Part 11 out of 31
"All the nobility of Rome will be present, and if your fair
incognita belong to the higher class of society, she must go
"Whether she goes there or not, my opinion is still the
same," returned Albert. "You have read the letter?"
"You know how imperfectly the women of the mezzo cito are
educated in Italy?" (This is the name of the lower class.)
"Well, read the letter again. Look at the writing, and find
if you can, any blemish in the language or orthography."
(The writing was, in reality, charming, and the orthography
irreproachable.) "You are born to good fortune," said Franz,
as he returned the letter.
"Laugh as much as you will," replied Albert, "I am in love."
"You alarm me," cried Franz. "I see that I shall not only go
alone to the Duke of Bracciano's, but also return to
"If my unknown be as amiable as she is beautiful," said
Albert, "I shall fix myself at Rome for six weeks, at least.
I adore Rome, and I have always had a great taste for
"Come, two or three more such adventures, and I do not
despair of seeing you a member of the Academy." Doubtless
Albert was about to discuss seriously his right to the
academic chair when they were informed that dinner was
ready. Albert's love had not taken away his appetite. He
hastened with Franz to seat himself, free to recommence the
discussion after dinner. After dinner, the Count of Monte
Cristo was announced. They had not seen him for two days.
Signor Pastrini informed them that business had called him
to Civita Vecchia. He had started the previous evening, and
had only returned an hour since. He was charming. Whether he
kept a watch over himself, or whether by accident he did not
sound the acrimonious chords that in other circumstances had
been touched, he was to-night like everybody else. The man
was an enigma to Franz. The count must feel sure that Franz
recognized him; and yet he had not let fall a single word
indicating any previous acquaintance between them. On his
side, however great Franz's desire was to allude to their
former interview, the fear of being disagreeable to the man
who had loaded him and his friend with kindness prevented
him from mentioning it. The count had learned that the two
friends had sent to secure a box at the Argentina Theatre,
and were told they were all let. In consequence, he brought
them the key of his own -- at least such was the apparent
motive of his visit. Franz and Albert made some difficulty,
alleging their fear of depriving him of it; but the count
replied that, as he was going to the Palli Theatre, the box
at the Argentina Theatre would be lost if they did not
profit by it. This assurance determined the two friends to
Franz had by degrees become accustomed to the count's
pallor, which had so forcibly struck him at their first
meeting. He could not refrain from admiring the severe
beauty of his features, the only defect, or rather the
principal quality of which was the pallor. Truly, a Byronic
hero! Franz could not, we will not say see him, but even
think of him without imagining his stern head upon Manfred's
shoulders, or beneath Lara's helmet. His forehead was marked
with the line that indicates the constant presence of bitter
thoughts; he had the fiery eyes that seem to penetrate to
the very soul, and the haughty and disdainful upper lip that
gives to the words it utters a peculiar character that
impresses them on the minds of those to whom they are
addressed. The count was no longer young. He was at least
forty; and yet it was easy to understand that he was formed
to rule the young men with whom he associated at present.
And, to complete his resemblance with the fantastic heroes
of the English poet, the count seemed to have the power of
fascination. Albert was constantly expatiating on their good
fortune in meeting such a man. Franz was less enthusiastic;
but the count exercised over him also the ascendency a
strong mind always acquires over a mind less domineering. He
thought several times of the project the count had of
visiting Paris; and he had no doubt but that, with his
eccentric character, his characteristic face, and his
colossal fortune, he would produce a great effect there. And
yet he did not wish to be at Paris when the count was there.
The evening passed as evenings mostly pass at Italian
theatres; that is, not in listening to the music, but in
paying visits and conversing. The Countess G---- wished to
revive the subject of the count, but Franz announced he had
something far newer to tell her, and, in spite of Albert's
demonstrations of false modesty, he informed the countess of
the great event which had preoccupied them for the last
three days. As similar intrigues are not uncommon in Italy,
if we may credit travellers, the comtess did not manifest
the least incredulity, but congratulated Albert on his
success. They promised, upon separating, to meet at the Duke
of Bracciano's ball, to which all Rome was invited. The
heroine of the bouquet kept her word; she gave Albert no
sign of her existence the morrow or the day after.
At length Tuesday came, the last and most tumultuous day of
the Carnival. On Tuesday, the theatres open at ten o'clock
in the morning, as Lent begins after eight at night. On
Tuesday, all those who through want of money, time, or
enthusiasm, have not been to see the Carnival before, mingle
in the gayety, and contribute to the noise and excitement.
From two o'clock till five Franz and Albert followed in the
fete, exchanging handfuls of confetti with the other
carriages and the pedestrians, who crowded amongst the
horses' feet and the carriage wheels without a single
accident, a single dispute, or a single fight. The fetes are
veritable pleasure days to the Italians. The author of this
history, who has resided five or six years in Italy, does
not recollect to have ever seen a ceremony interrupted by
one of those events so common in other countries. Albert was
triumphant in his harlequin costume. A knot of rose-colored
ribbons fell from his shoulder almost to the ground. In
order that there might be no confusion, Franz wore his
As the day advanced, the tumult became greater. There was
not on the pavement, in the carriages, at the windows, a
single tongue that was silent, a single arm that did not
move. It was a human storm, made up of a thunder of cries,
and a hail of sweetmeats, flowers, eggs, oranges, and
nosegays. At three o'clock the sound of fireworks, let off
on the Piazza del Popolo and the Piazza di Venezia (heard
with difficulty amid the din and confusion) announced that
the races were about to begin. The races, like the moccoli,
are one of the episodes peculiar to the last days of the
Carnival. At the sound of the fireworks the carriages
instantly broke ranks, and retired by the adjacent streets.
All these evolutions are executed with an inconceivable
address and marvellous rapidity, without the police
interfering in the matter. The pedestrians ranged themselves
against the walls; then the trampling of horses and the
clashing of steel were heard. A detachment of carbineers,
fifteen abreast, galloped up the Corso in order to clear it
for the barberi. When the detachment arrived at the Piazza
di Venezia, a second volley of fireworks was discharged, to
announce that the street was clear. Almost instantly, in the
midst of a tremendous and general outcry, seven or eight
horses, excited by the shouts of three hundred thousand
spectators, passed by like lightning. Then the Castle of
Saint Angelo fired three cannon to indicate that number
three had won. Immediately, without any other signal, the
carriages moved on, flowing on towards the Corso, down all
the streets, like torrents pent up for a while, which again
flow into the parent river; and the immense stream again
continued its course between its two granite banks.
A new source of noise and movement was added to the crowd.
The sellers of moccoletti entered on the scene. The moccoli,
or moccoletti, are candles which vary in size from the
pascal taper to the rushlight, and which give to each actor
in the great final scene of the Carnival two very serious
problems to grapple with, -- first, how to keep his own
moccoletto alight; and secondly, how to extinguish the
moccoletti of others. The moccoletto is like life: man has
found but one means of transmitting it, and that one comes
from God. But he has discovered a thousand means of taking
it away, and the devil has somewhat aided him. The
moccoletto is kindled by approaching it to a light. But who
can describe the thousand means of extinguishing the
moccoletto? -- the gigantic bellows, the monstrous
extinguishers, the superhuman fans. Every one hastened to
purchase moccoletti -- Franz and Albert among the rest.
The night was rapidly approaching; and already, at the cry
of "Moccoletti!" repeated by the shrill voices of a thousand
vendors, two or three stars began to burn among the crowd.
It was a signal. At the end of ten minutes fifty thousand
lights glittered, descending from the Palazzo di Venezia to
the Piazza del Popolo, and mounting from the Piazzo del
Popolo to the Palazzo di Venezia. It seemed like the fete of
jack-o'-lanterns. It is impossible to form any idea of it
without having seen it. Suppose that all the stars had
descended from the sky and mingled in a wild dance on the
face of the earth; the whole accompanied by cries that were
never heard in any other part of the world. The facchino
follows the prince, the Transteverin the citizen, every one
blowing, extinguishing, relighting. Had old AEolus appeared
at this moment, he would have been proclaimed king of the
moccoli, and Aquilo the heir-presumptive to the throne. This
battle of folly and flame continued for two hours; the Corso
was light as day; the features of the spectators on the
third and fourth stories were visible. Every five minutes
Albert took out his watch; at length it pointed to seven.
