
"Proceed, sir," said the count.
"Sir," said Albert, at first with a tremulous voice, but
which gradually became firmer, "I reproached you with
exposing the conduct of M. de Morcerf in Epirus, for guilty
as I knew he was, I thought you had no right to punish him;
but I have since learned that you had that right. It is not
Fernand Mondego's treachery towards Ali Pasha which induces
me so readily to excuse you, but the treachery of the
fisherman Fernand towards you, and the almost unheard-of
miseries which were its consequences; and I say, and
proclaim it publicly, that you were justified in revenging
yourself on my father, and I, his son, thank you for not
using greater severity."
Had a thunderbolt fallen in the midst of the spectators of
this unexpected scene, it would not have surprised them more
than did Albert's declaration. As for Monte Cristo, his eyes
slowly rose towards heaven with an expression of infinite
gratitude. He could not understand how Albert's fiery
nature, of which he had seen so much among the Roman
bandits, had suddenly stooped to this humiliation. He
recognized the influence of Mercedes, and saw why her noble
heart had not opposed the sacrifice she knew beforehand
would be useless. "Now, sir," said Albert, "if you think my
apology sufficient, pray give me your hand. Next to the
merit of infallibility which you appear to possess, I rank
that of candidly acknowledging a fault. But this confession
concerns me only. I acted well as a man, but you have acted
better than man. An angel alone could have saved one of us
from death -- that angel came from heaven, if not to make us
friends (which, alas, fatality renders impossible), at least
to make us esteem each other."
Monte Cristo, with moistened eye, heaving breast, and lips
half open, extended to Albert a hand which the latter
pressed with a sentiment resembling respectful fear.
"Gentlemen," said he, "M. de Monte Cristo receives my
apology. I had acted hastily towards him. Hasty actions are
generally bad ones. Now my fault is repaired. I hope the
world will not call me cowardly for acting as my conscience
dictated. But if any one should entertain a false opinion of
me," added he, drawing himself up as if he would challenge
both friends and enemies, "I shall endeavor to correct his
"What happened during the night?" asked Beauchamp of
Chateau-Renaud; "we appear to make a very sorry figure
"In truth, what Albert has just done is either very
despicable or very noble," replied the baron.
"What can it mean?" said Debray to Franz. "The Count of
Monte Cristo acts dishonorably to M. de Morcerf, and is
justified by his son! Had I ten Yaninas in my family, I
should only consider myself the more bound to fight ten
times." As for Monte Cristo, his head was bent down, his
arms were powerless. Bowing under the weight of twenty-four
years' reminiscences, he thought not of Albert, of
Beauchamp, of Chateau-Renaud, or of any of that group; but
he thought of that courageous woman who had come to plead
for her son's life, to whom he had offered his, and who had
now saved it by the revelation of a dreadful family secret,
capable of destroying forever in that young man's heart
every feeling of filial piety.
"Providence still," murmured he; "now only am I fully
convinced of being the emissary of God!"
Mother and Son.
The Count of Monte Cristo bowed to the five young men with a
melancholy and dignified smile, and got into his carriage
with Maximilian and Emmanuel. Albert, Beauchamp, and
Chateau-Renaud remained alone. Albert looked at his two
friends, not timidly, but in a way that appeared to ask
their opinion of what he had just done.
"Indeed, my dear friend," said Beauchamp first, who had
either the most feeling or the least dissimulation, "allow
me to congratulate you; this is a very unhoped-for
conclusion of a very disagreeable affair."
Albert remained silent and wrapped in thought.
Chateau-Renaud contented himself with tapping his boot with
his flexible cane. "Are we not going?" said he, after this
embarrassing silence. "When you please," replied Beauchamp;
"allow me only to compliment M. de Morcerf, who has given
proof to-day of rare chivalric generosity."
"Oh, yes," said Chateau-Renaud.
"It is magnificent," continued Beauchamp, "to be able to
exercise so much self-control!"
"Assuredly; as for me, I should have been incapable of it,"
said Chateau-Renaud, with most significant coolness.
"Gentlemen," interrupted Albert, "I think you did not
understand that something very serious had passed between M.
de Monte Cristo and myself."
"Possibly, possibly," said Beauchamp immediately; "but every
simpleton would not be able to understand your heroism, and
sooner or later you will find yourself compelled to explain
it to them more energetically than would be convenient to
your bodily health and the duration of your life. May I give
you a friendly counsel? Set out for Naples, the Hague, or
St. Petersburg -- calm countries, where the point of honor
is better understood than among our hot-headed Parisians.
Seek quietude and oblivion, so that you may return peaceably
to France after a few years. Am I not right, M. de
"That is quite my opinion," said the gentleman; "nothing
induces serious duels so much as a duel forsworn."
"Thank you, gentlemen," replied Albert, with a smile of
indifference; "I shall follow your advice -- not because you
give it, but because I had before intended to quit France. I
thank you equally for the service you have rendered me in
being my seconds. It is deeply engraved on my heart, and,
after what you have just said, I remember that only."
Chateau-Renaud and Beauchamp looked at each other; the
impression was the same on both of them, and the tone in
which Morcerf had just expressed his thanks was so
determined that the position would have become embarrassing
for all if the conversation had continued.
"Good-by, Albert," said Beauchamp suddenly, carelessly
extending his hand to the young man. The latter did not
appear to arouse from his lethargy; in fact, he did not
notice the offered hand. "Good-by," said Chateau-Renaud in
his turn, keeping his little cane in his left hand, and
saluting with his right. Albert's lips scarcely whispered
"Good-by," but his look was more explicit; it expressed a
whole poem of restrained anger, proud disdain, and generous
indignation. He preserved his melancholy and motionless
position for some time after his two friends had regained
their carriage; then suddenly unfastening his horse from the
little tree to which his servant had tied it, he mounted and
galloped off in the direction of Paris.
In a quarter of an hour he was entering the house in the Rue
du Helder. As he alighted, he thought he saw his father's
pale face behind the curtain of the count's bedroom. Albert
turned away his head with a sigh, and went to his own
apartments. He cast one lingering look on all the luxuries
which had rendered life so easy and so happy since his
infancy; he looked at the pictures, whose faces seemed to
smile, and the landscapes, which appeared painted in
brighter colors. Then he took away his mother's portrait,
with its oaken frame, leaving the gilt frame from which he
took it black and empty. Then he arranged all his beautiful
Turkish arms, his fine English guns, his Japanese china, his
cups mounted in silver, his artistic bronzes by Feucheres
and Barye; examined the cupboards, and placed the key in
each; threw into a drawer of his secretary, which he left
open, all the pocket-money he had about him, and with it the
thousand fancy jewels from his vases and his jewel-boxes;
then he made an exact inventory of everything, and placed it
in the most conspicuous part of the table, after putting
aside the books and papers which had collected there.
At the beginning of this work, his servant, notwithstanding
orders to the contrary, came to his room. "What do you
want?" asked he, with a more sorrowful than angry tone.
"Pardon me, sir," replied the valet; "you had forbidden me
to disturb you, but the Count of Morcerf has called me."
"Well!" said Albert.
"I did not like to go to him without first seeing you."
"Because the count is doubtless aware that I accompanied you
to the meeting this morning."
"It is probable," said Albert.
"And since he has sent for me, it is doubtless to question
me on what happened there. What must I answer?"
"Then I shall say the duel did not take place?"
"You will say I apologized to the Count of Monte Cristo.
The valet bowed and retired, and Albert returned to his
inventory. As he was finishing this work, the sound of
horses prancing in the yard, and the wheels of a carriage
shaking his window, attracted his attention. He approached
the window, and saw his father get into it, and drive away.
The door was scarcely closed when Albert bent his steps to
his mother's room; and, no one being there to announce him,
he advanced to her bed-chamber, and distressed by what he
saw and guessed, stopped for one moment at the door. As if
the same idea had animated these two beings, Mercedes was
doing the same in her apartments that he had just done in
his. Everything was in order, -- laces, dresses, jewels,
linen, money, all were arranged in the drawers, and the
countess was carefully collecting the keys. Albert saw all
these preparations and understood them, and exclaiming, "My
mother!" he threw his arms around her neck.
The artist who could have depicted the expression of these
two countenances would certainly have made of them a
beautiful picture. All these proofs of an energetic
resolution, which Albert did not fear on his own account,
alarmed him for his mother. "What are you doing?" asked he.
