THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
Chapter 1. Marseilles--The Arrival.
On the 24th of February, 1815, the look-out at Notre-Dame de la Garde
signalled the three-master, the Pharaon from Smyrna, Trieste, and
As usual, a pilot put off immediately, and rounding the Chateau d'If,
got on board the vessel between Cape Morgion and Rion island.
Immediately, and according to custom, the ramparts of Fort Saint-Jean
were covered with spectators; it is always an event at Marseilles for a
ship to come into port, especially when this ship, like the Pharaon, has
been built, rigged, and laden at the old Phocee docks, and belongs to an
owner of the city.
The ship drew on and had safely passed the strait, which some volcanic
shock has made between the Calasareigne and Jaros islands; had doubled
Pomegue, and approached the harbor under topsails, jib, and spanker, but
so slowly and sedately that the idlers, with that instinct which is
the forerunner of evil, asked one another what misfortune could have
happened on board. However, those experienced in navigation saw plainly
that if any accident had occurred, it was not to the vessel herself,
for she bore down with all the evidence of being skilfully handled, the
anchor a-cockbill, the jib-boom guys already eased off, and standing by
the side of the pilot, who was steering the Pharaon towards the narrow
entrance of the inner port, was a young man, who, with activity and
vigilant eye, watched every motion of the ship, and repeated each
direction of the pilot.
The vague disquietude which prevailed among the spectators had so much
affected one of the crowd that he did not await the arrival of the
vessel in harbor, but jumping into a small skiff, desired to be pulled
alongside the Pharaon, which he reached as she rounded into La Reserve
When the young man on board saw this person approach, he left his
station by the pilot, and, hat in hand, leaned over the ship's bulwarks.
He was a fine, tall, slim young fellow of eighteen or twenty, with
black eyes, and hair as dark as a raven's wing; and his whole appearance
bespoke that calmness and resolution peculiar to men accustomed from
their cradle to contend with danger.
"Ah, is it you, Dantes?" cried the man in the skiff. "What's the matter?
and why have you such an air of sadness aboard?"
"A great misfortune, M. Morrel," replied the young man,--"a great
misfortune, for me especially! Off Civita Vecchia we lost our brave
"And the cargo?" inquired the owner, eagerly.
"Is all safe, M. Morrel; and I think you will be satisfied on that head.
But poor Captain Leclere--"
"What happened to him?" asked the owner, with an air of considerable
resignation. "What happened to the worthy captain?"
"Fell into the sea?"
"No, sir, he died of brain-fever in dreadful agony." Then turning to the
crew, he said, "Bear a hand there, to take in sail!"
All hands obeyed, and at once the eight or ten seamen who composed the
crew, sprang to their respective stations at the spanker brails and
outhaul, topsail sheets and halyards, the jib downhaul, and the topsail
clewlines and buntlines. The young sailor gave a look to see that his
orders were promptly and accurately obeyed, and then turned again to the
"And how did this misfortune occur?" inquired the latter, resuming the
"Alas, sir, in the most unexpected manner. After a long talk with the
harbor-master, Captain Leclere left Naples greatly disturbed in mind.
In twenty-four hours he was attacked by a fever, and died three days
afterwards. We performed the usual burial service, and he is at his
rest, sewn up in his hammock with a thirty-six pound shot at his head
and his heels, off El Giglio island. We bring to his widow his sword and
cross of honor. It was worth while, truly," added the young man with a
melancholy smile, "to make war against the English for ten years, and to
die in his bed at last, like everybody else."
"Why, you see, Edmond," replied the owner, who appeared more comforted
at every moment, "we are all mortal, and the old must make way for the
young. If not, why, there would be no promotion; and since you assure me
that the cargo--"
"Is all safe and sound, M. Morrel, take my word for it; and I advise you
not to take 25,000 francs for the profits of the voyage."
Then, as they were just passing the Round Tower, the young man shouted:
"Stand by there to lower the topsails and jib; brail up the spanker!"
The order was executed as promptly as it would have been on board a
"Let go--and clue up!" At this last command all the sails were lowered,
and the vessel moved almost imperceptibly onwards.
"Now, if you will come on board, M. Morrel," said Dantes, observing the
owner's impatience, "here is your supercargo, M. Danglars, coming out of
his cabin, who will furnish you with every particular. As for me, I must
look after the anchoring, and dress the ship in mourning."
The owner did not wait for a second invitation. He seized a rope which
Dantes flung to him, and with an activity that would have done credit to
a sailor, climbed up the side of the ship, while the young man, going
to his task, left the conversation to Danglars, who now came towards
the owner. He was a man of twenty-five or twenty-six years of age, of
unprepossessing countenance, obsequious to his superiors, insolent to
his subordinates; and this, in addition to his position as responsible
agent on board, which is always obnoxious to the sailors, made him as
much disliked by the crew as Edmond Dantes was beloved by them.
"Well, M. Morrel," said Danglars, "you have heard of the misfortune that
has befallen us?"
"Yes--yes: poor Captain Leclere! He was a brave and an honest man."
"And a first-rate seaman, one who had seen long and honorable service,
as became a man charged with the interests of a house so important as
that of Morrel & Son," replied Danglars.
"But," replied the owner, glancing after Dantes, who was watching the
anchoring of his vessel, "it seems to me that a sailor needs not be so
old as you say, Danglars, to understand his business, for our friend
Edmond seems to understand it thoroughly, and not to require instruction
from any one."
"Yes," said Danglars, darting at Edmond a look gleaming with hate. "Yes,
he is young, and youth is invariably self-confident. Scarcely was the
captain's breath out of his body when he assumed the command without
consulting any one, and he caused us to lose a day and a half at the
Island of Elba, instead of making for Marseilles direct."
"As to taking command of the vessel," replied Morrel, "that was his duty
as captain's mate; as to losing a day and a half off the Island of Elba,
he was wrong, unless the vessel needed repairs."
"The vessel was in as good condition as I am, and as, I hope you are,
M. Morrel, and this day and a half was lost from pure whim, for the
pleasure of going ashore, and nothing else."
"Dantes," said the shipowner, turning towards the young man, "come this
"In a moment, sir," answered Dantes, "and I'm with you." Then calling to
the crew, he said--"Let go!"
The anchor was instantly dropped, and the chain ran rattling through the
port-hole. Dantes continued at his post in spite of the presence of the
pilot, until this manoeuvre was completed, and then he added, "Half-mast
the colors, and square the yards!"
"You see," said Danglars, "he fancies himself captain already, upon my
"And so, in fact, he is," said the owner.
"Except your signature and your partner's, M. Morrel."
"And why should he not have this?" asked the owner; "he is young, it is
true, but he seems to me a thorough seaman, and of full experience."
A cloud passed over Danglars' brow. "Your pardon, M. Morrel," said
Dantes, approaching, "the vessel now rides at anchor, and I am at your
service. You hailed me, I think?"
Danglars retreated a step or two. "I wished to inquire why you stopped
at the Island of Elba?"
"I do not know, sir; it was to fulfil the last instructions of Captain
Leclere, who, when dying, gave me a packet for Marshal Bertrand."
"Then did you see him, Edmond?"
Morrel looked around him, and then, drawing Dantes on one side, he said
suddenly--"And how is the emperor?"
"Very well, as far as I could judge from the sight of him."
"You saw the emperor, then?"
"He entered the marshal's apartment while I was there."
"And you spoke to him?"
"Why, it was he who spoke to me, sir," said Dantes, with a smile.
"And what did he say to you?"
"Asked me questions about the vessel, the time she left Marseilles, the
course she had taken, and what was her cargo. I believe, if she had not
been laden, and I had been her master, he would have bought her. But I
told him I was only mate, and that she belonged to the firm of Morrel &
Son. 'Ah, yes,' he said, 'I know them. The Morrels have been shipowners
from father to son; and there was a Morrel who served in the same
regiment with me when I was in garrison at Valence.'"
"Pardieu, and that is true!" cried the owner, greatly delighted. "And
that was Policar Morrel, my uncle, who was afterwards a captain. Dantes,
you must tell my uncle that the emperor remembered him, and you will see
it will bring tears into the old soldier's eyes. Come, come," continued
he, patting Edmond's shoulder kindly, "you did very right, Dantes, to
follow Captain Leclere's instructions, and touch at Elba, although if
it were known that you had conveyed a packet to the marshal, and had
conversed with the emperor, it might bring you into trouble."
"How could that bring me into trouble, sir?" asked Dantes; "for I did
not even know of what I was the bearer; and the emperor merely made such
inquiries as he would of the first comer. But, pardon me, here are the
health officers and the customs inspectors coming alongside." And the
young man went to the gangway. As he departed, Danglars approached, and
"Well, it appears that he has given you satisfactory reasons for his
landing at Porto-Ferrajo?"
"Yes, most satisfactory, my dear Danglars."
"Well, so much the better," said the supercargo; "for it is not pleasant
to think that a comrade has not done his duty."
"Dantes has done his," replied the owner, "and that is not saying much.
It was Captain Leclere who gave orders for this delay."
"Talking of Captain Leclere, has not Dantes given you a letter from
"To me?--no--was there one?"
"I believe that, besides the packet, Captain Leclere confided a letter
to his care."
"Of what packet are you speaking, Danglars?"
"Why, that which Dantes left at Porto-Ferrajo."
"How do you know he had a packet to leave at Porto-Ferrajo?"
Danglars turned very red.
"I was passing close to the door of the captain's cabin, which was half
open, and I saw him give the packet and letter to Dantes."
"He did not speak to me of it," replied the shipowner; "but if there be
any letter he will give it to me."
Danglars reflected for a moment. "Then, M. Morrel, I beg of you,"
said he, "not to say a word to Dantes on the subject. I may have been
At this moment the young man returned; Danglars withdrew.
"Well, my dear Dantes, are you now free?" inquired the owner.
"You have not been long detained."
"No. I gave the custom-house officers a copy of our bill of lading; and
as to the other papers, they sent a man off with the pilot, to whom I
"Then you have nothing more to do here?"
"No--everything is all right now."
"Then you can come and dine with me?"
"I really must ask you to excuse me, M. Morrel. My first visit is due to
my father, though I am not the less grateful for the honor you have done
"Right, Dantes, quite right. I always knew you were a good son."
"And," inquired Dantes, with some hesitation, "do you know how my father
"Well, I believe, my dear Edmond, though I have not seen him lately."
"Yes, he likes to keep himself shut up in his little room."
"That proves, at least, that he has wanted for nothing during your
Dantes smiled. "My father is proud, sir, and if he had not a meal
left, I doubt if he would have asked anything from anyone, except from
"Well, then, after this first visit has been made we shall count on
"I must again excuse myself, M. Morrel, for after this first visit has
been paid I have another which I am most anxious to pay."
"True, Dantes, I forgot that there was at the Catalans some one who
expects you no less impatiently than your father--the lovely Mercedes."
"Ah, ha," said the shipowner, "I am not in the least surprised, for
she has been to me three times, inquiring if there were any news of the
Pharaon. Peste, Edmond, you have a very handsome mistress!"
"She is not my mistress," replied the young sailor, gravely; "she is my
"Sometimes one and the same thing," said Morrel, with a smile.
"Not with us, sir," replied Dantes.
"Well, well, my dear Edmond," continued the owner, "don't let me detain
you. You have managed my affairs so well that I ought to allow you all
the time you require for your own. Do you want any money?"
"No, sir; I have all my pay to take--nearly three months' wages."
"You are a careful fellow, Edmond."
"Say I have a poor father, sir."
"Yes, yes, I know how good a son you are, so now hasten away to see
your father. I have a son too, and I should be very wroth with those who
detained him from me after a three months' voyage."
"Then I have your leave, sir?"
"Yes, if you have nothing more to say to me."
"Captain Leclere did not, before he died, give you a letter for me?"
"He was unable to write, sir. But that reminds me that I must ask your
leave of absence for some days."
"To get married?"
"Yes, first, and then to go to Paris."
"Very good; have what time you require, Dantes. It will take quite six
weeks to unload the cargo, and we cannot get you ready for sea until
three months after that; only be back again in three months, for the
Pharaon," added the owner, patting the young sailor on the back, "cannot
sail without her captain."
"Without her captain!" cried Dantes, his eyes sparkling with animation;
"pray mind what you say, for you are touching on the most secret wishes
of my heart. Is it really your intention to make me captain of the
"If I were sole owner we'd shake hands on it now, my dear Dantes,
and call it settled; but I have a partner, and you know the Italian
proverb--Chi ha compagno ha padrone--'He who has a partner has a
master.' But the thing is at least half done, as you have one out of two
votes. Rely on me to procure you the other; I will do my best."
"Ah, M. Morrel," exclaimed the young seaman, with tears in his eyes,
and grasping the owner's hand, "M. Morrel, I thank you in the name of my
father and of Mercedes."
"That's all right, Edmond. There's a providence that watches over the
deserving. Go to your father: go and see Mercedes, and afterwards come
"Shall I row you ashore?"
"No, thank you; I shall remain and look over the accounts with Danglars.
Have you been satisfied with him this voyage?"
"That is according to the sense you attach to the question, sir. Do you
mean is he a good comrade? No, for I think he never liked me since the
day when I was silly enough, after a little quarrel we had, to propose
to him to stop for ten minutes at the island of Monte Cristo to settle
the dispute--a proposition which I was wrong to suggest, and he quite
right to refuse. If you mean as responsible agent when you ask me the
question, I believe there is nothing to say against him, and that you
will be content with the way in which he has performed his duty."
"But tell me, Dantes, if you had command of the Pharaon should you be
glad to see Danglars remain?"
"Captain or mate, M. Morrel, I shall always have the greatest respect
for those who possess the owners' confidence."
"That's right, that's right, Dantes! I see you are a thoroughly good
fellow, and will detain you no longer. Go, for I see how impatient you
"Then I have leave?"
"Go, I tell you."
"May I have the use of your skiff?"
"Then, for the present, M. Morrel, farewell, and a thousand thanks!"
"I hope soon to see you again, my dear Edmond. Good luck to you."
The young sailor jumped into the skiff, and sat down in the stern
sheets, with the order that he be put ashore at La Canebiere. The two
oarsmen bent to their work, and the little boat glided away as rapidly
as possible in the midst of the thousand vessels which choke up the
narrow way which leads between the two rows of ships from the mouth of
the harbor to the Quai d'Orleans.
The shipowner, smiling, followed him with his eyes until he saw him
spring out on the quay and disappear in the midst of the throng, which
from five o'clock in the morning until nine o'clock at night, swarms
in the famous street of La Canebiere,--a street of which the modern
Phocaeans are so proud that they say with all the gravity in the world,
and with that accent which gives so much character to what is said, "If
Paris had La Canebiere, Paris would be a second Marseilles." On turning
round the owner saw Danglars behind him, apparently awaiting orders,
but in reality also watching the young sailor,--but there was a great
difference in the expression of the two men who thus followed the
movements of Edmond Dantes.
Chapter 2. Father and Son.
We will leave Danglars struggling with the demon of hatred, and
endeavoring to insinuate in the ear of the shipowner some evil
suspicions against his comrade, and follow Dantes, who, after having
traversed La Canebiere, took the Rue de Noailles, and entering a small
house, on the left of the Allees de Meillan, rapidly ascended four
flights of a dark staircase, holding the baluster with one hand, while
with the other he repressed the beatings of his heart, and paused before
a half-open door, from which he could see the whole of a small room.
This room was occupied by Dantes' father. The news of the arrival of the
Pharaon had not yet reached the old man, who, mounted on a chair, was
amusing himself by training with trembling hand the nasturtiums and
sprays of clematis that clambered over the trellis at his window.
Suddenly, he felt an arm thrown around his body, and a well-known voice
behind him exclaimed, "Father--dear father!"
The old man uttered a cry, and turned round; then, seeing his son, he
fell into his arms, pale and trembling.
"What ails you, my dearest father? Are you ill?" inquired the young man,
"No, no, my dear Edmond--my boy--my son!--no; but I did not expect you;
and joy, the surprise of seeing you so suddenly--Ah, I feel as if I were
going to die."
"Come, come, cheer up, my dear father! 'Tis I--really I! They say joy
never hurts, and so I came to you without any warning. Come now, do
smile, instead of looking at me so solemnly. Here I am back again, and
we are going to be happy."
"Yes, yes, my boy, so we will--so we will," replied the old man; "but
how shall we be happy? Shall you never leave me again? Come, tell me all
the good fortune that has befallen you."
"God forgive me," said the young man, "for rejoicing at happiness
derived from the misery of others, but, Heaven knows, I did not seek
this good fortune; it has happened, and I really cannot pretend to
lament it. The good Captain Leclere is dead, father, and it is probable
that, with the aid of M. Morrel, I shall have his place. Do you
understand, father? Only imagine me a captain at twenty, with a hundred
louis pay, and a share in the profits! Is this not more than a poor
sailor like me could have hoped for?"
"Yes, my dear boy," replied the old man, "it is very fortunate."
"Well, then, with the first money I touch, I mean you to have a small
house, with a garden in which to plant clematis, nasturtiums, and
honeysuckle. But what ails you, father? Are you not well?"
"'Tis nothing, nothing; it will soon pass away"--and as he said so the
old man's strength failed him, and he fell backwards.
"Come, come," said the young man, "a glass of wine, father, will revive
you. Where do you keep your wine?"
"No, no; thanks. You need not look for it; I do not want it," said the
"Yes, yes, father, tell me where it is," and he opened two or three
"It is no use," said the old man, "there is no wine."
"What, no wine?" said Dantes, turning pale, and looking alternately
at the hollow cheeks of the old man and the empty cupboards. "What, no
wine? Have you wanted money, father?"
"I want nothing now that I have you," said the old man.
"Yet," stammered Dantes, wiping the perspiration from his brow,--"yet I
gave you two hundred francs when I left, three months ago."
"Yes, yes, Edmond, that is true, but you forgot at that time a little
debt to our neighbor, Caderousse. He reminded me of it, telling me if
I did not pay for you, he would be paid by M. Morrel; and so, you see,
lest he might do you an injury"--
"Why, I paid him."
"But," cried Dantes, "it was a hundred and forty francs I owed
"Yes," stammered the old man.
"And you paid him out of the two hundred francs I left you?"
The old man nodded.
"So that you have lived for three months on sixty francs," muttered
"You know how little I require," said the old man.
"Heaven pardon me," cried Edmond, falling on his knees before his
"What are you doing?"
"You have wounded me to the heart."
"Never mind it, for I see you once more," said the old man; "and now
it's all over--everything is all right again."
"Yes, here I am," said the young man, "with a promising future and a
little money. Here, father, here!" he said, "take this--take it, and
send for something immediately." And he emptied his pockets on the
table, the contents consisting of a dozen gold pieces, five or six
five-franc pieces, and some smaller coin. The countenance of old Dantes
"Whom does this belong to?" he inquired.
"To me, to you, to us! Take it; buy some provisions; be happy, and
to-morrow we shall have more."
"Gently, gently," said the old man, with a smile; "and by your leave I
will use your purse moderately, for they would say, if they saw me buy
too many things at a time, that I had been obliged to await your return,
in order to be able to purchase them."
"Do as you please; but, first of all, pray have a servant, father. I
will not have you left alone so long. I have some smuggled coffee and
most capital tobacco, in a small chest in the hold, which you shall have
to-morrow. But, hush, here comes somebody."
"'Tis Caderousse, who has heard of your arrival, and no doubt comes to
congratulate you on your fortunate return."
"Ah, lips that say one thing, while the heart thinks another," murmured
Edmond. "But, never mind, he is a neighbor who has done us a service on
a time, so he's welcome."
As Edmond paused, the black and bearded head of Caderousse appeared at
the door. He was a man of twenty-five or six, and held a piece of cloth,
which, being a tailor, he was about to make into a coat-lining.
"What, is it you, Edmond, back again?" said he, with a broad
Marseillaise accent, and a grin that displayed his ivory-white teeth.
"Yes, as you see, neighbor Caderousse; and ready to be agreeable to you
in any and every way," replied Dantes, but ill-concealing his coldness
under this cloak of civility.
"Thanks--thanks; but, fortunately, I do not want for anything; and it
chances that at times there are others who have need of me." Dantes made
a gesture. "I do not allude to you, my boy. No!--no! I lent you money,
and you returned it; that's like good neighbors, and we are quits."
"We are never quits with those who oblige us," was Dantes' reply; "for
when we do not owe them money, we owe them gratitude."
"What's the use of mentioning that? What is done is done. Let us talk
of your happy return, my boy. I had gone on the quay to match a piece of
mulberry cloth, when I met friend Danglars. 'You at Marseilles?'--'Yes,'
"'I thought you were at Smyrna.'--'I was; but am now back again.'
"'And where is the dear boy, our little Edmond?'
"'Why, with his father, no doubt,' replied Danglars. And so I came,"
added Caderousse, "as fast as I could to have the pleasure of shaking
hands with a friend."
"Worthy Caderousse!" said the old man, "he is so much attached to us."
"Yes, to be sure I am. I love and esteem you, because honest folks are
so rare. But it seems you have come back rich, my boy," continued the
tailor, looking askance at the handful of gold and silver which Dantes
had thrown on the table.
The young man remarked the greedy glance which shone in the dark eyes of
his neighbor. "Eh," he said, negligently, "this money is not mine. I was
expressing to my father my fears that he had wanted many things in my
absence, and to convince me he emptied his purse on the table. Come,
father" added Dantes, "put this money back in your box--unless neighbor
Caderousse wants anything, and in that case it is at his service."
"No, my boy, no," said Caderousse. "I am not in any want, thank God,
my living is suited to my means. Keep your money--keep it, I say;--one
never has too much;--but, at the same time, my boy, I am as much obliged
by your offer as if I took advantage of it."
