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

Naples.

 

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

basin.

 

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

Captain Leclere."

 

"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?"

 

"He died."

 

"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

owner.

 

"And how did this misfortune occur?" inquired the latter, resuming the

interrupted conversation.

 

"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

man-of-war.

 

"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

way!"

 

"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

word."

 

"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?"

 

"Who?"

 

"The marshal."

 

"Yes."

 

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

said,--

 

"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

him?"

 

"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

mistaken."

 

At this moment the young man returned; Danglars withdrew.

 

"Well, my dear Dantes, are you now free?" inquired the owner.

 

"Yes, sir."

 

"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

gave them."

 

"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

me."

 

"Right, Dantes, quite right. I always knew you were a good son."

 

"And," inquired Dantes, with some hesitation, "do you know how my father

is?"

 

"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

absence."

 

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

Heaven."

 

"Well, then, after this first visit has been made we shall count on

you."

 

"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."

 

Dantes blushed.

 

"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

betrothed."

 

"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."

 

"Nothing."

 

"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

Pharaon?"

 

"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

to me."

 

"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

are."

 

"Then I have leave?"

 

"Go, I tell you."

 

"May I have the use of your skiff?"

 

"Certainly."

 

"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,

much alarmed.

 

"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

old man.

 

"Yes, yes, father, tell me where it is," and he opened two or three

cupboards.

 

"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"--

 

"Well?"

 

"Why, I paid him."

 

"But," cried Dantes, "it was a hundred and forty francs I owed

Caderousse."

 

"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

Edmond.

 

"You know how little I require," said the old man.

 

"Heaven pardon me," cried Edmond, falling on his knees before his

father.

 

"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

brightened.

 

"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,'

says he.

 

"'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

the owner."

 

"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."

 

"And why?"

 

"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

uneasiness.

 

"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

Rue Senac.

 

"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

a captain."

 

"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

Catalane?"

 

"Over head and ears; but, unless I am much mistaken, there will be a

storm in that quarter."

 

"Explain yourself."

 

"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

its language.

 

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

true, Fernand?"

 

"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

voice.

 

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

believed?"

 

"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

mind?"

 

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

body.

 

"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

unnecessarily!"

 

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

suddenly."

 

"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

us."

 

"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

well-behaved!"

 

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,

Madame Dantes?"

 

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

you please."

 

"We must excuse our worthy neighbor, Caderousse," said Dantes, "he is so

easily mistaken."

 

"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

invited!"

 

"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

there, Dantes?"

 

"Yes."

 

"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!"

 

"For long?"

 

"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

find."

 

"I have found already."

 

"What?"

 

"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

judgment."

 

"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

deluge.' [*]

 

     * "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

pistol."

 

"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

table.

 

"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

incarceration!"

 

"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

ill-used."

 

"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

went.

 

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

is!"

 

"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

the occasion.

 

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

their own.

 

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

several minutes.

 

"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

agreeable.

 

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

instant."

 

"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

come!"

 

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

Madame Dantes."

 

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

and bride-groom.

 

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

thoughts.

 

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

ghastly pale.

 

"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

his place."

 

"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

stillness prevailed.

 

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

the law!"

 

"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

examination."

 

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

disappeared.

 

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

pieces."

 

"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

were drunk!"

 

"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

Marseilles.

 

"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

arms.

 

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

wrought it."

 

"You don't mention those who aided and abetted the deed," said

Caderousse.

 

"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

head."

 

Meantime the subject of the arrest was being canvassed in every

different form.

 

"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

contraband."

 

"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

me!"

 

"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

still hope!"

 

"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

thing possible?"

 

"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

suspicious circumstance."

 

"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

captain."

 

"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

Justice.

 

"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

was disguised."

 

"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

truth."

 

"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

politics."

 

"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

advocates."

 

"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

perished."

 

"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

mischief."

 

"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!"

 

"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

purpose."

 

"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

scale?"