"What were you doing?" replied she.
"Oh, my mother!" exclaimed Albert, so overcome he could
scarcely speak; "it is not the same with you and me -- you
cannot have made the same resolution I have, for I have come
to warn you that I bid adieu to your house, and -- and to
"I also," replied Mercedes, "am going, and I acknowledge I
had depended on your accompanying me; have I deceived
"Mother," said Albert with firmness. "I cannot make you
share the fate I have planned for myself. I must live
henceforth without rank and fortune, and to begin this hard
apprenticeship I must borrow from a friend the loaf I shall
eat until I have earned one. So, my dear mother, I am going
at once to ask Franz to lend me the small sum I shall
require to supply my present wants."
"You, my poor child, suffer poverty and hunger? Oh, do not
say so; it will break my resolutions."
"But not mine, mother," replied Albert. "I am young and
strong; I believe I am courageous, and since yesterday I
have learned the power of will. Alas, my dear mother, some
have suffered so much, and yet live, and have raised a new
fortune on the ruin of all the promises of happiness which
heaven had made them -- on the fragments of all the hope
which God had given them! I have seen that, mother; I know
that from the gulf in which their enemies have plunged them
they have risen with so much vigor and glory that in their
turn they have ruled their former conquerors, and have
punished them. No. mother; from this moment I have done with
the past, and accept nothing from it -- not even a name,
because you can understand that your son cannot bear the
name of a man who ought to blush for it before another."
"Albert, my child," said Mercedes, "if I had a stronger
heart that is the counsel I would have given you; your
conscience has spoken when my voice became too weak; listen
to its dictates. You had friends, Albert; break off their
acquaintance. But do not despair; you have life before you,
my dear Albert, for you are yet scarcely twenty-two years
old; and as a pure heart like yours wants a spotless name,
take my father's -- it was Herrera. I am sure, my dear
Albert, whatever may be your career, you will soon render
that name illustrious. Then, my son, return to the world
still more brilliant because of your former sorrows; and if
I am wrong, still let me cherish these hopes, for I have no
future to look forward to. For me the grave opens when I
pass the threshold of this house."
"I will fulfil all your wishes, my dear mother," said the
young man. "Yes, I share your hopes; the anger of heaven
will not pursue us, since you are pure and I am innocent.
But, since our resolution is formed, let us act promptly. M.
de Morcerf went out about half an hour ago; the opportunity
is favorable to avoid an explanation."
"I am ready, my son," said Mercedes. Albert ran to fetch a
carriage. He recollected that there was a small furnished
house to let in the Rue de Saints Peres, where his mother
would find a humble but decent lodging, and thither he
intended conducting the countess. As the carriage stopped at
the door, and Albert was alighting, a man approached and
gave him a letter. Albert recognized the bearer. "From the
count," said Bertuccio. Albert took the letter, opened, and
read it, then looked round for Bertuccio, but he was gone.
He returned to Mercedes with tears in his eyes and heaving
breast, and without uttering a word he gave her the letter.
Mercedes read: --
Albert, -- While showing you that I have discovered your
plans, I hope also to convince you of my delicacy. You are
free, you leave the count's house, and you take your mother
to your home; but reflect, Albert, you owe her more than
your poor noble heart can pay her. Keep the struggle for
yourself, bear all the suffering, but spare her the trial of
poverty which must accompany your first efforts; for she
deserves not even the shadow of the misfortune which has
this day fallen on her, and providence is not willing that
the innocent should suffer for the guilty. I know you are
going to leave the Rue du Helder without taking anything
with you. Do not seek to know how I discovered it; I know it
-- that is sufficient.
Now, listen, Albert. Twenty-four years ago I returned, proud
and joyful, to my country. I had a betrothed, Albert, a
lovely girl whom I adored, and I was bringing to my
betrothed a hundred and fifty louis, painfully amassed by
ceaseless toil. This money was for her; I destined it for
her, and, knowing the treachery of the sea I buried our
treasure in the little garden of the house my father lived
in at Marseilles, on the Allees de Meillan. Your mother,
Albert, knows that poor house well. A short time since I
passed through Marseilles, and went to see the old place,
which revived so many painful recollections; and in the
evening I took a spade and dug in the corner of the garden
where I had concealed my treasure. The iron box was there --
no one had touched it -- under a beautiful fig-tree my
father had planted the day I was born, which overshadowed
the spot. Well, Albert, this money, which was formerly
designed to promote the comfort and tranquillity of the
woman I adored, may now, through strange and painful
circumstances, be devoted to the same purpose. Oh, feel for
me, who could offer millions to that poor woman, but who
return her only the piece of black bread forgotten under my
poor roof since the day I was torn from her I loved. You are
a generous man, Albert, but perhaps you may be blinded by
pride or resentment; if you refuse me, if you ask another
for what I have a right to offer you, I will say it is
ungenerous of you to refuse the life of your mother at the
hands of a man whose father was allowed by your father to
die in all the horrors of poverty and despair.
Albert stood pale and motionless to hear what his mother
would decide after she had finished reading this letter.
Mercedes turned her eyes with an ineffable look towards
heaven. "I accept it," said she; "he has a right to pay the
dowry, which I shall take with me to some convent!" Putting
the letter in her bosom, she took her son's arm, and with a
firmer step than she even herself expected she went
Meanwhile Monte Cristo had also returned to town with
Emmanuel and Maximilian. Their return was cheerful. Emmanuel
did not conceal his joy at the peaceful termination of the
affair, and was loud in his expressions of delight. Morrel,
in a corner of the carriage, allowed his brother-in-law's
gayety to expend itself in words, while he felt equal inward
joy, which, however, betrayed itself only in his
countenance. At the Barriere du Trone they met Bertuccio,
who was waiting there, motionless as a sentinel at his post.
Monte Cristo put his head out of the window, exchanged a few
words with him in a low tone, and the steward disappeared.
"Count," said Emmanuel, when they were at the end of the
Place Royale, "put me down at my door, that my wife may not
have a single moment of needless anxiety on my account or
"If it were not ridiculous to make a display of our triumph,
I would invite the count to our house; besides that, he
doubtless has some trembling heart to comfort. So we will
take leave of our friend, and let him hasten home."
"Stop a moment," said Monte Cristo; "do not let me lose both
my companions. Return, Emmanuel, to your charming wife, and
present my best compliments to her; and do you, Morrel,
accompany me to the Champs Elysees."
"Willingly," said Maximilian; "particularly as I have
business in that quarter."
"Shall we wait breakfast for you?" asked Emmanuel.
"No," replied the young man. The door was closed, and the
carriage proceeded. "See what good fortune I brought you!"
said Morrel, when he was alone with the count. "Have you not
"Yes," said Monte Cristo; "for that reason I wished to keep
you near me."
"It is miraculous!" continued Morrel, answering his own
"What?" said Monte Cristo.
"What has just happened."
"Yes," said the Count, "you are right -- it is miraculous."
"For Albert is brave," resumed Morrel.
"Very brave," said Monte Cristo; "I have seen him sleep with
a sword suspended over his head."
"And I know he has fought two duels," said Morrel. "How can
you reconcile that with his conduct this morning?"
"All owing to your influence," replied Monte Cristo,
"It is well for Albert he is not in the army," said Morrel.
"An apology on the ground!" said the young captain, shaking
"Come," said the count mildly, "do not entertain the
prejudices of ordinary men, Morrel! Acknowledge, that if
Albert is brave, he cannot be a coward; he must then have
had some reason for acting as he did this morning, and
confess that his conduct is more heroic than otherwise."
"Doubtless, doubtless," said Morrel; "but I shall say, like
the Spaniard, `He has not been so brave to-day as he was
"You will breakfast with me, will you not, Morrel?" said the
count, to turn the conversation.
"No; I must leave you at ten o'clock."
"Your engagement was for breakfast, then?" said the count.
Morrel smiled, and shook his head. "Still you must breakfast
"But if I am not hungry?" said the young man.
"Oh," said the count, "I only know two things which destroy
the appetite, -- grief -- and as I am happy to see you very
cheerful, it is not that -- and love. Now after what you
told me this morning of your heart, I may believe" --
"Well, count," replied Morrel gayly, "I will not dispute
"But you will not make me your confidant, Maximilian?" said
the count, in a tone which showed how gladly he would have
been admitted to the secret.