The two friends were in the Via dei Pontefici. Albert sprang
out, bearing his moccoletto in his hand. Two or three masks
strove to knock his moccoletto out of his hand; but Albert,
a first-rate pugilist, sent them rolling in the street, one
after the other, and continued his course towards the church
of San Giacomo. The steps were crowded with masks, who
strove to snatch each other's torches. Franz followed Albert
with his eyes, and saw him mount the first step. Instantly a
mask, wearing the well-known costume of a peasant woman,
snatched his moccoletto from him without his offering any
resistance. Franz was too far off to hear what they said;
but, without doubt, nothing hostile passed, for he saw
Albert disappear arm-in-arm with the peasant girl. He
watched them pass through the crowd for some time, but at
length he lost sight of them in the Via Macello. Suddenly
the bell that gives the signal for the end of the carnival
sounded, and at the same instant all the moccoletti were
extinguished as if by enchantment. It seemed as though one
immense blast of the wind had extinguished every one. Franz
found himself in utter darkness. No sound was audible save
that of the carriages that were carrying the maskers home;
nothing was visible save a few lights that burnt behind the
windows. The Carnival was over.
The Catacombs of Saint Sebastian.
In his whole life, perhaps, Franz had never before
experienced so sudden an impression, so rapid a transition
from gayety to sadness, as in this moment. It seemed as
though Rome, under the magic breath of some demon of the
night, had suddenly changed into a vast tomb. By a chance,
which added yet more to the intensity of the darkness, the
moon, which was on the wane, did not rise until eleven
o'clock, and the streets which the young man traversed were
plunged in the deepest obscurity. The distance was short,
and at the end of ten minutes his carriage, or rather the
count's, stopped before the Hotel de Londres. Dinner was
waiting, but as Albert had told him that he should not
return so soon, Franz sat down without him. Signor Pastrini,
who had been accustomed to see them dine together, inquired
into the cause of his absence, but Franz merely replied that
Albert had received on the previous evening an invitation
which he had accepted. The sudden extinction of the
moccoletti, the darkness which had replaced the light, and
the silence which had succeeded the turmoil, had left in
Franz's mind a certain depression which was not free from
uneasiness. He therefore dined very silently, in spite of
the officious attention of his host, who presented himself
two or three times to inquire if he wanted anything.
Franz resolved to wait for Albert as late as possible. He
ordered the carriage, therefore, for eleven o'clock,
desiring Signor Pastrini to inform him the moment that
Albert returned to the hotel. At eleven o'clock Albert had
not come back. Franz dressed himself, and went out, telling
his host that he was going to pass the night at the Duke of
Bracciano's. The house of the Duke of Bracciano is one of
the most delightful in Rome, the duchess, one of the last
heiresses of the Colonnas, does its honors with the most
consummate grace, and thus their fetes have a European
celebrity. Franz and Albert had brought to Rome letters of
introduction to them, and their first question on his
arrival was to inquire the whereabouts of his travelling
companion. Franz replied that he had left him at the moment
they were about to extinguish the moccoli, and that he had
lost sight of him in the Via Macello. "Then he has not
returned?" said the duke.
"I waited for him until this hour," replied Franz.
"And do you know whither he went?"
"No, not precisely; however, I think it was something very
like a rendezvous."
"Diavolo!" said the duke, "this is a bad day, or rather a
bad night, to be out late; is it not, countess!" These words
were addressed to the Countess G---- , who had just
arrived, and was leaning on the arm of Signor Torlonia, the
"I think, on the contrary, that it is a charming night,"
replied the countess, "and those who are here will complain
of but one thing -- its too rapid flight."
"I am not speaking," said the duke with a smile, "of the
persons who are here; the men run no other danger than that
of falling in love with you, and the women of falling ill of
jealousy at seeing you so lovely; I meant persons who were
out in the streets of Rome."
"Ah," asked the countess, "who is out in the streets of Rome
at this hour, unless it be to go to a ball?"
"Our friend, Albert de Morcerf, countess, whom I left in
pursuit of his unknown about seven o'clock this evening,"
said Franz, "and whom I have not seen since."
"And don't you know where he is?"
"Not at all."
"Is he armed?"
"He is in masquerade."
"You should not have allowed him to go," said the duke to
Franz; "you, who know Rome better than he does."
"You might as well have tried to stop number three of the
barberi, who gained the prize in the race to-day," replied
Franz; "and then moreover, what could happen to him?"
"Who can tell? The night is gloomy, and the Tiber is very
near the Via Macello." Franz felt a shudder run through his
veins at observing that the feeling of the duke and the
countess was so much in unison with his own personal
disquietude. "I informed them at the hotel that I had the
honor of passing the night here, duke," said Franz, "and
desired them to come and inform me of his return."
"Ah," replied the duke, "here I think, is one of my servants
who is seeking you."
The duke was not mistaken; when he saw Franz, the servant
came up to him. "Your excellency," he said, "the master of
the Hotel de Londres has sent to let you know that a man is
waiting for you with a letter from the Viscount of Morcerf."
"A letter from the viscount!" exclaimed Franz.
"And who is the man?"
"I do not know."
"Why did he not bring it to me here?"
"The messenger did not say."
"And where is the messenger?"
"He went away directly he saw me enter the ball-room to find
"Oh," said the countess to Franz, "go with all speed -- poor
young man! Perhaps some accident has happened to him."
"I will hasten," replied Franz.
"Shall we see you again to give us any information?"
inquired the countess.
"Yes, if it is not any serious affair, otherwise I cannot
answer as to what I may do myself."
"Be prudent, in any event," said the countess.
"Oh, pray be assured of that." Franz took his hat and went
away in haste. He had sent away his carriage with orders for
it to fetch him at two o'clock; fortunately the Palazzo
Bracciano, which is on one side in the Corso, and on the
other in the Square of the Holy Apostles, is hardly ten
minutes' walk from the Hotel de Londres. As he came near the
hotel, Franz saw a man in the middle of the street. He had
no doubt that it was the messenger from Albert. The man was
wrapped up in a large cloak. He went up to him, but, to his
extreme astonishment, the stranger first addressed him.
"What wants your excellency of me?" inquired the man,
retreating a step or two, as if to keep on his guard.
"Are not you the person who brought me a letter," inquired
Franz, "from the Viscount of Morcerf?"
"Your excellency lodges at Pastrini's hotel?"
"Your excellency is the travelling companion of the
"Your excellency's name" --
"Is the Baron Franz d'Epinay."
"Then it is to your excellency that this letter is
"Is there any answer?" inquired Franz, taking the letter
"Yes -- your friend at least hopes so."
"Come up-stairs with me, and I will give it to you."
"I prefer waiting here," said the messenger, with a smile.
"Your excellency will know when you have read the letter."
"Shall I find you here, then?"
Franz entered the hotel. On the staircase he met Signor
Pastrini. "Well?" said the landlord.
"Well -- what?" responded Franz.
"You have seen the man who desired to speak with you from
your friend?" he asked of Franz.
"Yes, I have seen him," he replied, "and he has handed this
letter to me. Light the candles in my apartment, if you
please." The inn-keeper gave orders to a servant to go
before Franz with a light. The young man had found Signor
Pastrini looking very much alarmed, and this had only made
him the more anxious to read Albert's letter; and so he went
instantly towards the waxlight, and unfolded it. It was
written and signed by Albert. Franz read it twice before he
could comprehend what it contained. It was thus worded: --
My Dear Fellow, -- The moment you have received this, have
the kindness to take the letter of credit from my
pocket-book, which you will find in the square drawer of the
secretary; add your own to it, if it be not sufficient. Run
to Torlonia, draw from him instantly four thousand piastres,
and give them to the bearer. It is urgent that I should have
this money without delay. I do not say more, relying on you
as you may rely on me. Your friend,
Albert de Morcerf.