"It was offered with good will," said Dantes.
"No doubt, my boy; no doubt. Well, you stand well with M. Morrel I
hear,--you insinuating dog, you!"
"M. Morrel has always been exceedingly kind to me," replied Dantes.
"Then you were wrong to refuse to dine with him."
"What, did you refuse to dine with him?" said old Dantes; "and did he
invite you to dine?"
"Yes, my dear father," replied Edmond, smiling at his father's
astonishment at the excessive honor paid to his son.
"And why did you refuse, my son?" inquired the old man.
"That I might the sooner see you again, my dear father," replied the
young man. "I was most anxious to see you."
"But it must have vexed M. Morrel, good, worthy man," said Caderousse.
"And when you are looking forward to be captain, it was wrong to annoy
"But I explained to him the cause of my refusal," replied Dantes, "and I
hope he fully understood it."
"Yes, but to be captain one must do a little flattery to one's patrons."
"I hope to be captain without that," said Dantes.
"So much the better--so much the better! Nothing will give greater
pleasure to all your old friends; and I know one down there behind the
Saint Nicolas citadel who will not be sorry to hear it."
"Mercedes?" said the old man.
"Yes, my dear father, and with your permission, now I have seen you, and
know you are well and have all you require, I will ask your consent to
go and pay a visit to the Catalans."
"Go, my dear boy," said old Dantes: "and heaven bless you in your wife,
as it has blessed me in my son!"
"His wife!" said Caderousse; "why, how fast you go on, father Dantes;
she is not his wife yet, as it seems to me."
"So, but according to all probability she soon will be," replied Edmond.
"Yes--yes," said Caderousse; "but you were right to return as soon as
possible, my boy."
"Because Mercedes is a very fine girl, and fine girls never lack
followers; she particularly has them by dozens."
"Really?" answered Edmond, with a smile which had in it traces of slight
"Ah, yes," continued Caderousse, "and capital offers, too; but you know,
you will be captain, and who could refuse you then?"
"Meaning to say," replied Dantes, with a smile which but ill-concealed
his trouble, "that if I were not a captain"--
"Eh--eh!" said Caderousse, shaking his head.
"Come, come," said the sailor, "I have a better opinion than you of
women in general, and of Mercedes in particular; and I am certain that,
captain or not, she will remain ever faithful to me."
"So much the better--so much the better," said Caderousse. "When one
is going to be married, there is nothing like implicit confidence; but
never mind that, my boy,--go and announce your arrival, and let her know
all your hopes and prospects."
"I will go directly," was Edmond's reply; and, embracing his father, and
nodding to Caderousse, he left the apartment.
Caderousse lingered for a moment, then taking leave of old Dantes, he
went downstairs to rejoin Danglars, who awaited him at the corner of the
"Well," said Danglars, "did you see him?"
"I have just left him," answered Caderousse.
"Did he allude to his hope of being captain?"
"He spoke of it as a thing already decided."
"Indeed!" said Danglars, "he is in too much hurry, it appears to me."
"Why, it seems M. Morrel has promised him the thing."
"So that he is quite elated about it?"
"Why, yes, he is actually insolent over the matter--has already offered
me his patronage, as if he were a grand personage, and proffered me a
loan of money, as though he were a banker."
"Which you refused?"
"Most assuredly; although I might easily have accepted it, for it was
I who put into his hands the first silver he ever earned; but now M.
Dantes has no longer any occasion for assistance--he is about to become
"Pooh!" said Danglars, "he is not one yet."
"Ma foi, it will be as well if he is not," answered Caderousse; "for if
he should be, there will be really no speaking to him."
"If we choose," replied Danglars, "he will remain what he is; and
perhaps become even less than he is."
"What do you mean?"
"Nothing--I was speaking to myself. And is he still in love with the
"Over head and ears; but, unless I am much mistaken, there will be a
storm in that quarter."
"Why should I?"
"It is more important than you think, perhaps. You do not like Dantes?"
"I never like upstarts."
"Then tell me all you know about the Catalane."
"I know nothing for certain; only I have seen things which induce me to
believe, as I told you, that the future captain will find some annoyance
in the vicinity of the Vieilles Infirmeries."
"What have you seen?--come, tell me!"
"Well, every time I have seen Mercedes come into the city she has
been accompanied by a tall, strapping, black-eyed Catalan, with a red
complexion, brown skin, and fierce air, whom she calls cousin."
"Really; and you think this cousin pays her attentions?"
"I only suppose so. What else can a strapping chap of twenty-one mean
with a fine wench of seventeen?"
"And you say that Dantes has gone to the Catalans?"
"He went before I came down."
"Let us go the same way; we will stop at La Reserve, and we can drink a
glass of La Malgue, whilst we wait for news."
"Come along," said Caderousse; "but you pay the score."
"Of course," replied Danglars; and going quickly to the designated
place, they called for a bottle of wine, and two glasses.
Pere Pamphile had seen Dantes pass not ten minutes before; and assured
that he was at the Catalans, they sat down under the budding foliage
of the planes and sycamores, in the branches of which the birds were
singing their welcome to one of the first days of spring.
Chapter 3. The Catalans.
Beyond a bare, weather-worn wall, about a hundred paces from the spot
where the two friends sat looking and listening as they drank their
wine, was the village of the Catalans. Long ago this mysterious colony
quitted Spain, and settled on the tongue of land on which it is to this
day. Whence it came no one knew, and it spoke an unknown tongue. One of
its chiefs, who understood Provencal, begged the commune of Marseilles
to give them this bare and barren promontory, where, like the sailors of
old, they had run their boats ashore. The request was granted; and three
months afterwards, around the twelve or fifteen small vessels which
had brought these gypsies of the sea, a small village sprang up. This
village, constructed in a singular and picturesque manner, half Moorish,
half Spanish, still remains, and is inhabited by descendants of the
first comers, who speak the language of their fathers. For three or four
centuries they have remained upon this small promontory, on which
they had settled like a flight of seabirds, without mixing with the
Marseillaise population, intermarrying, and preserving their original
customs and the costume of their mother-country as they have preserved
Our readers will follow us along the only street of this little village,
and enter with us one of the houses, which is sunburned to the beautiful
dead-leaf color peculiar to the buildings of the country, and within
coated with whitewash, like a Spanish posada. A young and beautiful
girl, with hair as black as jet, her eyes as velvety as the gazelle's,
was leaning with her back against the wainscot, rubbing in her slender
delicately moulded fingers a bunch of heath blossoms, the flowers of
which she was picking off and strewing on the floor; her arms, bare to
the elbow, brown, and modelled after those of the Arlesian Venus, moved
with a kind of restless impatience, and she tapped the earth with her
arched and supple foot, so as to display the pure and full shape of her
well-turned leg, in its red cotton, gray and blue clocked, stocking. At
three paces from her, seated in a chair which he balanced on two legs,
leaning his elbow on an old worm-eaten table, was a tall young man of
twenty, or two-and-twenty, who was looking at her with an air in which
vexation and uneasiness were mingled. He questioned her with his eyes,
but the firm and steady gaze of the young girl controlled his look.
"You see, Mercedes," said the young man, "here is Easter come round
again; tell me, is this the moment for a wedding?"
"I have answered you a hundred times, Fernand, and really you must be
very stupid to ask me again."
"Well, repeat it,--repeat it, I beg of you, that I may at last believe
it! Tell me for the hundredth time that you refuse my love, which had
your mother's sanction. Make me understand once for all that you are
trifling with my happiness, that my life or death are nothing to you.
Ah, to have dreamed for ten years of being your husband, Mercedes, and
to lose that hope, which was the only stay of my existence!"
"At least it was not I who ever encouraged you in that hope, Fernand,"
replied Mercedes; "you cannot reproach me with the slightest coquetry.
I have always said to you, 'I love you as a brother; but do not ask from
me more than sisterly affection, for my heart is another's.' Is not this
"Yes, that is very true, Mercedes," replied the young man, "Yes, you
have been cruelly frank with me; but do you forget that it is among the
Catalans a sacred law to intermarry?"
"You mistake, Fernand; it is not a law, but merely a custom, and, I pray
of you, do not cite this custom in your favor. You are included in the
conscription, Fernand, and are only at liberty on sufferance, liable at
any moment to be called upon to take up arms. Once a soldier, what would
you do with me, a poor orphan, forlorn, without fortune, with nothing
but a half-ruined hut and a few ragged nets, the miserable inheritance
left by my father to my mother, and by my mother to me? She has been
dead a year, and you know, Fernand, I have subsisted almost entirely on
public charity. Sometimes you pretend I am useful to you, and that is
an excuse to share with me the produce of your fishing, and I accept it,
Fernand, because you are the son of my father's brother, because we were
brought up together, and still more because it would give you so much
pain if I refuse. But I feel very deeply that this fish which I go and
sell, and with the produce of which I buy the flax I spin,--I feel very
keenly, Fernand, that this is charity."
"And if it were, Mercedes, poor and lone as you are, you suit me as
well as the daughter of the first shipowner or the richest banker
of Marseilles! What do such as we desire but a good wife and careful
housekeeper, and where can I look for these better than in you?"
"Fernand," answered Mercedes, shaking her head, "a woman becomes a bad
manager, and who shall say she will remain an honest woman, when
she loves another man better than her husband? Rest content with my
friendship, for I say once more that is all I can promise, and I will
promise no more than I can bestow."
"I understand," replied Fernand, "you can endure your own wretchedness
patiently, but you are afraid to share mine. Well, Mercedes, beloved by
you, I would tempt fortune; you would bring me good luck, and I should
become rich. I could extend my occupation as a fisherman, might get a
place as clerk in a warehouse, and become in time a dealer myself."
"You could do no such thing, Fernand; you are a soldier, and if you
remain at the Catalans it is because there is no war; so remain a
fisherman, and contented with my friendship, as I cannot give you more."
"Well, I will do better, Mercedes. I will be a sailor; instead of the
costume of our fathers, which you despise, I will wear a varnished hat,
a striped shirt, and a blue jacket, with an anchor on the buttons. Would
not that dress please you?"
"What do you mean?" asked Mercedes, with an angry glance,--"what do you
mean? I do not understand you?"
"I mean, Mercedes, that you are thus harsh and cruel with me, because
you are expecting some one who is thus attired; but perhaps he whom you
await is inconstant, or if he is not, the sea is so to him."
"Fernand," cried Mercedes, "I believed you were good-hearted, and I was
mistaken! Fernand, you are wicked to call to your aid jealousy and the
anger of God! Yes, I will not deny it, I do await, and I do love him of
whom you speak; and, if he does not return, instead of accusing him of
the inconstancy which you insinuate, I will tell you that he died loving
me and me only." The young girl made a gesture of rage. "I understand
you, Fernand; you would be revenged on him because I do not love you;
you would cross your Catalan knife with his dirk. What end would that
answer? To lose you my friendship if he were conquered, and see that
friendship changed into hate if you were victor. Believe me, to seek a
quarrel with a man is a bad method of pleasing the woman who loves that
man. No, Fernand, you will not thus give way to evil thoughts. Unable to
have me for your wife, you will content yourself with having me for
your friend and sister; and besides," she added, her eyes troubled and
moistened with tears, "wait, wait, Fernand; you said just now that the
sea was treacherous, and he has been gone four months, and during these
four months there have been some terrible storms."
Fernand made no reply, nor did he attempt to check the tears which
flowed down the cheeks of Mercedes, although for each of these tears he
would have shed his heart's blood; but these tears flowed for another.
He arose, paced a while up and down the hut, and then, suddenly stopping
before Mercedes, with his eyes glowing and his hands clinched,--"Say,
Mercedes," he said, "once for all, is this your final determination?"
"I love Edmond Dantes," the young girl calmly replied, "and none but
Edmond shall ever be my husband."
"And you will always love him?"
"As long as I live."
Fernand let fall his head like a defeated man, heaved a sigh that was
like a groan, and then suddenly looking her full in the face, with
clinched teeth and expanded nostrils, said,--"But if he is dead"--
"If he is dead, I shall die too."
"If he has forgotten you"--
"Mercedes!" called a joyous voice from without,--"Mercedes!"
"Ah," exclaimed the young girl, blushing with delight, and fairly
leaping in excess of love, "you see he has not forgotten me, for here he
is!" And rushing towards the door, she opened it, saying, "Here, Edmond,
here I am!"
Fernand, pale and trembling, drew back, like a traveller at the sight
of a serpent, and fell into a chair beside him. Edmond and Mercedes were
clasped in each other's arms. The burning Marseilles sun, which shot
into the room through the open door, covered them with a flood of light.
At first they saw nothing around them. Their intense happiness isolated
them from all the rest of the world, and they only spoke in broken
words, which are the tokens of a joy so extreme that they seem rather
the expression of sorrow. Suddenly Edmond saw the gloomy, pale, and
threatening countenance of Fernand, as it was defined in the shadow.
By a movement for which he could scarcely account to himself, the young
Catalan placed his hand on the knife at his belt.
"Ah, your pardon," said Dantes, frowning in his turn; "I did not
perceive that there were three of us." Then, turning to Mercedes, he
inquired, "Who is this gentleman?"
"One who will be your best friend, Dantes, for he is my friend, my
cousin, my brother; it is Fernand--the man whom, after you, Edmond, I
love the best in the world. Do you not remember him?"
"Yes!" said Dantes, and without relinquishing Mercedes hand clasped in
one of his own, he extended the other to the Catalan with a cordial air.
But Fernand, instead of responding to this amiable gesture, remained
mute and trembling. Edmond then cast his eyes scrutinizingly at the
agitated and embarrassed Mercedes, and then again on the gloomy and
menacing Fernand. This look told him all, and his anger waxed hot.
"I did not know, when I came with such haste to you, that I was to meet
an enemy here."
"An enemy!" cried Mercedes, with an angry look at her cousin. "An enemy
in my house, do you say, Edmond! If I believed that, I would place my
arm under yours and go with you to Marseilles, leaving the house to
return to it no more."
Fernand's eye darted lightning. "And should any misfortune occur to
you, dear Edmond," she continued with the same calmness which proved to
Fernand that the young girl had read the very innermost depths of his
sinister thought, "if misfortune should occur to you, I would ascend the
highest point of the Cape de Morgion and cast myself headlong from it."
Fernand became deadly pale. "But you are deceived, Edmond," she
continued. "You have no enemy here--there is no one but Fernand, my
brother, who will grasp your hand as a devoted friend."
And at these words the young girl fixed her imperious look on the
Catalan, who, as if fascinated by it, came slowly towards Edmond, and
offered him his hand. His hatred, like a powerless though furious wave,
was broken against the strong ascendancy which Mercedes exercised over
him. Scarcely, however, had he touched Edmond's hand than he felt he had
done all he could do, and rushed hastily out of the house.
"Oh," he exclaimed, running furiously and tearing his hair--"Oh, who
will deliver me from this man? Wretched--wretched that I am!"
"Hallo, Catalan! Hallo, Fernand! where are you running to?" exclaimed a
The young man stopped suddenly, looked around him, and perceived
Caderousse sitting at table with Danglars, under an arbor.
"Well", said Caderousse, "why don't you come? Are you really in such a
hurry that you have no time to pass the time of day with your friends?"
"Particularly when they have still a full bottle before them," added
Danglars. Fernand looked at them both with a stupefied air, but did not
say a word.
"He seems besotted," said Danglars, pushing Caderousse with his knee.
"Are we mistaken, and is Dantes triumphant in spite of all we have
"Why, we must inquire into that," was Caderousse's reply; and turning
towards the young man, said, "Well, Catalan, can't you make up your
Fernand wiped away the perspiration steaming from his brow, and slowly
entered the arbor, whose shade seemed to restore somewhat of calmness to
his senses, and whose coolness somewhat of refreshment to his exhausted
"Good-day," said he. "You called me, didn't you?" And he fell, rather
than sat down, on one of the seats which surrounded the table.
"I called you because you were running like a madman, and I was afraid
you would throw yourself into the sea," said Caderousse, laughing. "Why,
when a man has friends, they are not only to offer him a glass of wine,
but, moreover, to prevent his swallowing three or four pints of water
Fernand gave a groan, which resembled a sob, and dropped his head into
his hands, his elbows leaning on the table.
"Well, Fernand, I must say," said Caderousse, beginning the
conversation, with that brutality of the common people in which
curiosity destroys all diplomacy, "you look uncommonly like a rejected
lover;" and he burst into a hoarse laugh.
"Bah!" said Danglars, "a lad of his make was not born to be unhappy in
love. You are laughing at him, Caderousse."
"No," he replied, "only hark how he sighs! Come, come, Fernand," said
Caderousse, "hold up your head, and answer us. It's not polite not to
reply to friends who ask news of your health."
"My health is well enough," said Fernand, clinching his hands without
raising his head.
"Ah, you see, Danglars," said Caderousse, winking at his friend, "this
is how it is; Fernand, whom you see here, is a good and brave Catalan,
one of the best fishermen in Marseilles, and he is in love with a very
fine girl, named Mercedes; but it appears, unfortunately, that the fine
girl is in love with the mate of the Pharaon; and as the Pharaon arrived
to-day--why, you understand!"
"No; I do not understand," said Danglars.
"Poor Fernand has been dismissed," continued Caderousse.
"Well, and what then?" said Fernand, lifting up his head, and looking at
Caderousse like a man who looks for some one on whom to vent his anger;
"Mercedes is not accountable to any person, is she? Is she not free to
love whomsoever she will?"
"Oh, if you take it in that sense," said Caderousse, "it is another
thing. But I thought you were a Catalan, and they told me the Catalans
were not men to allow themselves to be supplanted by a rival. It was
even told me that Fernand, especially, was terrible in his vengeance."
Fernand smiled piteously. "A lover is never terrible," he said.
"Poor fellow!" remarked Danglars, affecting to pity the young man from
the bottom of his heart. "Why, you see, he did not expect to see Dantes
return so suddenly--he thought he was dead, perhaps; or perchance
faithless! These things always come on us more severely when they come
"Ah, ma foi, under any circumstances," said Caderousse, who drank as he
spoke, and on whom the fumes of the wine began to take effect,--"under
any circumstances Fernand is not the only person put out by the
fortunate arrival of Dantes; is he, Danglars?"
"No, you are right--and I should say that would bring him ill-luck."
"Well, never mind," answered Caderousse, pouring out a glass of wine
for Fernand, and filling his own for the eighth or ninth time, while
Danglars had merely sipped his. "Never mind--in the meantime he marries
Mercedes--the lovely Mercedes--at least he returns to do that."
During this time Danglars fixed his piercing glance on the young man, on
whose heart Caderousse's words fell like molten lead.
"And when is the wedding to be?" he asked.
"Oh, it is not yet fixed!" murmured Fernand.
"No, but it will be," said Caderousse, "as surely as Dantes will be
captain of the Pharaon--eh, Danglars?"
Danglars shuddered at this unexpected attack, and turned to Caderousse,
whose countenance he scrutinized, to try and detect whether the blow
was premeditated; but he read nothing but envy in a countenance already
rendered brutal and stupid by drunkenness.
"Well," said he, filling the glasses, "let us drink to Captain Edmond
Dantes, husband of the beautiful Catalane!"
Caderousse raised his glass to his mouth with unsteady hand, and
swallowed the contents at a gulp. Fernand dashed his on the ground.
"Eh, eh, eh!" stammered Caderousse. "What do I see down there by the
wall, in the direction of the Catalans? Look, Fernand, your eyes are
better than mine. I believe I see double. You know wine is a deceiver;
but I should say it was two lovers walking side by side, and hand in
hand. Heaven forgive me, they do not know that we can see them, and they
are actually embracing!"
Danglars did not lose one pang that Fernand endured.
"Do you know them, Fernand?" he said.
"Yes," was the reply, in a low voice. "It is Edmond and Mercedes!"
"Ah, see there, now!" said Caderousse; "and I did not recognize them!
Hallo, Dantes! hello, lovely damsel! Come this way, and let us know when
the wedding is to be, for Fernand here is so obstinate he will not tell
"Hold your tongue, will you?" said Danglars, pretending to restrain
Caderousse, who, with the tenacity of drunkards, leaned out of the
arbor. "Try to stand upright, and let the lovers make love without
interruption. See, look at Fernand, and follow his example; he is
Fernand, probably excited beyond bearing, pricked by Danglars, as the
bull is by the bandilleros, was about to rush out; for he had risen from
his seat, and seemed to be collecting himself to dash headlong upon his
rival, when Mercedes, smiling and graceful, lifted up her lovely head,
and looked at them with her clear and bright eyes. At this Fernand
recollected her threat of dying if Edmond died, and dropped again
heavily on his seat. Danglars looked at the two men, one after the
other, the one brutalized by liquor, the other overwhelmed with love.
"I shall get nothing from these fools," he muttered; "and I am very much
afraid of being here between a drunkard and a coward. Here's an envious
fellow making himself boozy on wine when he ought to be nursing his
wrath, and here is a fool who sees the woman he loves stolen from under
his nose and takes on like a big baby. Yet this Catalan has eyes that
glisten like those of the vengeful Spaniards, Sicilians, and Calabrians,
and the other has fists big enough to crush an ox at one blow.
Unquestionably, Edmond's star is in the ascendant, and he will marry the
splendid girl--he will be captain, too, and laugh at us all, unless"--a
sinister smile passed over Danglars' lips--"unless I take a hand in the
affair," he added.
"Hallo!" continued Caderousse, half-rising, and with his fist on the
table, "hallo, Edmond! do you not see your friends, or are you too proud
to speak to them?"
"No, my dear fellow!" replied Dantes, "I am not proud, but I am happy,
and happiness blinds, I think, more than pride."