"I showed you this morning that I had a heart, did I not,
count?" Monte Cristo only answered by extending his hand to
the young man. "Well," continued the latter, "since that
heart is no longer with you in the Bois de Vincennes, it is
elsewhere, and I must go and find it."
"Go," said the count deliberately; "go, dear friend, but
promise me if you meet with any obstacle to remember that I
have some power in this world, that I am happy to use that
power in the behalf of those I love, and that I love you,
"I will remember it," said the young man, "as selfish
children recollect their parents when they want their aid.
When I need your assistance, and the moment arrives, I will
come to you, count."
"Well, I rely upon your promise. Good-by, then."
"Good-by, till we meet again." They had arrived in the
Champs Elysees. Monte Cristo opened the carriage-door,
Morrel sprang out on the pavement, Bertuccio was waiting on
the steps. Morrel disappeared down the Avenue de Marigny,
and Monte Cristo hastened to join Bertuccio.
"Well?" asked he.
"She is going to leave her house," said the steward.
"And her son?"
"Florentin, his valet, thinks he is going to do the same."
"Come this way." Monte Cristo took Bertuccio into his study,
wrote the letter we have seen, and gave it to the steward.
"Go," said he quickly. "But first, let Haidee be informed
that I have returned."
"Here I am," said the young girl, who at the sound of the
carriage had run down-stairs and whose face was radiant with
joy at seeing the count return safely. Bertuccio left. Every
transport of a daughter finding a father, all the delight of
a mistress seeing an adored lover, were felt by Haidee
during the first moments of this meeting, which she had so
eagerly expected. Doubtless, although less evident, Monte
Cristo's joy was not less intense. Joy to hearts which have
suffered long is like the dew on the ground after a long
drought; both the heart and the ground absorb that
beneficent moisture falling on them, and nothing is
Monte Cristo was beginning to think, what he had not for a
long time dared to believe, that there were two Mercedes in
the world, and he might yet be happy. His eye, elate with
happiness, was reading eagerly the tearful gaze of Haidee,
when suddenly the door opened. The count knit his brow. "M.
de Morcerf!" said Baptistin, as if that name sufficed for
his excuse. In fact, the count's face brightened.
"Which," asked he, "the viscount or the count?"
"Oh," exclaimed Haidee, "is it not yet over?"
"I know not if it is finished, my beloved child," said Monte
Cristo, taking the young girl's hands; "but I do know you
have nothing more to fear."
"But it is the wretched" --
"That man cannot injure me, Haidee," said Monte Cristo; "it
was his son alone that there was cause to fear."
"And what I have suffered," said the young girl, "you shall
never know, my lord." Monte Cristo smiled. "By my father's
tomb," said he, extending his hand over the head of the
young girl, "I swear to you, Haidee, that if any misfortune
happens, it will not be to me."
"I believe you, my lord, as implicitly as if God had spoken
to me," said the young girl, presenting her forehead to him.
Monte Cristo pressed on that pure beautiful forehead a kiss
which made two hearts throb at once, the one violently, the
other heavily. "Oh," murmured the count, "shall I then be
permitted to love again? Ask M. de Morcerf into the
drawing-room," said he to Baptistin, while he led the
beautiful Greek girl to a private staircase.
We must explain this visit, which although expected by Monte
Cristo, is unexpected to our readers. While Mercedes, as we
have said, was making a similar inventory of her property to
Albert's, while she was arranging her jewels, shutting her
drawers, collecting her keys, to leave everything in perfect
order, she did not perceive a pale and sinister face at a
glass door which threw light into the passage, from which
everything could be both seen and heard. He who was thus
looking, without being heard or seen, probably heard and saw
all that passed in Madame de Morcerf's apartments. From that
glass door the pale-faced man went to the count's bedroom
and raised with a constricted hand the curtain of a window
overlooking the court-yard. He remained there ten minutes,
motionless and dumb, listening to the beating of his own
heart. For him those ten minutes were very long. It was then
Albert, returning from his meeting with the count, perceived
his father watching for his arrival behind a curtain, and
turned aside. The count's eye expanded; he knew Albert had
insulted the count dreadfully, and that in every country in
the world such an insult would lead to a deadly duel. Albert
returned safely -- then the count was revenged.
An indescribable ray of joy illumined that wretched
countenance like the last ray of the sun before it
disappears behind the clouds which bear the aspect, not of a
downy couch, but of a tomb. But as we have said, he waited
in vain for his son to come to his apartment with the
account of his triumph. He easily understood why his son did
not come to see him before he went to avenge his father's
honor; but when that was done, why did not his son come and
throw himself into his arms?
It was then, when the count could not see Albert, that he
sent for his servant, who he knew was authorized not to
conceal anything from him. Ten minutes afterwards, General
Morcerf was seen on the steps in a black coat with a
military collar, black pantaloons, and black gloves. He had
apparently given previous orders, for as he reached the
bottom step his carriage came from the coach-house ready for
him. The valet threw into the carriage his military cloak,
in which two swords were wrapped, and, shutting the door, he
took his seat by the side of the coachman. The coachman
stooped down for his orders.
"To the Champs Elysees," said the general; "the Count of
Monte Cristo's. Hurry!" The horses bounded beneath the whip;
and in five minutes they stopped before the count's door. M.
de Morcerf opened the door himself, and as the carriage
rolled away he passed up the walk, rang, and entered the
open door with his servant.
A moment afterwards, Baptistin announced the Count of
Morcerf to Monte Cristo, and the latter, leading Haidee
aside, ordered that Morcerf be asked into the drawing-room.
The general was pacing the room the third time when, in
turning, he perceived Monte Cristo at the door. "Ah, it is
M. de Morcerf," said Monte Cristo quietly; "I thought I had
not heard aright."
"Yes, it is I," said the count, whom a frightful contraction
of the lips prevented from articulating freely.
"May I know the cause which procures me the pleasure of
seeing M. de Morcerf so early?"
"Had you not a meeting with my son this morning?" asked the
"I had," replied the count.
"And I know my son had good reasons to wish to fight with
you, and to endeavor to kill you."
"Yes, sir, he had very good ones; but you see that in spite
of them he has not killed me, and did not even fight."
"Yet he considered you the cause of his father's dishonor,
the cause of the fearful ruin which has fallen on my house."
"It is true, sir," said Monte Cristo with his dreadful
calmness; "a secondary cause, but not the principal."
"Doubtless you made, then, some apology or explanation?"
"I explained nothing, and it is he who apologized to me."
"But to what do you attribute this conduct?"
"To the conviction, probably, that there was one more guilty
"And who was that?"
"That may be," said the count, turning pale; "but you know
the guilty do not like to find themselves convicted."
"I know it, and I expected this result."
"You expected my son would be a coward?" cried the count.
"M. Albert de Morcerf is no coward!" said Monte Cristo.
"A man who holds a sword in his hand, and sees a mortal
enemy within reach of that sword, and does not fight, is a
coward! Why is he not here that I may tell him so?"
"Sir." replied Monte Cristo coldly, "I did not expect that
you had come here to relate to me your little family
affairs. Go and tell M. Albert that, and he may know what to
"Oh, no, no," said the general, smiling faintly, "I did not
come for that purpose; you are right. I came to tell you
that I also look upon you as my enemy. I came to tell you
that I hate you instinctively; that it seems as if I had
always known you, and always hated you; and, in short, since
the young people of the present day will not fight, it
remains for us to do so. Do you think so, sir?"
"Certainly. And when I told you I had foreseen the result,
it is the honor of your visit I alluded to."
"So much the better. Are you prepared?"
"You know that we shall fight till one of us is dead," said
the general, whose teeth were clinched with rage. "Until one
of us dies," repeated Monte Cristo, moving his head slightly
up and down.
"Let us start, then; we need no witnesses."
"Very true," said Monte Cristo; "it is unnecessary, we know
each other so well!"
"On the contrary," said the count, "we know so little of
"Indeed?" said Monte Cristo, with the same indomitable
coolness; "let us see. Are you not the soldier Fernand who
deserted on the eve of the battle of Waterloo? Are you not
the Lieutenant Fernand who served as guide and spy to the
French army in Spain? Are you not the Captain Fernand who
betrayed, sold, and murdered his benefactor, Ali? And have
not all these Fernands, united, made Lieutenant-General, the
Count of Morcerf, peer of France?"
