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The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas [Pere]

Part 10 out of 31

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fallacious than to form any estimate of the degree of
intimacy you may suppose existing among persons by the
familiar terms they seem upon; there is a similarity of
feeling at this instant between ourselves and the countess
-- nothing more."

"Is there, indeed, my good fellow? Pray tell me, is it
sympathy of heart?"

"No; of taste," continued Franz gravely.

"And in what manner has this congeniality of mind been

"By the countess's visiting the Colosseum, as we did last
night, by moonlight, and nearly alone."

"You were with her, then?"

"I was."

"And what did you say to her?"

"Oh, we talked of the illustrious dead of whom that
magnificent ruin is a glorious monument!"

"Upon my word," cried Albert, "you must have been a very
entertaining companion alone, or all but alone, with a
beautiful woman in such a place of sentiment as the
Colosseum, and yet to find nothing better a talk about than
the dead! All I can say is, if ever I should get such a
chance, the living should be my theme."

"And you will probably find your theme ill-chosen."

"But," said Albert, breaking in upon his discourse, "never
mind the past; let us only remember the present. Are you not
going to keep your promise of introducing me to the fair
subject of our remarks?"

"Certainly, directly the curtain falls on the stage."

"What a confounded time this first act takes. I believe, on
my soul, that they never mean to finish it."

"Oh, yes, they will; only listen to that charming finale.
How exquisitely Coselli sings his part."

"But what an awkward, inelegant fellow he is."

"Well, then, what do you say to La Specchia? Did you ever
see anything more perfect than her acting?"

"Why, you know, my dear fellow, when one has been accustomed
to Malibran and Sontag, such singers as these don't make the
same impression on you they perhaps do on others."

"At least, you must admire Moriani's style and execution."

"I never fancied men of his dark, ponderous appearance
singing with a voice like a woman's."

"My good friend," said Franz, turning to him, while Albert
continued to point his glass at every box in the theatre,
"you seem determined not to approve; you are really too
difficult to please." The curtain at length fell on the
performances, to the infinite satisfaction of the Viscount
of Morcerf, who seized his hat, rapidly passed his fingers
through his hair, arranged his cravat and wristbands, and
signified to Franz that he was waiting for him to lead the
way. Franz, who had mutely interrogated the countess, and
received from her a gracious smile in token that he would be
welcome, sought not to retard the gratification of Albert's
eager impatience, but began at once the tour of the house,
closely followed by Albert, who availed himself of the few
minutes required to reach the opposite side of the theatre
to settle the height and smoothness of his collar, and to
arrange the lappets of his coat. This important task was
just completed as they arrived at the countess's box. At the
knock, the door was immediately opened, and the young man
who was seated beside the countess, in obedience to the
Italian custom, instantly rose and surrendered his place to
the strangers, who, in turn, would be expected to retire
upon the arrival of other visitors.

Franz presented Albert as one of the most distinguished
young men of the day, both as regarded his position in
society and extraordinary talents; nor did he say more than
the truth, for in Paris and the circle in which the viscount
moved, he was looked upon and cited as a model of
perfection. Franz added that his companion, deeply grieved
at having been prevented the honor of being presented to the
countess during her sojourn in Paris, was most anxious to
make up for it, and had requested him (Franz) to remedy the
past misfortune by conducting him to her box, and concluded
by asking pardon for his presumption in having taken it upon
himself to do so. The countess, in reply, bowed gracefully
to Albert, and extended her hand with cordial kindness to
Franz; then, inviting Albert to take the vacant seat beside
her, she recommended Franz to take the next best, if he
wished to view the ballet, and pointed to the one behind her
own chair. Albert was soon deeply engrossed in discoursing
upon Paris and Parisian matters, speaking to the countess of
the various persons they both knew there. Franz perceived
how completely he was in his element; and, unwilling to
interfere with the pleasure he so evidently felt, took up
Albert's glass, and began in his turn to survey the
audience. Sitting alone, in the front of a box immediately
opposite, but situated on the third row, was a woman of
exquisite beauty, dressed in a Greek costume, which
evidently, from the ease and grace with which she wore it,
was her national attire. Behind her, but in deep shadow, was
the outline of a masculine figure; but the features of this
latter personage it was not possible to distinguish. Franz
could not forbear breaking in upon the apparently
interesting conversation passing between the countess and
Albert, to inquire of the former if she knew who was the
fair Albanian opposite, since beauty such as hers was well
worthy of being observed by either sex. "All I can tell
about her," replied the countess, "is, that she has been at
Rome since the beginning of the season; for I saw her where
she now sits the very first night of the season, and since
then she has never missed a performance. Sometimes she is
accompanied by the person who is now with her, and at others
she is merely attended by a black servant."

"And what do you think of her personal appearance?"

"Oh, I consider her perfectly lovely -- she is just my idea
of what Medora must have been."

Franz and the countess exchanged a smile, and then the
latter resumed her conversation with Albert, while Franz
returned to his previous survey of the house and company.
The curtain rose on the ballet, which was one of those
excellent specimens of the Italian school, admirably
arranged and put on the stage by Henri, who has established
for himself a great reputation throughout Italy for his
taste and skill in the choreographic art -- one of those
masterly productions of grace, method, and elegance in which
the whole corps de ballet, from the principal dancers to the
humblest supernumerary, are all engaged on the stage at the
same time; and a hundred and fifty persons may be seen
exhibiting the same attitude, or elevating the same arm or
leg with a simultaneous movement, that would lead you to
suppose that but one mind, one act of volition, influenced
the moving mass -- the ballet was called "Poliska." However
much the ballet might have claimed his attention, Franz was
too deeply occupied with the beautiful Greek to take any
note of it; while she seemed to experience an almost
childlike delight in watching it, her eager, animated looks
contrasting strongly with the utter indifference of her
companion, who, during the whole time the piece lasted,
never even moved, not even when the furious, crashing din
produced by the trumpets, cymbals, and Chinese bells sounded
their loudest from the orchestra. Of this he took no heed,
but was, as far as appearances might be trusted, enjoying
soft repose and bright celestial dreams. The ballet at
length came to a close, and the curtain fell amid the loud,
unanimous plaudits of an enthusiastic and delighted

Owing to the very judicious plan of dividing the two acts of
the opera with a ballet, the pauses between the performances
are very short, the singers in the opera having time to
repose themselves and change their costume, when necessary,
while the dancers are executing their pirouettes and
exhibiting their graceful steps. The overture to the second
act began; and, at the first sound of the leader's bow
across his violin, Franz observed the sleeper slowly arise
and approach the Greek girl, who turned around to say a few
words to him, and then, leaning forward again on the railing
of her box, she became as absorbed as before in what was
going on. The countenance of the person who had addressed
her remained so completely in the shade, that, though Franz
tried his utmost, he could not distinguish a single feature.
The curtain rose, and the attention of Franz was attracted
by the actors; and his eyes turned from the box containing
the Greek girl and her strange companion to watch the
business of the stage.

Most of my readers are aware that the second act of
"Parisina" opens with the celebrated and effective duet in
which Parisina, while sleeping, betrays to Azzo the secret
of her love for Ugo. The injured husband goes through all
the emotions of jealousy, until conviction seizes on his
mind, and then, in a frenzy of rage and indignation, he
awakens his guilty wife to tell her that he knows her guilt
and to threaten her with his vengeance. This duet is one of
the most beautiful, expressive and terrible conceptions that
has ever emanated from the fruitful pen of Donizetti. Franz
now listened to it for the third time; yet its notes, so
tenderly expressive and fearfully grand as the wretched
husband and wife give vent to their different griefs and
passions, thrilled through the soul of Franz with an effect
equal to his first emotions upon hearing it. Excited beyond
his usual calm demeanor, Franz rose with the audience, and
was about to join the loud, enthusiastic applause that
followed; but suddenly his purpose was arrested, his hands
fell by his sides, and the half-uttered "bravos" expired on
his lips. The occupant of the box in which the Greek girl
sat appeared to share the universal admiration that
prevailed; for he left his seat to stand up in front, so
that, his countenance being fully revealed, Franz had no
difficulty in recognizing him as the mysterious inhabitant
of Monte Cristo, and the very same person he had encountered
the preceding evening in the ruins of the Colosseum, and
whose voice and figure had seemed so familiar to him. All
doubt of his identity was now at an end; his singular host
evidently resided at Rome. The surprise and agitation
occasioned by this full confirmation of Franz's former
suspicion had no doubt imparted a corresponding expression
to his features; for the countess, after gazing with a
puzzled look at his face, burst into a fit of laughter, and
begged to know what had happened. "Countess," returned
Franz, totally unheeding her raillery, "I asked you a short
time since if you knew any particulars respecting the
Albanian lady opposite; I must now beseech you to inform me
who and what is her husband?"

"Nay," answered the countess, "I know no more of him than

"Perhaps you never before noticed him?"

"What a question -- so truly French! Do you not know that we
Italians have eyes only for the man we love?"

"True," replied Franz.

"All I can say is," continued the countess, taking up the
lorgnette, and directing it toward the box in question,
"that the gentleman, whose history I am unable to furnish,
seems to me as though he had just been dug up; he looks more
like a corpse permitted by some friendly grave-digger to
quit his tomb for a while, and revisit this earth of ours,
than anything human. How ghastly pale he is!"