P.S. -- I now believe in Italian banditti.
Below these lines were written, in a strange hand, the
following in Italian: --
Se alle sei della mattina le quattro mile piastre non sono
nelle mie mani, alla sette il conte Alberto avra cessato di
"If by six in the morning the four thousand piastres are not
in my hands, by seven o'clock the Count Albert will have
ceased to live."
This second signature explained everything to Franz, who now
understood the objection of the messenger to coming up into
the apartment; the street was safer for him. Albert, then,
had fallen into the hands of the famous bandit chief, in
whose existence he had for so long a time refused to
believe. There was no time to lose. He hastened to open the
secretary, and found the pocket-book in the drawer, and in
it the letter of credit. There were in all six thousand
piastres, but of these six thousand Albert had already
expended three thousand. As to Franz, he had no letter of
credit, as he lived at Florence, and had only come to Rome
to pass seven or eight days; he had brought but a hundred
louis, and of these he had not more than fifty left. Thus
seven or eight hundred piastres were wanting to them both to
make up the sum that Albert required. True, he might in such
a case rely on the kindness of Signor Torlonia. He was,
therefore, about to return to the Palazzo Bracciano without
loss of time, when suddenly a luminous idea crossed his
mind. He remembered the Count of Monte Cristo. Franz was
about to ring for Signor Pastrini, when that worthy
presented himself. "My dear sir," he said, hastily, "do you
know if the count is within?"
"Yes, your excellency; he has this moment returned."
"Is he in bed?"
"I should say no."
"Then ring at his door, if you please, and request him to be
so kind as to give me an audience." Signor Pastrini did as
he was desired, and returning five minutes after, he said,
-- "The count awaits your excellency." Franz went along the
corridor, and a servant introduced him to the count. He was
in a small room which Franz had not yet seen, and which was
surrounded with divans. The count came towards him. "Well,
what good wind blows you hither at this hour?" said he;
"have you come to sup with me? It would be very kind of
"No; I have come to speak to you of a very serious matter."
"A serious matter," said the count, looking at Franz with
the earnestness usual to him; "and what may it be?"
"Are we alone?"
"Yes," replied the count, going to the door, and returning.
Franz gave him Albert's letter. "Read that," he said. The
count read it.
"Well, well!" said he.
"Did you see the postscript?"
"I did, indeed.
"`Se alle sei della mattina le quattro mile piastre non sono
nelle mie mani, alla sette il conte Alberto avra cessato di
"What think you of that?" inquired Franz.
"Have you the money he demands?"
"Yes, all but eight hundred piastres." The count went to his
secretary, opened it, and pulling out a drawer filled with
gold, said to Franz, -- "I hope you will not offend me by
applying to any one but myself."
"You see, on the contrary, I come to you first and
instantly," replied Franz.
"And I thank you; have what you will;" and he made a sign to
Franz to take what he pleased.
"Is it absolutely necessary, then, to send the money to
Luigi Vampa?" asked the young man, looking fixedly in his
turn at the count.
"Judge for yourself," replied he. "The postscript is
"I think that if you would take the trouble of reflecting,
you could find a way of simplifying the negotiation," said
"How so?" returned the count, with surprise.
"If we were to go together to Luigi Vampa, I am sure he
would not refuse you Albert's freedom."
"What influence can I possibly have over a bandit?"
"Have you not just rendered him a service that can never be
"What is that?"
"Have you not saved Peppino's life?"
"Well, well," said the count, "who told you that?"
"No matter; I know it." The count knit his brows, and
remained silent an instant. "And if I went to seek Vampa,
would you accompany me?"
"If my society would not be disagreeable."
"Be it so. It is a lovely night, and a walk without Rome
will do us both good."
"Shall I take any arms?"
"For what purpose?"
"It is useless. Where is the man who brought the letter?"
"In the street."
"He awaits the answer?"
"I must learn where we are going. I will summon him hither."
"It is useless; he would not come up."
"To your apartments, perhaps; but he will not make any
difficulty at entering mine." The count went to the window
of the apartment that looked on to the street, and whistled
in a peculiar manner. The man in the mantle quitted the
wall, and advanced into the middle of the street. "Salite!"
said the count, in the same tone in which he would have
given an order to his servant. The messenger obeyed without
the least hesitation, but rather with alacrity, and,
mounting the steps at a bound, entered the hotel; five
seconds afterwards he was at the door of the room. "Ah, it
is you, Peppino," said the count. But Peppino, instead of
answering, threw himself on his knees, seized the count's
hand, and covered it with kisses. "Ah," said the count, "you
have, then, not forgotten that I saved your life; that is
strange, for it is a week ago."
"No, excellency; and never shall I forget it," returned
Peppino, with an accent of profound gratitude.
"Never? That is a long time; but it is something that you
believe so. Rise and answer." Peppino glanced anxiously at
Franz. "Oh, you may speak before his excellency," said he;
"he is one of my friends. You allow me to give you this
title?" continued the count in French, "it is necessary to
excite this man's confidence."
"You can speak before me," said Franz; "I am a friend of the
"Good!" returned Peppino. "I am ready to answer any
questions your excellency may address to me."
"How did the Viscount Albert fall into Luigi's hands?"
"Excellency, the Frenchman's carriage passed several times
the one in which was Teresa."
"The chief's mistress?"
"Yes. The Frenchman threw her a bouquet; Teresa returned it
-- all this with the consent of the chief, who was in the
"What?" cried Franz, "was Luigi Vampa in the carriage with
the Roman peasants?"
"It was he who drove, disguised as the coachman," replied
"Well?" said the count.
"Well, then, the Frenchman took off his mask; Teresa, with
the chief's consent, did the same. The Frenchman asked for a
rendezvous; Teresa gave him one -- only, instead of Teresa,
it was Beppo who was on the steps of the church of San
"What!" exclaimed Franz, "the peasant girl who snatched his
mocoletto from him" --
"Was a lad of fifteen," replied Peppino. "But it was no
disgrace to your friend to have been deceived; Beppo has
taken in plenty of others."
"And Beppo led him outside the walls?" said the count.
"Exactly so; a carriage was waiting at the end of the Via
Macello. Beppo got in, inviting the Frenchman to follow him,
and he did not wait to be asked twice. He gallantly offered
the right-hand seat to Beppo, and sat by him. Beppo told him
he was going to take him to a villa a league from Rome; the
Frenchman assured him he would follow him to the end of the
world. The coachman went up the Via di Ripetta and the Porta
San Paola; and when they were two hundred yards outside, as
the Frenchman became somewhat too forward, Beppo put a brace
of pistols to his head, the coachman pulled up and did the
same. At the same time, four of the band, who were concealed
on the banks of the Almo, surrounded the carriage. The
Frenchman made some resistance, and nearly strangled Beppo;
but he could not resist five armed men, and was forced to
yield. They made him get out, walk along the banks of the
river, and then brought him to Teresa and Luigi, who were
waiting for him in the catacombs of St. Sebastian."
"Well," said the count, turning towards Franz, "it seems to
me that this is a very likely story. What do you say to it?"
"Why, that I should think it very amusing," replied Franz,
"if it had happened to any one but poor Albert."
"And, in truth, if you had not found me here," said the
count, "it might have proved a gallant adventure which would
have cost your friend dear; but now, be assured, his alarm
will be the only serious consequence."
"And shall we go and find him?" inquired Franz.
"Oh, decidedly, sir. He is in a very picturesque place -- do
you know the catacombs of St. Sebastian?"
"I was never in them; but I have often resolved to visit
"Well, here is an opportunity made to your hand, and it
would be difficult to contrive a better. Have you a
"That is of no consequence; I always have one ready, day and
"Yes. I am a very capricious being, and I should tell you
that sometimes when I rise, or after my dinner, or in the
middle of the night, I resolve on starting for some
particular point, and away I go." The count rang, and a
footman appeared. "Order out the carriage," he said, "and
remove the pistols which are in the holsters. You need not
awaken the coachman; Ali will drive." In a very short time
the noise of wheels was heard, and the carriage stopped at
the door. The count took out his watch. "Half-past twelve,"
he said. "We might start at five o'clock and be in time, but
the delay may cause your friend to pass an uneasy night, and
therefore we had better go with all speed to extricate him
from the hands of the infidels. Are you still resolved to
"More determined than ever."