"Oh," cried the general, as it branded with a hot iron,
"wretch, -- to reproach me with my shame when about,
perhaps, to kill me! No, I did not say I was a stranger to
you. I know well, demon, that you have penetrated into the
darkness of the past, and that you have read, by the light
of what torch I know not, every page of my life; but perhaps
I may be more honorable in my shame than you under your
pompous coverings. No -- no, I am aware you know me; but I
know you only as an adventurer sewn up in gold and
jewellery. You call yourself in Paris the Count of Monte
Cristo; in Italy, Sinbad the Sailor; in Malta, I forget
what. But it is your real name I want to know, in the midst
of your hundred names, that I may pronounce it when we meet
to fight, at the moment when I plunge my sword through your
The Count of Monte Cristo turned dreadfully pale; his eye
seemed to burn with a devouring fire. He leaped towards a
dressing-room near his bedroom, and in less than a moment,
tearing off his cravat, his coat and waistcoat, he put on a
sailor's jacket and hat, from beneath which rolled his long
black hair. He returned thus, formidable and implacable,
advancing with his arms crossed on his breast, towards the
general, who could not understand why he had disappeared,
but who on seeing him again, and feeling his teeth chatter
and his legs sink under him, drew back, and only stopped
when he found a table to support his clinched hand.
"Fernand," cried he, "of my hundred names I need only tell
you one, to overwhelm you! But you guess it now, do you not?
-- or, rather, you remember it? For, notwithstanding all my
sorrows and my tortures, I show you to-day a face which the
happiness of revenge makes young again -- a face you must
often have seen in your dreams since your marriage with
Mercedes, my betrothed!"
The general, with his head thrown back, hands extended, gaze
fixed, looked silently at this dreadful apparition; then
seeking the wall to support him, he glided along close to it
until he reached the door, through which he went out
backwards, uttering this single mournful, lamentable,
distressing cry, -- "Edmond Dantes!" Then, with sighs which
were unlike any human sound, he dragged himself to the door,
reeled across the court-yard, and falling into the arms of
his valet, he said in a voice scarcely intelligible, --
"Home, home." The fresh air and the shame he felt at having
exposed himself before his servants, partly recalled his
senses, but the ride was short, and as he drew near his
house all his wretchedness revived. He stopped at a short
distance from the house and alighted.
The door was wide open, a hackney-coach was standing in the
middle of the yard -- a strange sight before so noble a
mansion; the count looked at it with terror, but without
daring to inquire its meaning, he rushed towards his
apartment. Two persons were coming down the stairs; he had
only time to creep into an alcove to avoid them. It was
Mercedes leaning on her son's arm and leaving the house.
They passed close by the unhappy being, who, concealed
behind the damask curtain, almost felt Mercedes dress brush
past him, and his son's warm breath, pronouncing these
words, -- "Courage, mother! Come, this is no longer our
home!" The words died away, the steps were lost in the
distance. The general drew himself up, clinging to the
curtain; he uttered the most dreadful sob which ever escaped
from the bosom of a father abandoned at the same time by his
wife and son. He soon heard the clatter of the iron step of
the hackney-coach, then the coachman's voice, and then the
rolling of the heavy vehicle shook the windows. He darted to
his bedroom to see once more all he had loved in the world;
but the hackney-coach drove on and the head of neither
Mercedes nor her son appeared at the window to take a last
look at the house or the deserted father and husband. And at
the very moment when the wheels of that coach crossed the
gateway a report was heard, and a thick smoke escaped
through one of the panes of the window, which was broken by
We may easily conceive where Morrel's appointment was. On
leaving Monte Cristo he walked slowly towards Villefort's;
we say slowly, for Morrel had more than half an hour to
spare to go five hundred steps, but he had hastened to take
leave of Monte Cristo because he wished to be alone with his
thoughts. He knew his time well -- the hour when Valentine
was giving Noirtier his breakfast, and was sure not to be
disturbed in the performance of this pious duty. Noirtier
and Valentine had given him leave to go twice a week, and he
was now availing himself of that permission. He had arrived;
Valentine was expecting him. Uneasy and almost crazed, she
seized his hand and led him to her grandfather. This
uneasiness, amounting almost to frenzy, arose from the
report Morcerf's adventure had made in the world, for the
affair at the opera was generally known. No one at
Villefort's doubted that a duel would ensue from it.
Valentine, with her woman's instinct, guessed that Morrel
would be Monte Cristo's second, and from the young man's
well-known courage and his great affection for the count,
she feared that he would not content himself with the
passive part assigned to him. We may easily understand how
eagerly the particulars were asked for, given, and received;
and Morrel could read an indescribable joy in the eyes of
his beloved, when she knew that the termination of this
affair was as happy as it was unexpected.
"Now," said Valentine, motioning to Morrel to sit down near
her grandfather, while she took her seat on his footstool,
-- "now let us talk about our own affairs. You know,
Maximilian, grandpapa once thought of leaving this house,
and taking an apartment away from M. de Villefort's."
"Yes," said Maximilian, "I recollect the project, of which I
"Well," said Valentine, "you may approve again, for
grandpapa is again thinking of it."
"Bravo," said Maximilian.
"And do you know," said Valentine, "what reason grandpapa
gives for leaving this house." Noirtier looked at Valentine
to impose silence, but she did not notice him; her looks,
her eyes, her smile, were all for Morrel.
"Oh, whatever may be M. Noirtier's reason," answered Morrel,
"I can readily believe it to be a good one."
"An excellent one," said Valentine. "He pretends the air of
the Faubourg St. Honore is not good for me."
"Indeed?" said Morrel; "in that M. Noirtier may be right;
you have not seemed to be well for the last fortnight."
"Not very," said Valentine. "And grandpapa has become my
physician, and I have the greatest confidence in him,
because he knows everything."
"Do you then really suffer?" asked Morrel quickly.
"Oh, it must not be called suffering; I feel a general
uneasiness, that is all. I have lost my appetite, and my
stomach feels as if it were struggling to get accustomed to
something." Noirtier did not lose a word of what Valentine
said. "And what treatment do you adopt for this singular
"A very simple one," said Valentine. "I swallow every
morning a spoonful of the mixture prepared for my
grandfather. When I say one spoonful, I began by one -- now
I take four. Grandpapa says it is a panacea." Valentine
smiled, but it was evident that she suffered.
Maximilian, in his devotedness, gazed silently at her. She
was very beautiful, but her usual pallor had increased; her
eyes were more brilliant than ever, and her hands, which
were generally white like mother-of-pearl, now more
resembled wax, to which time was adding a yellowish hue.
From Valentine the young man looked towards Noirtier. The
latter watched with strange and deep interest the young
girl, absorbed by her affection, and he also, like Morrel,
followed those traces of inward suffering which was so
little perceptible to a common observer that they escaped
the notice of every one but the grandfather and the lover.
"But," said Morrel, "I thought this mixture, of which you
now take four spoonfuls, was prepared for M. Noirtier?"
"I know it is very bitter," said Valentine; "so bitter, that
all I drink afterwards appears to have the same taste."
Noirtier looked inquiringly at his granddaughter. "Yes,
grandpapa," said Valentine; "it is so. Just now, before I
came down to you, I drank a glass of sugared water; I left
half, because it seemed so bitter." Noirtier turned pale,
and made a sign that he wished to speak. Valentine rose to
fetch the dictionary. Noirtier watched her with evident
anguish. In fact, the blood was rushing to the young girl's
head already, her cheeks were becoming red. "Oh," cried she,
without losing any of her cheerfulness, "this is singular! I
can't see! Did the sun shine in my eyes?" And she leaned
against the window.
"The sun is not shining," said Morrel, more alarmed by
Noirtier's expression than by Valentine's indisposition. He
ran towards her. The young girl smiled. "Cheer up," said she
to Noirtier. "Do not be alarmed, Maximilian; it is nothing,
and has already passed away. But listen! Do I not hear a
carriage in the court-yard?" She opened Noirtier's door, ran
to a window in the passage, and returned hastily. "Yes,"
said she, "it is Madame Danglars and her daughter, who have
come to call on us. Good-by; -- I must run away, for they
would send here for me, or, rather, farewell till I see you
again. Stay with grandpapa, Maximilian; I promise you not to
persuade them to stay."