"Oh, he is always as colorless as you now see him," said

"Then you know him?" almost screamed the countess. "Oh, pray
do, for heaven's sake, tell us all about -- is he a vampire,
or a resuscitated corpse, or what?"

"I fancy I have seen him before; and I even think he
recognizes me."

"And I can well understand," said the countess, shrugging up
her beautiful shoulders, as though an involuntary shudder
passed through her veins, "that those who have once seen
that man will never be likely to forget him." The sensation
experienced by Franz was evidently not peculiar to himself;
another, and wholly uninterested person, felt the same
unaccountable awe and misgiving. "Well." inquired Franz,
after the countess had a second time directed her lorgnette
at the box, "what do you think of our opposite neighbor?"

"Why, that he is no other than Lord Ruthven himself in a
living form." This fresh allusion to Byron* drew a smile to
Franz's countenance; although he could but allow that if
anything was likely to induce belief in the existence of
vampires, it would be the presence of such a man as the
mysterious personage before him.

"I must positively find out who and what he is," said Franz,
rising from his seat.

"No, no," cried the countess; "you must not leave me. I
depend upon you to escort me home. Oh, indeed, I cannot
permit you to go."

* Scott, of course: "The son of an ill-fated sire, and the
father of a yet more unfortunate family, bore in his looks
that cast of inauspicious melancholy by which the
physiognomists of that time pretended to distinguish those
who were predestined to a violent and unhappy death." -- The
Abbot, ch. xxii.

"Is it possible," whispered Franz, "that you entertain any

"I'll tell you," answered the countess. "Byron had the most
perfect belief in the existence of vampires, and even
assured me that he had seen them. The description he gave me
perfectly corresponds with the features and character of the
man before us. Oh, he is the exact personification of what I
have been led to expect! The coal-black hair, large bright,
glittering eyes, in which a wild, unearthly fire seems
burning, -- the same ghastly paleness. Then observe, too,
that the woman with him is altogether unlike all others of
her sex. She is a foreigner -- a stranger. Nobody knows who
she is, or where she comes from. No doubt she belongs to the
same horrible race he does, and is, like himself, a dealer
in magical arts. I entreat of you not to go near him -- at
least to-night; and if to-morrow your curiosity still
continues as great, pursue your researches if you will; but
to-night you neither can nor shall. For that purpose I mean
to keep you all to myself." Franz protested he could not
defer his pursuit till the following day, for many reasons.
"Listen to me," said the countess, "and do not be so very
headstrong. I am going home. I have a party at my house
to-night, and therefore cannot possibly remain till the end
of the opera. Now, I cannot for one instant believe you so
devoid of gallantry as to refuse a lady your escort when she
even condescends to ask you for it."

There was nothing else left for Franz to do but to take up
his hat, open the door of the box, and offer the countess
his arm. It was quite evident, by her manner, that her
uneasiness was not feigned; and Franz himself could not
resist a feeling of superstitious dread -- so much the
stronger in him, as it arose from a variety of corroborative
recollections, while the terror of the countess sprang from
an instinctive belief, originally created in her mind by the
wild tales she had listened to till she believed them
truths. Franz could even feel her arm tremble as he assisted
her into the carriage. Upon arriving at her hotel, Franz
perceived that she had deceived him when she spoke of
expecting company; on the contrary, her own return before
the appointed hour seemed greatly to astonish the servants.
"Excuse my little subterfuge," said the countess, in reply
to her companion's half-reproachful observation on the
subject; "but that horrid man had made me feel quite
uncomfortable, and I longed to be alone, that I might
compose my startled mind." Franz essayed to smile. "Nay,"
said she, "do not smile; it ill accords with the expression
of your countenance, and I am sure it does not spring from
your heart. However, promise me one thing."

"What is it?"

"Promise me, I say."

"I will do anything you desire, except relinquish my
determination of finding out who this man is. I have more
reasons than you can imagine for desiring to know who he is,
from whence he came, and whither he is going."

"Where he comes from I am ignorant; but I can readily tell
you where he is going to, and that is down below, without
the least doubt."

"Let us only speak of the promise you wished me to make,"
said Franz.

"Well, then, you must give me your word to return
immediately to your hotel, and make no attempt to follow
this man to-night. There are certain affinities between the
persons we quit and those we meet afterwards. For heaven's
sake, do not serve as a conductor between that man and me.
Pursue your chase after him to-morrow as eagerly as you
please; but never bring him near me, if you would not see me
die of terror. And now, good-night; go to your rooms, and
try to sleep away all recollections of this evening. For my
own part, I am quite sure I shall not be able to close my
eyes." So saying, the countess quitted Franz, leaving him
unable to decide whether she were merely amusing herself at
his expense, or whether her fears and agitations were

Upon his return to the hotel, Franz found Albert in his
dressing-gown and slippers, listlessly extended on a sofa,
smoking a cigar. "My dear fellow." cried he, springing up,
"is it really you? Why, I did not expect to see you before

"My dear Albert," replied Franz, "I am glad of this
opportunity to tell you, once and forever, that you
entertain a most erroneous notion concerning Italian women.
I should have thought the continual failures you have met
with in all your own love affairs might have taught you
better by this time."

"Upon my soul, these women would puzzle the very Devil to
read them aright. Why, here -- they give you their hand --
they press yours in return -- they keep up a whispering
conversation -- permit you to accompany them home. Why, if a
Parisian were to indulge in a quarter of these marks of
flattering attention, her reputation would be gone forever."

"And the very reason why the women of this fine country put
so little restraint on their words and actions, is because
they live so much in public, and have really nothing to
conceal. Besides, you must have perceived that the countess
was really alarmed."

"At what? At the sight of that respectable gentleman sitting
opposite to us in the same box with the lovely Greek girl?
Now, for my part, I met them in the lobby after the
conclusion of the piece; and hang me, if I can guess where
you took your notions of the other world from. I can assure
you that this hobgoblin of yours is a deuced fine-looking
fellow -- admirably dressed. Indeed, I feel quite sure, from
the cut of his clothes, they are made by a first-rate Paris
tailor -- probably Blin or Humann. He was rather too pale,
certainly; but then, you know, paleness is always looked
upon as a strong proof of aristocratic descent and
distinguished breeding." Franz smiled; for he well
remembered that Albert particularly prided himself on the
entire absence of color in his own complexion.

"Well, that tends to confirm my own ideas," said Franz,
"that the countess's suspicions were destitute alike of
sense and reason. Did he speak in your hearing? and did you
catch any of his words?"

"I did; but they were uttered in the Romaic dialect. I knew
that from the mixture of Greek words. I don't know whether I
ever told you that when I was at college I was rather --
rather strong in Greek."

"He spoke the Romaic language, did he?"

"I think so."

"That settles it," murmured Franz. "'Tis he, past all

"What do you say?"

"Nothing, nothing. But tell me, what were you thinking about
when I came in?"

"Oh, I was arranging a little surprise for you."

"Indeed. Of what nature?"

"Why, you know it is quite impossible to procure a

"Certainly; and I also know that we have done all that human
means afforded to endeavor to get one."

"Now, then, in this difficulty a bright idea has flashed
across my brain." Franz looked at Albert as though he had
not much confidence in the suggestions of his imagination.
"I tell you what, Sir Franz," cried Albert, "you deserve to
be called out for such a misgiving and incredulous glance as
that you were pleased to bestow on me just now."

"And I promise to give you the satisfaction of a gentleman
if your scheme turns out as ingenious as you assert."

"Well, then, hearken to me."

"I listen."

"You agree, do you not, that obtaining a carriage is out of
the question?"

"I do."

"Neither can we procure horses?"

"True; we have offered any sum, but have failed."

"Well, now, what do you say to a cart? I dare say such a
thing might be had."

"Very possibly."

"And a pair of oxen?"

"As easily found as the cart."

"Then you see, my good fellow, with a cart and a couple of
oxen our business can be managed. The cart must be
tastefully ornamented; and if you and I dress ourselves as
Neapolitan reapers, we may get up a striking tableau, after
the manner of that splendid picture by Leopold Robert. It
would add greatly to the effect if the countess would join
us in the costume of a peasant from Puzzoli or Sorrento. Our
group would then be quite complete, more especially as the
countess is quite beautiful enough to represent a madonna."

"Well," said Franz, "this time, Albert, I am bound to give
you credit for having hit upon a most capital idea."

"And quite a national one, too," replied Albert with
gratified pride. "A mere masque borrowed from our own
festivities. Ha, ha, ye Romans! you thought to make us,
unhappy strangers, trot at the heels of your processions,
like so many lazzaroni, because no carriages or horses are
to be had in your beggarly city. But you don't know us; when
we can't have one thing we invent another."

"And have you communicated your triumphant idea to anybody?"

"Only to our host. Upon my return home I sent for him, and I
then explained to him what I wished to procure. He assured
me that nothing would be easier than to furnish all I
desired. One thing I was sorry for; when I bade him have the
horns of the oxen gilded, he told me there would not be
time, as it would require three days to do that; so you see
we must do without this little superfluity."

"And where is he now?"


"Our host."

"Gone out in search of our equipage, by to-morrow it might
be too late."

"Then he will be able to give us an answer to-night."

"Oh, I expect him every minute." At this instant the door
opened, and the head of Signor Pastrini appeared.
"Permesso?" inquired he.

"Certainly -- certainly," cried Franz. "Come in, mine host."

"Now, then," asked Albert eagerly, "have you found the
desired cart and oxen?"