"Well, then, come along."
Franz and the count went downstairs, accompanied by Peppino.
At the door they found the carriage. Ali was on the box, in
whom Franz recognized the dumb slave of the grotto of Monte
Cristo. Franz and the count got into the carriage. Peppino
placed himself beside Ali, and they set off at a rapid pace.
Ali had received his instructions, and went down the Corso,
crossed the Campo Vaccino, went up the Strada San Gregorio,
and reached the gates of St. Sebastian. Then the porter
raised some difficulties, but the Count of Monte Cristo
produced a permit from the governor of Rome, allowing him to
leave or enter the city at any hour of the day or night; the
portcullis was therefore raised, the porter had a louis for
his trouble, and they went on their way. The road which the
carriage now traversed was the ancient Appian Way, and
bordered with tombs. From time to time, by the light of the
moon, which began to rise, Franz imagined that he saw
something like a sentinel appear at various points among the
ruins, and suddenly retreat into the darkness on a signal
from Peppino. A short time before they reached the Baths of
Caracalla the carriage stopped, Peppino opened the door, and
the count and Franz alighted.
"In ten minutes," said the count to his companion, "we shall
He then took Peppino aside, gave him an order in a low
voice, and Peppino went away, taking with him a torch,
brought with them in the carriage. Five minutes elapsed,
during which Franz saw the shepherd going along a narrow
path that led over the irregular and broken surface of the
Campagna; and finally he disappeared in the midst of the
tall red herbage, which seemed like the bristling mane of an
enormous lion. "Now," said the count, "let us follow him."
Franz and the count in their turn then advanced along the
same path, which, at the distance of a hundred paces, led
them over a declivity to the bottom of a small valley. They
then perceived two men conversing in the obscurity. "Ought
we to go on?" asked Franz of the count; "or shall we wait
"Let us go on; Peppino will have warned the sentry of our
coming." One of the two men was Peppino, and the other a
bandit on the lookout. Franz and the count advanced, and the
bandit saluted them. "Your excellency," said Peppino,
addressing the count, "if you will follow me, the opening of
the catacombs is close at hand."
"Go on, then," replied the count. They came to an opening
behind a clump of bushes and in the midst of a pile of
rocks, by which a man could scarcely pass. Peppino glided
first into this crevice; after they got along a few paces
the passage widened. Peppino passed, lighted his torch, and
turned to see if they came after him. The count first
reached an open space and Franz followed him closely. The
passageway sloped in a gentle descent, enlarging as they
proceeded; still Franz and the count were compelled to
advance in a stooping posture, and were scarcely able to
proceed abreast of one another. They went on a hundred and
fifty paces in this way, and then were stopped by, "Who
comes there?" At the same time they saw the reflection of a
torch on a carbine barrel.
"A friend!" responded Peppino; and, advancing alone towards
the sentry, he said a few words to him in a low tone; and
then he, like the first, saluted the nocturnal visitors,
making a sign that they might proceed.
Behind the sentinel was a staircase with twenty steps. Franz
and the count descended these, and found themselves in a
mortuary chamber. Five corridors diverged like the rays of a
star, and the walls, dug into niches, which were arranged
one above the other in the shape of coffins, showed that
they were at last in the catacombs. Down one of the
corridors, whose extent it was impossible to determine, rays
of light were visible. The count laid his hand on Franz's
shoulder. "Would you like to see a camp of bandits in
repose?" he inquired.
"Exceedingly," replied Franz.
"Come with me, then. Peppino, put out the torch." Peppino
obeyed, and Franz and the count were in utter darkness,
except that fifty paces in advance of them a reddish glare,
more evident since Peppino had put out his torch, was
visible along the wall. They advanced silently, the count
guiding Franz as if he had the singular faculty of seeing in
the dark. Franz himself, however, saw his way more plainly
in proportion as he went on towards the light, which served
in some manner as a guide. Three arcades were before them,
and the middle one was used as a door. These arcades opened
on one side into the corridor where the count and Franz
were, and on the other into a large square chamber, entirely
surrounded by niches similar to those of which we have
spoken. In the midst of this chamber were four stones, which
had formerly served as an altar, as was evident from the
cross which still surmounted them. A lamp, placed at the
base of a pillar, lighted up with its pale and flickering
flame the singular scene which presented itself to the eyes
of the two visitors concealed in the shadow. A man was
seated with his elbow leaning on the column, and was reading
with his back turned to the arcades, through the openings of
which the newcomers contemplated him. This was the chief of
the band, Luigi Vampa. Around him, and in groups, according
to their fancy, lying in their mantles, or with their backs
against a sort of stone bench, which went all round the
columbarium, were to be seen twenty brigands or more, each
having his carbine within reach. At the other end, silent,
scarcely visible, and like a shadow, was a sentinel, who was
walking up and down before a grotto, which was only
distinguishable because in that spot the darkness seemed
more dense than elsewhere. When the count thought Franz had
gazed sufficiently on this picturesque tableau, he raised
his finger to his lips, to warn him to be silent, and,
ascending the three steps which led to the corridor of the
columbarium, entered the chamber by the middle arcade, and
advanced towards Vampa, who was so intent on the book before
him that he did not hear the noise of his footsteps.
"Who comes there?" cried the sentinel, who was less
abstracted, and who saw by the lamp-light a shadow
approaching his chief. At this challenge, Vampa rose
quickly, drawing at the same moment a pistol from his
girdle. In a moment all the bandits were on their feet, and
twenty carbines were levelled at the count. "Well," said he
in a voice perfectly calm, and no muscle of his countenance
disturbed, "well, my dear Vampa, it appears to me that you
receive a friend with a great deal of ceremony."
"Ground arms," exclaimed the chief, with an imperative sign
of the hand, while with the other he took off his hat
respectfully; then, turning to the singular personage who
had caused this scene, he said, "Your pardon, your
excellency, but I was so far from expecting the honor of a
visit, that I did not really recognize you."
"It seems that your memory is equally short in everything,
Vampa," said the count, "and that not only do you forget
people's faces, but also the conditions you make with them."
"What conditions have I forgotten, your excellency?"
inquired the bandit, with the air of a man who, having
committed an error, is anxious to repair it.
"Was it not agreed," asked the count, "that not only my
person, but also that of my friends, should be respected by
"And how have I broken that treaty, your excellency?"
"You have this evening carried off and conveyed hither the
Vicomte Albert de Morcerf. Well," continued the count, in a
tone that made Franz shudder, "this young gentleman is one
of my friends -- this young gentleman lodges in the same
hotel as myself -- this young gentleman has been up and down
the Corso for eight hours in my private carriage, and yet, I
repeat to you, you have carried him off, and conveyed him
hither, and," added the count, taking the letter from his
pocket, "you have set a ransom on him, as if he were an
"Why did you not tell me all this -- you?" inquired the
brigand chief, turning towards his men, who all retreated
before his look. "Why have you caused me thus to fail in my
word towards a gentleman like the count, who has all our
lives in his hands? By heavens, if I thought one of you knew
that the young gentleman was the friend of his excellency, I
would blow his brains out with my own hand!"
"Well," said the count, turning towards Franz, "I told you
there was some mistake in this."
"Are you not alone?" asked Vampa with uneasiness.
"I am with the person to whom this letter was addressed, and
to whom I desired to prove that Luigi Vampa was a man of his
word. Come, your excellency," the count added, turning to
Franz, "here is Luigi Vampa, who will himself express to you
his deep regret at the mistake he has committed." Franz
approached, the chief advancing several steps to meet him.
"Welcome among us, your excellency," he said to him; "you
heard what the count just said, and also my reply; let me
add that I would not for the four thousand piastres at which
I had fixed your friend's ransom, that this had happened."
"But," said Franz, looking round him uneasily, "where is the
Viscount? -- I do not see him."