Morrel watched her as she left the room; he heard her ascend
the little staircase which led both to Madame de Villefort's
apartments and to hers. As soon as she was gone, Noirtier
made a sign to Morrel to take the dictionary. Morrel obeyed;
guided by Valentine, he had learned how to understand the
old man quickly. Accustomed, however, as he was to the work,
he had to repeat most of the letters of the alphabet and to
find every word in the dictionary, so that it was ten
minutes before the thought of the old man was translated by
these words, "Fetch the glass of water and the decanter from
Morrel rang immediately for the servant who had taken
Barrois's situation, and in Noirtier's name gave that order.
The servant soon returned. The decanter and the glass were
completely empty. Noirtier made a sign that he wished to
speak. "Why are the glass and decanter empty?" asked he;
"Valentine said she only drank half the glassful." The
translation of this new question occupied another five
minutes. "I do not know," said the servant, "but the
housemaid is in Mademoiselle Valentine's room: perhaps she
has emptied them."
"Ask her," said Morrel, translating Noirtier's thought this
time by his look. The servant went out, but returned almost
immediately. "Mademoiselle Valentine passed through the room
to go to Madame de Villefort's," said he; "and in passing,
as she was thirsty, she drank what remained in the glass; as
for the decanter, Master Edward had emptied that to make a
pond for his ducks." Noirtier raised his eyes to heaven, as
a gambler does who stakes his all on one stroke. From that
moment the old man's eyes were fixed on the door, and did
not quit it.
It was indeed Madame Danglars and her daughter whom
Valentine had seen; they had been ushered into Madame de
Villefort's room, who had said she would receive them there.
That is why Valentine passed through her room, which was on
a level with Valentine's, and only separated from it by
Edward's. The two ladies entered the drawing-room with that
sort of official stiffness which preludes a formal
communication. Among worldly people manner is contagious.
Madame de Villefort received them with equal solemnity.
Valentine entered at this moment, and the formalities were
resumed. "My dear friend," said the baroness, while the two
young people were shaking hands, "I and Eugenie are come to
be the first to announce to you the approaching marriage of
my daughter with Prince Cavalcanti." Danglars kept up the
title of prince. The popular banker found that it answered
better than count. "Allow me to present you my sincere
congratulations," replied Madame de Villefort. "Prince
Cavalcanti appears to be a young man of rare qualities."
"Listen," said the baroness, smiling; "speaking to you as a
friend I can say that the prince does not yet appear all he
will be. He has about him a little of that foreign manner by
which French persons recognize, at first sight, the Italian
or German nobleman. Besides, he gives evidence of great
kindness of disposition, much keenness of wit, and as to
suitability, M. Danglars assures me that his fortune is
majestic -- that is his word."
"And then," said Eugenie, while turning over the leaves of
Madame de Villefort's album, "add that you have taken a
great fancy to the young man."
"And," said Madame de Villefort, "I need not ask you if you
share that fancy."
"I?" replied Eugenie with her usual candor. "Oh, not the
least in the world, madame! My wish was not to confine
myself to domestic cares, or the caprices of any man, but to
be an artist, and consequently free in heart, in person, and
in thought." Eugenie pronounced these words with so firm a
tone that the color mounted to Valentine's cheeks. The timid
girl could not understand that vigorous nature which
appeared to have none of the timidities of woman.
"At any rate," said she, "since I am to be married whether I
will or not, I ought to be thankful to providence for having
released me from my engagement with M. Albert de Morcerf, or
I should this day have been the wife of a dishonored man."
"It is true," said the baroness, with that strange
simplicity sometimes met with among fashionable ladies, and
of which plebeian intercourse can never entirely deprive
them, -- "it is very true that had not the Morcerfs
hesitated, my daughter would have married Monsieur Albert.
The general depended much on it; he even came to force M.
Danglars. We have had a narrow escape."
"But," said Valentine, timidly, "does all the father's shame
revert upon the son? Monsieur Albert appears to me quite
innocent of the treason charged against the general."
"Excuse me," said the implacable young girl, "Monsieur
Albert claims and well deserves his share. It appears that
after having challenged M. de Monte Cristo at the Opera
yesterday, he apologized on the ground to-day."
"Impossible," said Madame de Villefort.
"Ah, my dear friend," said Madame Danglars, with the same
simplicity we before noticed, "it is a fact. I heard it from
M. Debray, who was present at the explanation." Valentine
also knew the truth, but she did not answer. A single word
had reminded her that Morrel was expecting her in M.
Noirtier's room. Deeply engaged with a sort of inward
contemplation, Valentine had ceased for a moment to join in
the conversation. She would, indeed, have found it
impossible to repeat what had been said the last few
minutes, when suddenly Madame Danglars' hand, pressed on her
arm, aroused her from her lethargy.
"What is it?" said she, starting at Madame Danglars' touch
as she would have done from an electric shock. "It is, my
dear Valentine," said the baroness, "that you are,
"I?" said the young girl, passing her hand across her
"Yes, look at yourself in that glass; you have turned pale
and then red successively, three or four times in one
"Indeed," cried Eugenie, "you are very pale!"
"Oh, do not be alarmed; I have been so for many days."
Artless as she was, the young girl knew that this was an
opportunity to leave, and besides, Madame de Villefort came
to her assistance. "Retire, Valentine," said she; "you are
really suffering, and these ladies will excuse you; drink a
glass of pure water, it will restore you." Valentine kissed
Eugenie, bowed to Madame Danglars, who had already risen to
take her leave, and went out. "That poor child," said Madame
de Villefort when Valentine was gone, "she makes me very
uneasy, and I should not be astonished if she had some
Meanwhile, Valentine, in a sort of excitement which she
could not quite understand, had crossed Edward's room
without noticing some trick of the child, and through her
own had reached the little staircase. She was within three
steps of the bottom; she already heard Morrel's voice, when
suddenly a cloud passed over her eyes, her stiffened foot
missed the step, her hands had no power to hold the
baluster, and falling against the wall she lost her balance
wholly and toppled to the floor. Morrel bounded to the door,
opened it, and found Valentine stretched out at the bottom
of the stairs. Quick as a flash, he raised her in his arms
and placed her in a chair. Valentine opened her eyes.
"Oh, what a clumsy thing I am," said she with feverish
volubility; "I don't know my way. I forgot there were three
more steps before the landing."
"You have hurt yourself, perhaps," said Morrel. "What can I
do for you, Valentine?" Valentine looked around her; she saw
the deepest terror depicted in Noirtier's eyes. "Don't
worry, dear grandpapa," said she, endeavoring to smile; "it
is nothing -- it is nothing; I was giddy, that is all."
"Another attack of giddiness," said Morrel, clasping his
hands. "Oh, attend to it, Valentine, I entreat you."
"But no," said Valentine, -- "no, I tell you it is all past,
and it was nothing. Now, let me tell you some news; Eugenie
is to be married in a week, and in three days there is to be
a grand feast, a betrothal festival. We are all invited, my
father, Madame de Villefort, and I -- at least, I understood
"When will it be our turn to think of these things? Oh,
Valentine, you who have so much influence over your
grandpapa, try to make him answer -- Soon."
"And do you," said Valentine, "depend on me to stimulate the
tardiness and arouse the memory of grandpapa?"
"Yes," cried Morrel, "make haste. So long as you are not
mine, Valentine, I shall always think I may lose you."
"Oh," replied Valentine with a convulsive movement, "oh,
indeed, Maximilian, you are too timid for an officer, for a
soldier who, they say, never knows fear. Ah, ha, ha!" she
burst into a forced and melancholy laugh, her arms stiffened
and twisted, her head fell back on her chair, and she
remained motionless. The cry of terror which was stopped on
Noirtier's lips, seemed to start from his eyes. Morrel
understood it; he knew he must call assistance. The young
man rang the bell violently; the housemaid who had been in
Mademoiselle Valentine's room, and the servant who had
replaced Barrois, ran in at the same moment. Valentine was
so pale, so cold, so inanimate that without listening to
what was said to them they were seized with the fear which
pervaded that house, and they flew into the passage crying
for help. Madame Danglars and Eugenie were going out at that
moment; they heard the cause of the disturbance. "I told you
so!" exclaimed Madame de Villefort. "Poor child!"