"Better than that!" replied Signor Pastrini, with the air of
a man perfectly well satisfied with himself.

"Take care, my worthy host," said Albert, "better is a sure
enemy to well."

"Let your excellencies only leave the matter to me,"
returned Signor Pastrini in a tone indicative of unbounded

"But what have you done?" asked Franz. "Speak out, there's a
worthy fellow."

"Your excellencies are aware," responded the landlord,
swelling with importance, "that the Count of Monte Cristo is
living on the same floor with yourselves!"

"I should think we did know it," exclaimed Albert, "since it
is owing to that circumstance that we are packed into these
small rooms, like two poor students in the back streets of

"When, then, the Count of Monte Cristo, hearing of the
dilemma in which you are placed, has sent to offer you seats
in his carriage and two places at his windows in the Palazzo
Rospoli." The friends looked at each other with unutterable

"But do you think," asked Albert, "that we ought to accept
such offers from a perfect stranger?"

"What sort of person is this Count of Monte Cristo?" asked
Franz of his host. "A very great nobleman, but whether
Maltese or Sicilian I cannot exactly say; but this I know,
that he is noble as a Borghese and rich as a gold-mine."

"It seems to me," said Franz, speaking in an undertone to
Albert, "that if this person merited the high panegyrics of
our landlord, he would have conveyed his invitation through
another channel, and not permitted it to be brought to us in
this unceremonious way. He would have written -- or" --

At this instant some one knocked at the door. "Come in,"
said Franz. A servant, wearing a livery of considerable
style and richness, appeared at the threshold, and, placing
two cards in the landlord's hands, who forthwith presented
them to the two young men, he said, "Please to deliver
these, from the Count of Monte Cristo to Viscomte Albert de
Morcerf and M. Franz d'Epinay. The Count of Monte Cristo,"
continued the servant, "begs these gentlemen's permission to
wait upon them as their neighbor, and he will be honored by
an intimation of what time they will please to receive him."

"Faith, Franz," whispered Albert, "there is not much to find
fault with here."

"Tell the count," replied Franz, "that we will do ourselves
the pleasure of calling on him." The servant bowed and

"That is what I call an elegant mode of attack," said
Albert, "You were quite correct in what you said, Signor
Pastrini. The Count of Monte Cristo is unquestionably a man
of first-rate breeding and knowledge of the world."

"Then you accept his offer?" said the host.

"Of course we do," replied Albert. "Still, I must own I am
sorry to be obliged to give up the cart and the group of
reapers -- it would have produced such an effect! And were
it not for the windows at the Palazzo Rospoli, by way of
recompense for the loss of our beautiful scheme, I don't
know but what I should have held on by my original plan.
What say you, Franz?"

"Oh, I agree with you; the windows in the Palazzo Rospoli
alone decided me." The truth was, that the mention of two
places in the Palazzo Rospoli had recalled to Franz the
conversation he had overheard the preceding evening in the
ruins of the Colosseum between the mysterious unknown and
the Transteverin, in which the stranger in the cloak had
undertaken to obtain the freedom of a condemned criminal;
and if this muffled-up individual proved (as Franz felt sure
he would) the same as the person he had just seen in the
Teatro Argentino, then he should be able to establish his
identity, and also to prosecute his researches respecting
him with perfect facility and freedom. Franz passed the
night in confused dreams respecting the two meetings he had
already had with his mysterious tormentor, and in waking
speculations as to what the morrow would produce. The next
day must clear up every doubt; and unless his near neighbor
and would-be friend, the Count of Monte Cristo, possessed
the ring of Gyges, and by its power was able to render
himself invisible, it was very certain he could not escape
this time. Eight o'clock found Franz up and dressed, while
Albert, who had not the same motives for early rising, was
still soundly asleep. The first act of Franz was to summon
his landlord, who presented himself with his accustomed

"Pray, Signor Pastrini," asked Franz, "is not some execution
appointed to take place to-day?"

"Yes, your excellency; but if your reason for inquiry is
that you may procure a window to view it from, you are much
too late."

"Oh, no," answered Franz, "I had no such intention; and even
if I had felt a wish to witness the spectacle, I might have
done so from Monte Pincio -- could I not?"

"Ah!" exclaimed mine host, "I did not think it likely your
excellency would have chosen to mingle with such a rabble as
are always collected on that hill, which, indeed, they
consider as exclusively belonging to themselves."

"Very possibly I may not go," answered Franz; "but in case I
feel disposed, give me some particulars of to-day's

"What particulars would your excellency like to hear?"

"Why, the number of persons condemned to suffer, their
names, and description of the death they are to die."

"That happens just lucky, your excellency! Only a few
minutes ago they brought me the tavolettas."

"What are they?"

"Sort of wooden tablets hung up at the corners of streets
the evening before an execution, on which is pasted up a
paper containing the names of the condemned persons, their
crimes, and mode of punishment. The reason for so publicly
announcing all this is, that all good and faithful Catholics
may offer up their prayers for the unfortunate culprits,
and, above all, beseech of heaven to grant them a sincere

"And these tablets are brought to you that you may add your
prayers to those of the faithful, are they?" asked Franz
somewhat incredulously.

"Oh, dear, no, your excellency! I have not time for
anybody's affairs but my own and those of my honorable
guests; but I make an agreement with the man who pastes up
the papers, and he brings them to me as he would the
playbills, that in case any person staying at my hotel
should like to witness an execution, he may obtain every
requisite information concerning the time and place etc."

"Upon my word, that is a most delicate attention on your
part, Signor Pastrini," cried Franz.

"Why, your excellency," returned the landlord, chuckling and
rubbing his hands with infinite complacency, "I think I may
take upon myself to say I neglect nothing to deserve the
support and patronage of the noble visitors to this poor

"I see that plainly enough, my most excellent host, and you
may rely upon me to proclaim so striking a proof of your
attention to your guests wherever I go. Meanwhile, oblige me
by a sight of one of these tavolettas."

"Nothing can be easier than to comply with your excellency's
wish," said the landlord, opening the door of the chamber;
"I have caused one to be placed on the landing, close by
your apartment." Then, taking the tablet from the wall, he
handed it to Franz, who read as follows: --

"`The public is informed that on Wednesday, February 23d,
being the first day of the Carnival, executions will take
place in the Piazza del Popolo, by order of the Tribunal of
the Rota, of two persons, named Andrea Rondola, and Peppino,
otherwise called Rocca Priori; the former found guilty of
the murder of a venerable and exemplary priest, named Don
Cesare Torlini, canon of the church of St. John Lateran; and
the latter convicted of being an accomplice of the atrocious
and sanguinary bandit, Luigi Vampa, and his band. The
first-named malefactor will be subjected to the mazzuola,
the second culprit beheaded. The prayers of all good
Christians are entreated for these unfortunate men, that it
may please God to awaken them to a sense of their guilt, and
to grant them a hearty and sincere repentance for their

This was precisely what Franz had heard the evening before
in the ruins of the Colosseum. No part of the programme
differed, -- the names of the condemned persons, their
crimes, and mode of punishment, all agreed with his previous
information. In all probability, therefore, the Transteverin
was no other than the bandit Luigi Vampa himself, and the
man shrouded in the mantle the same he had known as "Sinbad
the Sailor," but who, no doubt, was still pursuing his
philanthropic expedition in Rome, as he had already done at
Porto-Vecchio and Tunis. Time was getting on, however, and
Franz deemed it advisable to awaken Albert; but at the
moment he prepared to proceed to his chamber, his friend
entered the room in perfect costume for the day. The
anticipated delights of the Carnival had so run in his head
as to make him leave his pillow long before his usual hour.
"Now, my excellent Signor Pastrini," said Franz, addressing
his landlord, "since we are both ready, do you think we may
proceed at once to visit the Count of Monte Cristo?"

"Most assuredly," replied he. "The Count of Monte Cristo is
always an early riser; and I can answer for his having been
up these two hours."

"Then you really consider we shall not be intruding if we
pay our respects to him directly?"

"Oh, I am quite sure. I will take all the blame on myself if
you find I have led you into an error."

"Well, then, if it be so, are you ready, Albert?"


"Let us go and return our best thanks for his courtesy."

"Yes, let us do so." The landlord preceded the friends
across the landing, which was all that separated them from
the apartments of the count, rang at the bell, and, upon the
door being opened by a servant, said, "I signori Francesi."

The domestic bowed respectfully, and invited them to enter.
They passed through two rooms, furnished in a luxurious
manner they had not expected to see under the roof of Signor
Pastrini, and were shown into an elegantly fitted-up
drawing-room. The richest Turkey carpets covered the floor,
and the softest and most inviting couches, easy-chairs, and
sofas, offered their high-piled and yielding cushions to
such as desired repose or refreshment. Splendid paintings by
the first masters were ranged against the walls,
intermingled with magnificent trophies of war, while heavy
curtains of costly tapestry were suspended before the
different doors of the room. "If your excellencies will
please to be seated," said the man, "I will let the count
know that you are here."

And with these words he disappeared behind one of the
tapestried portieres. As the door opened, the sound of a
guzla reached the ears of the young men, but was almost
immediately lost, for the rapid closing of the door merely
allowed one rich swell of harmony to enter. Franz and Albert
looked inquiringly at each other, then at the gorgeous
furnishings of the apartment. Everything seemed more
magnificent at a second view than it had done at their first
rapid survey.