"Ah, very well, that's an explanation!" said Caderousse. "How do you do,
Mercedes courtesied gravely, and said--"That is not my name, and in my
country it bodes ill fortune, they say, to call a young girl by the name
of her betrothed before he becomes her husband. So call me Mercedes, if
"We must excuse our worthy neighbor, Caderousse," said Dantes, "he is so
"So, then, the wedding is to take place immediately, M. Dantes," said
Danglars, bowing to the young couple.
"As soon as possible, M. Danglars; to-day all preliminaries will be
arranged at my father's, and to-morrow, or next day at latest, the
wedding festival here at La Reserve. My friends will be there, I hope;
that is to say, you are invited, M. Danglars, and you, Caderousse."
"And Fernand," said Caderousse with a chuckle; "Fernand, too, is
"My wife's brother is my brother," said Edmond; "and we, Mercedes and I,
should be very sorry if he were absent at such a time."
Fernand opened his mouth to reply, but his voice died on his lips, and
he could not utter a word.
"To-day the preliminaries, to-morrow or next day the ceremony! You are
in a hurry, captain!"
"Danglars," said Edmond, smiling, "I will say to you as Mercedes said
just now to Caderousse, 'Do not give me a title which does not belong to
me'; that may bring me bad luck."
"Your pardon," replied Danglars, "I merely said you seemed in a hurry,
and we have lots of time; the Pharaon cannot be under weigh again in
less than three months."
"We are always in a hurry to be happy, M. Danglars; for when we have
suffered a long time, we have great difficulty in believing in good
fortune. But it is not selfishness alone that makes me thus in haste; I
must go to Paris."
"Ah, really?--to Paris! and will it be the first time you have ever been
"Have you business there?"
"Not of my own; the last commission of poor Captain Leclere; you know
to what I allude, Danglars--it is sacred. Besides, I shall only take the
time to go and return."
"Yes, yes, I understand," said Danglars, and then in a low tone, he
added, "To Paris, no doubt to deliver the letter which the grand marshal
gave him. Ah, this letter gives me an idea--a capital idea! Ah; Dantes,
my friend, you are not yet registered number one on board the good ship
Pharaon;" then turning towards Edmond, who was walking away, "A pleasant
journey," he cried.
"Thank you," said Edmond with a friendly nod, and the two lovers
continued on their way, as calm and joyous as if they were the very
elect of heaven.
Chapter 4. Conspiracy.
Danglars followed Edmond and Mercedes with his eyes until the two lovers
disappeared behind one of the angles of Fort Saint Nicolas, then turning
round, he perceived Fernand, who had fallen, pale and trembling, into
his chair, while Caderousse stammered out the words of a drinking-song.
"Well, my dear sir," said Danglars to Fernand, "here is a marriage which
does not appear to make everybody happy."
"It drives me to despair," said Fernand.
"Do you, then, love Mercedes?"
"I adore her!"
"As long as I have known her--always."
"And you sit there, tearing your hair, instead of seeking to remedy your
condition; I did not think that was the way of your people."
"What would you have me do?" said Fernand.
"How do I know? Is it my affair? I am not in love with Mademoiselle
Mercedes; but for you--in the words of the gospel, seek, and you shall
"I have found already."
"I would stab the man, but the woman told me that if any misfortune
happened to her betrothed, she would kill herself."
"Pooh! Women say those things, but never do them."
"You do not know Mercedes; what she threatens she will do."
"Idiot!" muttered Danglars; "whether she kill herself or not, what
matter, provided Dantes is not captain?"
"Before Mercedes should die," replied Fernand, with the accents of
unshaken resolution, "I would die myself!"
"That's what I call love!" said Caderousse with a voice more tipsy than
ever. "That's love, or I don't know what love is."
"Come," said Danglars, "you appear to me a good sort of fellow, and hang
me, I should like to help you, but"--
"Yes," said Caderousse, "but how?"
"My dear fellow," replied Danglars, "you are three parts drunk; finish
the bottle, and you will be completely so. Drink then, and do not meddle
with what we are discussing, for that requires all one's wit and cool
"I--drunk!" said Caderousse; "well that's a good one! I could drink
four more such bottles; they are no bigger than cologne flasks. Pere
Pamphile, more wine!" and Caderousse rattled his glass upon the table.
"You were saying, sir"--said Fernand, awaiting with great anxiety the
end of this interrupted remark.
"What was I saying? I forget. This drunken Caderousse has made me lose
the thread of my sentence."
"Drunk, if you like; so much the worse for those who fear wine, for it
is because they have bad thoughts which they are afraid the liquor will
extract from their hearts;" and Caderousse began to sing the two last
lines of a song very popular at the time,--
'Tous les mechants sont beuveurs d'eau; C'est bien prouve par le
* "The wicked are great drinkers of water As the flood
proved once for all."
"You said, sir, you would like to help me, but"--
"Yes; but I added, to help you it would be sufficient that Dantes
did not marry her you love; and the marriage may easily be thwarted,
methinks, and yet Dantes need not die."
"Death alone can separate them," remarked Fernand.
"You talk like a noodle, my friend," said Caderousse; "and here is
Danglars, who is a wide-awake, clever, deep fellow, who will prove to
you that you are wrong. Prove it, Danglars. I have answered for you. Say
there is no need why Dantes should die; it would, indeed, be a pity he
should. Dantes is a good fellow; I like Dantes. Dantes, your health."
Fernand rose impatiently. "Let him run on," said Danglars, restraining
the young man; "drunk as he is, he is not much out in what he says.
Absence severs as well as death, and if the walls of a prison were
between Edmond and Mercedes they would be as effectually separated as if
he lay under a tombstone."
"Yes; but one gets out of prison," said Caderousse, who, with what sense
was left him, listened eagerly to the conversation, "and when one gets
out and one's name is Edmond Dantes, one seeks revenge"--
"What matters that?" muttered Fernand.
"And why, I should like to know," persisted Caderousse, "should they put
Dantes in prison? he has not robbed or killed or murdered."
"Hold your tongue!" said Danglars.
"I won't hold my tongue!" replied Caderousse; "I say I want to know why
they should put Dantes in prison; I like Dantes; Dantes, your health!"
and he swallowed another glass of wine.
Danglars saw in the muddled look of the tailor the progress of his
intoxication, and turning towards Fernand, said, "Well, you understand
there is no need to kill him."
"Certainly not, if, as you said just now, you have the means of having
Dantes arrested. Have you that means?"
"It is to be found for the searching. But why should I meddle in the
matter? it is no affair of mine."
"I know not why you meddle," said Fernand, seizing his arm; "but this I
know, you have some motive of personal hatred against Dantes, for he who
himself hates is never mistaken in the sentiments of others."
"I!--motives of hatred against Dantes? None, on my word! I saw you were
unhappy, and your unhappiness interested me; that's all; but since you
believe I act for my own account, adieu, my dear friend, get out of the
affair as best you may;" and Danglars rose as if he meant to depart.
"No, no," said Fernand, restraining him, "stay! It is of very little
consequence to me at the end of the matter whether you have any angry
feeling or not against Dantes. I hate him! I confess it openly. Do you
find the means, I will execute it, provided it is not to kill the man,
for Mercedes has declared she will kill herself if Dantes is killed."
Caderousse, who had let his head drop on the table, now raised it, and
looking at Fernand with his dull and fishy eyes, he said,--"Kill Dantes!
who talks of killing Dantes? I won't have him killed--I won't! He's my
friend, and this morning offered to share his money with me, as I shared
mine with him. I won't have Dantes killed--I won't!"
"And who has said a word about killing him, muddlehead?" replied
Danglars. "We were merely joking; drink to his health," he added,
filling Caderousse's glass, "and do not interfere with us."
"Yes, yes, Dantes' good health!" said Caderousse, emptying his glass,
"here's to his health! his health--hurrah!"
"But the means--the means?" said Fernand.
"Have you not hit upon any?" asked Danglars.
"No!--you undertook to do so."
"True," replied Danglars; "the French have the superiority over the
Spaniards, that the Spaniards ruminate, while the French invent."
"Do you invent, then," said Fernand impatiently.
"Waiter," said Danglars, "pen, ink, and paper."
"Pen, ink, and paper," muttered Fernand.
"Yes; I am a supercargo; pen, ink, and paper are my tools, and without
my tools I am fit for nothing."
"Pen, ink, and paper, then," called Fernand loudly.
"There's what you want on that table," said the waiter.
"Bring them here." The waiter did as he was desired.
"When one thinks," said Caderousse, letting his hand drop on the paper,
"there is here wherewithal to kill a man more sure than if we waited at
the corner of a wood to assassinate him! I have always had more dread
of a pen, a bottle of ink, and a sheet of paper, than of a sword or
"The fellow is not so drunk as he appears to be," said Danglars. "Give
him some more wine, Fernand." Fernand filled Caderousse's glass, who,
like the confirmed toper he was, lifted his hand from the paper and
seized the glass.
The Catalan watched him until Caderousse, almost overcome by this fresh
assault on his senses, rested, or rather dropped, his glass upon the
"Well!" resumed the Catalan, as he saw the final glimmer of Caderousse's
reason vanishing before the last glass of wine.
"Well, then, I should say, for instance," resumed Danglars, "that if
after a voyage such as Dantes has just made, in which he touched at the
Island of Elba, some one were to denounce him to the king's procureur as
a Bonapartist agent"--
"I will denounce him!" exclaimed the young man hastily.
"Yes, but they will make you then sign your declaration, and confront
you with him you have denounced; I will supply you with the means of
supporting your accusation, for I know the fact well. But Dantes cannot
remain forever in prison, and one day or other he will leave it, and
the day when he comes out, woe betide him who was the cause of his
"Oh, I should wish nothing better than that he would come and seek a
quarrel with me."
"Yes, and Mercedes! Mercedes, who will detest you if you have only the
misfortune to scratch the skin of her dearly beloved Edmond!"
"True!" said Fernand.
"No, no," continued Danglars; "if we resolve on such a step, it would
be much better to take, as I now do, this pen, dip it into this ink, and
write with the left hand (that the writing may not be recognized) the
denunciation we propose." And Danglars, uniting practice with theory,
wrote with his left hand, and in a writing reversed from his usual
style, and totally unlike it, the following lines, which he handed to
Fernand, and which Fernand read in an undertone:--
"The honorable, the king's attorney, is informed by a friend of the
throne and religion, that one Edmond Dantes, mate of the ship Pharaon,
arrived this morning from Smyrna, after having touched at Naples
and Porto-Ferrajo, has been intrusted by Murat with a letter for the
usurper, and by the usurper with a letter for the Bonapartist committee
in Paris. Proof of this crime will be found on arresting him, for the
letter will be found upon him, or at his father's, or in his cabin on
board the Pharaon."
"Very good," resumed Danglars; "now your revenge looks like
common-sense, for in no way can it revert to yourself, and the matter
will thus work its own way; there is nothing to do now but fold the
letter as I am doing, and write upon it, 'To the king's attorney,' and
that's all settled." And Danglars wrote the address as he spoke.
"Yes, and that's all settled!" exclaimed Caderousse, who, by a last
effort of intellect, had followed the reading of the letter, and
instinctively comprehended all the misery which such a denunciation
must entail. "Yes, and that's all settled; only it will be an infamous
shame;" and he stretched out his hand to reach the letter.
"Yes," said Danglars, taking it from beyond his reach; "and as what I
say and do is merely in jest, and I, amongst the first and foremost,
should be sorry if anything happened to Dantes--the worthy Dantes--look
here!" And taking the letter, he squeezed it up in his hands and threw
it into a corner of the arbor.
"All right!" said Caderousse. "Dantes is my friend, and I won't have him
"And who thinks of using him ill? Certainly neither I nor Fernand,"
said Danglars, rising and looking at the young man, who still remained
seated, but whose eye was fixed on the denunciatory sheet of paper flung
into the corner.
"In this case," replied Caderousse, "let's have some more wine. I wish
to drink to the health of Edmond and the lovely Mercedes."
"You have had too much already, drunkard," said Danglars; "and if you
continue, you will be compelled to sleep here, because unable to stand
on your legs."
"I?" said Caderousse, rising with all the offended dignity of a drunken
man, "I can't keep on my legs? Why, I'll wager I can go up into the
belfry of the Accoules, and without staggering, too!"
"Done!" said Danglars, "I'll take your bet; but to-morrow--to-day it is
time to return. Give me your arm, and let us go."
"Very well, let us go," said Caderousse; "but I don't want your arm at
all. Come, Fernand, won't you return to Marseilles with us?"
"No," said Fernand; "I shall return to the Catalans."
"You're wrong. Come with us to Marseilles--come along."
"I will not."
"What do you mean? you will not? Well, just as you like, my prince;
there's liberty for all the world. Come along, Danglars, and let the
young gentleman return to the Catalans if he chooses."
Danglars took advantage of Caderousse's temper at the moment, to take
him off towards Marseilles by the Porte Saint-Victor, staggering as he
When they had advanced about twenty yards, Danglars looked back and
saw Fernand stoop, pick up the crumpled paper, and putting it into his
pocket then rush out of the arbor towards Pillon.
"Well," said Caderousse, "why, what a lie he told! He said he was going
to the Catalans, and he is going to the city. Hallo, Fernand!"
"Oh, you don't see straight," said Danglars; "he's gone right enough."
"Well," said Caderousse, "I should have said not--how treacherous wine
"Come, come," said Danglars to himself, "now the thing is at work and it
will effect its purpose unassisted."
Chapter 5. The Marriage-Feast.
The morning's sun rose clear and resplendent, touching the foamy waves
into a network of ruby-tinted light.
The feast had been made ready on the second floor at La Reserve, with
whose arbor the reader is already familiar. The apartment destined for
the purpose was spacious and lighted by a number of windows, over each
of which was written in golden letters for some inexplicable reason the
name of one of the principal cities of France; beneath these windows a
wooden balcony extended the entire length of the house. And although
the entertainment was fixed for twelve o'clock, an hour previous to
that time the balcony was filled with impatient and expectant guests,
consisting of the favored part of the crew of the Pharaon, and other
personal friends of the bride-groom, the whole of whom had arrayed
themselves in their choicest costumes, in order to do greater honor to
Various rumors were afloat to the effect that the owners of the Pharaon
had promised to attend the nuptial feast; but all seemed unanimous in
doubting that an act of such rare and exceeding condescension could
possibly be intended.
Danglars, however, who now made his appearance, accompanied by
Caderousse, effectually confirmed the report, stating that he had
recently conversed with M. Morrel, who had himself assured him of his
intention to dine at La Reserve.
In fact, a moment later M. Morrel appeared and was saluted with an
enthusiastic burst of applause from the crew of the Pharaon, who hailed
the visit of the shipowner as a sure indication that the man whose
wedding feast he thus delighted to honor would ere long be first in
command of the ship; and as Dantes was universally beloved on board his
vessel, the sailors put no restraint on their tumultuous joy at finding
that the opinion and choice of their superiors so exactly coincided with
With the entrance of M. Morrel, Danglars and Caderousse were despatched
in search of the bride-groom to convey to him the intelligence of the
arrival of the important personage whose coming had created such a
lively sensation, and to beseech him to make haste.
Danglars and Caderousse set off upon their errand at full speed; but ere
they had gone many steps they perceived a group advancing towards them,
composed of the betrothed pair, a party of young girls in attendance on
the bride, by whose side walked Dantes' father; the whole brought up by
Fernand, whose lips wore their usual sinister smile.
Neither Mercedes nor Edmond observed the strange expression of his
countenance; they were so happy that they were conscious only of the
sunshine and the presence of each other.
Having acquitted themselves of their errand, and exchanged a hearty
shake of the hand with Edmond, Danglars and Caderousse took their places
beside Fernand and old Dantes,--the latter of whom attracted universal
notice. The old man was attired in a suit of glistening watered silk,
trimmed with steel buttons, beautifully cut and polished. His thin
but wiry legs were arrayed in a pair of richly embroidered clocked
stockings, evidently of English manufacture, while from his
three-cornered hat depended a long streaming knot of white and blue
ribbons. Thus he came along, supporting himself on a curiously carved
stick, his aged countenance lit up with happiness, looking for all the
world like one of the aged dandies of 1796, parading the newly opened
gardens of the Tuileries and Luxembourg. Beside him glided Caderousse,
whose desire to partake of the good things provided for the
wedding-party had induced him to become reconciled to the Dantes, father
and son, although there still lingered in his mind a faint and unperfect
recollection of the events of the preceding night; just as the brain
retains on waking in the morning the dim and misty outline of a dream.
As Danglars approached the disappointed lover, he cast on him a look of
deep meaning, while Fernand, as he slowly paced behind the happy pair,
who seemed, in their own unmixed content, to have entirely forgotten
that such a being as himself existed, was pale and abstracted;
occasionally, however, a deep flush would overspread his countenance,
and a nervous contraction distort his features, while, with an agitated
and restless gaze, he would glance in the direction of Marseilles, like
one who either anticipated or foresaw some great and important event.
Dantes himself was simply, but becomingly, clad in the dress peculiar to
the merchant service--a costume somewhat between a military and a civil
garb; and with his fine countenance, radiant with joy and happiness, a
more perfect specimen of manly beauty could scarcely be imagined.
Lovely as the Greek girls of Cyprus or Chios, Mercedes boasted the same
bright flashing eyes of jet, and ripe, round, coral lips. She moved
with the light, free step of an Arlesienne or an Andalusian. One more
practiced in the arts of great cities would have hid her blushes beneath
a veil, or, at least, have cast down her thickly fringed lashes, so as
to have concealed the liquid lustre of her animated eyes; but, on the
contrary, the delighted girl looked around her with a smile that seemed
to say: "If you are my friends, rejoice with me, for I am very happy."
As soon as the bridal party came in sight of La Reserve, M. Morrel
descended and came forth to meet it, followed by the soldiers and
sailors there assembled, to whom he had repeated the promise already
given, that Dantes should be the successor to the late Captain Leclere.
Edmond, at the approach of his patron, respectfully placed the arm of
his affianced bride within that of M. Morrel, who, forthwith conducting
her up the flight of wooden steps leading to the chamber in which the
feast was prepared, was gayly followed by the guests, beneath whose
heavy tread the slight structure creaked and groaned for the space of
"Father," said Mercedes, stopping when she had reached the centre of the
table, "sit, I pray you, on my right hand; on my left I will place him
who has ever been as a brother to me," pointing with a soft and gentle
smile to Fernand; but her words and look seemed to inflict the direst
torture on him, for his lips became ghastly pale, and even beneath the
dark hue of his complexion the blood might be seen retreating as though
some sudden pang drove it back to the heart.
During this time, Dantes, at the opposite side of the table, had been
occupied in similarly placing his most honored guests. M. Morrel was
seated at his right hand, Danglars at his left; while, at a sign from
Edmond, the rest of the company ranged themselves as they found it most
Then they began to pass around the dusky, piquant, Arlesian sausages,
and lobsters in their dazzling red cuirasses, prawns of large size and
brilliant color, the echinus with its prickly outside and dainty morsel
within, the clovis, esteemed by the epicures of the South as more than
rivalling the exquisite flavor of the oyster,--all the delicacies, in
fact, that are cast up by the wash of waters on the sandy beach, and
styled by the grateful fishermen "fruits of the sea."
"A pretty silence truly!" said the old father of the bride-groom, as
he carried to his lips a glass of wine of the hue and brightness of the
topaz, and which had just been placed before Mercedes herself. "Now,
would anybody think that this room contained a happy, merry party, who
desire nothing better than to laugh and dance the hours away?"
"Ah," sighed Caderousse, "a man cannot always feel happy because he is
about to be married."
"The truth is," replied Dantes, "that I am too happy for noisy mirth;
if that is what you meant by your observation, my worthy friend, you
are right; joy takes a strange effect at times, it seems to oppress us
almost the same as sorrow."
Danglars looked towards Fernand, whose excitable nature received and
betrayed each fresh impression.
"Why, what ails you?" asked he of Edmond. "Do you fear any approaching
evil? I should say that you were the happiest man alive at this
"And that is the very thing that alarms me," returned Dantes. "Man does
not appear to me to be intended to enjoy felicity so unmixed; happiness
is like the enchanted palaces we read of in our childhood, where fierce,
fiery dragons defend the entrance and approach; and monsters of all
shapes and kinds, requiring to be overcome ere victory is ours. I own
that I am lost in wonder to find myself promoted to an honor of which I
feel myself unworthy--that of being the husband of Mercedes."
"Nay, nay!" cried Caderousse, smiling, "you have not attained that honor
yet. Mercedes is not yet your wife. Just assume the tone and manner of
a husband, and see how she will remind you that your hour is not yet
The bride blushed, while Fernand, restless and uneasy, seemed to start
at every fresh sound, and from time to time wiped away the large drops
of perspiration that gathered on his brow.
"Well, never mind that, neighbor Caderousse; it is not worth while to
contradict me for such a trifle as that. 'Tis true that Mercedes is not
actually my wife; but," added he, drawing out his watch, "in an hour and
a half she will be."
A general exclamation of surprise ran round the table, with the
exception of the elder Dantes, whose laugh displayed the still perfect
beauty of his large white teeth. Mercedes looked pleased and gratified,
while Fernand grasped the handle of his knife with a convulsive clutch.
"In an hour?" inquired Danglars, turning pale. "How is that, my friend?"
"Why, thus it is," replied Dantes. "Thanks to the influence of M.
Morrel, to whom, next to my father, I owe every blessing I enjoy, every
difficulty his been removed. We have purchased permission to waive the
usual delay; and at half-past two o'clock the mayor of Marseilles will
be waiting for us at the city hall. Now, as a quarter-past one has
already struck, I do not consider I have asserted too much in saying,
that, in another hour and thirty minutes Mercedes will have become
Fernand closed his eyes, a burning sensation passed across his brow, and
he was compelled to support himself by the table to prevent his falling
from his chair; but in spite of all his efforts, he could not refrain
from uttering a deep groan, which, however, was lost amid the noisy
felicitations of the company.