At the same moment M. de Villefort's voice was heard calling
from his study, "What is the matter?" Morrel looked at
Noirtier who had recovered his self-command, and with a
glance indicated the closet where once before under somewhat
similar circumstances, he had taken refuge. He had only time
to get his hat and throw himself breathless into the closet
when the procureur's footstep was heard in the passage.
Villefort sprang into the room, ran to Valentine, and took
her in his arms. "A physician, a physician, -- M.
d'Avrigny!" cried Villefort; "or rather I will go for him
myself." He flew from the apartment, and Morrel at the same
moment darted out at the other door. He had been struck to
the heart by a frightful recollection -- the conversation he
had heard between the doctor and Villefort the night of
Madame de Saint-Meran's death, recurred to him; these
symptoms, to a less alarming extent, were the same which had
preceded the death of Barrois. At the same time Monte
Cristo's voice seemed to resound in his ear with the words
he had heard only two hours before, "Whatever you want,
Morrel, come to me; I have great power." More rapidly than
thought, he darted down the Rue Matignon, and thence to the
Avenue des Champs Elysees.
Meanwhile M. de Villefort arrived in a hired cabriolet at M.
d'Avrigny's door. He rang so violently that the porter was
alarmed. Villefort ran up-stairs without saying a word. The
porter knew him, and let him pass, only calling to him, "In
his study, Monsieur Procureur -- in his study!" Villefort
pushed, or rather forced, the door open. "Ah," said the
doctor, "is it you?"
"Yes," said Villefort, closing the door after him, "it is I,
who am come in my turn to ask you if we are quite alone.
Doctor, my house is accursed!"
"What?" said the latter with apparent coolness, but with
deep emotion, "have you another invalid?"
"Yes, doctor," cried Villefort, clutching his hair, "yes!"
D'Avrigny's look implied, "I told you it would be so." Then
he slowly uttered these words, "Who is now dying in your
house? What new victim is going to accuse you of weakness
before God?" A mournful sob burst from Villefort's heart; he
approached the doctor, and seizing his arm, -- "Valentine,"
said he, "it is Valentine's turn!"
"Your daughter?" cried d'Avrigny with grief and surprise.
"You see you were deceived," murmured the magistrate; "come
and see her, and on her bed of agony entreat her pardon for
having suspected her."
"Each time you have applied to me," said the doctor, "it has
been too late; still I will go. But let us make haste, sir;
with the enemies you have to do with there is no time to be
"Oh, this time, doctor, you shall not have to reproach me
with weakness. This time I will know the assassin, and will
"Let us try first to save the victim before we think of
revenging her," said d'Avrigny. "Come." The same cabriolet
which had brought Villefort took them back at full speed,
and at this moment Morrel rapped at Monte Cristo's door. The
count was in his study and was reading with an angry look
something which Bertuccio had brought in haste. Hearing the
name of Morrel, who had left him only two hours before, the
count raised his head, arose, and sprang to meet him. "What
is the matter, Maximilian?" asked he; "you are pale, and the
perspiration rolls from your forehead." Morrel fell into a
chair. "Yes," said he, "I came quickly; I wanted to speak to
"Are all your family well?" asked the count, with an
affectionate benevolence, whose sincerity no one could for a
"Thank you, count -- thank you," said the young man,
evidently embarrassed how to begin the conversation; "yes,
every one in my family is well."
"So much the better; yet you have something to tell me?"
replied the count with increased anxiety.
"Yes," said Morrel, "it is true; I have but now left a house
where death has just entered, to run to you."
"Are you then come from M. de Morcerf's?" asked Monte
"No," said Morrel; "is some one dead in his house?"
"The general has just blown his brains out," replied Monte
Cristo with great coolness.
"Oh, what a dreadful event!" cried Maximilian.
"Not for the countess, or for Albert," said Monte Cristo; "a
dead father or husband is better than a dishonored one, --
blood washes out shame."
"Poor countess," said Maximilian, "I pity her very much; she
is so noble a woman!"
"Pity Albert also, Maximilian; for believe me he is the
worthy son of the countess. But let us return to yourself.
You have hastened to me -- can I have the happiness of being
useful to you?"
"Yes, I need your help: that is I thought like a madman that
you could lend me your assistance in a case where God alone
can succor me."
"Tell me what it is," replied Monte Cristo.
"Oh," said Morrel, "I know not, indeed, if I may reveal this
secret to mortal ears, but fatality impels me, necessity
constrains me, count" -- Morrel hesitated. "Do you think I
love you?" said Monte Cristo, taking the young man's hand
affectionately in his.
"Oh, you encourage me, and something tells me there,"
placing his hand on his heart, "that I ought to have no
secret from you."
"You are right, Morrel; God is speaking to your heart, and
your heart speaks to you. Tell me what it says."
"Count, will you allow me to send Baptistin to inquire after
some one you know?"
"I am at your service, and still more my servants."
"Oh, I cannot live if she is not better."
"Shall I ring for Baptistin?"
"No, I will go and speak to him myself." Morrel went out,
called Baptistin, and whispered a few words to him. The
valet ran directly. "Well, have you sent?" asked Monte
Cristo, seeing Morrel return.
"Yes, and now I shall be more calm."
"You know I am waiting," said Monte Cristo, smiling.
"Yes, and I will tell you. One evening I was in a garden; a
clump of trees concealed me; no one suspected I was there.
Two persons passed near me -- allow me to conceal their
names for the present; they were speaking in an undertone,
and yet I was so interested in what they said that I did not
lose a single word."
"This is a gloomy introduction, if I may judge from your
pallor and shuddering, Morrel."
"Oh, yes, very gloomy, my friend. Some one had just died in
the house to which that garden belonged. One of the persons
whose conversation I overheard was the master of the house;
the other, the physician. The former was confiding to the
latter his grief and fear, for it was the second time within
a month that death had suddenly and unexpectedly entered
that house which was apparently destined to destruction by
some exterminating angel, as an object of God's anger."
"Ah, indeed?" said Monte Cristo, looking earnestly at the
young man, and by an imperceptible movement turning his
chair, so that he remained in the shade while the light fell
full on Maximilian's face. "Yes," continued Morrel, "death
had entered that house twice within one month."
"And what did the doctor answer?" asked Monte Cristo.
"He replied -- he replied, that the death was not a natural
one, and must be attributed" --
"Indeed?" said Monte Cristo with a slight cough which in
moments of extreme emotion helped him to disguise a blush,
or his pallor, or the intense interest with which he
listened; "indeed, Maximilian, did you hear that?"
"Yes, my dear count, I heard it; and the doctor added that
if another death occurred in a similar way he must appeal to
justice." Monte Cristo listened, or appeared to do so, with
the greatest calmness. "Well," said Maximilian, "death came
a third time, and neither the master of the house nor the
doctor said a word. Death is now, perhaps, striking a fourth
blow. Count, what am I bound to do, being in possession of
"My dear friend," said Monte Cristo, "you appear to be
relating an adventure which we all know by heart. I know the
house where you heard it, or one very similar to it; a house
with a garden, a master, a physician, and where there have
been three unexpected and sudden deaths. Well, I have not
intercepted your confidence, and yet I know all that as well
as you, and I have no conscientious scruples. No, it does
not concern me. You say an exterminating angel appears to
have devoted that house to God's anger -- well, who says
your supposition is not reality? Do not notice things which
those whose interest it is to see them pass over. If it is
God's justice, instead of his anger, which is walking
through that house, Maximilian, turn away your face and let
his justice accomplish its purpose." Morrel shuddered. There
was something mournful, solemn, and terrible in the count's
manner. "Besides," continued he, in so changed a tone that
no one would have supposed it was the same person speaking
-- "besides, who says that it will begin again?"
"It has returned, count," exclaimed Morrel; "that is why I
hastened to you."
"Well, what do you wish me to do? Do you wish me, for
instance, to give information to the procureur?" Monte
Cristo uttered the last words with so much meaning that
Morrel, starting up, cried out, "You know of whom I speak,
count, do you not?"
"Perfectly well, my good friend; and I will prove it to you
by putting the dots to the `i,' or rather by naming the
persons. You were walking one evening in M. de Villefort's
garden; from what you relate, I suppose it to have been the
evening of Madame de Saint-Meran's death. You heard M. de
Villefort talking to M. d'Avrigny about the death of M. de
Saint-Meran, and that no less surprising, of the countess.