"Well," said Franz to his friend, "what think you of all

"Why, upon my soul, my dear fellow, it strikes me that our
elegant and attentive neighbor must either be some
successful stock-jobber who has speculated in the fall of
the Spanish funds, or some prince travelling incog."

"Hush, hush!" replied Franz; "we shall ascertain who and
what he is -- he comes!" As Franz spoke, he heard the sound
of a door turning on its hinges, and almost immediately
afterwards the tapestry was drawn aside, and the owner of
all these riches stood before the two young men. Albert
instantly rose to meet him, but Franz remained, in a manner,
spellbound on his chair; for in the person of him who had
just entered he recognized not only the mysterious visitant
to the Colosseum, and the occupant of the box at the Teatro
Argentino, but also his extraordinary host of Monte Cristo.

Chapter 35
La Mazzolata.

"Gentlemen," said the Count of Monte Cristo as he entered,
"I pray you excuse me for suffering my visit to be
anticipated; but I feared to disturb you by presenting
myself earlier at your apartments; besides, you sent me word
that you would come to me, and I have held myself at your

"Franz and I have to thank you a thousand times, count,"
returned Albert; "you extricated us from a great dilemma,
and we were on the point of inventing a very fantastic
vehicle when your friendly invitation reached us."

"Indeed," returned the count, motioning the two young men to
sit down. "It was the fault of that blockhead Pastrini, that
I did not sooner assist you in your distress. He did not
mention a syllable of your embarrassment to me, when he
knows that, alone and isolated as I am, I seek every
opportunity of making the acquaintance of my neighbors. As
soon as I learned I could in any way assist you, I most
eagerly seized the opportunity of offering my services." The
two young men bowed. Franz had, as yet, found nothing to
say; he had come to no determination, and as nothing in the
count's manner manifested the wish that he should recognize
him, he did not know whether to make any allusion to the
past, or wait until he had more proof; besides, although
sure it was he who had been in the box the previous evening,
he could not be equally positive that this was the man he
had seen at the Colosseum. He resolved, therefore, to let
things take their course without making any direct overture
to the count. Moreover, he had this advantage, he was master
of the count's secret, while the count had no hold on Franz,
who had nothing to conceal. However, he resolved to lead the
conversation to a subject which might possibly clear up his

"Count," said he, "you have offered us places in your
carriage, and at your windows in the Rospoli Palace. Can you
tell us where we can obtain a sight of the Piazza del

"Ah," said the count negligently, looking attentively at
Morcerf, "is there not something like an execution upon the
Piazza del Popolo?"

"Yes," returned Franz, finding that the count was coming to
the point he wished.

"Stay, I think I told my steward yesterday to attend to
this; perhaps I can render you this slight service also." He
extended his hand, and rang the bell thrice. "Did you ever
occupy yourself," said he to Franz, "with the employment of
time and the means of simplifying the summoning your
servants? I have. When I ring once, it is for my valet;
twice, for my majordomo; thrice, for my steward, -- thus I
do not waste a minute or a word. Here he is." A man of about
forty-five or fifty entered, exactly resembling the smuggler
who had introduced Franz into the cavern; but he did not
appear to recognize him. It was evident he had his orders.
"Monsieur Bertuccio," said the count, "you have procured me
windows looking on the Piazza del Popolo, as I ordered you

"Yes, excellency," returned the steward; "but it was very

"Did I not tell you I wished for one?" replied the count,

"And your excellency has one, which was let to Prince
Lobanieff; but I was obliged to pay a hundred" --

"That will do -- that will do, Monsieur Bertuccio; spare
these gentlemen all such domestic arrangements. You have the
window, that is sufficient. Give orders to the coachman; and
be in readiness on the stairs to conduct us to it." The
steward bowed, and was about to quit the room. "Ah,"
continued the count, "be good enough to ask Pastrini if he
has received the tavoletta, and if he can send us an account
of the execution."

"There is no need to do that," said Franz, taking out his
tablets; "for I saw the account, and copied it down."

"Very well, you can retire, M. Bertuccio; but let us know
when breakfast is ready. These gentlemen," added he, turning
to the two friends, "will, I trust, do me the honor to
breakfast with me?"

"But, my dear count," said Albert, "we shall abuse your

"Not at all; on the contrary, you will give me great
pleasure. You will, one or other of you, perhaps both,
return it to me at Paris. M. Bertuccio, lay covers for
three." He then took Franz's tablets out of his hand. "`We
announce,' he read, in the same tone with which he would
have read a newspaper, `that to-day, the 23d of February,
will be executed Andrea Rondolo, guilty of murder on the
person of the respected and venerated Don Cesare Torlini,
canon of the church of St. John Lateran, and Peppino, called
Rocca Priori, convicted of complicity with the detestable
bandit Luigi Vampa, and the men of his band.' Hum! `The
first will be mazzolato, the second decapitato.' Yes,"
continued the count, "it was at first arranged in this way;
but I think since yesterday some change has taken place in
the order of the ceremony."

"Really?" said Franz.

"Yes, I passed the evening at the Cardinal Rospigliosi's,
and there mention was made of something like a pardon for
one of the two men."

"For Andrea Rondolo?" asked Franz.

"No," replied the count, carelessly; "for the other (he
glanced at the tablets as if to recall the name), for
Peppino, called Rocca Priori. You are thus deprived of
seeing a man guillotined; but the mazzuola still remains,
which is a very curious punishment when seen for the first
time, and even the second, while the other, as you must
know, is very simple. The mandaia* never fails, never
trembles, never strikes thirty times ineffectually, like the
soldier who beheaded the Count of Chalais, and to whose
tender mercy Richelieu had doubtless recommended the
sufferer. Ah," added the count, in a contemptuous tone, "do
not tell me of European punishments, they are in the
infancy, or rather the old age, of cruelty."

* Guillotine.

"Really, count," replied Franz, "one would think that you
had studied the different tortures of all the nations of the

"There are, at least, few that I have not seen," said the
count coldly.

"And you took pleasure in beholding these dreadful

"My first sentiment was horror, the second indifference, the
third curiosity."

"Curiosity -- that is a terrible word."

"Why so? In life, our greatest preoccupation is death; is it
not then, curious to study the different ways by which the
soul and body can part; and how, according to their
different characters, temperaments, and even the different
customs of their countries, different persons bear the
transition from life to death, from existence to
annihilation? As for myself, I can assure you of one thing,
-- the more men you see die, the easier it becomes to die
yourself; and in my opinion, death may be a torture, but it
is not an expiation."

"I do not quite understand you," replied Franz; "pray
explain your meaning, for you excite my curiosity to the
highest pitch."

"Listen," said the count, and deep hatred mounted to his
face, as the blood would to the face of any other. "If a man
had by unheard-of and excruciating tortures destroyed your
father, your mother, your betrothed, -- a being who, when
torn from you, left a desolation, a wound that never closes,
in your breast, -- do you think the reparation that society
gives you is sufficient when it interposes the knife of the
guillotine between the base of the occiput and the trapezal
muscles of the murderer, and allows him who has caused us
years of moral sufferings to escape with a few moments of
physical pain?"

"Yes, I know," said Franz, "that human justice is
insufficient to console us; she can give blood in return for
blood, that is all; but you must demand from her only what
it is in her power to grant."

"I will put another case to you," continued the count; "that
where society, attacked by the death of a person, avenges
death by death. But are there not a thousand tortures by
which a man may be made to suffer without society taking the
least cognizance of them, or offering him even the
insufficient means of vengeance, of which we have just
spoken? Are there not crimes for which the impalement of the
Turks, the augers of the Persians, the stake and the brand
of the Iroquois Indians, are inadequate tortures, and which
are unpunished by society? Answer me, do not these crimes

"Yes," answered Franz; "and it is to punish them that
duelling is tolerated."

"Ah, duelling," cried the count; "a pleasant manner, upon my
soul, of arriving at your end when that end is vengeance! A
man has carried off your mistress, a man has seduced your
wife, a man has dishonored your daughter; he has rendered
the whole life of one who had the right to expect from
heaven that portion of happiness God his promised to every
one of his creatures, an existence of misery and infamy; and
you think you are avenged because you send a ball through
the head, or pass a sword through the breast, of that man
who has planted madness in your brain, and despair in your
heart. And remember, moreover, that it is often he who comes
off victorious from the strife, absolved of all crime in the
eyes of the world. No, no," continued the count, "had I to
avenge myself, it is not thus I would take revenge."

"Then you disapprove of duelling? You would not fight a
duel?" asked Albert in his turn, astonished at this strange

"Oh, yes," replied the count; "understand me, I would fight
a duel for a trifle, for an insult, for a blow; and the more
so that, thanks to my skill in all bodily exercises, and the
indifference to danger I have gradually acquired, I should
be almost certain to kill my man. Oh, I would fight for such
a cause; but in return for a slow, profound, eternal
torture, I would give back the same, were it possible; an
eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, as the Orientalists
say, -- our masters in everything, -- those favored
creatures who have formed for themselves a life of dreams
and a paradise of realities."

"But," said Franz to the count, "with this theory, which
renders you at once judge and executioner of your own cause,
it would be difficult to adopt a course that would forever
prevent your falling under the power of the law. Hatred is
blind, rage carries you away; and he who pours out vengeance
runs the risk of tasting a bitter draught."