"Upon my word," cried the old man, "you make short work of this kind of
affair. Arrived here only yesterday morning, and married to-day at three
o'clock! Commend me to a sailor for going the quick way to work!"
"But," asked Danglars, in a timid tone, "how did you manage about the
other formalities--the contract--the settlement?"
"The contract," answered Dantes, laughingly, "it didn't take long to
fix that. Mercedes has no fortune; I have none to settle on her. So, you
see, our papers were quickly written out, and certainly do not come very
expensive." This joke elicited a fresh burst of applause.
"So that what we presumed to be merely the betrothal feast turns out to
be the actual wedding dinner!" said Danglars.
"No, no," answered Dantes; "don't imagine I am going to put you off in
that shabby manner. To-morrow morning I start for Paris; four days to
go, and the same to return, with one day to discharge the commission
intrusted to me, is all the time I shall be absent. I shall be back here
by the first of March, and on the second I give my real marriage feast."
This prospect of fresh festivity redoubled the hilarity of the guests
to such a degree, that the elder Dantes, who, at the commencement of
the repast, had commented upon the silence that prevailed, now found
it difficult, amid the general din of voices, to obtain a moment's
tranquillity in which to drink to the health and prosperity of the bride
Dantes, perceiving the affectionate eagerness of his father, responded
by a look of grateful pleasure; while Mercedes glanced at the clock and
made an expressive gesture to Edmond.
Around the table reigned that noisy hilarity which usually prevails at
such a time among people sufficiently free from the demands of
social position not to feel the trammels of etiquette. Such as at
the commencement of the repast had not been able to seat themselves
according to their inclination rose unceremoniously, and sought out more
agreeable companions. Everybody talked at once, without waiting for a
reply and each one seemed to be contented with expressing his or her own
Fernand's paleness appeared to have communicated itself to Danglars.
As for Fernand himself, he seemed to be enduring the tortures of the
damned; unable to rest, he was among the first to quit the table,
and, as though seeking to avoid the hilarious mirth that rose in such
deafening sounds, he continued, in utter silence, to pace the farther
end of the salon.
Caderousse approached him just as Danglars, whom Fernand seemed most
anxious to avoid, had joined him in a corner of the room.
"Upon my word," said Caderousse, from whose mind the friendly treatment
of Dantes, united with the effect of the excellent wine he had partaken
of, had effaced every feeling of envy or jealousy at Dantes' good
fortune,--"upon my word, Dantes is a downright good fellow, and when I
see him sitting there beside his pretty wife that is so soon to be. I
cannot help thinking it would have been a great pity to have served him
that trick you were planning yesterday."
"Oh, there was no harm meant," answered Danglars; "at first I certainly
did feel somewhat uneasy as to what Fernand might be tempted to do; but
when I saw how completely he had mastered his feelings, even so far as
to become one of his rival's attendants, I knew there was no further
cause for apprehension." Caderousse looked full at Fernand--he was
"Certainly," continued Danglars, "the sacrifice was no trifling one,
when the beauty of the bride is concerned. Upon my soul, that future
captain of mine is a lucky dog! Gad, I only wish he would let me take
"Shall we not set forth?" asked the sweet, silvery voice of Mercedes;
"two o'clock has just struck, and you know we are expected in a quarter
of an hour."
"To be sure!--to be sure!" cried Dantes, eagerly quitting the table;
"let us go directly!"
His words were re-echoed by the whole party, with vociferous cheers.
At this moment Danglars, who had been incessantly observing every change
in Fernand's look and manner, saw him stagger and fall back, with an
almost convulsive spasm, against a seat placed near one of the open
windows. At the same instant his ear caught a sort of indistinct sound
on the stairs, followed by the measured tread of soldiery, with the
clanking of swords and military accoutrements; then came a hum and buzz
as of many voices, so as to deaden even the noisy mirth of the bridal
party, among whom a vague feeling of curiosity and apprehension quelled
every disposition to talk, and almost instantaneously the most deathlike
The sounds drew nearer. Three blows were struck upon the panel of the
door. The company looked at each other in consternation.
"I demand admittance," said a loud voice outside the room, "in the name
of the law!" As no attempt was made to prevent it, the door was opened,
and a magistrate, wearing his official scarf, presented himself,
followed by four soldiers and a corporal. Uneasiness now yielded to the
most extreme dread on the part of those present.
"May I venture to inquire the reason of this unexpected visit?" said
M. Morrel, addressing the magistrate, whom he evidently knew; "there is
doubtless some mistake easily explained."
"If it be so," replied the magistrate, "rely upon every reparation being
made; meanwhile, I am the bearer of an order of arrest, and although I
most reluctantly perform the task assigned me, it must, nevertheless, be
fulfilled. Who among the persons here assembled answers to the name of
Edmond Dantes?" Every eye was turned towards the young man who, spite of
the agitation he could not but feel, advanced with dignity, and said, in
a firm voice, "I am he; what is your pleasure with me?"
"Edmond Dantes," replied the magistrate, "I arrest you in the name of
"Me!" repeated Edmond, slightly changing color, "and wherefore, I pray?"
"I cannot inform you, but you will be duly acquainted with the
reasons that have rendered such a step necessary at the preliminary
M. Morrel felt that further resistance or remonstrance was useless. He
saw before him an officer delegated to enforce the law, and perfectly
well knew that it would be as unavailing to seek pity from a magistrate
decked with his official scarf, as to address a petition to some cold
marble effigy. Old Dantes, however, sprang forward. There are situations
which the heart of a father or a mother cannot be made to understand.
He prayed and supplicated in terms so moving, that even the officer
was touched, and, although firm in his duty, he kindly said, "My worthy
friend, let me beg of you to calm your apprehensions. Your son has
probably neglected some prescribed form or attention in registering his
cargo, and it is more than probable he will be set at liberty directly
he has given the information required, whether touching the health of
his crew, or the value of his freight."
"What is the meaning of all this?" inquired Caderousse, frowningly, of
Danglars, who had assumed an air of utter surprise.
"How can I tell you?" replied he; "I am, like yourself, utterly
bewildered at all that is going on, and cannot in the least make out
what it is about." Caderousse then looked around for Fernand, but he had
The scene of the previous night now came back to his mind with startling
clearness. The painful catastrophe he had just witnessed appeared
effectually to have rent away the veil which the intoxication of the
evening before had raised between himself and his memory.
"So, so," said he, in a hoarse and choking voice, to Danglars, "this,
then, I suppose, is a part of the trick you were concerting yesterday?
All I can say is, that if it be so, 'tis an ill turn, and well deserves
to bring double evil on those who have projected it."
"Nonsense," returned Danglars, "I tell you again I have nothing whatever
to do with it; besides, you know very well that I tore the paper to
"No, you did not!" answered Caderousse, "you merely threw it by--I saw
it lying in a corner."
"Hold your tongue, you fool!--what should you know about it?--why, you
"Where is Fernand?" inquired Caderousse.
"How do I know?" replied Danglars; "gone, as every prudent man ought to
be, to look after his own affairs, most likely. Never mind where he is,
let you and I go and see what is to be done for our poor friends."
During this conversation, Dantes, after having exchanged a cheerful
shake of the hand with all his sympathizing friends, had surrendered
himself to the officer sent to arrest him, merely saying, "Make
yourselves quite easy, my good fellows, there is some little mistake to
clear up, that's all, depend upon it; and very likely I may not have to
go so far as the prison to effect that."
"Oh, to be sure!" responded Danglars, who had now approached the group,
"nothing more than a mistake, I feel quite certain."
Dantes descended the staircase, preceded by the magistrate, and followed
by the soldiers. A carriage awaited him at the door; he got in, followed
by two soldiers and the magistrate, and the vehicle drove off towards
"Adieu, adieu, dearest Edmond!" cried Mercedes, stretching out her arms
to him from the balcony.
The prisoner heard the cry, which sounded like the sob of a broken
heart, and leaning from the coach he called out, "Good-by, Mercedes--we
shall soon meet again!" Then the vehicle disappeared round one of the
turnings of Fort Saint Nicholas.
"Wait for me here, all of you!" cried M. Morrel; "I will take the first
conveyance I find, and hurry to Marseilles, whence I will bring you word
how all is going on."
"That's right!" exclaimed a multitude of voices, "go, and return as
quickly as you can!"
This second departure was followed by a long and fearful state of
terrified silence on the part of those who were left behind. The old
father and Mercedes remained for some time apart, each absorbed in
grief; but at length the two poor victims of the same blow raised their
eyes, and with a simultaneous burst of feeling rushed into each other's
Meanwhile Fernand made his appearance, poured out for himself a glass
of water with a trembling hand; then hastily swallowing it, went to sit
down at the first vacant place, and this was, by mere chance, placed
next to the seat on which poor Mercedes had fallen half fainting,
when released from the warm and affectionate embrace of old Dantes.
Instinctively Fernand drew back his chair.
"He is the cause of all this misery--I am quite sure of it," whispered
Caderousse, who had never taken his eyes off Fernand, to Danglars.
"I don't think so," answered the other; "he's too stupid to imagine such
a scheme. I only hope the mischief will fall upon the head of whoever
"You don't mention those who aided and abetted the deed," said
"Surely," answered Danglars, "one cannot be held responsible for every
chance arrow shot into the air."
"You can, indeed, when the arrow lights point downward on somebody's
Meantime the subject of the arrest was being canvassed in every
"What think you, Danglars," said one of the party, turning towards him,
"of this event?"
"Why," replied he, "I think it just possible Dantes may have been
detected with some trifling article on board ship considered here as
"But how could he have done so without your knowledge, Danglars, since
you are the ship's supercargo?"
"Why, as for that, I could only know what I was told respecting the
merchandise with which the vessel was laden. I know she was loaded with
cotton, and that she took in her freight at Alexandria from Pastret's
warehouse, and at Smyrna from Pascal's; that is all I was obliged to
know, and I beg I may not be asked for any further particulars."
"Now I recollect," said the afflicted old father; "my poor boy told me
yesterday he had got a small case of coffee, and another of tobacco for
"There, you see," exclaimed Danglars. "Now the mischief is out; depend
upon it the custom-house people went rummaging about the ship in our
absence, and discovered poor Dantes' hidden treasures."
Mercedes, however, paid no heed to this explanation of her lover's
arrest. Her grief, which she had hitherto tried to restrain, now burst
out in a violent fit of hysterical sobbing.
"Come, come," said the old man, "be comforted, my poor child; there is
"Hope!" repeated Danglars.
"Hope!" faintly murmured Fernand, but the word seemed to die away on his
pale agitated lips, and a convulsive spasm passed over his countenance.
"Good news! good news!" shouted forth one of the party stationed in the
balcony on the lookout. "Here comes M. Morrel back. No doubt, now, we
shall hear that our friend is released!"
Mercedes and the old man rushed to meet the shipowner and greeted him at
the door. He was very pale.
"What news?" exclaimed a general burst of voices.
"Alas, my friends," replied M. Morrel, with a mournful shake of his
head, "the thing has assumed a more serious aspect than I expected."
"Oh, indeed--indeed, sir, he is innocent!" sobbed forth Mercedes.
"That I believe!" answered M. Morrel; "but still he is charged"--
"With what?" inquired the elder Dantes.
"With being an agent of the Bonapartist faction!" Many of our readers
may be able to recollect how formidable such an accusation became in the
period at which our story is dated.
A despairing cry escaped the pale lips of Mercedes; the old man sank
into a chair.
"Ah, Danglars!" whispered Caderousse, "you have deceived me--the trick
you spoke of last night has been played; but I cannot suffer a poor
old man or an innocent girl to die of grief through your fault. I am
determined to tell them all about it."
"Be silent, you simpleton!" cried Danglars, grasping him by the arm, "or
I will not answer even for your own safety. Who can tell whether Dantes
be innocent or guilty? The vessel did touch at Elba, where he quitted
it, and passed a whole day in the island. Now, should any letters or
other documents of a compromising character be found upon him, will it
not be taken for granted that all who uphold him are his accomplices?"
With the rapid instinct of selfishness, Caderousse readily perceived the
solidity of this mode of reasoning; he gazed, doubtfully, wistfully, on
Danglars, and then caution supplanted generosity.
"Suppose we wait a while, and see what comes of it," said he, casting a
bewildered look on his companion.
"To be sure!" answered Danglars. "Let us wait, by all means. If he be
innocent, of course he will be set at liberty; if guilty, why, it is no
use involving ourselves in a conspiracy."
"Let us go, then. I cannot stay here any longer."
"With all my heart!" replied Danglars, pleased to find the other so
tractable. "Let us take ourselves out of the way, and leave things for
the present to take their course."
After their departure, Fernand, who had now again become the friend and
protector of Mercedes, led the girl to her home, while the friends of
Dantes conducted the now half-fainting man back to his abode.
The rumor of Edmond's arrest as a Bonapartist agent was not slow in
circulating throughout the city.
"Could you ever have credited such a thing, my dear Danglars?" asked M.
Morrel, as, on his return to the port for the purpose of gleaning fresh
tidings of Dantes, from M. de Villefort, the assistant procureur, he
overtook his supercargo and Caderousse. "Could you have believed such a
"Why, you know I told you," replied Danglars, "that I considered the
circumstance of his having anchored at the Island of Elba as a very
"And did you mention these suspicions to any person beside myself?"
"Certainly not!" returned Danglars. Then added in a low whisper, "You
understand that, on account of your uncle, M. Policar Morrel, who served
under the other government, and who does not altogether conceal what
he thinks on the subject, you are strongly suspected of regretting the
abdication of Napoleon. I should have feared to injure both Edmond and
yourself, had I divulged my own apprehensions to a soul. I am too well
aware that though a subordinate, like myself, is bound to acquaint the
shipowner with everything that occurs, there are many things he ought
most carefully to conceal from all else."
"'Tis well, Danglars--'tis well!" replied M. Morrel. "You are a worthy
fellow; and I had already thought of your interests in the event of poor
Edmond having become captain of the Pharaon."
"Is it possible you were so kind?"
"Yes, indeed; I had previously inquired of Dantes what was his opinion
of you, and if he should have any reluctance to continue you in your
post, for somehow I have perceived a sort of coolness between you."
"And what was his reply?"
"That he certainly did think he had given you offence in an affair
which he merely referred to without entering into particulars, but that
whoever possessed the good opinion and confidence of the ship's owner
would have his preference also."
"The hypocrite!" murmured Danglars.
"Poor Dantes!" said Caderousse. "No one can deny his being a
noble-hearted young fellow."
"But meanwhile," continued M. Morrel, "here is the Pharaon without a
"Oh," replied Danglars, "since we cannot leave this port for the next
three months, let us hope that ere the expiration of that period Dantes
will be set at liberty."
"No doubt; but in the meantime?"
"I am entirely at your service, M. Morrel," answered Danglars. "You know
that I am as capable of managing a ship as the most experienced captain
in the service; and it will be so far advantageous to you to accept my
services, that upon Edmond's release from prison no further change will
be requisite on board the Pharaon than for Dantes and myself each to
resume our respective posts."
"Thanks, Danglars--that will smooth over all difficulties. I fully
authorize you at once to assume the command of the Pharaon, and look
carefully to the unloading of her freight. Private misfortunes must
never be allowed to interfere with business."
"Be easy on that score, M. Morrel; but do you think we shall be
permitted to see our poor Edmond?"
"I will let you know that directly I have seen M. de Villefort, whom I
shall endeavor to interest in Edmond's favor. I am aware he is a furious
royalist; but, in spite of that, and of his being king's attorney, he is
a man like ourselves, and I fancy not a bad sort of one."
"Perhaps not," replied Danglars; "but I hear that he is ambitious, and
that's rather against him."
"Well, well," returned M. Morrel, "we shall see. But now hasten on
board, I will join you there ere long." So saying, the worthy shipowner
quitted the two allies, and proceeded in the direction of the Palais de
"You see," said Danglars, addressing Caderousse, "the turn things have
taken. Do you still feel any desire to stand up in his defence?"
"Not the slightest, but yet it seems to me a shocking thing that a mere
joke should lead to such consequences."
"But who perpetrated that joke, let me ask? neither you nor myself, but
Fernand; you knew very well that I threw the paper into a corner of the
room--indeed, I fancied I had destroyed it."
"Oh, no," replied Caderousse, "that I can answer for, you did not. I
only wish I could see it now as plainly as I saw it lying all crushed
and crumpled in a corner of the arbor."
"Well, then, if you did, depend upon it, Fernand picked it up, and
either copied it or caused it to be copied; perhaps, even, he did not
take the trouble of recopying it. And now I think of it, by Heavens, he
may have sent the letter itself! Fortunately, for me, the handwriting
"Then you were aware of Dantes being engaged in a conspiracy?"
"Not I. As I before said, I thought the whole thing was a joke, nothing
more. It seems, however, that I have unconsciously stumbled upon the
"Still," argued Caderousse, "I would give a great deal if nothing of the
kind had happened; or, at least, that I had had no hand in it. You will
see, Danglars, that it will turn out an unlucky job for both of us."
"Nonsense! If any harm come of it, it should fall on the guilty person;
and that, you know, is Fernand. How can we be implicated in any way?
All we have got to do is, to keep our own counsel, and remain perfectly
quiet, not breathing a word to any living soul; and you will see that
the storm will pass away without in the least affecting us."
"Amen!" responded Caderousse, waving his hand in token of adieu to
Danglars, and bending his steps towards the Allees de Meillan, moving
his head to and fro, and muttering as he went, after the manner of one
whose mind was overcharged with one absorbing idea.
"So far, then," said Danglars, mentally, "all has gone as I would have
it. I am, temporarily, commander of the Pharaon, with the certainty of
being permanently so, if that fool of a Caderousse can be persuaded to
hold his tongue. My only fear is the chance of Dantes being released.
But, there, he is in the hands of Justice; and," added he with a smile,
"she will take her own." So saying, he leaped into a boat, desiring to
be rowed on board the Pharaon, where M. Morrel had agreed to meet him.
Chapter 6. The Deputy Procureur du Roi.
In one of the aristocratic mansions built by Puget in the Rue du Grand
Cours opposite the Medusa fountain, a second marriage feast was being
celebrated, almost at the same hour with the nuptial repast given
by Dantes. In this case, however, although the occasion of the
entertainment was similar, the company was strikingly dissimilar.
Instead of a rude mixture of sailors, soldiers, and those belonging to
the humblest grade of life, the present assembly was composed of the
very flower of Marseilles society,--magistrates who had resigned their
office during the usurper's reign; officers who had deserted from the
imperial army and joined forces with Conde; and younger members of
families, brought up to hate and execrate the man whom five years of
exile would convert into a martyr, and fifteen of restoration elevate to
the rank of a god.
The guests were still at table, and the heated and energetic
conversation that prevailed betrayed the violent and vindictive passions
that then agitated each dweller of the South, where unhappily, for five
centuries religious strife had long given increased bitterness to the
violence of party feeling.
The emperor, now king of the petty Island of Elba, after having held
sovereign sway over one-half of the world, counting as his subjects
a small population of five or six thousand souls,--after having been
accustomed to hear the "Vive Napoleons" of a hundred and twenty millions
of human beings, uttered in ten different languages,--was looked upon
here as a ruined man, separated forever from any fresh connection with
France or claim to her throne.
The magistrates freely discussed their political views; the military
part of the company talked unreservedly of Moscow and Leipsic, while
the women commented on the divorce of Josephine. It was not over the
downfall of the man, but over the defeat of the Napoleonic idea, that
they rejoiced, and in this they foresaw for themselves the bright and
cheering prospect of a revivified political existence.
An old man, decorated with the cross of Saint Louis, now rose and
proposed the health of King Louis XVIII. It was the Marquis de
Saint-Meran. This toast, recalling at once the patient exile of Hartwell
and the peace-loving King of France, excited universal enthusiasm;
glasses were elevated in the air a l'Anglais, and the ladies, snatching
their bouquets from their fair bosoms, strewed the table with their
floral treasures. In a word, an almost poetical fervor prevailed.
"Ah," said the Marquise de Saint-Meran, a woman with a stern, forbidding
eye, though still noble and distinguished in appearance, despite her
fifty years--"ah, these revolutionists, who have driven us from those
very possessions they afterwards purchased for a mere trifle during the
Reign of Terror, would be compelled to own, were they here, that all
true devotion was on our side, since we were content to follow the
fortunes of a falling monarch, while they, on the contrary, made their
fortune by worshipping the rising sun; yes, yes, they could not help
admitting that the king, for whom we sacrificed rank, wealth, and
station was truly our 'Louis the well-beloved,' while their wretched
usurper his been, and ever will be, to them their evil genius, their
'Napoleon the accursed.' Am I not right, Villefort?"
"I beg your pardon, madame. I really must pray you to excuse me, but--in
truth--I was not attending to the conversation."
"Marquise, marquise!" interposed the old nobleman who had proposed the
toast, "let the young people alone; let me tell you, on one's wedding
day there are more agreeable subjects of conversation than dry
"Never mind, dearest mother," said a young and lovely girl, with a
profusion of light brown hair, and eyes that seemed to float in liquid
crystal, "'tis all my fault for seizing upon M. de Villefort, so as to
prevent his listening to what you said. But there--now take him--he is
your own for as long as you like. M. Villefort, I beg to remind you my
mother speaks to you."
"If the marquise will deign to repeat the words I but imperfectly
caught, I shall be delighted to answer," said M. de Villefort.