M. d'Avrigny said he believed they both proceeded from
poison; and you, honest man, have ever since been asking
your heart and sounding your conscience to know if you ought
to expose or conceal this secret. Why do you torment them?
`Conscience, what hast thou to do with me?' as Sterne said.
My dear fellow, let them sleep on, if they are asleep; let
them grow pale in their drowsiness, if they are disposed to
do so, and pray do you remain in peace, who have no remorse
to disturb you." Deep grief was depicted on Morrel's
features; he seized Monte Cristo's hand. "But it is
beginning again, I say!"
"Well," said the Count, astonished at his perseverance,
which he could not understand, and looking still more
earnestly at Maximilian, "let it begin again, -- it is like
the house of the Atreidae;* God has condemned them, and they
must submit to their punishment. They will all disappear,
like the fabrics children build with cards, and which fall,
one by one, under the breath of their builder, even if there
are two hundred of them. Three months since it was M. de
Saint-Meran; Madame de Saint-Meran two months since; the
other day it was Barrois; to-day, the old Noirtier, or young
* In the old Greek legend the Atreidae, or children of
Atreus, were doomed to punishment because of the abominable
crime of their father. The Agamemnon of Aeschylus is based
on this legend.
"You knew it?" cried Morrel, in such a paroxysm of terror
that Monte Cristo started, -- he whom the falling heavens
would have found unmoved; "you knew it, and said nothing?"
"And what is it to me?" replied Monte Cristo, shrugging his
shoulders; "do I know those people? and must I lose the one
to save the other? Faith, no, for between the culprit and
the victim I have no choice."
"But I," cried Morrel, groaning with sorrow, "I love her!"
"You love? -- whom?" cried Monte Cristo, starting to his
feet, and seizing the two hands which Morrel was raising
"I love most fondly -- I love madly -- I love as a man who
would give his life-blood to spare her a tear -- I love
Valentine de Villefort, who is being murdered at this
moment! Do you understand me? I love her; and I ask God and
you how I can save her?" Monte Cristo uttered a cry which
those only can conceive who have heard the roar of a wounded
lion. "Unhappy man," cried he, wringing his hands in his
turn; "you love Valentine, -- that daughter of an accursed
race!" Never had Morrel witnessed such an expression --
never had so terrible an eye flashed before his face --
never had the genius of terror he had so often seen, either
on the battle-field or in the murderous nights of Algeria,
shaken around him more dreadful fire. He drew back
As for Monte Cristo, after this ebullition he closed his
eyes as if dazzled by internal light. In a moment he
restrained himself so powerfully that the tempestuous
heaving of his breast subsided, as turbulent and foaming
waves yield to the sun's genial influence when the cloud has
passed. This silence, self-control, and struggle lasted
about twenty seconds, then the count raised his pallid face.
"See," said he, "my dear friend, how God punishes the most
thoughtless and unfeeling men for their indifference, by
presenting dreadful scenes to their view. I, who was looking
on, an eager and curious spectator, -- I, who was watching
the working of this mournful tragedy, -- I, who like a
wicked angel was laughing at the evil men committed
protected by secrecy (a secret is easily kept by the rich
and powerful), I am in my turn bitten by the serpent whose
tortuous course I was watching, and bitten to the heart!"
Morrel groaned. "Come, come," continued the count,
"complaints are unavailing, be a man, be strong, be full of
hope, for I am here and will watch over you." Morrel shook
his head sorrowfully. "I tell you to hope. Do you understand
me?" cried Monte Cristo. "Remember that I never uttered a
falsehood and am never deceived. It is twelve o'clock,
Maximilian; thank heaven that you came at noon rather than
in the evening, or to-morrow morning. Listen, Morrel -- it
is noon; if Valentine is not now dead, she will not die."
"How so?" cried Morrel, "when I left her dying?" Monte
Cristo pressed his hands to his forehead. What was passing
in that brain, so loaded with dreadful secrets? What does
the angel of light or the angel of darkness say to that
mind, at once implacable and generous? God only knows.
Monte Cristo raised his head once more, and this time he was
calm as a child awaking from its sleep. "Maximilian," said
he, "return home. I command you not to stir -- attempt
nothing, not to let your countenance betray a thought, and I
will send you tidings. Go."
"Oh, count, you overwhelm me with that coolness. Have you,
then, power against death? Are you superhuman? Are you an
angel?" And the young man, who had never shrunk from danger,
shrank before Monte Cristo with indescribable terror. But
Monte Cristo looked at him with so melancholy and sweet a
smile, that Maximilian felt the tears filling his eyes. "I
can do much for you, my friend," replied the count. "Go; I
must be alone." Morrel, subdued by the extraordinary
ascendancy Monte Cristo exercised over everything around
him, did not endeavor to resist it. He pressed the count's
hand and left. He stopped one moment at the door for
Baptistin, whom he saw in the Rue Matignon, and who was
Meanwhile, Villefort and d'Avrigny had made all possible
haste, Valentine had not revived from her fainting fit on
their arrival, and the doctor examined the invalid with all
the care the circumstances demanded, and with an interest
which the knowledge of the secret intensified twofold.
Villefort, closely watching his countenance and his lips,
awaited the result of the examination. Noirtier, paler than
even the young girl, more eager than Villefort for the
decision, was watching also intently and affectionately. At
last d'Avrigny slowly uttered these words: -- "she is still
"Still?" cried Villefort; "oh, doctor, what a dreadful word
"Yes," said the physician, "I repeat it; she is still alive,
and I am astonished at it."
"But is she safe?" asked the father.
"Yes, since she lives." At that moment d'Avrigny's glance
met Noirtier's eye. It glistened with such extraordinary
joy, so rich and full of thought, that the physician was
struck. He placed the young girl again on the chair, -- her
lips were scarcely discernible, they were so pale and white,
as well as her whole face, -- and remained motionless,
looking at Noirtier, who appeared to anticipate and commend
all he did. "Sir," said d'Avrigny to Villefort, "call
Mademoiselle Valentine's maid, if you please." Villefort
went himself to find her; and d'Avrigny approached Noirtier.
"Have you something to tell me?" asked he. The old man
winked his eyes expressively, which we may remember was his
only way of expressing his approval.
"Well, I will remain with you." At this moment Villefort
returned, followed by the lady's maid; and after her came
Madame de Villefort.
"What is the matter, then, with this dear child? she has
just left me, and she complained of being indisposed, but I
did not think seriously of it." The young woman with tears
in her eyes and every mark of affection of a true mother,
approached Valentine and took her hand. D'Avrigny continued
to look at Noirtier; he saw the eyes of the old man dilate
and become round, his cheeks turn pale and tremble; the
perspiration stood in drops upon his forehead. "Ah," said
he, involuntarily following Noirtier's eyes, which were
fixed on Madame de Villefort, who repeated, -- "This poor
child would be better in bed. Come, Fanny, we will put her
to bed." M. d'Avrigny, who saw that would be a means of his
remaining alone with Noirtier, expressed his opinion that it
was the best thing that could be done; but he forbade that
anything should be given to her except what he ordered.
They carried Valentine away; she had revived, but could
scarcely move or speak, so shaken was her frame by the
attack. She had, however, just power to give one parting
look to her grandfather, who in losing her seemed to be
resigning his very soul. D'Avrigny followed the invalid,
wrote a prescription, ordered Villefort to take a cabriolet,
go in person to a chemist's to get the prescribed medicine,
bring it himself, and wait for him in his daughter's room.
Then, having renewed his injunction not to give Valentine
anything, he went down again to Noirtier, shut the doors
carefully, and after convincing himself that no one was
listening, -- "Do you," said he, "know anything of this
young lady's illness?"
"Yes," said the old man.
"We have no time to lose; I will question, and do you answer
me." Noirtier made a sign that he was ready to answer. "Did
you anticipate the accident which has happened to your
"Yes." D'Avrigny reflected a moment; then approaching
Noirtier, -- "Pardon what I am going to say," added he, "but
no indication should be neglected in this terrible
situation. Did you see poor Barrois die?" Noirtier raised
his eyes to heaven. "Do you know of what he died!" asked
d'Avrigny, placing his hand on Noirtier's shoulder.