"Yes, if he be poor and inexperienced, not if he be rich and
skilful; besides, the worst that could happen to him would
be the punishment of which we have already spoken, and which
the philanthropic French Revolution has substituted for
being torn to pieces by horses or broken on the wheel. What
matters this punishment, as long as he is avenged? On my
word, I almost regret that in all probability this miserable
Peppino will not be beheaded, as you might have had an
opportunity then of seeing how short a time the punishment
lasts, and whether it is worth even mentioning; but, really
this is a most singular conversation for the Carnival,
gentlemen; how did it arise? Ah, I recollect, you asked for
a place at my window; you shall have it; but let us first
sit down to table, for here comes the servant to inform us
that breakfast is ready." As he spoke, a servant opened one
of the four doors of the apartment, saying -- "Al suo
commodo!" The two young men arose and entered the

During the meal, which was excellent, and admirably served,
Franz looked repeatedly at Albert, in order to observe the
impressions which he doubted not had been made on him by the
words of their entertainer; but whether with his usual
carelessness he had paid but little attention to him,
whether the explanation of the Count of Monte Cristo with
regard to duelling had satisfied him, or whether the events
which Franz knew of had had their effect on him alone, he
remarked that his companion did not pay the least regard to
them, but on the contrary ate like a man who for the last
four or five months had been condemned to partake of Italian
cookery -- that is, the worst in the world. As for the
count, he just touched the dishes; he seemed to fulfil the
duties of a host by sitting down with his guests, and
awaited their departure to be served with some strange or
more delicate food. This brought back to Franz, in spite of
himself, the recollection of the terror with which the count
had inspired the Countess G---- , and her firm conviction
that the man in the opposite box was a vampire. At the end
of the breakfast Franz took out his watch. "Well," said the
count, "what are you doing?"

"You must excuse us, count," returned Franz, "but we have
still much to do."

"What may that be?"

"We have no masks, and it is absolutely necessary to procure

"Do not concern yourself about that; we have, I think, a
private room in the Piazza del Popolo; I will have whatever
costumes you choose brought to us, and you can dress there."

"After the execution?" cried Franz.

"Before or after, whichever you please."

"Opposite the scaffold?"

"The scaffold forms part of the fete."

"Count, I have reflected on the matter," said Franz, "I
thank you for your courtesy, but I shall content myself with
accepting a place in your carriage and at your window at the
Rospoli Palace, and I leave you at liberty to dispose of my
place at the Piazza del Popolo."

"But I warn you, you will lose a very curious sight,"
returned the count.

"You will describe it to me," replied Franz, "and the
recital from your lips will make as great an impression on
me as if I had witnessed it. I have more than once intended
witnessing an execution, but I have never been able to make
up my mind; and you, Albert?"

"I," replied the viscount, -- "I saw Castaing executed, but
I think I was rather intoxicated that day, for I had quitted
college the same morning, and we had passed the previous
night at a tavern."

"Besides, it is no reason because you have not seen an
execution at Paris, that you should not see one anywhere
else; when you travel, it is to see everything. Think what a
figure you will make when you are asked, `How do they
execute at Rome?' and you reply, `I do not know'! And,
besides, they say that the culprit is an infamous scoundrel,
who killed with a log of wood a worthy canon who had brought
him up like his own son. Diable, when a churchman is killed,
it should be with a different weapon than a log, especially
when he has behaved like a father. If you went to Spain,
would you not see the bull-fight? Well, suppose it is a
bull-fight you are going to see? Recollect the ancient
Romans of the Circus, and the sports where they killed three
hundred lions and a hundred men. Think of the eighty
thousand applauding spectators, the sage matrons who took
their daughters, and the charming Vestals who made with the
thumb of their white hands the fatal sign that said, `Come,
despatch the dying.'"

"Shall you go, then, Albert?" asked Franz.

"Ma foi, yes; like you, I hesitated, but the count's
eloquence decides me."

"Let us go, then," said Franz, "since you wish it; but on
our way to the Piazza del Popolo, I wish to pass through the
Corso. Is this possible, count?"

"On foot, yes, in a carriage, no."

"I will go on foot, then."

"Is it important that you should go that way?"

"Yes, there is something I wish to see."

"Well, we will go by the Corso. We will send the carriage to
wait for us on the Piazza del Popolo, by the Strada del
Babuino, for I shall be glad to pass, myself, through the
Corso, to see if some orders I have given have been

"Excellency," said a servant, opening the door, "a man in
the dress of a penitent wishes to speak to you."

"Ah, yes" returned the count, "I know who he is, gentlemen;
will you return to the salon? you will find good cigars on
the centre table. I will be with you directly." The young
men rose and returned into the salon, while the count, again
apologizing, left by another door. Albert, who was a great
smoker, and who had considered it no small sacrifice to be
deprived of the cigars of the Cafe de Paris, approached the
table, and uttered a cry of joy at perceiving some veritable

"Well," asked Franz, "what think you of the Count of Monte

"What do I think?" said Albert, evidently surprised at such
a question from his companion; "I think he is a delightful
fellow, who does the honors of his table admirably; who has
travelled much, read much, is, like Brutus, of the Stoic
school, and moreover," added he, sending a volume of smoke
up towards the ceiling, "that he has excellent cigars." Such
was Albert's opinion of the count, and as Franz well knew
that Albert professed never to form an opinion except upon
long reflection, he made no attempt to change it. "But,"
said he, "did you observe one very singular thing?"


"How attentively he looked at you."

"At me?"

"Yes." -- Albert reflected. "Ah," replied he, sighing, "that
is not very surprising; I have been more than a year absent
from Paris, and my clothes are of a most antiquated cut; the
count takes me for a provincial. The first opportunity you
have, undeceive him, I beg, and tell him I am nothing of the
kind." Franz smiled; an instant after the count entered.

"I am now quite at your service, gentlemen," said he. "The
carriage is going one way to the Piazza del Popolo, and we
will go another; and, if you please, by the Corso. Take some
more of these cigars, M. de Morcerf."

"With all my heart," returned Albert; "Italian cigars are
horrible. When you come to Paris, I will return all this."

"I will not refuse; I intend going there soon, and since you
allow me, I will pay you a visit. Come, we have not any time
to lose, it is half-past twelve -- let us set off." All
three descended; the coachman received his master's orders,
and drove down the Via del Babuino. While the three
gentlemen walked along the Piazza de Spagni and the Via
Frattina, which led directly between the Fiano and Rospoli
palaces, Franz's attention was directed towards the windows
of that last palace, for he had not forgotten the signal
agreed upon between the man in the mantle and the
Transtevere peasant. "Which are your windows?" asked he of
the count, with as much indifference as he could assume.
"The three last," returned he, with a negligence evidently
unaffected, for he could not imagine with what intention the
question was put. Franz glanced rapidly towards the three
windows. The side windows were hung with yellow damask, and
the centre one with white damask and a red cross. The man in
the mantle had kept his promise to the Transteverin, and
there could now be no doubt that he was the count. The three
windows were still untenanted. Preparations were making on
every side; chairs were placed, scaffolds were raised, and
windows were hung with flags. The masks could not appear;
the carriages could not move about; but the masks were
visible behind the windows, the carriages, and the doors.

Franz, Albert, and the count continued to descend the Corso.
As they approached the Piazza del Popolo, the crowd became
more dense, and above the heads of the multitude two objects
were visible: the obelisk, surmounted by a cross, which
marks the centre of the square, and in front of the obelisk,
at the point where the three streets, del Babuino, del
Corso, and di Ripetta, meet, the two uprights of the
scaffold, between which glittered the curved knife of the
mandaia. At the corner of the street they met the count's
steward, who was awaiting his master. The window, let at an
exorbitant price, which the count had doubtless wished to
conceal from his guests, was on the second floor of the
great palace, situated between the Via del Babuino and the
Monte Pincio. It consisted, as we have said, of a small
dressing-room, opening into a bedroom, and, when the door of
communication was shut, the inmates were quite alone. On
chairs were laid elegant masquerade costumes of blue and
white satin. "As you left the choice of your costumes to
me," said the count to the two friends, "I have had these
brought, as they will be the most worn this year; and they
are most suitable, on account of the confetti (sweetmeats),
as they do not show the flour."