 

"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

verdicts."

 

"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

point."

 

"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

the physician."

 

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

intelligent lover.

 

"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

executioner."

 

"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

Villefort:--

 

"'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

betrothal."

 

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

Renee.

 

"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

the room.

 

 

 

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

contemplation.

 

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

conspiracy."

 

"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

marines?"

 

"Oh, no, monsieur, he is very young."

 

"How old?"

 

"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

him."

 

"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

him."

 

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

replied,--

 

"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

replied, however,--

 

"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

elder brother."

 

"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

this mildness.

 

"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

decapitator."

 

"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

conspirators."

 

"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,"

said Villefort.

 

"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

more pale.

 

"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

for you."

 

"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

judge."

 

"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?"

 

"It was."

 

"Swear it."

 

"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

thought.

 

"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

stones.

 

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."

 

"But still"--

 

"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

against him?

 

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

intended."

 

"Unless you are blind, or have never been outside the harbor, you must

know."

 

"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

gendarme smiled.

 

"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

imprisoned there?"

 

"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

made."

 

"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

behind.

 

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

the chamber.

 

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

no reply.

 

"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."

 

"Why so?"

 

"Because it is against prison rules, and prisoners must not even ask for

it."

 

"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

is all."

 

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

subdued tone.

 

"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?"

 

"Two years."

 

"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

offer."

 

"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

beneath."

 

"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

is?"

 

"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

francs."

 

"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?"

 

"Yes."

 

"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 whom?"

 

"To the king."

 

"To the king?"

 

"Yes."

 

"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

the letter."

 

"Be as quick as possible, I must be on the road in a quarter of an

hour."

 

"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

executioner.

 

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

monarch.

 

"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

kine?"

 

"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

south."

 

"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

Horace.

 

"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 whom?"

 

"By Bonaparte, or, at least, by his adherents."

 

"My dear Blacas," said the king, "you with your alarms prevent me from

working."

 

"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."

 

"Which?"

 

"Whichever you please--there to the left."

 

"Here, sire?"

 

"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

chamberlain-in-waiting, entered.

 

"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."

 

"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

Africanus."

 

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

police bowed.

 

"The usurper's conversion!" murmured the duke, looking at the king and

Dandre, who spoke alternately, like Virgil's shepherds. "The usurper

converted!"

 

"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

facetiously.

 

"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

you."

 

"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

anhelitu?"

 

"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?"

 

"Yes, sire."

 

"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

Villefort?"

 

"Yes, sire."

 

"And he comes from Marseilles?"

 

"In person."

 

"Why did you not mention his name at once?" replied the king, betraying

some uneasiness.

 

"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!"

 

"His father?"

 

"Yes, Noirtier."

 

"Noirtier the Girondin?--Noirtier the senator?"

 

"He himself."

 

"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,

muttered,--

 

"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

equally important."

 

"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

details?"

 

"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

devotion."

 

"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,

restrained him.

 

 

 

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

Sisteron."

 

"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

with him?"

 

"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

smile.

 

"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

stammered out,--

 

"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

triumph.

 

"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

majesty."

 

"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

him.

 

"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

known?"

 

"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

breathed again.

 

"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

least."

 

"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

de Tournon."

 

"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

recompensed."

 

"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

cross."

 

"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

Marseilles."

 

"Sire," replied Villefort, bowing, "in an hour I shall have quitted

Paris."

 

"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

name.

 

"Who could know that I was here already?" said the young man. The valet

entered.

 

"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."

 

"To me?"

 

"Yes."

 

"Did he mention my name?"

 

"Yes."

 

"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

Honor."

 

"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

anterooms?"

 

"Father!" cried Villefort, "then I was not deceived; I felt sure it must

be you."

 

"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

door."

 

"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

see me?"

 

"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

interesting."

 

"Father, you have heard speak of a certain Bonapartist club in the Rue

Saint-Jacques?"

 

"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

you another."