"Yes," replied the old man.
"Do you think he died a natural death?" A sort of smile was
discernible on the motionless lips of Noirtier.
"Then you have thought that Barrois was poisoned?"
"Do you think the poison he fell a victim to was intended
"Do you think the same hand which unintentionally struck
Barrois has now attacked Valentine?"
"Then will she die too?" asked d'Avrigny, fixing his
penetrating gaze on Noirtier. He watched the effect of this
question on the old man. "No," replied he with an air of
triumph which would have puzzled the most clever diviner.
"Then you hope?" said d'Avrigny, with surprise.
"What do you hope?" The old man made him understand with his
eyes that he could not answer. "Ah, yes, it is true,"
murmured d'Avrigny. Then, turning to Noirtier, -- "Do you
hope the assassin will be tried?"
"Then you hope the poison will take no effect on Valentine?"
"It is no news to you," added d'Avrigny, "to tell you that
an attempt has been made to poison her?" The old man made a
sign that he entertained no doubt upon the subject. "Then
how do you hope Valentine will escape?" Noirtier kept his
eyes steadfastly fixed on the same spot. D'Avrigny followed
the direction and saw that they were fixed on a bottle
containing the mixture which he took every morning. "Ah,
indeed?" said d'Avrigny, struck with a sudden thought, "has
it occurred to you" -- Noirtier did not let him finish.
"Yes," said he. "To prepare her system to resist poison?"
"By accustoming her by degrees" --
"Yes, yes, yes," said Noirtier, delighted to be understood.
"Of course. I had told you that there was brucine in the
mixture I give you."
"And by accustoming her to that poison, you have endeavored
to neutralize the effect of a similar poison?" Noirtier's
joy continued. "And you have succeeded," exclaimed
d'Avrigny. "Without that precaution Valentine would have
died before assistance could have been procured. The dose
has been excessive, but she has only been shaken by it; and
this time, at any rate, Valentine will not die." A
superhuman joy expanded the old man's eyes, which were
raised towards heaven with an expression of infinite
gratitude. At this moment Villefort returned. "Here,
doctor," said he, "is what you sent me for."
"Was this prepared in your presence?"
"Yes," replied the procureur.
"Have you not let it go out of your hands?"
"No." D'Avrigny took the bottle, poured some drops of the
mixture it contained in the hollow of his hand, and
swallowed them. "Well," said he, "let us go to Valentine; I
will give instructions to every one, and you, M. de
Villefort, will yourself see that no one deviates from
At the moment when d'Avrigny was returning to Valentine's
room, accompanied by Villefort, an Italian priest, of
serious demeanor and calm and firm tone, hired for his use
the house adjoining the hotel of M. de Villefort. No one
knew how the three former tenants of that house left it.
About two hours afterwards its foundation was reported to be
unsafe; but the report did not prevent the new occupant
establishing himself there with his modest furniture the
same day at five o'clock. The lease was drawn up for three,
six, or nine years by the new tenant, who, according to the
rule of the proprietor, paid six months in advance. This new
tenant, who, as we have said, was an Italian, was called Il
Signor Giacomo Busoni. Workmen were immediately called in,
and that same night the passengers at the end of the
faubourg saw with surprise that carpenters and masons were
occupied in repairing the lower part of the tottering house.
Father and Daughter.
We saw in a preceding chapter how Madame Danglars went
formally to announce to Madame de Villefort the approaching
marriage of Eugenie Danglars and M. Andrea Cavalcanti. This
announcement, which implied or appeared to imply, the
approval of all the persons concerned in this momentous
affair, had been preceded by a scene to which our readers
must be admitted. We beg them to take one step backward, and
to transport themselves, the morning of that day of great
catastrophes, into the showy, gilded salon we have before
shown them, and which was the pride of its owner, Baron
Danglars. In this room, at about ten o'clock in the morning,
the banker himself had been walking to and fro for some
minutes thoughtfully and in evident uneasiness, watching
both doors, and listening to every sound. When his patience
was exhausted, he called his valet. "Etienne," said he, "see
why Mademoiselle Eugenie has asked me to meet her in the
drawing-room, and why she makes me wait so long."
Having given this vent to his ill-humor, the baron became
more calm; Mademoiselle Danglars had that morning requested
an interview with her father, and had fixed on the gilded
drawing-room as the spot. The singularity of this step, and
above all its formality, had not a little surprised the
banker, who had immediately obeyed his daughter by repairing
first to the drawing-room. Etienne soon returned from his
errand. "Mademoiselle's lady's maid says, sir, that
mademoiselle is finishing her toilette, and will be here
Danglars nodded, to signify that he was satisfied. To the
world and to his servants Danglars assumed the character of
the good-natured man and the indulgent father. This was one
of his parts in the popular comedy he was performing, -- a
make-up he had adopted and which suited him about as well as
the masks worn on the classic stage by paternal actors, who
seen from one side, were the image of geniality, and from
the other showed lips drawn down in chronic ill-temper. Let
us hasten to say that in private the genial side descended
to the level of the other, so that generally the indulgent
man disappeared to give place to the brutal husband and
domineering father. "Why the devil does that foolish girl,
who pretends to wish to speak to me, not come into my study?
and why on earth does she want to speak to me at all?"
He was turning this thought over in his brain for the
twentieth time, when the door opened and Eugenie appeared,
attired in a figured black satin dress, her hair dressed and
gloves on, as if she were going to the Italian Opera. "Well,
Eugenie, what is it you want with me? and why in this solemn
drawing-room when the study is so comfortable?"
"I quite understand why you ask, sir," said Eugenie, making
a sign that her father might be seated, "and in fact your
two questions suggest fully the theme of our conversation. I
will answer them both, and contrary to the usual method, the
last first, because it is the least difficult. I have chosen
the drawing-room, sir, as our place of meeting, in order to
avoid the disagreeable impressions and influences of a
banker's study. Those gilded cashbooks, drawers locked like
gates of fortresses, heaps of bank-bills, come from I know
not where, and the quantities of letters from England,
Holland, Spain, India, China, and Peru, have generally a
strange influence on a father's mind, and make him forget
that there is in the world an interest greater and more
sacred than the good opinion of his correspondents. I have,
therefore, chosen this drawing-room, where you see, smiling
and happy in their magnificent frames, your portrait, mine,
my mother's, and all sorts of rural landscapes and touching
pastorals. I rely much on external impressions; perhaps,
with regard to you, they are immaterial, but I should be no
artist if I had not some fancies."
"Very well," replied M. Danglars, who had listened to all
this preamble with imperturbable coolness, but without
understanding a word, since like every man burdened with
thoughts of the past, he was occupied with seeking the
thread of his own ideas in those of the speaker.
"There is, then, the second point cleared up, or nearly so,"
said Eugenie, without the least confusion, and with that
masculine pointedness which distinguished her gesture and
her language; "and you appear satisfied with the
explanation. Now, let us return to the first. You ask me why
I have requested this interview; I will tell you in two
words, sir; I will not marry count Andrea Cavalcanti."
Danglars leaped from his chair and raised his eyes and arms
"Yes, indeed, sir," continued Eugenie, still quite calm;
"you are astonished, I see; for since this little affair
began, I have not manifested the slightest opposition, and
yet I am always sure, when the opportunity arrives, to
oppose a determined and absolute will to people who have not
consulted me, and things which displease me. However, this
time, my tranquillity, or passiveness as philosophers say,
proceeded from another source; it proceeded from a wish,
like a submissive and devoted daughter" (a slight smile was
observable on the purple lips of the young girl), "to
"Well?" asked Danglars.
"Well, sir," replied Eugenie, "I have tried to the very last
and now that the moment has come, I feel in spite of all my
efforts that it is impossible."
"But," said Danglars, whose weak mind was at first quite
overwhelmed with the weight of this pitiless logic, marking
evident premeditation and force of will, "what is your
reason for this refusal, Eugenie? what reason do you
"My reason?" replied the young girl. "Well, it is not that
the man is more ugly, more foolish, or more disagreeable
than any other; no, M. Andrea Cavalcanti may appear to those
who look at men's faces and figures as a very good specimen
of his kind. It is not, either, that my heart is less
touched by him than any other; that would be a schoolgirl's
reason, which I consider quite beneath me. I actually love
no one, sir; you know it, do you not? I do not then see why,
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