Franz heard the words of the count but imperfectly, and he
perhaps did not fully appreciate this new attention to their
wishes; for he was wholly absorbed by the spectacle that the
Piazza del Popolo presented, and by the terrible instrument
that was in the centre. It was the first time Franz had ever
seen a guillotine, -- we say guillotine, because the Roman
mandaia is formed on almost the same model as the French
instrument.* The knife, which is shaped like a crescent,
that cuts with the convex side, falls from a less height,
and that is all the difference. Two men, seated on the
movable plank on which the victim is laid, were eating their
breakfasts, while waiting for the criminal. Their repast
consisted apparently of bread and sausages. One of them
lifted the plank, took out a flask of wine, drank some, and
then passed it to his companion. These two men were the
executioner's assistants. At this sight Franz felt the
perspiration start forth upon his brow. The prisoners,
transported the previous evening from the Carcere Nuovo to
the little church of Santa Maria del Popolo, had passed the
night, each accompanied by two priests, in a chapel closed
by a grating, before which were two sentinels, who were
relieved at intervals. A double line of carbineers, placed
on each side of the door of the church, reached to the
scaffold, and formed a circle around it, leaving a path
about ten feet wide, and around the guillotine a space of
nearly a hundred feet. All the rest of the square was paved
with heads. Many women held their infants on their
shoulders, and thus the children had the best view. The
Monte Pincio seemed a vast amphitheatre filled with
spectators; the balconies of the two churches at the corner
of the Via del Babuino and the Via di Ripetta were crammed;
the steps even seemed a parti-colored sea, that was impelled
towards the portico; every niche in the wall held its living
statue. What the count said was true -- the most curious
spectacle in life is that of death. And yet, instead of the
silence and the solemnity demanded by the occasion, laughter
and jests arose from the crowd. It was evident that the
execution was, in the eyes of the people, only the
commencement of the Carnival. Suddenly the tumult ceased, as
if by magic, and the doors of the church opened. A
brotherhood of penitents, clothed from head to foot in robes
of gray sackcloth, with holes for the eyes, and holding in
their hands lighted tapers, appeared first; the chief
marched at the head. Behind the penitents came a man of vast
stature and proportions. He was naked, with the exception of
cloth drawers at the left side of which hung a large knife
in a sheath, and he bore on his right shoulder a heavy iron
sledge-hammer. This man was the executioner. He had,
moreover, sandals bound on his feet by cords. Behind the
executioner came, in the order in which they were to die,
first Peppino and then Andrea. Each was accompanied by two
priests. Neither had his eyes bandaged. Peppino walked with
a firm step, doubtless aware of what awaited him. Andrea was
supported by two priests. Each of them, from time to time,
kissed the crucifix a confessor held out to them. At this
sight alone Franz felt his legs tremble under him. He looked
at Albert -- he was as white as his shirt, and mechanically
cast away his cigar, although he had not half smoked it. The
count alone seemed unmoved -- nay, more, a slight color
seemed striving to rise in his pale cheeks. His nostrils
dilated like those of a wild beast that scents its prey, and
his lips, half opened, disclosed his white teeth, small and
sharp like those of a jackal. And yet his features wore an
expression of smiling tenderness, such as Franz had never
before witnessed in them; his black eyes especially were
full of kindness and pity. However, the two culprits
advanced, and as they approached their faces became visible.
Peppino was a handsome young man of four or five and twenty,
bronzed by the sun; he carried his head erect, and seemed on
the watch to see on which side his liberator would appear.
Andrea was short and fat; his visage, marked with brutal
cruelty, did not indicate age; he might be thirty. In prison
he had suffered his beard to grow; his head fell on his
shoulder, his legs bent beneath him, and his movements were
apparently automatic and unconscious.

* Dr. Guillotin got the idea of his famous machine from
witnessing an execution in Italy.

"I thought," said Franz to the count, "that you told me
there would be but one execution."

"I told you true," replied he coldly.

"And yet here are two culprits."

"Yes; but only one of these two is about to die; the other
has many years to live."

"If the pardon is to come, there is no time to lose."

"And see, here it is," said the count. At the moment when
Peppino reached the foot of the mandaia, a priest arrived in
some haste, forced his way through the soldiers, and,
advancing to the chief of the brotherhood, gave him a folded
paper. The piercing eye of Peppino had noticed all. The
chief took the paper, unfolded it, and, raising his hand,
"Heaven be praised, and his holiness also," said he in a
loud voice; "here is a pardon for one of the prisoners!"

"A pardon!" cried the people with one voice -- "a pardon!"
At this cry Andrea raised his head. "Pardon for whom?" cried

Peppino remained breathless. "A pardon for Peppino, called
Rocca Priori," said the principal friar. And he passed the
paper to the officer commanding the carbineers, who read and
returned it to him.

"For Peppino!" cried Andrea, who seemed roused from the
torpor in which he had been plunged. "Why for him and not
for me? We ought to die together. I was promised he should
die with me. You have no right to put me to death alone. I
will not die alone -- I will not!" And he broke from the
priests struggling and raving like a wild beast, and
striving desperately to break the cords that bound his
hands. The executioner made a sign, and his two assistants
leaped from the scaffold and seized him. "What is going on?"
asked Franz of the count; for, as all the talk was in the
Roman dialect, he had not perfectly understood it. "Do you
not see?" returned the count, "that this human creature who
is about to die is furious that his fellow-sufferer does not
perish with him? and, were he able, he would rather tear him
to pieces with his teeth and nails than let him enjoy the
life he himself is about to be deprived of. Oh, man, man --
race of crocodiles," cried the count, extending his clinched
hands towards the crowd, "how well do I recognize you there,
and that at all times you are worthy of yourselves!"
Meanwhile Andrea and the two executioners were struggling on
the ground, and he kept exclaiming, "He ought to die! -- he
shall die! -- I will not die alone!"

"Look, look," cried the count, seizing the young men's hands
-- "look, for on my soul it is curious. Here is a man who
had resigned himself to his fate, who was going to the
scaffold to die -- like a coward, it is true, but he was
about to die without resistance. Do you know what gave him
strength? -- do you know what consoled him? It was, that
another partook of his punishment -- that another partook of
his anguish -- that another was to die before him. Lead two
sheep to the butcher's, two oxen to the slaughterhouse, and
make one of them understand that his companion will not die;
the sheep will bleat for pleasure, the ox will bellow with
joy. But man -- man, whom God created in his own image --
man, upon whom God has laid his first, his sole commandment,
to love his neighbor -- man, to whom God has given a voice
to express his thoughts -- what is his first cry when he
hears his fellow-man is saved? A blasphemy. Honor to man,
this masterpiece of nature, this king of the creation!" And
the count burst into a laugh; a terrible laugh, that showed
he must have suffered horribly to be able thus to laugh.
However, the struggle still continued, and it was dreadful
to witness. The people all took part against Andrea, and
twenty thousand voices cried, "Put him to death! put him to
death!" Franz sprang back, but the count seized his arm, and
held him before the window. "What are you doing?" said he.
"Do you pity him? If you heard the cry of `Mad dog!' you
would take your gun -- you would unhesitatingly shoot the
poor beast, who, after all, was only guilty of having been
bitten by another dog. And yet you pity a man who, without
being bitten by one of his race, has yet murdered his
benefactor; and who, now unable to kill any one, because his
hands are bound, wishes to see his companion in captivity
perish. No, no -- look, look!"

The command was needless. Franz was fascinated by the
horrible spectacle. The two assistants had borne Andrea to
the scaffold, and there, in spite of his struggles, his
bites, and his cries, had forced him to his knees. During
this time the executioner had raised his mace, and signed to
them to get out of the way; the criminal strove to rise,
but, ere he had time, the mace fell on his left temple. A
dull and heavy sound was heard, and the man dropped like an
ox on his face, and then turned over on his back. The
executioner let fall his mace, drew his knife, and with one
stroke opened his throat, and mounting on his stomach,
stamped violently on it with his feet. At every stroke a jet
of blood sprang from the wound.

This time Franz could contain himself no longer, but sank,
half fainting, into a seat. Albert, with his eyes closed,
was standing grasping the window-curtains. The count was
erect and triumphant, like the Avenging Angel!

Chapter 36
The Carnival at Rome.

When Franz recovered his senses, he saw Albert drinking a
glass of water, of which, to judge from his pallor, he stood
in great need; and the count, who was assuming his
masquerade costume. He glanced mechanically towards the
square -- the scene was wholly changed; scaffold,
executioners, victims, all had disappeared; only the people
remained, full of noise and excitement. The bell of Monte
Citorio, which only sounds on the pope's decease and the
opening of the Carnival, was ringing a joyous peal. "Well,"
asked he of the count, "what has, then, happened?"

"Nothing," replied the count; "only, as you see, the
Carnival his commenced. Make haste and dress yourself."

"In fact," said Franz, "this horrible scene has passed away
like a dream."

"It is but a dream, a nightmare, that has disturbed you."

"Yes, that I have suffered; but the culprit?"

"That is a dream also; only he has remained asleep, while
you have awakened; and who knows which of you is the most

"But Peppino -- what has become of him?"

"Peppino is a lad of sense, who, unlike most men, who are
happy in proportion as they are noticed, was delighted to
see that the general attention was directed towards his
companion. He profited by this distraction to slip away
among the crowd, without even thanking the worthy priests
who accompanied him. Decidedly man is an ungrateful and
egotistical animal. But dress yourself; see, M. de Morcerf
sets you the example." Albert was drawing on the satin
pantaloon over his black trousers and varnished boots.
"Well, Albert," said Franz, "do you feel much inclined to
join the revels? Come, answer frankly."

"Ma foi, no," returned Albert. "But I am really glad to have
seen such a sight; and I understand what the count said --
that when you have once habituated yourself to a similar
spectacle, it is the only one that causes you any emotion."