"Never mind, Renee," replied the marquise, with a look of tenderness
that seemed out of keeping with her harsh dry features; but, however all
other feelings may be withered in a woman's nature, there is always one
bright smiling spot in the desert of her heart, and that is the shrine
of maternal love. "I forgive you. What I was saying, Villefort, was,
that the Bonapartists had not our sincerity, enthusiasm, or devotion."
"They had, however, what supplied the place of those fine qualities,"
replied the young man, "and that was fanaticism. Napoleon is the
Mahomet of the West, and is worshipped by his commonplace but
ambitions followers, not only as a leader and lawgiver, but also as the
personification of equality."
"He!" cried the marquise: "Napoleon the type of equality! For mercy's
sake, then, what would you call Robespierre? Come, come, do not strip
the latter of his just rights to bestow them on the Corsican, who, to my
mind, has usurped quite enough."
"Nay, madame; I would place each of these heroes on his right
pedestal--that of Robespierre on his scaffold in the Place Louis Quinze;
that of Napoleon on the column of the Place Vendome. The only difference
consists in the opposite character of the equality advocated by these
two men; one is the equality that elevates, the other is the equality
that degrades; one brings a king within reach of the guillotine, the
other elevates the people to a level with the throne. Observe," said
Villefort, smiling, "I do not mean to deny that both these men were
revolutionary scoundrels, and that the 9th Thermidor and the 4th of
April, in the year 1814, were lucky days for France, worthy of being
gratefully remembered by every friend to monarchy and civil order;
and that explains how it comes to pass that, fallen, as I trust he is
forever, Napoleon has still retained a train of parasitical satellites.
Still, marquise, it has been so with other usurpers--Cromwell, for
instance, who was not half so bad as Napoleon, had his partisans and
"Do you know, Villefort, that you are talking in a most dreadfully
revolutionary strain? But I excuse it, it is impossible to expect the
son of a Girondin to be free from a small spice of the old leaven." A
deep crimson suffused the countenance of Villefort.
"'Tis true, madame," answered he, "that my father was a Girondin, but he
was not among the number of those who voted for the king's death; he
was an equal sufferer with yourself during the Reign of Terror, and
had well-nigh lost his head on the same scaffold on which your father
"True," replied the marquise, without wincing in the slightest degree at
the tragic remembrance thus called up; "but bear in mind, if you please,
that our respective parents underwent persecution and proscription from
diametrically opposite principles; in proof of which I may remark, that
while my family remained among the stanchest adherents of the exiled
princes, your father lost no time in joining the new government; and
that while the Citizen Noirtier was a Girondin, the Count Noirtier
became a senator."
"Dear mother," interposed Renee, "you know very well it was agreed that
all these disagreeable reminiscences should forever be laid aside."
"Suffer me, also, madame," replied Villefort, "to add my earnest request
to Mademoiselle de Saint-Meran's, that you will kindly allow the veil of
oblivion to cover and conceal the past. What avails recrimination over
matters wholly past recall? For my own part, I have laid aside even the
name of my father, and altogether disown his political principles. He
was--nay, probably may still be--a Bonapartist, and is called Noirtier;
I, on the contrary, am a stanch royalist, and style myself de Villefort.
Let what may remain of revolutionary sap exhaust itself and die away
with the old trunk, and condescend only to regard the young shoot which
has started up at a distance from the parent tree, without having the
power, any more than the wish, to separate entirely from the stock from
which it sprung."
"Bravo, Villefort!" cried the marquis; "excellently well said! Come,
now, I have hopes of obtaining what I have been for years endeavoring
to persuade the marquise to promise; namely, a perfect amnesty and
forgetfulness of the past."
"With all my heart," replied the marquise; "let the past be forever
forgotten. I promise you it affords me as little pleasure to revive it
as it does you. All I ask is, that Villefort will be firm and inflexible
for the future in his political principles. Remember, also, Villefort,
that we have pledged ourselves to his majesty for your fealty and strict
loyalty, and that at our recommendation the king consented to forget the
past, as I do" (and here she extended to him her hand)--"as I now do at
your entreaty. But bear in mind, that should there fall in your way any
one guilty of conspiring against the government, you will be so much the
more bound to visit the offence with rigorous punishment, as it is known
you belong to a suspected family."
"Alas, madame," returned Villefort, "my profession, as well as the times
in which we live, compels me to be severe. I have already successfully
conducted several public prosecutions, and brought the offenders to
merited punishment. But we have not done with the thing yet."
"Do you, indeed, think so?" inquired the marquise.
"I am, at least, fearful of it. Napoleon, in the Island of Elba, is
too near France, and his proximity keeps up the hopes of his partisans.
Marseilles is filled with half-pay officers, who are daily, under one
frivolous pretext or other, getting up quarrels with the royalists;
from hence arise continual and fatal duels among the higher classes of
persons, and assassinations in the lower."
"You have heard, perhaps," said the Comte de Salvieux, one of M. de
Saint-Meran's oldest friends, and chamberlain to the Comte d'Artois,
"that the Holy Alliance purpose removing him from thence?"
"Yes; they were talking about it when we left Paris," said M. de
Saint-Meran; "and where is it decided to transfer him?"
"To Saint Helena."
"For heaven's sake, where is that?" asked the marquise.
"An island situated on the other side of the equator, at least two
thousand leagues from here," replied the count.
"So much the better. As Villefort observes, it is a great act of folly
to have left such a man between Corsica, where he was born, and Naples,
of which his brother-in-law is king, and face to face with Italy, the
sovereignty of which he coveted for his son."
"Unfortunately," said Villefort, "there are the treaties of 1814, and we
cannot molest Napoleon without breaking those compacts."
"Oh, well, we shall find some way out of it," responded M. de Salvieux.
"There wasn't any trouble over treaties when it was a question of
shooting the poor Duc d'Enghien."
"Well," said the marquise, "it seems probable that, by the aid of the
Holy Alliance, we shall be rid of Napoleon; and we must trust to the
vigilance of M. de Villefort to purify Marseilles of his partisans. The
king is either a king or no king; if he be acknowledged as sovereign of
France, he should be upheld in peace and tranquillity; and this can best
be effected by employing the most inflexible agents to put down every
attempt at conspiracy--'tis the best and surest means of preventing
"Unfortunately, madame," answered Villefort, "the strong arm of the law
is not called upon to interfere until the evil has taken place."
"Then all he has got to do is to endeavor to repair it."
"Nay, madame, the law is frequently powerless to effect this; all it can
do is to avenge the wrong done."
"Oh, M. de Villefort," cried a beautiful young creature, daughter to
the Comte de Salvieux, and the cherished friend of Mademoiselle de
Saint-Meran, "do try and get up some famous trial while we are at
Marseilles. I never was in a law-court; I am told it is so very
"Amusing, certainly," replied the young man, "inasmuch as, instead of
shedding tears as at the fictitious tale of woe produced at a theatre,
you behold in a law-court a case of real and genuine distress--a drama
of life. The prisoner whom you there see pale, agitated, and alarmed,
instead of--as is the case when a curtain falls on a tragedy--going home
to sup peacefully with his family, and then retiring to rest, that he
may recommence his mimic woes on the morrow,--is removed from your
sight merely to be reconducted to his prison and delivered up to the
executioner. I leave you to judge how far your nerves are calculated to
bear you through such a scene. Of this, however, be assured, that should
any favorable opportunity present itself, I will not fail to offer you
the choice of being present."
"For shame, M. de Villefort!" said Renee, becoming quite pale; "don't
you see how you are frightening us?--and yet you laugh."
"What would you have? 'Tis like a duel. I have already recorded
sentence of death, five or six times, against the movers of political
conspiracies, and who can say how many daggers may be ready sharpened,
and only waiting a favorable opportunity to be buried in my heart?"
"Gracious heavens, M. de Villefort," said Renee, becoming more and more
terrified; "you surely are not in earnest."
"Indeed I am," replied the young magistrate with a smile; "and in the
interesting trial that young lady is anxious to witness, the case would
only be still more aggravated. Suppose, for instance, the prisoner,
as is more than probable, to have served under Napoleon--well, can
you expect for an instant, that one accustomed, at the word of his
commander, to rush fearlessly on the very bayonets of his foe, will
scruple more to drive a stiletto into the heart of one he knows to
be his personal enemy, than to slaughter his fellow-creatures, merely
because bidden to do so by one he is bound to obey? Besides, one
requires the excitement of being hateful in the eyes of the accused, in
order to lash one's self into a state of sufficient vehemence and power.
I would not choose to see the man against whom I pleaded smile, as
though in mockery of my words. No; my pride is to see the accused pale,
agitated, and as though beaten out of all composure by the fire of my
eloquence." Renee uttered a smothered exclamation.
"Bravo!" cried one of the guests; "that is what I call talking to some
"Just the person we require at a time like the present," said a second.
"What a splendid business that last case of yours was, my dear
Villefort!" remarked a third; "I mean the trial of the man for murdering
his father. Upon my word, you killed him ere the executioner had laid
his hand upon him."
"Oh, as for parricides, and such dreadful people as that," interposed
Renee, "it matters very little what is done to them; but as regards
poor unfortunate creatures whose only crime consists in having mixed
themselves up in political intrigues"--
"Why, that is the very worst offence they could possibly commit; for,
don't you see, Renee, the king is the father of his people, and he who
shall plot or contrive aught against the life and safety of the parent
of thirty-two millions of souls, is a parricide upon a fearfully great
"I don't know anything about that," replied Renee; "but, M. de
Villefort, you have promised me--have you not?--always to show mercy to
those I plead for."
"Make yourself quite easy on that point," answered Villefort, with
one of his sweetest smiles; "you and I will always consult upon our
"My love," said the marquise, "attend to your doves, your lap-dogs, and
embroidery, but do not meddle with what you do not understand. Nowadays
the military profession is in abeyance and the magisterial robe is
the badge of honor. There is a wise Latin proverb that is very much in
"Cedant arma togae," said Villefort with a bow.
"I cannot speak Latin," responded the marquise.
"Well," said Renee, "I cannot help regretting you had not chosen some
other profession than your own--a physician, for instance. Do you know I
always felt a shudder at the idea of even a destroying angel?"
"Dear, good Renee," whispered Villefort, as he gazed with unutterable
tenderness on the lovely speaker.
"Let us hope, my child," cried the marquis, "that M. de Villefort may
prove the moral and political physician of this province; if so, he will
have achieved a noble work."
"And one which will go far to efface the recollection of his father's
conduct," added the incorrigible marquise.
"Madame," replied Villefort, with a mournful smile, "I have already had
the honor to observe that my father has--at least, I hope so--abjured
his past errors, and that he is, at the present moment, a firm and
zealous friend to religion and order--a better royalist, possibly, than
his son; for he has to atone for past dereliction, while I have no other
impulse than warm, decided preference and conviction." Having made this
well-turned speech, Villefort looked carefully around to mark the effect
of his oratory, much as he would have done had he been addressing the
bench in open court.
"Do you know, my dear Villefort," cried the Comte de Salvieux, "that
is exactly what I myself said the other day at the Tuileries, when
questioned by his majesty's principal chamberlain touching the
singularity of an alliance between the son of a Girondin and the
daughter of an officer of the Duc de Conde; and I assure you he seemed
fully to comprehend that this mode of reconciling political differences
was based upon sound and excellent principles. Then the king, who,
without our suspecting it, had overheard our conversation, interrupted
us by saying, 'Villefort'--observe that the king did not pronounce the
word Noirtier, but, on the contrary, placed considerable emphasis on
that of Villefort--'Villefort,' said his majesty, 'is a young man of
great judgment and discretion, who will be sure to make a figure in his
profession; I like him much, and it gave me great pleasure to hear that
he was about to become the son-in-law of the Marquis and Marquise de
Saint-Meran. I should myself have recommended the match, had not the
noble marquis anticipated my wishes by requesting my consent to it.'"
"Is it possible the king could have condescended so far as to express
himself so favorably of me?" asked the enraptured Villefort.
"I give you his very words; and if the marquis chooses to be candid,
he will confess that they perfectly agree with what his majesty said to
him, when he went six months ago to consult him upon the subject of your
espousing his daughter."
"That is true," answered the marquis.
"How much do I owe this gracious prince! What is there I would not do to
evince my earnest gratitude!"
"That is right," cried the marquise. "I love to see you thus. Now, then,
were a conspirator to fall into your hands, he would be most welcome."
"For my part, dear mother." interposed Renee, "I trust your wishes will
not prosper, and that Providence will only permit petty offenders,
poor debtors, and miserable cheats to fall into M. de Villefort's
hands,--then I shall be contented."
"Just the same as though you prayed that a physician might only be
called upon to prescribe for headaches, measles, and the stings of
wasps, or any other slight affection of the epidermis. If you wish to
see me the king's attorney, you must desire for me some of those violent
and dangerous diseases from the cure of which so much honor redounds to
At this moment, and as though the utterance of Villefort's wish had
sufficed to effect its accomplishment, a servant entered the room, and
whispered a few words in his ear. Villefort immediately rose from table
and quitted the room upon the plea of urgent business; he soon, however,
returned, his whole face beaming with delight. Renee regarded him with
fond affection; and certainly his handsome features, lit up as they then
were with more than usual fire and animation, seemed formed to excite
the innocent admiration with which she gazed on her graceful and
"You were wishing just now," said Villefort, addressing her, "that
I were a doctor instead of a lawyer. Well, I at least resemble the
disciples of Esculapius in one thing--that of not being able to call a
day my own, not even that of my betrothal."
"And wherefore were you called away just now?" asked Mademoiselle de
Saint-Meran, with an air of deep interest.
"For a very serious matter, which bids fair to make work for the
"How dreadful!" exclaimed Renee, turning pale.
"Is it possible?" burst simultaneously from all who were near enough to
the magistrate to hear his words.
"Why, if my information prove correct, a sort of Bonaparte conspiracy
has just been discovered."
"Can I believe my ears?" cried the marquise.
"I will read you the letter containing the accusation, at least," said
"'The king's attorney is informed by a friend to the throne and the
religions institutions of his country, that one named Edmond Dantes,
mate of the ship Pharaon, this day arrived from Smyrna, after having
touched at Naples and Porto-Ferrajo, has been the bearer of a letter
from Murat to the usurper, and again taken charge of another letter from
the usurper to the Bonapartist club in Paris. Ample corroboration of
this statement may be obtained by arresting the above-mentioned Edmond
Dantes, who either carries the letter for Paris about with him, or has
it at his father's abode. Should it not be found in the possession
of father or son, then it will assuredly be discovered in the cabin
belonging to the said Dantes on board the Pharaon.'"
"But," said Renee, "this letter, which, after all, is but an anonymous
scrawl, is not even addressed to you, but to the king's attorney."
"True; but that gentleman being absent, his secretary, by his orders,
opened his letters; thinking this one of importance, he sent for me,
but not finding me, took upon himself to give the necessary orders for
arresting the accused party."
"Then the guilty person is absolutely in custody?" said the marquise.
"Nay, dear mother, say the accused person. You know we cannot yet
pronounce him guilty."
"He is in safe custody," answered Villefort; "and rely upon it, if
the letter is found, he will not be likely to be trusted abroad again,
unless he goes forth under the especial protection of the headsman."
"And where is the unfortunate being?" asked Renee.
"He is at my house."
"Come, come, my friend," interrupted the marquise, "do not neglect your
duty to linger with us. You are the king's servant, and must go wherever
that service calls you."
"O Villefort!" cried Renee, clasping her hands, and looking towards
her lover with piteous earnestness, "be merciful on this the day of our
The young man passed round to the side of the table where the fair
pleader sat, and leaning over her chair said tenderly,--
"To give you pleasure, my sweet Renee, I promise to show all the lenity
in my power; but if the charges brought against this Bonapartist hero
prove correct, why, then, you really must give me leave to order his
head to be cut off." Renee shuddered.
"Never mind that foolish girl, Villefort," said the marquise. "She will
soon get over these things." So saying, Madame de Saint-Meran extended
her dry bony hand to Villefort, who, while imprinting a son-in-law's
respectful salute on it, looked at Renee, as much as to say, "I must try
and fancy 'tis your dear hand I kiss, as it should have been."
"These are mournful auspices to accompany a betrothal," sighed poor
"Upon my word, child!" exclaimed the angry marquise, "your folly exceeds
all bounds. I should be glad to know what connection there can possibly
be between your sickly sentimentality and the affairs of the state!"
"O mother!" murmured Renee.
"Nay, madame, I pray you pardon this little traitor. I promise you that
to make up for her want of loyalty, I will be most inflexibly severe;"
then casting an expressive glance at his betrothed, which seemed to say,
"Fear not, for your dear sake my justice shall be tempered with mercy,"
and receiving a sweet and approving smile in return, Villefort quitted
Chapter 7. The Examination.
No sooner had Villefort left the salon, than he assumed the grave air
of a man who holds the balance of life and death in his hands. Now, in
spite of the nobility of his countenance, the command of which, like a
finished actor, he had carefully studied before the glass, it was by
no means easy for him to assume an air of judicial severity. Except the
recollection of the line of politics his father had adopted, and which
might interfere, unless he acted with the greatest prudence, with his
own career, Gerard de Villefort was as happy as a man could be. Already
rich, he held a high official situation, though only twenty-seven.
He was about to marry a young and charming woman, whom he loved, not
passionately, but reasonably, as became a deputy attorney of the
king; and besides her personal attractions, which were very great,
Mademoiselle de Saint-Meran's family possessed considerable political
influence, which they would, of course, exert in his favor. The dowry
of his wife amounted to fifty thousand crowns, and he had, besides,
the prospect of seeing her fortune increased to half a million at her
father's death. These considerations naturally gave Villefort a feeling
of such complete felicity that his mind was fairly dazzled in its
At the door he met the commissary of police, who was waiting for him.
The sight of this officer recalled Villefort from the third heaven to
earth; he composed his face, as we have before described, and said, "I
have read the letter, sir, and you have acted rightly in arresting
this man; now inform me what you have discovered concerning him and the
"We know nothing as yet of the conspiracy, monsieur; all the papers
found have been sealed up and placed on your desk. The prisoner himself
is named Edmond Dantes, mate on board the three-master the Pharaon,
trading in cotton with Alexandria and Smyrna, and belonging to Morrel &
Son, of Marseilles."
"Before he entered the merchant service, had he ever served in the
"Oh, no, monsieur, he is very young."
"Nineteen or twenty at the most."
At this moment, and as Villefort had arrived at the corner of the
Rue des Conseils, a man, who seemed to have been waiting for him,
approached; it was M. Morrel.
"Ah, M. de Villefort," cried he, "I am delighted to see you. Some
of your people have committed the strangest mistake--they have just
arrested Edmond Dantes, mate of my vessel."
"I know it, monsieur," replied Villefort, "and I am now going to examine
"Oh," said Morrel, carried away by his friendship, "you do not know him,
and I do. He is the most estimable, the most trustworthy creature in the
world, and I will venture to say, there is not a better seaman in all
the merchant service. Oh, M. de Villefort, I beseech your indulgence for
Villefort, as we have seen, belonged to the aristocratic party at
Marseilles, Morrel to the plebeian; the first was a royalist, the other
suspected of Bonapartism. Villefort looked disdainfully at Morrel, and
"You are aware, monsieur, that a man may be estimable and trustworthy in
private life, and the best seaman in the merchant service, and yet be,
politically speaking, a great criminal. Is it not true?"
The magistrate laid emphasis on these words, as if he wished to apply
them to the owner himself, while his eyes seemed to plunge into
the heart of one who, interceding for another, had himself need of
indulgence. Morrel reddened, for his own conscience was not quite clear
on politics; besides, what Dantes had told him of his interview with the
grand-marshal, and what the emperor had said to him, embarrassed him. He
"I entreat you, M. de Villefort, be, as you always are, kind and
equitable, and give him back to us soon." This give us sounded
revolutionary in the deputy's ears.
"Ah, ah," murmured he, "is Dantes then a member of some Carbonari
society, that his protector thus employs the collective form? He was, if
I recollect, arrested in a tavern, in company with a great many others."
Then he added, "Monsieur, you may rest assured I shall perform my duty
impartially, and that if he be innocent you shall not have appealed
to me in vain; should he, however, be guilty, in this present epoch,
impunity would furnish a dangerous example, and I must do my duty."
As he had now arrived at the door of his own house, which adjoined
the Palais de Justice, he entered, after having, coldly saluted the
shipowner, who stood, as if petrified, on the spot where Villefort had
left him. The ante-chamber was full of police agents and gendarmes, in
the midst of whom, carefully watched, but calm and smiling, stood the
prisoner. Villefort traversed the ante-chamber, cast a side glance at
Dantes, and taking a packet which a gendarme offered him, disappeared,
saying, "Bring in the prisoner."
Rapid as had been Villefort's glance, it had served to give him an idea
of the man he was about to interrogate. He had recognized intelligence
in the high forehead, courage in the dark eye and bent brow, and
frankness in the thick lips that showed a set of pearly teeth.
Villefort's first impression was favorable; but he had been so often
warned to mistrust first impulses, that he applied the maxim to the
impression, forgetting the difference between the two words. He stifled,
therefore, the feelings of compassion that were rising, composed his
features, and sat down, grim and sombre, at his desk. An instant after
Dantes entered. He was pale, but calm and collected, and saluting his
judge with easy politeness, looked round for a seat, as if he had been
in M. Morrel's salon. It was then that he encountered for the first
time Villefort's look,--that look peculiar to the magistrate, who, while
seeming to read the thoughts of others, betrays nothing of his own.
"Who and what are you?" demanded Villefort, turning over a pile of
papers, containing information relative to the prisoner, that a police
agent had given to him on his entry, and that, already, in an hour's
time, had swelled to voluminous proportions, thanks to the corrupt
espionage of which "the accused" is always made the victim.