"Nothing has happened to him, I hope," said the count
"The prisoner is there," replied Vampa, pointing to the
hollow space in front of which the bandit was on guard, "and
I will go myself and tell him he is free." The chief went
towards the place he had pointed out as Albert's prison, and
Franz and the count followed him. "What is the prisoner
doing?" inquired Vampa of the sentinel.
"Ma foi, captain," replied the sentry, "I do not know; for
the last hour I have not heard him stir."
"Come in, your excellency," said Vampa. The count and Franz
ascended seven or eight steps after the chief, who drew back
a bolt and opened a door. Then, by the gleam of a lamp,
similar to that which lighted the columbarium, Albert was to
be seen wrapped up in a cloak which one of the bandits had
lent him, lying in a corner in profound slumber. "Come,"
said the count, smiling with his own peculiar smile, "not so
bad for a man who is to be shot at seven o'clock to-morrow
morning." Vampa looked at Albert with a kind of admiration;
he was not insensible to such a proof of courage.
"You are right, your excellency," he said; "this must be one
of your friends." Then going to Albert, he touched him on
the shoulder, saying, "Will your excellency please to
awaken?" Albert stretched out his arms, rubbed his eyelids,
and opened his eyes. "Oh," said he, "is it you, captain? You
should have allowed me to sleep. I had such a delightful
dream. I was dancing the galop at Torlonia's with the
Countess G---- ." Then he drew his watch from his pocket,
that he might see how time sped.
"Half-past one only?" said he. "Why the devil do you rouse
me at this hour?"
"To tell you that you are free, your excellency."
"My dear fellow," replied Albert, with perfect ease of mind,
"remember, for the future, Napoleon's maxim, `Never awaken
me but for bad news;' if you had let me sleep on, I should
have finished my galop, and have been grateful to you all my
life. So, then, they have paid my ransom?"
"No, your excellency."
"Well, then, how am I free?"
"A person to whom I can refuse nothing has come to demand
"Really? Then that person is a most amiable person." Albert
looked around and perceived Franz. "What," said he, "is it
you, my dear Franz, whose devotion and friendship are thus
"No, not I," replied Franz, "but our neighbor, the Count of
"Oh. my dear count." said Albert gayly, arranging his cravat
and wristbands, "you are really most kind, and I hope you
will consider me as under eternal obligations to you, in the
first place for the carriage, and in the next for this
visit," and he put out his hand to the Count, who shuddered
as he gave his own, but who nevertheless did give it. The
bandit gazed on this scene with amazement; he was evidently
accustomed to see his prisoners tremble before him, and yet
here was one whose gay temperament was not for a moment
altered; as for Franz, he was enchanted at the way in which
Albert had sustained the national honor in the presence of
the bandit. "My dear Albert," he said, "if you will make
haste, we shall yet have time to finish the night at
Torlonia's. You may conclude your interrupted galop, so that
you will owe no ill-will to Signor Luigi, who has, indeed,
throughout this whole affair acted like a gentleman."
"You are decidedly right, and we may reach the Palazzo by
two o'clock. Signor Luigi," continued Albert, "is there any
formality to fulfil before I take leave of your excellency?"
"None, sir," replied the bandit, "you are as free as air."
"Well, then, a happy and merry life to you. Come, gentlemen,
And Albert, followed by Franz and the count, descended the
staircase, crossed the square chamber, where stood all the
bandits, hat in hand. "Peppino," said the brigand chief,
"give me the torch."
"What are you going to do?" inquired the count.
"I will show you the way back myself," said the captain;
"that is the least honor that I can render to your
excellency." And taking the lighted torch from the hands of
the herdsman, he preceded his guests, not as a servant who
performs an act of civility, but like a king who precedes
ambassadors. On reaching the door, he bowed. "And now, your
excellency," added he, "allow me to repeat my apologies, and
I hope you will not entertain any resentment at what has
"No, my dear Vampa," replied the count; "besides, you
compensate for your mistakes in so gentlemanly a way, that
one almost feels obliged to you for having committed them."
"Gentlemen," added the chief, turning towards the young men,
"perhaps the offer may not appear very tempting to you; but
if you should ever feel inclined to pay me a second visit,
wherever I may be, you shall be welcome." Franz and Albert
bowed. The count went out first, then Albert. Franz paused
for a moment. "Has your excellency anything to ask me?" said
Vampa with a smile.
"Yes, I have," replied Franz; "I am curious to know what
work you were perusing with so much attention as we
"Caesar's `Commentaries,'" said the bandit, "it is my
"Well, are you coming?" asked Albert.
"Yes," replied Franz, "here I am," and he, in his turn, left
the caves. They advanced to the plain. "Ah, your pardon,"
said Albert, turning round; "will you allow me, captain?"
And he lighted his cigar at Vampa's torch. "Now, my dear
count," he said, "let us on with all the speed we may. I am
enormously anxious to finish my night at the Duke of
Bracciano's." They found the carriage where they had left
it. The count said a word in Arabic to Ali, and the horses
went on at great speed. It was just two o'clock by Albert's
watch when the two friends entered into the dancing-room.
Their return was quite an event, but as they entered
together, all uneasiness on Albert's account ceased
instantly. "Madame," said the Viscount of Morcerf, advancing
towards the countess, "yesterday you were so condescending
as to promise me a galop; I am rather late in claiming this
gracious promise, but here is my friend, whose character for
veracity you well know, and he will assure you the delay
arose from no fault of mine." And as at this moment the
orchestra gave the signal for the waltz, Albert put his arm
round the waist of the countess, and disappeared with her in
the whirl of dancers. In the meanwhile Franz was considering
the singular shudder that had passed over the Count of Monte
Cristo at the moment when he had been, in some sort, forced
to give his hand to Albert.
The first words that Albert uttered to his friend, on the
following morning, contained a request that Franz would
accompany him on a visit to the count; true, the young man
had warmly and energetically thanked the count on the
previous evening; but services such as he had rendered could
never be too often acknowledged. Franz, who seemed attracted
by some invisible influence towards the count, in which
terror was strangely mingled, felt an extreme reluctance to
permit his friend to be exposed alone to the singular
fascination that this mysterious personage seemed to
exercise over him, and therefore made no objection to
Albert's request, but at once accompanied him to the desired
spot, and, after a short delay, the count joined them in the
salon. "My dear count," said Albert, advancing to meet him,
"permit me to repeat the poor thanks I offered last night,
and to assure you that the remembrance of all I owe to you
will never be effaced from my memory; believe me, as long as
I live, I shall never cease to dwell with grateful
recollection on the prompt and important service you
rendered me; and also to remember that to you I am indebted
even for my life."
"My very good friend and excellent neighbor," replied the
count, with a smile, "you really exaggerate my trifling
exertions. You owe me nothing but some trifle of 20,000
francs, which you have been saved out of your travelling
expenses, so that there is not much of a score between us;
-- but you must really permit me to congratulate you on the
ease and unconcern with which you resigned yourself to your
fate, and the perfect indifference you manifested as to the
turn events might take."
"Upon my word," said Albert, "I deserve no credit for what I
could not help, namely, a determination to take everything
as I found it, and to let those bandits see, that although
men get into troublesome scrapes all over the world, there
is no nation but the French that can smile even in the face
of grim Death himself. All that, however, has nothing to do
with my obligations to you, and I now come to ask you
whether, in my own person, my family, or connections, I can
in any way serve you? My father, the Comte de Morcerf,
although of Spanish origin, possesses considerable
influence, both at the court of France and Madrid, and I
unhesitatingly place the best services of myself, and all to
whom my life is dear, at your disposal."
"Monsieur de Morcerf," replied the count, "your offer, far
from surprising me, is precisely what I expected from you,
and I accept it in the same spirit of hearty sincerity with
which it is made; -- nay, I will go still further, and say
that I had previously made up my mind to ask a great favor
at your hands."
"Oh, pray name it."
"I am wholly a stranger to Paris -- it is a city I have
never yet seen."