"Without reflecting that this is the only moment in which
you can study character," said the count; "on the steps of
the scaffold death tears off the mask that has been worn
through life, and the real visage is disclosed. It must be
allowed that Andrea was not very handsome, the hideous
scoundrel! Come, dress yourselves, gentlemen, dress
yourselves." Franz felt it would be ridiculous not to follow
his two companions' example. He assumed his costume, and
fastened on the mask that scarcely equalled the pallor of
his own face. Their toilet finished, they descended; the
carriage awaited them at the door, filled with sweetmeats
and bouquets. They fell into the line of carriages. It is
difficult to form an idea of the perfect change that had
taken place. Instead of the spectacle of gloomy and silent
death, the Piazza del Popolo presented a spectacle of gay
and noisy mirth and revelry. A crowd of masks flowed in from
all sides, emerging from the doors, descending from the
windows. From every street and every corner drove carriages
filled with clowns, harlequins, dominoes, mummers,
pantomimists, Transteverins, knights, and peasants,
screaming, fighting, gesticulating, throwing eggs filled
with flour, confetti, nosegays, attacking, with their
sarcasms and their missiles, friends and foes, companions
and strangers, indiscriminately, and no one took offence, or
did anything but laugh. Franz and Albert were like men who,
to drive away a violent sorrow, have recourse to wine, and
who, as they drink and become intoxicated, feel a thick veil
drawn between the past and the present. They saw, or rather
continued to see, the image of what they had witnessed; but
little by little the general vertigo seized them, and they
felt themselves obliged to take part in the noise and
confusion. A handful of confetti that came from a
neighboring carriage, and which, while it covered Morcerf
and his two companions with dust, pricked his neck and that
portion of his face uncovered by his mask like a hundred
pins, incited him to join in the general combat, in which
all the masks around him were engaged. He rose in his turn,
and seizing handfuls of confetti and sweetmeats, with which
the carriage was filled, cast them with all the force and
skill he was master of.

The strife had fairly begun, and the recollection of what
they had seen half an hour before was gradually effaced from
the young men's minds, so much were they occupied by the gay
and glittering procession they now beheld. As for the Count
of Monte Cristo, he had never for an instant shown any
appearance of having been moved. Imagine the large and
splendid Corso, bordered from one end to the other with
lofty palaces, with their balconies hung with carpets, and
their windows with flags. At these balconies are three
hundred thousand spectators -- Romans, Italians, strangers
from all parts of the world, the united aristocracy of
birth, wealth, and genius. Lovely women, yielding to the
influence of the scene, bend over their balconies, or lean
from their windows, and shower down confetti, which are
returned by bouquets; the air seems darkened with the
falling confetti and flying flowers. In the streets the
lively crowd is dressed in the most fantastic costumes --
gigantic cabbages walk gravely about, buffaloes' heads below
from men's shoulders, dogs walk on their hind legs; in the
midst of all this a mask is lifted, and, as in Callot's
Temptation of St. Anthony, a lovely face is exhibited, which
we would fain follow, but from which we are separated by
troops of fiends. This will give a faint idea of the
Carnival at Rome. At the second turn the Count stopped the
carriage, and requested permission to withdraw, leaving the
vehicle at their disposal. Franz looked up -- they were
opposite the Rospoli Palace. At the centre window, the one
hung with white damask with a red cross, was a blue domino,
beneath which Franz's imagination easily pictured the
beautiful Greek of the Argentina. "Gentlemen," said the
count, springing out, "when you are tired of being actors,
and wish to become spectators of this scene, you know you
have places at my windows. In the meantime, dispose of my
coachman, my carriage, and my servants." We have forgotten
to mention, that the count's coachman was attired in a
bear-skin, exactly resembling Odry's in "The Bear and the
Pasha;" and the two footmen behind were dressed up as green
monkeys, with spring masks, with which they made grimaces at
every one who passed. Franz thanked the count for his
attention. As for Albert, he was busily occupied throwing
bouquets at a carriage full of Roman peasants that was
passing near him. Unfortunately for him, the line of
carriages moved on again, and while he descended the Piazza
del Popolo, the other ascended towards the Palazzo di
Venezia. "Ah, my dear fellow," said he to Franz; "you did
not see?"


"There, -- that calash filled with Roman peasants."


"Well, I am convinced they are all charming women."

"How unfortunate that you were masked, Albert," said Franz;
"here was an opportunity of making up for past

"Oh," replied he, half laughing, half serious; "I hope the
Carnival will not pass without some amends in one shape or
the other."

But, in spite of Albert's hope, the day passed unmarked by
any incident, excepting two or three encounters with the
carriage full of Roman peasants. At one of these encounters,
accidentally or purposely, Albert's mask fell off. He
instantly rose and cast the remainder of the bouquets into
the carriage. Doubtless one of the charming females Albert
had detected beneath their coquettish disguise was touched
by his gallantry; for, as the carriage of the two friends
passed her, she threw a bunch of violets. Albert seized it,
and as Franz had no reason to suppose it was meant for him,
he suffered Albert to retain it. Albert placed it in his
button-hole, and the carriage went triumphantly on.

"Well," said Franz to him; "there is the beginning of an

"Laugh if you please -- I really think so. So I will not
abandon this bouquet."

"Pardieu," returned Franz, laughing, "in token of your
ingratitude." The jest, however, soon appeared to become
earnest; for when Albert and Franz again encountered the
carriage with the contadini, the one who had thrown the
violets to Albert, clapped her hands when she beheld them in
his button-hole. "Bravo, bravo," said Franz; "things go
wonderfully. Shall I leave you? Perhaps you would prefer
being alone?"

"No," replied he; "I will not be caught like a fool at a
first disclosure by a rendezvous under the clock, as they
say at the opera-balls. If the fair peasant wishes to carry
matters any further, we shall find her, or rather, she will
find us to-morrow; then she will give me some sign or other,
and I shall know what I have to do."

"On my word," said Franz, "you are wise as Nestor and
prudent as Ulysses, and your fair Circe must be very skilful
or very powerful if she succeed in changing you into a beast
of any kind." Albert was right; the fair unknown had
resolved, doubtless, to carry the intrigue no farther; for
although the young men made several more turns, they did not
again see the calash, which had turned up one of the
neighboring streets. Then they returned to the Rospoli
Palace; but the count and the blue domino had also
disappeared; the two windows, hung with yellow damask, were
still occupied by the persons whom the count had invited. At
this moment the same bell that had proclaimed the beginning
of the mascherata sounded the retreat. The file on the Corso
broke the line, and in a second all the carriages had
disappeared. Franz and Albert were opposite the Via delle
Maratte; the coachman, without saying a word, drove up it,
passed along the Piazza di Spagni and the Rospoli Palace and
stopped at the door of the hotel. Signor Pastrini came to
the door to receive his guests. Franz hastened to inquire
after the count, and to express regret that he had not
returned in sufficient time; but Pastrini reassured him by
saying that the Count of Monte Cristo had ordered a second
carriage for himself, and that it had gone at four o'clock
to fetch him from the Rospoli Palace. The count had,
moreover, charged him to offer the two friends the key of
his box at the Argentina. Franz questioned Albert as to his
intentions; but Albert had great projects to put into
execution before going to the theatre; and instead of making
any answer, he inquired if Signor Pastrini could procure him
a tailor. "A tailor," said the host; "and for what?"

"To make us between now and to-morrow two Roman peasant
costumes," returned Albert. The host shook his head. "To
make you two costumes between now and to-morrow? I ask your
excellencies' pardon, but this is quite a French demand; for
the next week you will not find a single tailor who would
consent to sew six buttons on a waistcoat if you paid him a
crown a piece for each button."

"Then I must give up the idea?"

"No; we have them ready-made. Leave all to me; and
to-morrow, when you awake, you shall find a collection of
costumes with which you will be satisfied."

"My dear Albert," said Franz, "leave all to our host; he has
already proved himself full of resources; let us dine
quietly, and afterwards go and see `The Algerian Captive.'"

"Agreed," returned Albert; "but remember, Signor Pastrini,
that both my friend and myself attach the greatest
importance to having to-morrow the costumes we have asked
for." The host again assured them they might rely on him,
and that their wishes should be attended to; upon which
Franz and Albert mounted to their apartments, and proceeded
to disencumber themselves of their costumes. Albert, as he
took off his dress, carefully preserved the bunch of
violets; it was his token reserved for the morrow. The two
friends sat down to table; but they could not refrain from
remarking the difference between the Count of Monte Cristo's
table and that of Signor Pastrini. Truth compelled Franz, in
spite of the dislike he seemed to have taken to the count,
to confess that the advantage was not on Pastrini's side.
During dessert, the servant inquired at what time they
wished for the carriage. Albert and Franz looked at each
other, fearing really to abuse the count's kindness. The
servant understood them. "His excellency the Count of Monte
Cristo had," he said, "given positive orders that the
carriage was to remain at their lordships' orders all day,
and they could therefore dispose of it without fear of

They resolved to profit by the count's courtesy, and ordered
the horses to be harnessed, while they substituted evening
dress for that which they had on, and which was somewhat the
worse for the numerous combats they had sustained. This
precaution taken, they went to the theatre, and installed
themselves in the count's box. During the first act, the
Countess G---- entered. Her first look was at the box where
she had seen the count the previous evening, so that she
perceived Franz and Albert in the place of the very person
concerning whom she had expressed so strange an opinion to
Franz. Her opera-glass was so fixedly directed towards them,
that Franz saw it would be cruel not to satisfy her
curiosity; and, availing himself of one of the privileges of
the spectators of the Italian theatres, who use their boxes
to hold receptions, the two friends went to pay their
respects to the countess. Scarcely had they entered, when
she motioned to Franz to assume the seat of honor. Albert,
in his turn, sat behind.

"Well," said she, hardly giving Franz time to sit down, "it
seems you have nothing better to do than to make the
acquaintance of this new Lord Ruthven, and you are already
the best friends in the world."

"Without being so far advanced as that, my dear countess,"
returned Franz, "I cannot deny that we have abused his good
nature all day."

"All day?"

"Yes; this morning we breakfasted with him; we rode in his
carriage all day, and now we have taken possession of his

"You know him, then?"

"Yes, and no."

"How so?"

"It is a long story."

'Tell it to me."

"It would frighten you too much."

"So much the more reason."