"My name is Edmond Dantes," replied the young man calmly; "I am mate of
the Pharaon, belonging to Messrs. Morrel & Son."
"Your age?" continued Villefort.
"Nineteen," returned Dantes.
"What were you doing at the moment you were arrested?"
"I was at the festival of my marriage, monsieur," said the young man,
his voice slightly tremulous, so great was the contrast between that
happy moment and the painful ceremony he was now undergoing; so great
was the contrast between the sombre aspect of M. de Villefort and the
radiant face of Mercedes.
"You were at the festival of your marriage?" said the deputy, shuddering
in spite of himself.
"Yes, monsieur; I am on the point of marrying a young girl I have been
attached to for three years." Villefort, impassive as he was, was struck
with this coincidence; and the tremulous voice of Dantes, surprised
in the midst of his happiness, struck a sympathetic chord in his own
bosom--he also was on the point of being married, and he was summoned
from his own happiness to destroy that of another. "This philosophic
reflection," thought he, "will make a great sensation at M. de
Saint-Meran's;" and he arranged mentally, while Dantes awaited further
questions, the antithesis by which orators often create a reputation for
eloquence. When this speech was arranged, Villefort turned to Dantes.
"Go on, sir," said he.
"What would you have me say?"
"Give all the information in your power."
"Tell me on which point you desire information, and I will tell all I
know; only," added he, with a smile, "I warn you I know very little."
"Have you served under the usurper?"
"I was about to be mustered into the Royal Marines when he fell."
"It is reported your political opinions are extreme," said Villefort,
who had never heard anything of the kind, but was not sorry to make this
inquiry, as if it were an accusation.
"My political opinions!" replied Dantes. "Alas, sir, I never had any
opinions. I am hardly nineteen; I know nothing; I have no part to play.
If I obtain the situation I desire, I shall owe it to M. Morrel. Thus
all my opinions--I will not say public, but private--are confined to
these three sentiments,--I love my father, I respect M. Morrel, and
I adore Mercedes. This, sir, is all I can tell you, and you see how
uninteresting it is." As Dantes spoke, Villefort gazed at his ingenuous
and open countenance, and recollected the words of Renee, who, without
knowing who the culprit was, had besought his indulgence for him. With
the deputy's knowledge of crime and criminals, every word the young man
uttered convinced him more and more of his innocence. This lad, for he
was scarcely a man,--simple, natural, eloquent with that eloquence of
the heart never found when sought for; full of affection for everybody,
because he was happy, and because happiness renders even the wicked
good--extended his affection even to his judge, spite of Villefort's
severe look and stern accent. Dantes seemed full of kindness.
"Pardieu," said Villefort, "he is a noble fellow. I hope I shall gain
Renee's favor easily by obeying the first command she ever imposed on
me. I shall have at least a pressure of the hand in public, and a sweet
kiss in private." Full of this idea, Villefort's face became so joyous,
that when he turned to Dantes, the latter, who had watched the change on
his physiognomy, was smiling also.
"Sir," said Villefort, "have you any enemies, at least, that you know."
"I have enemies?" replied Dantes; "my position is not sufficiently
elevated for that. As for my disposition, that is, perhaps, somewhat
too hasty; but I have striven to repress it. I have had ten or twelve
sailors under me, and if you question them, they will tell you that
they love and respect me, not as a father, for I am too young, but as an
"But you may have excited jealousy. You are about to become captain at
nineteen--an elevated post; you are about to marry a pretty girl, who
loves you; and these two pieces of good fortune may have excited the
envy of some one."
"You are right; you know men better than I do, and what you say may
possibly be the case, I confess; but if such persons are among my
acquaintances I prefer not to know it, because then I should be forced
to hate them."
"You are wrong; you should always strive to see clearly around you. You
seem a worthy young man; I will depart from the strict line of my duty
to aid you in discovering the author of this accusation. Here is the
paper; do you know the writing?" As he spoke, Villefort drew the letter
from his pocket, and presented it to Dantes. Dantes read it. A cloud
passed over his brow as he said,--
"No, monsieur, I do not know the writing, and yet it is tolerably plain.
Whoever did it writes well. I am very fortunate," added he, looking
gratefully at Villefort, "to be examined by such a man as you; for this
envious person is a real enemy." And by the rapid glance that the young
man's eyes shot forth, Villefort saw how much energy lay hid beneath
"Now," said the deputy, "answer me frankly, not as a prisoner to a
judge, but as one man to another who takes an interest in him, what
truth is there in the accusation contained in this anonymous letter?"
And Villefort threw disdainfully on his desk the letter Dantes had just
given back to him.
"None at all. I will tell you the real facts. I swear by my honor as a
sailor, by my love for Mercedes, by the life of my father"--
"Speak, monsieur," said Villefort. Then, internally, "If Renee could
see me, I hope she would be satisfied, and would no longer call me a
"Well, when we quitted Naples, Captain Leclere was attacked with a brain
fever. As we had no doctor on board, and he was so anxious to arrive at
Elba, that he would not touch at any other port, his disorder rose to
such a height, that at the end of the third day, feeling he was dying,
he called me to him. 'My dear Dantes,' said he, 'swear to perform what I
am going to tell you, for it is a matter of the deepest importance.'
"'I swear, captain,' replied I.
"'Well, as after my death the command devolves on you as mate,
assume the command, and bear up for the Island of Elba, disembark at
Porto-Ferrajo, ask for the grand-marshal, give him this letter--perhaps
they will give you another letter, and charge you with a commission. You
will accomplish what I was to have done, and derive all the honor and
profit from it.'
"'I will do it, captain; but perhaps I shall not be admitted to the
grand marshal's presence as easily as you expect?'
"'Here is a ring that will obtain audience of him, and remove every
difficulty,' said the captain. At these words he gave me a ring. It was
time--two hours after he was delirious; the next day he died."
"And what did you do then?"
"What I ought to have done, and what every one would have done in my
place. Everywhere the last requests of a dying man are sacred; but with
a sailor the last requests of his superior are commands. I sailed for
the Island of Elba, where I arrived the next day; I ordered everybody
to remain on board, and went on shore alone. As I had expected, I found
some difficulty in obtaining access to the grand-marshal; but I sent the
ring I had received from the captain to him, and was instantly admitted.
He questioned me concerning Captain Leclere's death; and, as the latter
had told me, gave me a letter to carry on to a person in Paris. I
undertook it because it was what my captain had bade me do. I landed
here, regulated the affairs of the vessel, and hastened to visit my
affianced bride, whom I found more lovely than ever. Thanks to M.
Morrel, all the forms were got over; in a word I was, as I told you,
at my marriage-feast; and I should have been married in an hour, and
to-morrow I intended to start for Paris, had I not been arrested on this
charge which you as well as I now see to be unjust."
"Ah," said Villefort, "this seems to me the truth. If you have been
culpable, it was imprudence, and this imprudence was in obedience to the
orders of your captain. Give up this letter you have brought from Elba,
and pass your word you will appear should you be required, and go and
rejoin your friends.
"I am free, then, sir?" cried Dantes joyfully.
"Yes; but first give me this letter."
"You have it already, for it was taken from me with some others which I
see in that packet."
"Stop a moment," said the deputy, as Dantes took his hat and gloves. "To
whom is it addressed?"
"To Monsieur Noirtier, Rue Coq-Heron, Paris." Had a thunderbolt fallen
into the room, Villefort could not have been more stupefied. He sank
into his seat, and hastily turning over the packet, drew forth the fatal
letter, at which he glanced with an expression of terror.
"M. Noirtier, Rue Coq-Heron, No. 13," murmured he, growing still paler.
"Yes," said Dantes; "do you know him?"
"No," replied Villefort; "a faithful servant of the king does not know
"It is a conspiracy, then?" asked Dantes, who after believing himself
free, now began to feel a tenfold alarm. "I have, however, already told
you, sir, I was entirely ignorant of the contents of the letter."
"Yes; but you knew the name of the person to whom it was addressed,"
"I was forced to read the address to know to whom to give it."
"Have you shown this letter to any one?" asked Villefort, becoming still
"To no one, on my honor."
"Everybody is ignorant that you are the bearer of a letter from the
Island of Elba, and addressed to M. Noirtier?"
"Everybody, except the person who gave it to me."
"And that was too much, far too much," murmured Villefort. Villefort's
brow darkened more and more, his white lips and clinched teeth filled
Dantes with apprehension. After reading the letter, Villefort covered
his face with his hands.
"Oh," said Dantes timidly, "what is the matter?" Villefort made no
answer, but raised his head at the expiration of a few seconds, and
again perused the letter.
"And you say that you are ignorant of the contents of this letter?"
"I give you my word of honor, sir," said Dantes; "but what is the
matter? You are ill--shall I ring for assistance?--shall I call?"
"No," said Villefort, rising hastily; "stay where you are. It is for me
to give orders here, and not you."
"Monsieur," replied Dantes proudly, "it was only to summon assistance
"I want none; it was a temporary indisposition. Attend to yourself;
answer me." Dantes waited, expecting a question, but in vain. Villefort
fell back on his chair, passed his hand over his brow, moist with
perspiration, and, for the third time, read the letter.
"Oh, if he knows the contents of this!" murmured he, "and that Noirtier
is the father of Villefort, I am lost!" And he fixed his eyes upon
Edmond as if he would have penetrated his thoughts.
"Oh, it is impossible to doubt it," cried he, suddenly.
"In heaven's name!" cried the unhappy young man, "if you doubt me,
question me; I will answer you." Villefort made a violent effort, and in
a tone he strove to render firm,--
"Sir," said he, "I am no longer able, as I had hoped, to restore you
immediately to liberty; before doing so, I must consult the trial
justice; what my own feeling is you already know."
"Oh, monsieur," cried Dantes, "you have been rather a friend than a
"Well, I must detain you some time longer, but I will strive to make it
as short as possible. The principal charge against you is this letter,
and you see"--Villefort approached the fire, cast it in, and waited
until it was entirely consumed.
"You see, I destroy it?"
"Oh," exclaimed Dantes, "you are goodness itself."
"Listen," continued Villefort; "you can now have confidence in me after
what I have done."
"Oh, command, and I will obey."
"Listen; this is not a command, but advice I give you."
"Speak, and I will follow your advice."
"I shall detain you until this evening in the Palais de Justice. Should
any one else interrogate you, say to him what you have said to me, but
do not breathe a word of this letter."
"I promise." It was Villefort who seemed to entreat, and the prisoner
who reassured him.
"You see," continued he, glancing toward the grate, where fragments of
burnt paper fluttered in the flames, "the letter is destroyed; you and I
alone know of its existence; should you, therefore, be questioned, deny
all knowledge of it--deny it boldly, and you are saved."
"Be satisfied; I will deny it."
"It was the only letter you had?"
"I swear it."
Villefort rang. A police agent entered. Villefort whispered some words
in his ear, to which the officer replied by a motion of his head.
"Follow him," said Villefort to Dantes. Dantes saluted Villefort
and retired. Hardly had the door closed when Villefort threw himself
half-fainting into a chair.
"Alas, alas," murmured he, "if the procureur himself had been at
Marseilles I should have been ruined. This accursed letter would have
destroyed all my hopes. Oh, my father, must your past career always
interfere with my successes?" Suddenly a light passed over his face,
a smile played round his set mouth, and his haggard eyes were fixed in
"This will do," said he, "and from this letter, which might have ruined
me, I will make my fortune. Now to the work I have in hand." And after
having assured himself that the prisoner was gone, the deputy procureur
hastened to the house of his betrothed.
Chapter 8. The Chateau D'If.
The commissary of police, as he traversed the ante-chamber, made a sign
to two gendarmes, who placed themselves one on Dantes' right and the
other on his left. A door that communicated with the Palais de Justice
was opened, and they went through a long range of gloomy corridors,
whose appearance might have made even the boldest shudder. The Palais de
Justice communicated with the prison,--a sombre edifice, that from
its grated windows looks on the clock-tower of the Accoules. After
numberless windings, Dantes saw a door with an iron wicket. The
commissary took up an iron mallet and knocked thrice, every blow seeming
to Dantes as if struck on his heart. The door opened, the two gendarmes
gently pushed him forward, and the door closed with a loud sound behind
him. The air he inhaled was no longer pure, but thick and mephitic,--he
was in prison. He was conducted to a tolerably neat chamber, but grated
and barred, and its appearance, therefore, did not greatly alarm him;
besides, the words of Villefort, who seemed to interest himself so
much, resounded still in his ears like a promise of freedom. It was four
o'clock when Dantes was placed in this chamber. It was, as we have said,
the 1st of March, and the prisoner was soon buried in darkness. The
obscurity augmented the acuteness of his hearing; at the slightest sound
he rose and hastened to the door, convinced they were about to liberate
him, but the sound died away, and Dantes sank again into his seat. At
last, about ten o'clock, and just as Dantes began to despair, steps were
heard in the corridor, a key turned in the lock, the bolts creaked,
the massy oaken door flew open, and a flood of light from two torches
pervaded the apartment. By the torchlight Dantes saw the glittering
sabres and carbines of four gendarmes. He had advanced at first, but
stopped at the sight of this display of force.
"Are you come to fetch me?" asked he.
"Yes," replied a gendarme.
"By the orders of the deputy procureur?"
"I believe so." The conviction that they came from M. de Villefort
relieved all Dantes' apprehensions; he advanced calmly, and placed
himself in the centre of the escort. A carriage waited at the door, the
coachman was on the box, and a police officer sat beside him.
"Is this carriage for me?" said Dantes.
"It is for you," replied a gendarme.
Dantes was about to speak; but feeling himself urged forward, and having
neither the power nor the intention to resist, he mounted the steps, and
was in an instant seated inside between two gendarmes; the two others
took their places opposite, and the carriage rolled heavily over the
The prisoner glanced at the windows--they were grated; he had changed
his prison for another that was conveying him he knew not whither.
Through the grating, however, Dantes saw they were passing through the
Rue Caisserie, and by the Rue Saint-Laurent and the Rue Taramis, to the
port. Soon he saw the lights of La Consigne.
The carriage stopped, the officer descended, approached the guardhouse,
a dozen soldiers came out and formed themselves in order; Dantes saw the
reflection of their muskets by the light of the lamps on the quay.
"Can all this force be summoned on my account?" thought he.
The officer opened the door, which was locked, and, without speaking
a word, answered Dantes' question; for he saw between the ranks of
the soldiers a passage formed from the carriage to the port. The two
gendarmes who were opposite to him descended first, then he was ordered
to alight and the gendarmes on each side of him followed his example.
They advanced towards a boat, which a custom-house officer held by a
chain, near the quay.
The soldiers looked at Dantes with an air of stupid curiosity. In an
instant he was placed in the stern-sheets of the boat, between the
gendarmes, while the officer stationed himself at the bow; a shove sent
the boat adrift, and four sturdy oarsmen impelled it rapidly towards the
Pilon. At a shout from the boat, the chain that closes the mouth of
the port was lowered and in a second they were, as Dantes knew, in the
Frioul and outside the inner harbor.
The prisoner's first feeling was of joy at again breathing the pure
air--for air is freedom; but he soon sighed, for he passed before La
Reserve, where he had that morning been so happy, and now through the
open windows came the laughter and revelry of a ball. Dantes folded his
hands, raised his eyes to heaven, and prayed fervently.
The boat continued her voyage. They had passed the Tete de Morte,
were now off the Anse du Pharo, and about to double the battery. This
manoeuvre was incomprehensible to Dantes.
"Whither are you taking me?" asked he.
"You will soon know."
"We are forbidden to give you any explanation." Dantes, trained in
discipline, knew that nothing would be more absurd than to question
subordinates, who were forbidden to reply; and so he remained silent.
The most vague and wild thoughts passed through his mind. The boat they
were in could not make a long voyage; there was no vessel at anchor
outside the harbor; he thought, perhaps, they were going to leave him on
some distant point. He was not bound, nor had they made any attempt to
handcuff him; this seemed a good augury. Besides, had not the deputy,
who had been so kind to him, told him that provided he did not pronounce
the dreaded name of Noirtier, he had nothing to apprehend? Had not
Villefort in his presence destroyed the fatal letter, the only proof
He waited silently, striving to pierce through the darkness.
They had left the Ile Ratonneau, where the lighthouse stood, on the
right, and were now opposite the Point des Catalans. It seemed to the
prisoner that he could distinguish a feminine form on the beach, for it
was there Mercedes dwelt. How was it that a presentiment did not warn
Mercedes that her lover was within three hundred yards of her?
One light alone was visible; and Dantes saw that it came from Mercedes'
chamber. Mercedes was the only one awake in the whole settlement. A loud
cry could be heard by her. But pride restrained him and he did not utter
it. What would his guards think if they heard him shout like a madman?
He remained silent, his eyes fixed upon the light; the boat went on, but
the prisoner thought only of Mercedes. An intervening elevation of land
hid the light. Dantes turned and perceived that they had got out to sea.
While he had been absorbed in thought, they had shipped their oars and
hoisted sail; the boat was now moving with the wind.
In spite of his repugnance to address the guards, Dantes turned to the
nearest gendarme, and taking his hand,--
"Comrade," said he, "I adjure you, as a Christian and a soldier, to tell
me where we are going. I am Captain Dantes, a loyal Frenchman, thought
accused of treason; tell me where you are conducting me, and I promise
you on my honor I will submit to my fate."
The gendarme looked irresolutely at his companion, who returned for
answer a sign that said, "I see no great harm in telling him now," and
the gendarme replied,--
"You are a native of Marseilles, and a sailor, and yet you do not know
where you are going?"
"On my honor, I have no idea."
"Have you no idea whatever?"
"None at all."
"That is impossible."
"I swear to you it is true. Tell me, I entreat."
"But my orders."
"Your orders do not forbid your telling me what I must know in ten
minutes, in half an hour, or an hour. You see I cannot escape, even if I
"Unless you are blind, or have never been outside the harbor, you must
"I do not."
"Look round you then." Dantes rose and looked forward, when he saw
rise within a hundred yards of him the black and frowning rock on which
stands the Chateau d'If. This gloomy fortress, which has for more than
three hundred years furnished food for so many wild legends, seemed to
Dantes like a scaffold to a malefactor.
"The Chateau d'If?" cried he, "what are we going there for?" The
"I am not going there to be imprisoned," said Dantes; "it is only
used for political prisoners. I have committed no crime. Are there any
magistrates or judges at the Chateau d'If?"
"There are only," said the gendarme, "a governor, a garrison, turnkeys,
and good thick walls. Come, come, do not look so astonished, or you
will make me think you are laughing at me in return for my good nature."
Dantes pressed the gendarme's hand as though he would crush it.
"You think, then," said he, "that I am taken to the Chateau d'If to be
"It is probable; but there is no occasion to squeeze so hard."
"Without any inquiry, without any formality?"
"All the formalities have been gone through; the inquiry is already
"And so, in spite of M. de Villefort's promises?"
"I do not know what M. de Villefort promised you," said the gendarme,
"but I know we are taking you to the Chateau d'If. But what are you
doing? Help, comrades, help!"
By a rapid movement, which the gendarme's practiced eye had perceived,
Dantes sprang forward to precipitate himself into the sea; but four
vigorous arms seized him as his feet quitted the bottom of the boat. He
fell back cursing with rage.
"Good!" said the gendarme, placing his knee on his chest; "believe
soft-spoken gentlemen again! Harkye, my friend, I have disobeyed my
first order, but I will not disobey the second; and if you move, I will
blow your brains out." And he levelled his carbine at Dantes, who felt
the muzzle against his temple.
For a moment the idea of struggling crossed his mind, and of so ending
the unexpected evil that had overtaken him. But he bethought him of M.
de Villefort's promise; and, besides, death in a boat from the hand of
a gendarme seemed too terrible. He remained motionless, but gnashing his
teeth and wringing his hands with fury.
At this moment the boat came to a landing with a violent shock. One of
the sailors leaped on shore, a cord creaked as it ran through a pulley,
and Dantes guessed they were at the end of the voyage, and that they
were mooring the boat.
His guards, taking him by the arms and coat-collar, forced him to rise,
and dragged him towards the steps that lead to the gate of the fortress,
while the police officer carrying a musket with fixed bayonet followed
Dantes made no resistance; he was like a man in a dream: he saw soldiers
drawn up on the embankment; he knew vaguely that he was ascending a
flight of steps; he was conscious that he passed through a door, and
that the door closed behind him; but all this indistinctly as through
a mist. He did not even see the ocean, that terrible barrier against
freedom, which the prisoners look upon with utter despair.
They halted for a minute, during which he strove to collect his
thoughts. He looked around; he was in a court surrounded by high walls;
he heard the measured tread of sentinels, and as they passed before the
light he saw the barrels of their muskets shine.
They waited upwards of ten minutes. Certain Dantes could not escape, the
gendarmes released him. They seemed awaiting orders. The orders came.
"Where is the prisoner?" said a voice.
"Here," replied the gendarmes.
"Let him follow me; I will take him to his cell."
"Go!" said the gendarmes, thrusting Dantes forward.
The prisoner followed his guide, who led him into a room almost under
ground, whose bare and reeking walls seemed as though impregnated with
tears; a lamp placed on a stool illumined the apartment faintly,
and showed Dantes the features of his conductor, an under-jailer,
ill-clothed, and of sullen appearance.
"Here is your chamber for to-night," said he. "It is late, and the
governor is asleep. To-morrow, perhaps, he may change you. In the
meantime there is bread, water, and fresh straw; and that is all a
prisoner can wish for. Goodnight." And before Dantes could open his
mouth--before he had noticed where the jailer placed his bread or the
water--before he had glanced towards the corner where the straw was,
the jailer disappeared, taking with him the lamp and closing the door,
leaving stamped upon the prisoner's mind the dim reflection of the
dripping walls of his dungeon.