"Is it possible," exclaimed Albert, "that you have reached
your present age without visiting the finest capital in the
world? I can scarcely credit it."
"Nevertheless, it is quite true; still, I agree with you in
thinking that my present ignorance of the first city in
Europe is a reproach to me in every way, and calls for
immediate correction; but, in all probability, I should have
performed so important, so necessary a duty, as that of
making myself acquainted with the wonders and beauties of
your justly celebrated capital, had I known any person who
would have introduced me into the fashionable world, but
unfortunately I possessed no acquaintance there, and, of
necessity, was compelled to abandon the idea."
"So distinguished an individual as yourself," cried Albert,
"could scarcely have required an introduction."
"You are most kind; but as regards myself, I can find no
merit I possess, save that, as a millionaire, I might have
become a partner in the speculations of M. Aguado and M.
Rothschild; but as my motive in travelling to your capital
would not have been for the pleasure of dabbling in stocks,
I stayed away till some favorable chance should present
itself of carrying my wish into execution. Your offer,
however, smooths all difficulties, and I have only to ask
you, my dear M. de Morcerf" (these words were accompanied by
a most peculiar smile), "whether you undertake, upon my
arrival in France, to open to me the doors of that
fashionable world of which I know no more than a Huron or a
native of Cochin-China?"
"Oh, that I do, and with infinite pleasure," answered
Albert; "and so much the more readily as a letter received
this morning from my father summons me to Paris, in
consequence of a treaty of marriage (my dear Franz, do not
smile, I beg of you) with a family of high standing, and
connected with the very cream of Parisian society."
"Connected by marriage, you mean," said Franz, laughingly.
"Well, never mind how it is," answered Albert, "it comes to
the same thing in the end. Perhaps by the time you return to
Paris, I shall be quite a sober, staid father of a family! A
most edifying representative I shall make of all the
domestic virtues -- don't you think so? But as regards your
wish to visit our fine city, my dear count, I can only say
that you may command me and mine to any extent you please."
"Then it is settled," said the count, "and I give you my
solemn assurance that I only waited an opportunity like the
present to realize plans that I have long meditated." Franz
did not doubt that these plans were the same concerning
which the count had dropped a few words in the grotto of
Monte Cristo, and while the Count was speaking the young man
watched him closely, hoping to read something of his purpose
in his face, but his countenance was inscrutable especially
when, as in the present case, it was veiled in a sphinx-like
smile. "But tell me now, count," exclaimed Albert, delighted
at the idea of having to chaperon so distinguished a person
as Monte Cristo; "tell me truly whether you are in earnest,
or if this project of visiting Paris is merely one of the
chimerical and uncertain air castles of which we make so
many in the course of our lives, but which, like a house
built on the sand, is liable to be blown over by the first
puff of wind?"
"I pledge you my honor," returned the count, "that I mean to
do as I have said; both inclination and positive necessity
compel me to visit Paris."
"When do you propose going thither?"
"Have you made up your mind when you shall be there
"Certainly I have; in a fortnight or three weeks' time, that
is to say, as fast as I can get there!"
"Nay," said the Count; "I will give you three months ere I
join you; you see I make an ample allowance for all delays
"And in three months' time," said Albert, "you will be at my
"Shall we make a positive appointment for a particular day
and hour?" inquired the count; "only let me warn you that I
am proverbial for my punctilious exactitude in keeping my
"Day for day, hour for hour," said Albert; "that will suit
me to a dot."
"So be it, then," replied the count, and extending his hand
towards a calendar, suspended near the chimney-piece, he
said, "to-day is the 21st of February;" and drawing out his
watch, added, "it is exactly half-past ten o'clock. Now
promise me to remember this, and expect me the 21st of May
at the same hour in the forenoon."
"Capital," exclaimed Albert; "your breakfast shall be
"Where do you live?"
"No. 27, Rue du Helder."
"Have you bachelor's apartments there? I hope my coming will
not put you to any inconvenience."
"I reside in my father's house, but occupy a pavilion at the
farther side of the court-yard, entirely separated from the
"Quite sufficient," replied the count, as, taking out his
tablets, he wrote down "No. 27, Rue du Helder, 21st May,
half-past ten in the morning."
"Now then," said the count, returning his tablets to his
pocket, "make yourself perfectly easy; the hand of your
time-piece will not be more accurate in marking the time
"Shall I see you again ere my departure?" asked Albert.
"That depends; when do you leave?"
"To-morrow evening, at five o'clock."
"In that case I must say adieu to you, as I am compelled to
go to Naples, and shall not return hither before Saturday
evening or Sunday morning. And you, baron," pursued the
count, addressing Franz, "do you also depart to-morrow?"
"No, for Venice; I shall remain in Italy for another year or
"Then we shall not meet in Paris?"
"I fear I shall not have that honor."
"Well, since we must part," said the count, holding out a
hand to each of the young men, "allow me to wish you both a
safe and pleasant journey." It was the first time the hand
of Franz had come in contact with that of the mysterious
individual before him, and unconsciously he shuddered at its
touch, for it felt cold and icy as that of a corpse. "Let us
understand each other," said Albert; "it is agreed -- is it
not? -- that you are to be at No. 27, in the Rue du Helder,
on the 21st of May, at half-past ten in the morning, and
your word of honor passed for your punctuality?"
"The 21st of May, at half-past ten in the morning, Rue du
Helder, No. 27," replied the Count. The young men then rose,
and bowing to the count, quitted the room. "What is the
matter?" asked Albert of Franz, when they had returned to
their own apartments; "you seem more than commonly
"I will confess to you, Albert," replied Franz, "the count
is a very singular person, and the appointment you have made
to meet him in Paris fills me with a thousand
"My dear fellow," exclaimed Albert, "what can there possibly
be in that to excite uneasiness? Why, you must have lost
"Whether I am in my senses or not," answered Franz, "that is
the way I feel."
"Listen to me, Franz," said Albert; "I am glad that the
occasion has presented itself for saying this to you, for I
have noticed how cold you are in your bearing towards the
count, while he, on the other hand, has always been courtesy
itself to us. Have you anything particular against him?"
"Did you ever meet him previously to coming hither?"
"Will you promise me not to repeat a single word of what I
am about to tell you?"
"Upon your honor?"
"Upon my honor."
"Then listen to me." Franz then related to his friend the
history of his excursion to the Island of Monte Cristo and
of his finding a party of smugglers there, and the two
Corsican bandits with them. He dwelt with considerable force
and energy on the almost magical hospitality he had received
from the count, and the magnificence of his entertainment in
the grotto of the "Thousand and One Nights." He recounted,
with circumstantial exactitude, all the particulars of the
supper, the hashish, the statues, the dream, and how, at his
awakening, there remained no proof or trace of all these
events, save the small yacht, seen in the distant horizon
driving under full sail toward Porto-Vecchio. Then he
detailed the conversation overheard by him at the Colosseum,
between the count and Vampa, in which the count had promised
to obtain the release of the bandit Peppino, -- an
engagement which, as our readers are aware, he most
faithfully fulfilled. At last he arrived at the adventure of
the preceding night, and the embarrassment in which he found
himself placed by not having sufficient cash by six or seven
hundred piastres to make up the sum required, and finally of
his application to the count and the picturesque and
satisfactory result that followed. Albert listened with the
most profound attention. "Well," said he, when Franz had
concluded, "what do you find to object to in all you have
related? The count is fond of travelling, and, being rich,
possesses a vessel of his own. Go but to Portsmouth or
Southampton, and you will find the harbors crowded with the
yachts belonging to such of the English as can afford the
expense, and have the same liking for this amusement. Now,
by way of having a resting-place during his excursions,
avoiding the wretched cookery -- which has been trying its
best to poison me during the last four months, while you
have manfully resisted its effects for as many years, -- and
obtaining a bed on which it is possible to slumber, Monte
Cristo has furnished for himself a temporary abode where you
first found him; but, to prevent the possibility of the
Tuscan government taking a fancy to his enchanted palace,
and thereby depriving him of the advantages naturally
expected from so large an outlay of capital, he has wisely
enough purchased the island, and taken its name. Just ask
yourself, my good fellow, whether there are not many persons
of our acquaintance who assume the names of lands and
properties they never in their lives were masters of?"