"At least wait until the story has a conclusion."

"Very well; I prefer complete histories; but tell me how you
made his acquaintance? Did any one introduce you to him?"

"No; it was he who introduced himself to us."


"Last night, after we left you."

"Through what medium?"

"The very prosaic one of our landlord."

"He is staying, then, at the Hotel de Londres with you?"

"Not only in the same hotel, but on the same floor."

"What is his name -- for, of course, you know?"

"The Count of Monte Cristo."

"That is not a family name?"

"No, it is the name of the island he has purchased."

"And he is a count?"

"A Tuscan count."

"Well, we must put up with that," said the countess, who was
herself from one of the oldest Venetian families. "What sort
of a man is he?"

"Ask the Vicomte de Morcerf."

"You hear, M. de Morcerf, I am referred to you," said the

"We should be very hard to please, madam," returned Albert,
"did we not think him delightful. A friend of ten years'
standing could not have done more for us, or with a more
perfect courtesy."

"Come," observed the countess, smiling, "I see my vampire is
only some millionaire, who has taken the appearance of Lara
in order to avoid being confounded with M. de Rothschild;
and you have seen her?"


"The beautiful Greek of yesterday."

"No; we heard, I think, the sound of her guzla, but she
remained perfectly invisible."

"When you say invisible," interrupted Albert, "it is only to
keep up the mystery; for whom do you take the blue domino at
the window with the white curtains?"

"Where was this window with white hangings?" asked the

"At the Rospoli Palace."

"The count had three windows at the Rospoli Palace?"

"Yes. Did you pass through the Corso?"


"Well, did you notice two windows hung with yellow damask,
and one with white damask with a red cross? Those were the
count's windows."

"Why, he must be a nabob. Do you know what those three
windows were worth?"

"Two or three hundred Roman crowns?"

"Two or three thousand."

"The deuce."

"Does his island produce him such a revenue?"

"It does not bring him a baiocco."

"Then why did he purchase it?"

"For a whim."

"He is an original, then?"

"In reality," observed Albert, "he seemed to me somewhat
eccentric; were he at Paris, and a frequenter of the
theatres, I should say he was a poor devil literally mad.
This morning he made two or three exits worthy of Didier or
Anthony." At this moment a fresh visitor entered, and,
according to custom, Franz gave up his seat to him. This
circumstance had, moreover, the effect of changing the
conversation; an hour afterwards the two friends returned to
their hotel. Signor Pastrini had already set about procuring
their disguises for the morrow; and he assured them that
they would be perfectly satisfied. The next morning, at nine
o'clock, he entered Franz's room, followed by a tailor, who
had eight or ten Roman peasant costumes on his arm; they
selected two exactly alike, and charged the tailor to sew on
each of their hats about twenty yards of ribbon, and to
procure them two of the long silk sashes of different colors
with which the lower orders decorate themselves on
fete-days. Albert was impatient to see how he looked in his
new dress -- a jacket and breeches of blue velvet, silk
stockings with clocks, shoes with buckles, and a silk
waistcoat. This picturesque attire set him off to great
advantage; and when he had bound the scarf around his waist,
and when his hat, placed coquettishly on one side, let fall
on his shoulder a stream of ribbons, Franz was forced to
confess that costume has much to do with the physical
superiority we accord to certain nations. The Turks used to
be so picturesque with their long and flowing robes, but are
they not now hideous with their blue frocks buttoned up to
the chin, and their red caps, which make them look like a
bottle of wine with a red seal? Franz complimented Albert,
who looked at himself in the glass with an unequivocal smile
of satisfaction. They were thus engaged when the Count of
Monte Cristo entered.

"Gentlemen," said he, "although a companion is agreeable,
perfect freedom is sometimes still more agreeable. I come to
say that to-day, and for the remainder of the Carnival, I
leave the carriage entirely at your disposal. The host will
tell you I have three or four more, so that you will not
inconvenience me in any way. Make use of it, I pray you, for
your pleasure or your business."

The young men wished to decline, but they could find no good
reason for refusing an offer which was so agreeable to them.
The Count of Monte Cristo remained a quarter of an hour with
them, conversing on all subjects with the greatest ease. He
was, as we have already said, perfectly well acquainted with
the literature of all countries. A glance at the walls of
his salon proved to Franz and Albert that he was a
connoisseur of pictures. A few words he let fall showed them
that he was no stranger to the sciences, and he seemed much
occupied with chemistry. The two friends did not venture to
return the count the breakfast he had given them; it would
have been too absurd to offer him in exchange for his
excellent table the very inferior one of Signor Pastrini.
They told him so frankly, and he received their excuses with
the air of a man who appreciated their delicacy. Albert was
charmed with the count's manners, and he was only prevented
from recognizing him for a perfect gentleman by reason of
his varied knowledge. The permission to do what he liked
with the carriage pleased him above all, for the fair
peasants had appeared in a most elegant carriage the
preceding evening, and Albert was not sorry to be upon an
equal footing with them. At half-past one they descended,
the coachman and footman had put on their livery over their
disguises, which gave them a more ridiculous appearance than
ever, and which gained them the applause of Franz and
Albert. Albert had fastened the faded bunch of violets to
his button-hole. At the first sound of the bell they
hastened into the Corso by the Via Vittoria. At the second
turn, a bunch of fresh violets, thrown from a carriage
filled with harlequins, indicated to Albert that, like
himself and his friend, the peasants had changed their
costume, also; and whether it was the result of chance, or
whether a similar feeling had possessed them both, while he
had changed his costume they had assumed his.

Albert placed the fresh bouquet in his button-hole, but he
kept the faded one in his hand; and when he again met the
calash, he raised it to his lips, an action which seemed
greatly to amuse not only the fair lady who had thrown it,
but her joyous companions also. The day was as gay as the
preceding one, perhaps even more animated and noisy; the
count appeared for an instant at his window, but when they
again passed he had disappeared. It is almost needless to
say that the flirtation between Albert and the fair peasant
continued all day. In the evening, on his return, Franz
found a letter from the embassy, informing him that he would
have the honor of being received by his holiness the next
day. At each previous visit he had made to Rome, he had
solicited and obtained the same favor; and incited as much
by a religious feeling as by gratitude, he was unwilling to
quit the capital of the Christian world without laying his
respectful homage at the feet of one of St. Peter's
successors who has set the rare example of all the virtues.
He did not then think of the Carnival, for in spite of his
condescension and touching kindness, one cannot incline
one's self without awe before the venerable and noble old
man called Gregory XVI. On his return from the Vatican,
Franz carefully avoided the Corso; he brought away with him
a treasure of pious thoughts, to which the mad gayety of the
maskers would have been profanation. At ten minutes past
five Albert entered overjoyed. The harlequin had reassumed
her peasant's costume, and as she passed she raised her
mask. She was charming. Franz congratulated Albert, who
received his congratulations with the air of a man conscious
that they are merited. He had recognized by certain
unmistakable signs, that his fair incognita belonged to the
aristocracy. He had made up his mind to write to her the
next day. Franz remarked, while he gave these details, that
Albert seemed to have something to ask of him, but that he
was unwilling to ask it. He insisted upon it, declaring
beforehand that he was willing to make any sacrifice the
other wished. Albert let himself be pressed just as long as
friendship required, and then avowed to Franz that he would
do him a great favor by allowing him to occupy the carriage
alone the next day. Albert attributed to Franz's absence the
extreme kindness of the fair peasant in raising her mask.
Franz was not sufficiently egotistical to stop Albert in the
middle of an adventure that promised to prove so agreeable
to his curiosity and so flattering to his vanity. He felt
assured that the perfect indiscretion of his friend would
duly inform him of all that happened; and as, during three
years that he had travelled all over Italy, a similar piece
of good fortune had never fallen to his share, Franz was by
no means sorry to learn how to act on such an occasion. He
therefore promised Albert that he would content himself the
morrow with witnessing the Carnival from the windows of the
Rospoli Palace.

The next morning he saw Albert pass and repass, holding an
enormous bouquet, which he doubtless meant to make the
bearer of his amorous epistle. This belief was changed into
certainty when Franz saw the bouquet (conspicuous by a
circle of white camellias) in the hand of a charming
harlequin dressed in rose-colored satin. The evening was no
longer joy, but delirium. Albert nothing doubted but that
the fair unknown would reply in the same manner. Franz
anticipated his wishes by saying that the noise fatigued
him, and that he should pass the next day in writing and
looking over his journal. Albert was not deceived, for the
next evening Franz saw him enter triumphantly shaking a
folded paper which he held by one corner. "Well," said he,
"was I mistaken?"

"She has answered you!" cried Franz.

"Read." This word was pronounced in a manner impossible to
describe. Franz took the letter, and read: --

Tuesday evening, at seven o'clock, descend from your
carriage opposite the Via dei Pontefici, and follow the
Roman peasant who snatches your torch from you. When you
arrive at the first step of the church of San Giacomo, be
sure to fasten a knot of rose-colored ribbons to the
shoulder of your harlequin costume, in order that you may be
recognized. Until then you will not see me.

Constancy and Discretion.

"Well," asked he, when Franz had finished, "what do you
think of that?"

"I think that the adventure is assuming a very agreeable

"I think so, also," replied Albert; "and I very much fear
you will go alone to the Duke of Bracciano's ball." Franz
and Albert had received that morning an invitation from the
celebrated Roman banker. "Take care, Albert," said Franz.

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