Dantes was alone in darkness and in silence--cold as the shadows that
he felt breathe on his burning forehead. With the first dawn of day the
jailer returned, with orders to leave Dantes where he was. He found the
prisoner in the same position, as if fixed there, his eyes swollen with
weeping. He had passed the night standing, and without sleep. The jailer
advanced; Dantes appeared not to perceive him. He touched him on the
shoulder. Edmond started.
"Have you not slept?" said the jailer.
"I do not know," replied Dantes. The jailer stared.
"Are you hungry?" continued he.
"I do not know."
"Do you wish for anything?"
"I wish to see the governor." The jailer shrugged his shoulders and left
Dantes followed him with his eyes, and stretched forth his hands towards
the open door; but the door closed. All his emotion then burst forth;
he cast himself on the ground, weeping bitterly, and asking himself what
crime he had committed that he was thus punished.
The day passed thus; he scarcely tasted food, but walked round and
round the cell like a wild beast in its cage. One thought in particular
tormented him: namely, that during his journey hither he had sat so
still, whereas he might, a dozen times, have plunged into the sea, and,
thanks to his powers of swimming, for which he was famous, have gained
the shore, concealed himself until the arrival of a Genoese or Spanish
vessel, escaped to Spain or Italy, where Mercedes and his father could
have joined him. He had no fears as to how he should live--good seamen
are welcome everywhere. He spoke Italian like a Tuscan, and Spanish like
a Castilian; he would have been free, and happy with Mercedes and
his father, whereas he was now confined in the Chateau d'If, that
impregnable fortress, ignorant of the future destiny of his father and
Mercedes; and all this because he had trusted to Villefort's promise.
The thought was maddening, and Dantes threw himself furiously down on
his straw. The next morning at the same hour, the jailer came again.
"Well," said the jailer, "are you more reasonable to-day?" Dantes made
"Come, cheer up; is there anything that I can do for you?"
"I wish to see the governor."
"I have already told you it was impossible."
"Because it is against prison rules, and prisoners must not even ask for
"What is allowed, then?"
"Better fare, if you pay for it, books, and leave to walk about."
"I do not want books, I am satisfied with my food, and do not care to
walk about; but I wish to see the governor."
"If you worry me by repeating the same thing, I will not bring you any
more to eat."
"Well, then," said Edmond, "if you do not, I shall die of hunger--that
The jailer saw by his tone he would be happy to die; and as every
prisoner is worth ten sous a day to his jailer, he replied in a more
"What you ask is impossible; but if you are very well behaved you will
be allowed to walk about, and some day you will meet the governor, and
if he chooses to reply, that is his affair."
"But," asked Dantes, "how long shall I have to wait?"
"Ah, a month--six months--a year."
"It is too long a time. I wish to see him at once."
"Ah," said the jailer, "do not always brood over what is impossible, or
you will be mad in a fortnight."
"You think so?"
"Yes; we have an instance here; it was by always offering a million of
francs to the governor for his liberty that an abbe became mad, who was
in this chamber before you."
"How long has he left it?"
"Was he liberated, then?"
"No; he was put in a dungeon."
"Listen!" said Dantes. "I am not an abbe, I am not mad; perhaps I shall
be, but at present, unfortunately, I am not. I will make you another
"What is that?"
"I do not offer you a million, because I have it not; but I will give
you a hundred crowns if, the first time you go to Marseilles, you will
seek out a young girl named Mercedes, at the Catalans, and give her two
lines from me."
"If I took them, and were detected, I should lose my place, which is
worth two thousand francs a year; so that I should be a great fool to
run such a risk for three hundred."
"Well," said Dantes, "mark this; if you refuse at least to tell Mercedes
I am here, I will some day hide myself behind the door, and when you
enter I will dash out your brains with this stool."
"Threats!" cried the jailer, retreating and putting himself on the
defensive; "you are certainly going mad. The abbe began like you, and in
three days you will be like him, mad enough to tie up; but, fortunately,
there are dungeons here." Dantes whirled the stool round his head.
"All right, all right," said the jailer; "all right, since you will have
it so. I will send word to the governor."
"Very well," returned Dantes, dropping the stool and sitting on it as if
he were in reality mad. The jailer went out, and returned in an instant
with a corporal and four soldiers.
"By the governor's orders," said he, "conduct the prisoner to the tier
"To the dungeon, then," said the corporal.
"Yes; we must put the madman with the madmen." The soldiers seized
Dantes, who followed passively.
He descended fifteen steps, and the door of a dungeon was opened, and
he was thrust in. The door closed, and Dantes advanced with outstretched
hands until he touched the wall; he then sat down in the corner until
his eyes became accustomed to the darkness. The jailer was right; Dantes
wanted but little of being utterly mad.
Chapter 9. The Evening of the Betrothal.
Villefort had, as we have said, hastened back to Madame de Saint-Meran's
in the Place du Grand Cours, and on entering the house found that the
guests whom he had left at table were taking coffee in the salon. Renee
was, with all the rest of the company, anxiously awaiting him, and his
entrance was followed by a general exclamation.
"Well, Decapitator, Guardian of the State, Royalist, Brutus, what is the
matter?" said one. "Speak out."
"Are we threatened with a fresh Reign of Terror?" asked another.
"Has the Corsican ogre broken loose?" cried a third.
"Marquise," said Villefort, approaching his future mother-in-law, "I
request your pardon for thus leaving you. Will the marquis honor me by a
few moments' private conversation?"
"Ah, it is really a serious matter, then?" asked the marquis, remarking
the cloud on Villefort's brow.
"So serious that I must take leave of you for a few days; so," added he,
turning to Renee, "judge for yourself if it be not important."
"You are going to leave us?" cried Renee, unable to hide her emotion at
this unexpected announcement.
"Alas," returned Villefort, "I must!"
"Where, then, are you going?" asked the marquise.
"That, madame, is an official secret; but if you have any commissions
for Paris, a friend of mine is going there to-night, and will with
pleasure undertake them." The guests looked at each other.
"You wish to speak to me alone?" said the marquis.
"Yes, let us go to the library, please." The marquis took his arm, and
they left the salon.
"Well," asked he, as soon as they were by themselves, "tell me what it
"An affair of the greatest importance, that demands my immediate
presence in Paris. Now, excuse the indiscretion, marquis, but have you
any landed property?"
"All my fortune is in the funds; seven or eight hundred thousand
"Then sell out--sell out, marquis, or you will lose it all."
"But how can I sell out here?"
"You have a broker, have you not?"
"Then give me a letter to him, and tell him to sell out without an
instant's delay, perhaps even now I shall arrive too late."
"The deuce you say!" replied the marquis, "let us lose no time, then!"
And, sitting down, he wrote a letter to his broker, ordering him to sell
out at the market price.
"Now, then," said Villefort, placing the letter in his pocketbook, "I
must have another!"
"To the king."
"To the king?"
"I dare not write to his majesty."
"I do not ask you to write to his majesty, but ask M. de Salvieux to
do so. I want a letter that will enable me to reach the king's presence
without all the formalities of demanding an audience; that would
occasion a loss of precious time."
"But address yourself to the keeper of the seals; he has the right of
entry at the Tuileries, and can procure you audience at any hour of the
day or night."
"Doubtless; but there is no occasion to divide the honors of my
discovery with him. The keeper would leave me in the background, and
take all the glory to himself. I tell you, marquis, my fortune is made
if I only reach the Tuileries the first, for the king will not forget
the service I do him."
"In that case go and get ready. I will call Salvieux and make him write
"Be as quick as possible, I must be on the road in a quarter of an
"Tell your coachman to stop at the door."
"You will present my excuses to the marquise and Mademoiselle Renee,
whom I leave on such a day with great regret."
"You will find them both here, and can make your farewells in person."
"A thousand thanks--and now for the letter."
The marquis rang, a servant entered.
"Say to the Comte de Salvieux that I would like to see him."
"Now, then, go," said the marquis.
"I shall be gone only a few moments."
Villefort hastily quitted the apartment, but reflecting that the sight
of the deputy procureur running through the streets would be enough to
throw the whole city into confusion, he resumed his ordinary pace. At
his door he perceived a figure in the shadow that seemed to wait for
him. It was Mercedes, who, hearing no news of her lover, had come
unobserved to inquire after him.
As Villefort drew near, she advanced and stood before him. Dantes had
spoken of Mercedes, and Villefort instantly recognized her. Her beauty
and high bearing surprised him, and when she inquired what had become of
her lover, it seemed to him that she was the judge, and he the accused.
"The young man you speak of," said Villefort abruptly, "is a great
criminal, and I can do nothing for him, mademoiselle." Mercedes burst
into tears, and, as Villefort strove to pass her, again addressed him.
"But, at least, tell me where he is, that I may know whether he is alive
or dead," said she.
"I do not know; he is no longer in my hands," replied Villefort.
And desirous of putting an end to the interview, he pushed by her, and
closed the door, as if to exclude the pain he felt. But remorse is not
thus banished; like Virgil's wounded hero, he carried the arrow in his
wound, and, arrived at the salon, Villefort uttered a sigh that was
almost a sob, and sank into a chair.
Then the first pangs of an unending torture seized upon his heart. The
man he sacrificed to his ambition, that innocent victim immolated on
the altar of his father's faults, appeared to him pale and threatening,
leading his affianced bride by the hand, and bringing with him remorse,
not such as the ancients figured, furious and terrible, but that slow
and consuming agony whose pangs are intensified from hour to hour up
to the very moment of death. Then he had a moment's hesitation. He had
frequently called for capital punishment on criminals, and owing to his
irresistible eloquence they had been condemned, and yet the slightest
shadow of remorse had never clouded Villefort's brow, because they were
guilty; at least, he believed so; but here was an innocent man whose
happiness he had destroyed: in this case he was not the judge, but the
As he thus reflected, he felt the sensation we have described, and which
had hitherto been unknown to him, arise in his bosom, and fill him
with vague apprehensions. It is thus that a wounded man trembles
instinctively at the approach of the finger to his wound until it be
healed, but Villefort's was one of those that never close, or if they
do, only close to reopen more agonizing than ever. If at this moment the
sweet voice of Renee had sounded in his ears pleading for mercy, or the
fair Mercedes had entered and said, "In the name of God, I conjure you
to restore me my affianced husband," his cold and trembling hands
would have signed his release; but no voice broke the stillness of the
chamber, and the door was opened only by Villefort's valet, who came to
tell him that the travelling carriage was in readiness.
Villefort rose, or rather sprang, from his chair, hastily opened one
of the drawers of his desk, emptied all the gold it contained into
his pocket, stood motionless an instant, his hand pressed to his head,
muttered a few inarticulate sounds, and then, perceiving that his
servant had placed his cloak on his shoulders, he sprang into the
carriage, ordering the postilions to drive to M. de Saint-Meran's. The
hapless Dantes was doomed.
As the marquis had promised, Villefort found the marquise and Renee
in waiting. He started when he saw Renee, for he fancied she was again
about to plead for Dantes. Alas, her emotions were wholly personal: she
was thinking only of Villefort's departure.
She loved Villefort, and he left her at the moment he was about to
become her husband. Villefort knew not when he should return, and Renee,
far from pleading for Dantes, hated the man whose crime separated her
from her lover.
Meanwhile what of Mercedes? She had met Fernand at the corner of the Rue
de la Loge; she had returned to the Catalans, and had despairingly cast
herself on her couch. Fernand, kneeling by her side, took her hand, and
covered it with kisses that Mercedes did not even feel. She passed the
night thus. The lamp went out for want of oil, but she paid no heed to
the darkness, and dawn came, but she knew not that it was day. Grief had
made her blind to all but one object--that was Edmond.
"Ah, you are there," said she, at length, turning towards Fernand.
"I have not quitted you since yesterday," returned Fernand sorrowfully.
M. Morrel had not readily given up the fight. He had learned that Dantes
had been taken to prison, and he had gone to all his friends, and
the influential persons of the city; but the report was already in
circulation that Dantes was arrested as a Bonapartist agent; and as the
most sanguine looked upon any attempt of Napoleon to remount the throne
as impossible, he met with nothing but refusal, and had returned home
in despair, declaring that the matter was serious and that nothing more
could be done.
Caderousse was equally restless and uneasy, but instead of seeking, like
M. Morrel, to aid Dantes, he had shut himself up with two bottles of
black currant brandy, in the hope of drowning reflection. But he did not
succeed, and became too intoxicated to fetch any more drink, and yet not
so intoxicated as to forget what had happened. With his elbows on the
table he sat between the two empty bottles, while spectres danced in the
light of the unsnuffed candle--spectres such as Hoffmann strews over his
punch-drenched pages, like black, fantastic dust.
Danglars alone was content and joyous--he had got rid of an enemy and
made his own situation on the Pharaon secure. Danglars was one of those
men born with a pen behind the ear, and an inkstand in place of a heart.
Everything with him was multiplication or subtraction. The life of a man
was to him of far less value than a numeral, especially when, by taking
it away, he could increase the sum total of his own desires. He went to
bed at his usual hour, and slept in peace.
Villefort, after having received M. de Salvieux' letter, embraced Renee,
kissed the marquise's hand, and shaken that of the marquis, started for
Paris along the Aix road.
Old Dantes was dying with anxiety to know what had become of Edmond. But
we know very well what had become of Edmond.
Chapter 10. The King's Closet at the Tuileries.
We will leave Villefort on the road to Paris, travelling--thanks
to trebled fees--with all speed, and passing through two or three
apartments, enter at the Tuileries the little room with the arched
window, so well known as having been the favorite closet of Napoleon and
Louis XVIII., and now of Louis Philippe.
There, seated before a walnut table he had brought with him from
Hartwell, and to which, from one of those fancies not uncommon to
great people, he was particularly attached, the king, Louis XVIII., was
carelessly listening to a man of fifty or fifty-two years of age, with
gray hair, aristocratic bearing, and exceedingly gentlemanly attire,
and meanwhile making a marginal note in a volume of Gryphius's rather
inaccurate, but much sought-after, edition of Horace--a work which
was much indebted to the sagacious observations of the philosophical
"You say, sir"--said the king.
"That I am exceedingly disquieted, sire."
"Really, have you had a vision of the seven fat kine and the seven lean
"No, sire, for that would only betoken for us seven years of plenty and
seven years of scarcity; and with a king as full of foresight as your
majesty, scarcity is not a thing to be feared."
"Then of what other scourge are you afraid, my dear Blacas?"
"Sire, I have every reason to believe that a storm is brewing in the
"Well, my dear duke," replied Louis XVIII., "I think you are wrongly
informed, and know positively that, on the contrary, it is very fine
weather in that direction." Man of ability as he was, Louis XVIII. liked
a pleasant jest.
"Sire," continued M. de Blacas, "if it only be to reassure a faithful
servant, will your majesty send into Languedoc, Provence, and Dauphine,
trusty men, who will bring you back a faithful report as to the feeling
in these three provinces?"
"Caninus surdis," replied the king, continuing the annotations in his
"Sire," replied the courtier, laughing, in order that he might seem
to comprehend the quotation, "your majesty may be perfectly right in
relying on the good feeling of France, but I fear I am not altogether
wrong in dreading some desperate attempt."
"By Bonaparte, or, at least, by his adherents."
"My dear Blacas," said the king, "you with your alarms prevent me from
"And you, sire, prevent me from sleeping with your security."
"Wait, my dear sir, wait a moment; for I have such a delightful note on
the Pastor quum traheret--wait, and I will listen to you afterwards."
There was a brief pause, during which Louis XVIII. wrote, in a hand as
small as possible, another note on the margin of his Horace, and then
looking at the duke with the air of a man who thinks he has an idea of
his own, while he is only commenting upon the idea of another, said,--
"Go on, my dear duke, go on--I listen."
"Sire," said Blacas, who had for a moment the hope of sacrificing
Villefort to his own profit, "I am compelled to tell you that these are
not mere rumors destitute of foundation which thus disquiet me; but a
serious-minded man, deserving all my confidence, and charged by me to
watch over the south" (the duke hesitated as he pronounced these words),
"has arrived by post to tell me that a great peril threatens the king,
and so I hastened to you, sire."
"Mala ducis avi domum," continued Louis XVIII., still annotating.
"Does your majesty wish me to drop the subject?"
"By no means, my dear duke; but just stretch out your hand."
"Whichever you please--there to the left."
"I tell you to the left, and you are looking to the right; I mean on my
left--yes, there. You will find yesterday's report of the minister of
police. But here is M. Dandre himself;" and M. Dandre, announced by the
"Come in," said Louis XVIII., with repressed smile, "come in, Baron, and
tell the duke all you know--the latest news of M. de Bonaparte; do not
conceal anything, however serious,--let us see, the Island of Elba is a
volcano, and we may expect to have issuing thence flaming and bristling
war--bella, horrida bella." M. Dandre leaned very respectfully on the
back of a chair with his two hands, and said,--
"Has your majesty perused yesterday's report?"
"Yes, yes; but tell the duke himself, who cannot find anything, what the
report contains--give him the particulars of what the usurper is doing
in his islet."
"Monsieur," said the baron to the duke, "all the servants of his majesty
must approve of the latest intelligence which we have from the Island
of Elba. Bonaparte"--M. Dandre looked at Louis XVIII., who, employed in
writing a note, did not even raise his head. "Bonaparte," continued
the baron, "is mortally wearied, and passes whole days in watching his
miners at work at Porto-Longone."
"And scratches himself for amusement," added the king.
"Scratches himself?" inquired the duke, "what does your majesty mean?"
"Yes, indeed, my dear duke. Did you forget that this great man, this
hero, this demigod, is attacked with a malady of the skin which worries
him to death, prurigo?"
"And, moreover, my dear duke," continued the minister of police, "we are
almost assured that, in a very short time, the usurper will be insane."
"Raving mad; his head becomes weaker. Sometimes he weeps bitterly,
sometimes laughs boisterously, at other time he passes hours on
the seashore, flinging stones in the water and when the flint makes
'duck-and-drake' five or six times, he appears as delighted as if he had
gained another Marengo or Austerlitz. Now, you must agree that these are
indubitable symptoms of insanity."
"Or of wisdom, my dear baron--or of wisdom," said Louis XVIII.,
laughing; "the greatest captains of antiquity amused themselves
by casting pebbles into the ocean--see Plutarch's life of Scipio
M. de Blacas pondered deeply between the confident monarch and the
truthful minister. Villefort, who did not choose to reveal the whole
secret, lest another should reap all the benefit of the disclosure, had
yet communicated enough to cause him the greatest uneasiness.
"Well, well, Dandre," said Louis XVIII., "Blacas is not yet convinced;
let us proceed, therefore, to the usurper's conversion." The minister of
"The usurper's conversion!" murmured the duke, looking at the king and
Dandre, who spoke alternately, like Virgil's shepherds. "The usurper
"Decidedly, my dear duke."
"In what way converted?"
"To good principles. Tell him all about it, baron."
"Why, this is the way of it," said the minister, with the gravest air in
the world: "Napoleon lately had a review, and as two or three of his
old veterans expressed a desire to return to France, he gave them their
dismissal, and exhorted them to 'serve the good king.' These were his
own words, of that I am certain."
"Well, Blacas, what think you of this?" inquired the king triumphantly,
and pausing for a moment from the voluminous scholiast before him.
"I say, sire, that the minister of police is greatly deceived or I am;
and as it is impossible it can be the minister of police as he has the
guardianship of the safety and honor of your majesty, it is probable
that I am in error. However, sire, if I might advise, your majesty will
interrogate the person of whom I spoke to you, and I will urge your
majesty to do him this honor."
"Most willingly, duke; under your auspices I will receive any person you
please, but you must not expect me to be too confiding. Baron, have you
any report more recent than this dated the 20th February.--this is the
4th of March?"
"No, sire, but I am hourly expecting one; it may have arrived since I
left my office."
"Go thither, and if there be none--well, well," continued Louis XVIII.,
"make one; that is the usual way, is it not?" and the king laughed
"Oh, sire," replied the minister, "we have no occasion to invent any;
every day our desks are loaded with most circumstantial denunciations,
coming from hosts of people who hope for some return for services which
they seek to render, but cannot; they trust to fortune, and rely upon
some unexpected event in some way to justify their predictions."
"Well, sir, go"; said Louis XVIII., "and remember that I am waiting for
"I will but go and return, sire; I shall be back in ten minutes."
"And I, sire," said M. de Blacas, "will go and find my messenger."
"Wait, sir, wait," said Louis XVIII. "Really, M. de Blacas, I
must change your armorial bearings; I will give you an eagle with
outstretched wings, holding in its claws a prey which tries in vain to
escape, and bearing this device--Tenax."
"Sire, I listen," said De Blacas, biting his nails with impatience.
"I wish to consult you on this passage, 'Molli fugiens anhelitu,' you
know it refers to a stag flying from a wolf. Are you not a sportsman
and a great wolf-hunter? Well, then, what do you think of the molli
"Admirable, sire; but my messenger is like the stag you refer to, for he
has posted two hundred and twenty leagues in scarcely three days."
"Which is undergoing great fatigue and anxiety, my dear duke, when we
have a telegraph which transmits messages in three or four hours, and
that without getting in the least out of breath."
"Ah, sire, you recompense but badly this poor young man, who has come so
far, and with so much ardor, to give your majesty useful information. If
only for the sake of M. de Salvieux, who recommends him to me, I entreat
your majesty to receive him graciously."
"M. de Salvieux, my brother's chamberlain?"
"He is at Marseilles."
"And writes me thence."
"Does he speak to you of this conspiracy?"