"But," said Franz, "the Corsican bandits that were among the
crew of his vessel?"
"Why, really the thing seems to me simple enough. Nobody
knows better than yourself that the bandits of Corsica are
not rogues or thieves, but purely and simply fugitives,
driven by some sinister motive from their native town or
village, and that their fellowship involves no disgrace or
stigma; for my own part, I protest that, should I ever go to
Corsica, my first visit, ere even I presented myself to the
mayor or prefect, should be to the bandits of Colomba, if I
could only manage to find them; for, on my conscience, they
are a race of men I admire greatly."
"Still," persisted Franz, "I suppose you will allow that
such men as Vampa and his band are regular villains, who
have no other motive than plunder when they seize your
person. How do you explain the influence the count evidently
possessed over those ruffians?"
"My good friend, as in all probability I own my present
safety to that influence, it would ill become me to search
too closely into its source; therefore, instead of
condemning him for his intimacy with outlaws, you must give
me leave to excuse any little irregularity there may be in
such a connection; not altogether for preserving my life,
for my own idea was that it never was in much danger, but
certainly for saving me 4,000 piastres, which, being
translated, means neither more nor less than 24,000 livres
of our money -- a sum at which, most assuredly, I should
never have been estimated in France, proving most
indisputably," added Albert with a laugh, "that no prophet
is honored in his own country."
"Talking of countries," replied Franz, "of what country is
the count, what is his native tongue, whence does he derive
his immense fortune, and what were those events of his early
life -- a life as marvellous as unknown -- that have
tinctured his succeeding years with so dark and gloomy a
misanthropy? Certainly these are questions that, in your
place, I should like to have answered."
"My dear Franz," replied Albert, "when, upon receipt of my
letter, you found the necessity of asking the count's
assistance, you promptly went to him, saying, `My friend
Albert de Morcerf is in danger; help me to deliver him.' Was
not that nearly what you said?"
"Well, then, did he ask you, `Who is M. Albert de Morcerf?
how does he come by his name -- his fortune? what are his
means of existence? what is his birthplace! of what country
is he a native?' Tell me, did he put all these questions to
"I confess he asked me none."
"No; he merely came and freed me from the hands of Signor
Vampa, where, I can assure you, in spite of all my outward
appearance of ease and unconcern, I did not very
particularly care to remain. Now, then, Franz, when, for
services so promptly and unhesitatingly rendered, he but
asks me in return to do for him what is done daily for any
Russian prince or Italian nobleman who may pass through
Paris -- merely to introduce him into society -- would you
have me refuse? My good fellow, you must have lost your
senses to think it possible I could act with such
cold-blooded policy." And this time it must be confessed
that, contrary to the usual state of affairs in discussions
between the young men, the effective arguments were all on
"Well," said Franz with a sigh, "do as you please my dear
viscount, for your arguments are beyond my powers of
refutation. Still, in spite of all, you must admit that this
Count of Monte Cristo is a most singular personage."
"He is a philanthropist," answered the other; "and no doubt
his motive in visiting Paris is to compete for the Monthyon
prize, given, as you are aware, to whoever shall be proved
to have most materially advanced the interests of virtue and
humanity. If my vote and interest can obtain it for him, I
will readily give him the one and promise the other. And
now, my dear Franz, let us talk of something else. Come,
shall we take our luncheon, and then pay a last visit to St.
Peter's?" Franz silently assented; and the following
afternoon, at half-past five o'clock, the young men parted.
Albert de Morcerf to return to Paris, and Franz d'Epinay to
pass a fortnight at Venice. But, ere he entered his
travelling carriage, Albert, fearing that his expected guest
might forget the engagement he had entered into, placed in
the care of a waiter at the hotel a card to be delivered to
the Count of Monte Cristo, on which, beneath the name of
Vicomte Albert de Morcerf, he had written in pencil -- "27,
Rue du Helder, on the 21st May, half-past ten A.M."
In the house in the Rue du Helder, where Albert had invited
the Count of Monte Cristo, everything was being prepared on
the morning of the 21st of May to do honor to the occasion.
Albert de Morcerf inhabited a pavilion situated at the
corner of a large court, and directly opposite another
building, in which were the servants' apartments. Two
windows only of the pavilion faced the street; three other
windows looked into the court, and two at the back into the
garden. Between the court and the garden, built in the heavy
style of the imperial architecture, was the large and
fashionable dwelling of the Count and Countess of Morcerf. A
high wall surrounded the whole of the hotel, surmounted at
intervals by vases filled with flowers, and broken in the
centre by a large gate of gilded iron, which served as the
carriage entrance. A small door, close to the lodge of the
concierge, gave ingress and egress to the servants and
masters when they were on foot.
It was easy to discover that the delicate care of a mother,
unwilling to part from her son, and yet aware that a young
man of the viscount's age required the full exercise of his
liberty, had chosen this habitation for Albert. There were
not lacking, however, evidences of what we may call the
intelligent egoism of a youth who is charmed with the
indolent, careless life of an only son, and who lives as it
were in a gilded cage. By means of the two windows looking
into the street, Albert could see all that passed; the sight
of what is going on is necessary to young men, who always
want to see the world traverse their horizon, even if that
horizon is only a public thoroughfare. Then, should anything
appear to merit a more minute examination, Albert de Morcerf
could follow up his researches by means of a small gate,
similar to that close to the concierge's door, and which
merits a particular description. It was a little entrance
that seemed never to have been opened since the house was
built, so entirely was it covered with dust and dirt; but
the well-oiled hinges and locks told quite another story.
This door was a mockery to the concierge, from whose
vigilance and jurisdiction it was free, and, like that
famous portal in the "Arabian Nights," opening at the
"Sesame" of Ali Baba, it was wont to swing backward at a
cabalistic word or a concerted tap from without from the
sweetest voices or whitest fingers in the world. At the end
of a long corridor, with which the door communicated, and
which formed the ante-chamber, was, on the right, Albert's
breakfast-room, looking into the court, and on the left the
salon, looking into the garden. Shrubs and creeping plants
covered the windows, and hid from the garden and court these
two apartments, the only rooms into which, as they were on
the ground-floor, the prying eyes of the curious could
penetrate. On the floor above were similar rooms, with the
addition of a third, formed out of the ante-chamber; these
three rooms were a salon, a boudoir, and a bedroom. The
salon down-stairs was only an Algerian divan, for the use of
smokers. The boudoir up-stairs communicated with the
bed-chamber by an invisible door on the staircase; it was
evident that every precaution had been taken. Above this
floor was a large atelier, which had been increased in size
by pulling down the partitions -- a pandemonium, in which
the artist and the dandy strove for preeminence. There were
collected and piled up all Albert's successive caprices,
hunting-horns, bass-viols, flutes -- a whole orchestra, for
Albert had had not a taste but a fancy for music; easels,
palettes, brushes, pencils -- for music had been succeeded
by painting; foils, boxing-gloves, broadswords, and
single-sticks -- for, following the example of the
fashionable young men of the time, Albert de Morcerf
cultivated, with far more perseverance than music and
drawing, the three arts that complete a dandy's education,
i.e., fencing, boxing, and single-stick; and it was here
that he received Grisier, Cook, and Charles Leboucher. The
rest of the furniture of this privileged apartment consisted
of old cabinets, filled with Chinese porcelain and Japanese
vases, Lucca della Robbia faience, and Palissy platters; of
old arm-chairs, in which perhaps had sat Henry IV. or Sully,
Louis XIII. or Richelieu -- for two of these arm-chairs,
adorned with a carved shield, on which were engraved the
fleur-de-lis of France on an azure field evidently came from
the Louvre, or, at least, some royal residence. Over these
dark and sombre chairs were thrown splendid stuffs, dyed
beneath Persia's sun, or woven by the fingers of the women
of Calcutta or of Chandernagor. What these stuffs did there,
it was impossible to say; they awaited, while gratifying the
eyes, a destination unknown to their owner himself; in the
meantime they filled the place with their golden and silky
reflections. In the centre of the room was a Roller and
Blanchet "baby grand" piano in rosewood, but holding the
potentialities of an orchestra in its narrow and sonorous
cavity, and groaning beneath the weight of the
chefs-d'oeuvre of Beethoven, Weber, Mozart, Haydn, Gretry,
and Porpora. On the walls, over the doors, on the ceiling,
were swords, daggers, Malay creeses, maces, battle-axes;
gilded, damasked, and inlaid suits of armor; dried plants,
minerals, and stuffed birds, their flame-colored wings
outspread in motionless flight, and their beaks forever
open. This was Albert's favorite lounging place.