"No; but strongly recommends M. de Villefort, and begs me to present him
to your majesty."
"M. de Villefort!" cried the king, "is the messenger's name M. de
"And he comes from Marseilles?"
"Why did you not mention his name at once?" replied the king, betraying
"Sire, I thought his name was unknown to your majesty."
"No, no, Blacas; he is a man of strong and elevated understanding,
ambitious, too, and, pardieu, you know his father's name!"
"Noirtier the Girondin?--Noirtier the senator?"
"And your majesty has employed the son of such a man?"
"Blacas, my friend, you have but limited comprehension. I told you
Villefort was ambitious, and to attain this ambition Villefort would
sacrifice everything, even his father."
"Then, sire, may I present him?"
"This instant, duke! Where is he?"
"Waiting below, in my carriage."
"Seek him at once."
"I hasten to do so." The duke left the royal presence with the speed of
a young man; his really sincere royalism made him youthful again. Louis
XVIII. remained alone, and turning his eyes on his half-opened Horace,
"Justum et tenacem propositi virum."
M. de Blacas returned as speedily as he had departed, but in the
ante-chamber he was forced to appeal to the king's authority.
Villefort's dusty garb, his costume, which was not of courtly cut,
excited the susceptibility of M. de Breze, who was all astonishment at
finding that this young man had the audacity to enter before the king
in such attire. The duke, however, overcame all difficulties with a
word--his majesty's order; and, in spite of the protestations which the
master of ceremonies made for the honor of his office and principles,
Villefort was introduced.
The king was seated in the same place where the duke had left him. On
opening the door, Villefort found himself facing him, and the young
magistrate's first impulse was to pause.
"Come in, M. de Villefort," said the king, "come in." Villefort bowed,
and advancing a few steps, waited until the king should interrogate him.
"M. de Villefort," said Louis XVIII., "the Duc de Blacas assures me you
have some interesting information to communicate."
"Sire, the duke is right, and I believe your majesty will think it
"In the first place, and before everything else, sir, is the news as bad
in your opinion as I am asked to believe?"
"Sire, I believe it to be most urgent, but I hope, by the speed I have
used, that it is not irreparable."
"Speak as fully as you please, sir," said the king, who began to give
way to the emotion which had showed itself in Blacas's face and affected
Villefort's voice. "Speak, sir, and pray begin at the beginning; I like
order in everything."
"Sire," said Villefort, "I will render a faithful report to your
majesty, but I must entreat your forgiveness if my anxiety leads to some
obscurity in my language." A glance at the king after this discreet
and subtle exordium, assured Villefort of the benignity of his august
auditor, and he went on:--
"Sire, I have come as rapidly to Paris as possible, to inform your
majesty that I have discovered, in the exercise of my duties, not a
commonplace and insignificant plot, such as is every day got up in the
lower ranks of the people and in the army, but an actual conspiracy--a
storm which menaces no less than your majesty's throne. Sire, the
usurper is arming three ships, he meditates some project, which, however
mad, is yet, perhaps, terrible. At this moment he will have left Elba,
to go whither I know not, but assuredly to attempt a landing either at
Naples, or on the coast of Tuscany, or perhaps on the shores of France.
Your majesty is well aware that the sovereign of the Island of Elba has
maintained his relations with Italy and France?"
"I am, sir," said the king, much agitated; "and recently we have had
information that the Bonapartist clubs have had meetings in the Rue
Saint-Jacques. But proceed, I beg of you. How did you obtain these
"Sire, they are the results of an examination which I have made of a man
of Marseilles, whom I have watched for some time, and arrested on the
day of my departure. This person, a sailor, of turbulent character,
and whom I suspected of Bonapartism, has been secretly to the Island
of Elba. There he saw the grand-marshal, who charged him with an oral
message to a Bonapartist in Paris, whose name I could not extract from
him; but this mission was to prepare men's minds for a return (it is the
man who says this, sire)--a return which will soon occur."
"And where is this man?"
"In prison, sire."
"And the matter seems serious to you?"
"So serious, sire, that when the circumstance surprised me in the midst
of a family festival, on the very day of my betrothal, I left my bride
and friends, postponing everything, that I might hasten to lay at your
majesty's feet the fears which impressed me, and the assurance of my
"True," said Louis XVIII., "was there not a marriage engagement between
you and Mademoiselle de Saint-Meran?"
"Daughter of one of your majesty's most faithful servants."
"Yes, yes; but let us talk of this plot, M. de Villefort."
"Sire, I fear it is more than a plot; I fear it is a conspiracy."
"A conspiracy in these times," said Louis XVIII., smiling, "is a thing
very easy to meditate, but more difficult to conduct to an end, inasmuch
as, re-established so recently on the throne of our ancestors, we have
our eyes open at once upon the past, the present, and the future. For
the last ten months my ministers have redoubled their vigilance, in
order to watch the shore of the Mediterranean. If Bonaparte landed at
Naples, the whole coalition would be on foot before he could even reach
Piomoino; if he land in Tuscany, he will be in an unfriendly territory;
if he land in France, it must be with a handful of men, and the result
of that is easily foretold, execrated as he is by the population. Take
courage, sir; but at the same time rely on our royal gratitude."
"Ah, here is M. Dandre!" cried de Blacas. At this instant the minister
of police appeared at the door, pale, trembling, and as if ready to
faint. Villefort was about to retire, but M. de Blacas, taking his hand,
Chapter 11. The Corsican Ogre.
At the sight of this agitation Louis XVIII. pushed from him violently
the table at which he was sitting.
"What ails you, baron?" he exclaimed. "You appear quite aghast. Has your
uneasiness anything to do with what M. de Blacas has told me, and M. de
Villefort has just confirmed?" M. de Blacas moved suddenly towards the
baron, but the fright of the courtier pleaded for the forbearance of
the statesman; and besides, as matters were, it was much more to his
advantage that the prefect of police should triumph over him than that
he should humiliate the prefect.
"Sire"--stammered the baron.
"Well, what is it?" asked Louis XVIII. The minister of police, giving
way to an impulse of despair, was about to throw himself at the feet of
Louis XVIII., who retreated a step and frowned.
"Will you speak?" he said.
"Oh, sire, what a dreadful misfortune! I am, indeed, to be pitied. I can
never forgive myself!"
"Monsieur," said Louis XVIII., "I command you to speak."
"Well, sire, the usurper left Elba on the 26th February, and landed on
the 1st of March."
"And where? In Italy?" asked the king eagerly.
"In France, sire,--at a small port, near Antibes, in the Gulf of Juan."
"The usurper landed in France, near Antibes, in the Gulf of Juan, two
hundred and fifty leagues from Paris, on the 1st of March, and you only
acquired this information to-day, the 4th of March! Well, sir, what you
tell me is impossible. You must have received a false report, or you
have gone mad."
"Alas, sire, it is but too true!" Louis made a gesture of indescribable
anger and alarm, and then drew himself up as if this sudden blow had
struck him at the same moment in heart and countenance.
"In France!" he cried, "the usurper in France! Then they did not watch
over this man. Who knows? they were, perhaps, in league with him."
"Oh, sire," exclaimed the Duc de Blacas, "M. Dandre is not a man to be
accused of treason! Sire, we have all been blind, and the minister of
police has shared the general blindness, that is all."
"But"--said Villefort, and then suddenly checking himself, he was
silent; then he continued, "Your pardon, sire," he said, bowing, "my
zeal carried me away. Will your majesty deign to excuse me?"
"Speak, sir, speak boldly," replied Louis. "You alone forewarned us of
the evil; now try and aid us with the remedy."
"Sire," said Villefort, "the usurper is detested in the south; and it
seems to me that if he ventured into the south, it would be easy to
raise Languedoc and Provence against him."
"Yes, assuredly," replied the minister; "but he is advancing by Gap and
"Advancing--he is advancing!" said Louis XVIII. "Is he then advancing on
Paris?" The minister of police maintained a silence which was equivalent
to a complete avowal.
"And Dauphine, sir?" inquired the king, of Villefort. "Do you think it
possible to rouse that as well as Provence?"
"Sire, I am sorry to tell your majesty a cruel fact; but the feeling
in Dauphine is quite the reverse of that in Provence or Languedoc. The
mountaineers are Bonapartists, sire."
"Then," murmured Louis, "he was well informed. And how many men had he
"I do not know, sire," answered the minister of police.
"What, you do not know! Have you neglected to obtain information on that
point? Of course it is of no consequence," he added, with a withering
"Sire, it was impossible to learn; the despatch simply stated the fact
of the landing and the route taken by the usurper."
"And how did this despatch reach you?" inquired the king. The minister
bowed his head, and while a deep color overspread his cheeks, he
"By the telegraph, sire."--Louis XVIII. advanced a step, and folded his
arms over his chest as Napoleon would have done.
"So then," he exclaimed, turning pale with anger, "seven conjoined and
allied armies overthrew that man. A miracle of heaven replaced me on
the throne of my fathers after five-and-twenty years of exile. I have,
during those five-and-twenty years, spared no pains to understand the
people of France and the interests which were confided to me; and now,
when I see the fruition of my wishes almost within reach, the power I
hold in my hands bursts, and shatters me to atoms!"
"Sire, it is fatality!" murmured the minister, feeling that the pressure
of circumstances, however light a thing to destiny, was too much for any
human strength to endure.
"What our enemies say of us is then true. We have learnt nothing,
forgotten nothing! If I were betrayed as he was, I would console myself;
but to be in the midst of persons elevated by myself to places of honor,
who ought to watch over me more carefully than over themselves,--for my
fortune is theirs--before me they were nothing--after me they will be
nothing, and perish miserably from incapacity--ineptitude! Oh, yes, sir,
you are right--it is fatality!"
The minister quailed before this outburst of sarcasm. M. de Blacas wiped
the moisture from his brow. Villefort smiled within himself, for he felt
his increased importance.
"To fall," continued King Louis, who at the first glance had sounded the
abyss on which the monarchy hung suspended,--"to fall, and learn of that
fall by telegraph! Oh, I would rather mount the scaffold of my brother,
Louis XVI., than thus descend the staircase at the Tuileries driven away
by ridicule. Ridicule, sir--why, you know not its power in France, and
yet you ought to know it!"
"Sire, sire," murmured the minister, "for pity's"--
"Approach, M. de Villefort," resumed the king, addressing the young man,
who, motionless and breathless, was listening to a conversation on which
depended the destiny of a kingdom. "Approach, and tell monsieur that it
is possible to know beforehand all that he has not known."
"Sire, it was really impossible to learn secrets which that man
concealed from all the world."
"Really impossible! Yes--that is a great word, sir. Unfortunately, there
are great words, as there are great men; I have measured them. Really
impossible for a minister who has an office, agents, spies, and fifteen
hundred thousand francs for secret service money, to know what is going
on at sixty leagues from the coast of France! Well, then, see, here is a
gentleman who had none of these resources at his disposal--a gentleman,
only a simple magistrate, who learned more than you with all your
police, and who would have saved my crown, if, like you, he had the
power of directing a telegraph." The look of the minister of police was
turned with concentrated spite on Villefort, who bent his head in modest
"I do not mean that for you, Blacas," continued Louis XVIII.; "for if
you have discovered nothing, at least you have had the good sense
to persevere in your suspicions. Any other than yourself would have
considered the disclosure of M. de Villefort insignificant, or else
dictated by venal ambition," These words were an allusion to the
sentiments which the minister of police had uttered with so much
confidence an hour before.
Villefort understood the king's intent. Any other person would, perhaps,
have been overcome by such an intoxicating draught of praise; but
he feared to make for himself a mortal enemy of the police minister,
although he saw that Dandre was irrevocably lost. In fact, the
minister, who, in the plenitude of his power, had been unable to unearth
Napoleon's secret, might in despair at his own downfall interrogate
Dantes and so lay bare the motives of Villefort's plot. Realizing this,
Villefort came to the rescue of the crest-fallen minister, instead of
aiding to crush him.
"Sire," said Villefort, "the suddenness of this event must prove to your
majesty that the issue is in the hands of Providence; what your majesty
is pleased to attribute to me as profound perspicacity is simply owing
to chance, and I have profited by that chance, like a good and devoted
servant--that's all. Do not attribute to me more than I deserve, sire,
that your majesty may never have occasion to recall the first opinion
you have been pleased to form of me." The minister of police thanked
the young man by an eloquent look, and Villefort understood that he had
succeeded in his design; that is to say, that without forfeiting the
gratitude of the king, he had made a friend of one on whom, in case of
necessity, he might rely.
"'Tis well," resumed the king. "And now, gentlemen," he continued,
turning towards M. de Blacas and the minister of police, "I have no
further occasion for you, and you may retire; what now remains to do is
in the department of the minister of war."
"Fortunately, sire," said M. de Blacas, "we can rely on the army; your
majesty knows how every report confirms their loyalty and attachment."
"Do not mention reports, duke, to me, for I know now what confidence to
place in them. Yet, speaking of reports, baron, what have you learned
with regard to the affair in the Rue Saint-Jacques?"
"The affair in the Rue Saint-Jacques!" exclaimed Villefort, unable to
repress an exclamation. Then, suddenly pausing, he added, "Your pardon,
sire, but my devotion to your majesty has made me forget, not the
respect I have, for that is too deeply engraved in my heart, but the
rules of etiquette."
"Go on, go on, sir," replied the king; "you have to-day earned the right
to make inquiries here."
"Sire," interposed the minister of police, "I came a moment ago to give
your majesty fresh information which I had obtained on this head, when
your majesty's attention was attracted by the terrible event that has
occurred in the gulf, and now these facts will cease to interest your
"On the contrary, sir,--on the contrary," said Louis XVIII., "this
affair seems to me to have a decided connection with that which occupies
our attention, and the death of General Quesnel will, perhaps, put us on
the direct track of a great internal conspiracy." At the name of General
Quesnel, Villefort trembled.
"Everything points to the conclusion, sire," said the minister of
police, "that death was not the result of suicide, as we first believed,
but of assassination. General Quesnel, it appears, had just left a
Bonapartist club when he disappeared. An unknown person had been
with him that morning, and made an appointment with him in the Rue
Saint-Jacques; unfortunately, the general's valet, who was dressing
his hair at the moment when the stranger entered, heard the street
mentioned, but did not catch the number." As the police minister related
this to the king, Villefort, who looked as if his very life hung on the
speaker's lips, turned alternately red and pale. The king looked towards
"Do you not think with me, M. de Villefort, that General Quesnel, whom
they believed attached to the usurper, but who was really entirely
devoted to me, has perished the victim of a Bonapartist ambush?"
"It is probable, sire," replied Villefort. "But is this all that is
"They are on the track of the man who appointed the meeting with him."
"On his track?" said Villefort.
"Yes, the servant has given his description. He is a man of from fifty
to fifty-two years of age, dark, with black eyes covered with shaggy
eyebrows, and a thick mustache. He was dressed in a blue frock-coat,
buttoned up to the chin, and wore at his button-hole the rosette of an
officer of the Legion of Honor. Yesterday a person exactly corresponding
with this description was followed, but he was lost sight of at the
corner of the Rue de la Jussienne and the Rue Coq-Heron." Villefort
leaned on the back of an arm-chair, for as the minister of police went
on speaking he felt his legs bend under him; but when he learned that
the unknown had escaped the vigilance of the agent who followed him, he
"Continue to seek for this man, sir," said the king to the minister of
police; "for if, as I am all but convinced, General Quesnel, who
would have been so useful to us at this moment, has been murdered, his
assassins, Bonapartists or not, shall be cruelly punished." It required
all Villefort's coolness not to betray the terror with which this
declaration of the king inspired him.
"How strange," continued the king, with some asperity; "the police think
that they have disposed of the whole matter when they say, 'A murder has
been committed,' and especially so when they can add, 'And we are on the
track of the guilty persons.'"
"Sire, your majesty will, I trust, be amply satisfied on this point at
"We shall see. I will no longer detain you, M. de Villefort, for you
must be fatigued after so long a journey; go and rest. Of course you
stopped at your father's?" A feeling of faintness came over Villefort.
"No, sire," he replied, "I alighted at the Hotel de Madrid, in the Rue
"But you have seen him?"
"Sire, I went straight to the Duc de Blacas."
"But you will see him, then?"
"I think not, sire."
"Ah, I forgot," said Louis, smiling in a manner which proved that all
these questions were not made without a motive; "I forgot you and
M. Noirtier are not on the best terms possible, and that is another
sacrifice made to the royal cause, and for which you should be
"Sire, the kindness your majesty deigns to evince towards me is a
recompense which so far surpasses my utmost ambition that I have nothing
more to ask for."
"Never mind, sir, we will not forget you; make your mind easy. In the
meanwhile" (the king here detached the cross of the Legion of Honor
which he usually wore over his blue coat, near the cross of St. Louis,
above the order of Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel and St. Lazare, and gave it
to Villefort)--"in the meanwhile take this cross."
"Sire," said Villefort, "your majesty mistakes; this is an officer's
"Ma foi," said Louis XVIII., "take it, such as it is, for I have not the
time to procure you another. Blacas, let it be your care to see that the
brevet is made out and sent to M. de Villefort." Villefort's eyes were
filled with tears of joy and pride; he took the cross and kissed it.
"And now," he said, "may I inquire what are the orders with which your
majesty deigns to honor me?"
"Take what rest you require, and remember that if you are not able to
serve me here in Paris, you may be of the greatest service to me at
"Sire," replied Villefort, bowing, "in an hour I shall have quitted
"Go, sir," said the king; "and should I forget you (kings' memories are
short), do not be afraid to bring yourself to my recollection. Baron,
send for the minister of war. Blacas, remain."
"Ah, sir," said the minister of police to Villefort, as they left the
Tuileries, "you entered by luck's door--your fortune is made."
"Will it be long first?" muttered Villefort, saluting the minister,
whose career was ended, and looking about him for a hackney-coach.
One passed at the moment, which he hailed; he gave his address to the
driver, and springing in, threw himself on the seat, and gave loose to
dreams of ambition.
Ten minutes afterwards Villefort reached his hotel, ordered horses to be
ready in two hours, and asked to have his breakfast brought to him. He
was about to begin his repast when the sound of the bell rang sharp and
loud. The valet opened the door, and Villefort heard some one speak his
"Who could know that I was here already?" said the young man. The valet
"Well," said Villefort, "what is it?--Who rang?--Who asked for me?"
"A stranger who will not send in his name."
"A stranger who will not send in his name! What can he want with me?"
"He wishes to speak to you."
"Did he mention my name?"
"What sort of person is he?"
"Why, sir, a man of about fifty."
"Short or tall?"
"About your own height, sir."
"Dark or fair?"
"Dark,--very dark; with black eyes, black hair, black eyebrows."
"And how dressed?" asked Villefort quickly.
"In a blue frock-coat, buttoned up close, decorated with the Legion of
"It is he!" said Villefort, turning pale.
"Eh, pardieu," said the individual whose description we have twice
given, entering the door, "what a great deal of ceremony! Is it the
custom in Marseilles for sons to keep their fathers waiting in their
"Father!" cried Villefort, "then I was not deceived; I felt sure it must
"Well, then, if you felt so sure," replied the new-comer, putting his
cane in a corner and his hat on a chair, "allow me to say, my dear
Gerard, that it was not very filial of you to keep me waiting at the
"Leave us, Germain," said Villefort. The servant quitted the apartment
with evident signs of astonishment.
Chapter 12. Father and Son.
M. Noirtier--for it was, indeed, he who entered--looked after the
servant until the door was closed, and then, fearing, no doubt, that he
might be overheard in the ante-chamber, he opened the door again,
nor was the precaution useless, as appeared from the rapid retreat of
Germain, who proved that he was not exempt from the sin which ruined our
first parents. M. Noirtier then took the trouble to close and bolt the
ante-chamber door, then that of the bed-chamber, and then extended his
hand to Villefort, who had followed all his motions with surprise which
he could not conceal.
"Well, now, my dear Gerard," said he to the young man, with a very
significant look, "do you know, you seem as if you were not very glad to
"My dear father," said Villefort, "I am, on the contrary, delighted; but
I so little expected your visit, that it has somewhat overcome me."
"But, my dear fellow," replied M. Noirtier, seating himself, "I might
say the same thing to you, when you announce to me your wedding for the
28th of February, and on the 3rd of March you turn up here in Paris."
"And if I have come, my dear father," said Gerard, drawing closer to
M. Noirtier, "do not complain, for it is for you that I came, and my
journey will be your salvation."
"Ah, indeed!" said M. Noirtier, stretching himself out at his ease
in the chair. "Really, pray tell me all about it, for it must be
"Father, you have heard speak of a certain Bonapartist club in the Rue
"No. 53; yes, I am vice-president."
"Father, your coolness makes me shudder."
"Why, my dear boy, when a man has been proscribed by the mountaineers,
has escaped from Paris in a hay-cart, been hunted over the plains of
Bordeaux by Robespierre's bloodhounds, he becomes accustomed to most
things. But go on, what about the club in the Rue Saint-Jacques?"
"Why, they induced General Quesnel to go there, and General Quesnel, who
quitted his own house at nine o'clock in the evening, was found the next
day in the Seine."
"And who told you this fine story?"
"The king himself."
"Well, then, in return for your story," continued Noirtier, "I will tell
"My dear father, I think I already know what you are about to tell me."
"Ah, you have heard of the landing of the emperor?"
"Not so loud, father, I entreat of you--for your own sake as well as
mine. Yes, I heard this news, and knew it even before you could; for
three days ago I posted from Marseilles to Paris with all possible
speed, half-desperate at the enforced delay."
"Three days ago? You are crazy. Why, three days ago the emperor had not
"No matter, I was aware of his intention."
"How did you know about it?"
"By a letter addressed to you from the Island of Elba."