However, the morning of the appointment, the young man had
established himself in the small salon down-stairs. There,
on a table, surrounded at some distance by a large and
luxurious divan, every species of tobacco known, -- from the
yellow tobacco of Petersburg to the black of Sinai, and so
on along the scale from Maryland and Porto-Rico, to Latakia,
-- was exposed in pots of crackled earthenware of which the
Dutch are so fond; beside them, in boxes of fragrant wood,
were ranged, according to their size and quality, pueros,
regalias, havanas, and manillas; and, in an open cabinet, a
collection of German pipes, of chibouques, with their amber
mouth-pieces ornamented with coral, and of narghiles, with
their long tubes of morocco, awaiting the caprice or the
sympathy of the smokers. Albert had himself presided at the
arrangement, or, rather, the symmetrical derangement, which,
after coffee, the guests at a breakfast of modern days love
to contemplate through the vapor that escapes from their
mouths, and ascends in long and fanciful wreaths to the
ceiling. At a quarter to ten, a valet entered; he composed,
with a little groom named John, and who only spoke English,
all Albert's establishment, although the cook of the hotel
was always at his service, and on great occasions the
count's chasseur also. This valet, whose name was Germain,
and who enjoyed the entire confidence of his young master,
held in one hand a number of papers, and in the other a
packet of letters, which he gave to Albert. Albert glanced
carelessly at the different missives, selected two written
in a small and delicate hand, and enclosed in scented
envelopes, opened them and perused their contents with some
attention. "How did these letters come?" said he.
"One by the post, Madame Danglars' footman left the other."
"Let Madame Danglars know that I accept the place she offers
me in her box. Wait; then, during the day, tell Rosa that
when I leave the Opera I will sup with her as she wishes.
Take her six bottles of different wine -- Cyprus, sherry,
and Malaga, and a barrel of Ostend oysters; get them at
Borel's, and be sure you say they are for me."
"At what o'clock, sir, do you breakfast?"
"What time is it now?"
"A quarter to ten."
"Very well, at half past ten. Debray will, perhaps, be
obliged to go to the minister -- and besides" (Albert looked
at his tablets), "it is the hour I told the count, 21st May,
at half past ten; and though I do not much rely upon his
promise, I wish to be punctual. Is the countess up yet?"
"If you wish, I will inquire."
"Yes, ask her for one of her liqueur cellarets, mine is
incomplete; and tell her I shall have the honor of seeing
her about three o'clock, and that I request permission to
introduce some one to her." The valet left the room. Albert
threw himself on the divan, tore off the cover of two or
three of the papers, looked at the theatre announcements,
made a face seeing they gave an opera, and not a ballet;
hunted vainly amongst the advertisements for a new
tooth-powder of which he had heard, and threw down, one
after the other, the three leading papers of Paris,
muttering, "These papers become more and more stupid every
day." A moment after, a carriage stopped before the door,
and the servant announced M. Lucien Debray. A tall young
man, with light hair, clear gray eyes, and thin and
compressed lips, dressed in a blue coat with beautifully
carved gold buttons, a white neckcloth, and a tortoiseshell
eye-glass suspended by a silken thread, and which, by an
effort of the superciliary and zygomatic muscles, he fixed
in his eye, entered, with a half-official air, without
smiling or speaking. "Good-morning, Lucien, good-morning,"
said Albert; "your punctuality really alarms me. What do I
say? punctuality! You, whom I expected last, you arrive at
five minutes to ten, when the time fixed was half-past! Has
the ministry resigned?"
"No, my dear fellow," returned the young man, seating
himself on the divan; "reassure yourself; we are tottering
always, but we never fall, and I begin to believe that we
shall pass into a state of immobility, and then the affairs
of the Peninsula will completely consolidate us."
"Ah, true; you drive Don Carlos out of Spain."
"No, no, my dear fellow, do not confound our plans. We take
him to the other side of the French frontier, and offer him
hospitality at Bourges."
"Yes, he has not much to complain of; Bourges is the capital
of Charles VII. Do you not know that all Paris knew it
yesterday, and the day before it had already transpired on
the Bourse, and M. Danglars (I do not know by what means
that man contrives to obtain intelligence as soon as we do)
made a million!"
"And you another order, for I see you have a blue ribbon at
"Yes; they sent me the order of Charles III.," returned
"Come, do not affect indifference, but confess you were
pleased to have it."
"Oh, it is very well as a finish to the toilet. It looks
very neat on a black coat buttoned up."
"And makes you resemble the Prince of Wales or the Duke of
"It is for that reason you see me so early."
"Because you have the order of Charles III., and you wish to
announce the good news to me?"
"No, because I passed the night writing letters, -- five and
twenty despatches. I returned home at daybreak, and strove
to sleep; but my head ached and I got up to have a ride for
an hour. At the Bois de Boulogne, ennui and hunger attacked
me at once, -- two enemies who rarely accompany each other,
and who are yet leagued against me, a sort of
Carlo-republican alliance. I then recollected you gave a
breakfast this morning, and here I am. I am hungry, feed me;
I am bored, amuse me."
"It is my duty as your host," returned Albert, ringing the
bell, while Lucien turned over, with his gold-mounted cane,
the papers that lay on the table. "Germain, a glass of
sherry and a biscuit. In the meantime, my dear Lucien, here
are cigars -- contraband, of course -- try them, and
persuade the minister to sell us such instead of poisoning
us with cabbage leaves."
"Peste, I will do nothing of the kind; the moment they come
from government you would find them execrable. Besides, that
does not concern the home but the financial department.
Address yourself to M. Humann, section of the indirect
contributions, corridor A., No. 26."
"On my word," said Albert, "you astonish me by the extent of
your knowledge. Take a cigar."
"Really, my dear Albert," replied Lucien, lighting a manilla
at a rose-colored taper that burnt in a beautifully
enamelled stand -- "how happy you are to have nothing to do.
You do not know your own good fortune!"
"And what would you do, my dear diplomatist," replied
Morcerf, with a slight degree of irony in his voice, "if you
did nothing? What? private secretary to a minister, plunged
at once into European cabals and Parisian intrigues; having
kings, and, better still, queens, to protect, parties to
unite, elections to direct; making more use of your cabinet
with your pen and your telegraph than Napoleon did of his
battle-fields with his sword and his victories; possessing
five and twenty thousand francs a year, besides your place;
a horse, for which Chateau-Renaud offered you four hundred
louis, and which you would not part with; a tailor who never
disappoints you; with the opera, the jockey-club, and other
diversions, can you not amuse yourself? Well, I will amuse
"By introducing to you a new acquaintance."
"A man or a woman?"
"I know so many men already."
"But you do not know this man."
"Where does he come from -- the end of the world?"
"Farther still, perhaps."
"The deuce! I hope he does not bring our breakfast with
"Oh, no; our breakfast comes from my father's kitchen. Are
"Humiliating as such a confession is, I am. But I dined at
M. de Villefort's, and lawyers always give you very bad
dinners. You would think they felt some remorse; did you
ever remark that?"
"Ah, depreciate other persons' dinners; you ministers give
such splendid ones."
"Yes; but we do not invite people of fashion. If we were not
forced to entertain a parcel of country boobies because they
think and vote with us, we should never dream of dining at
home, I assure you."
"Well, take another glass of sherry and another biscuit."
"Willingly. Your Spanish wine is excellent. You see we were
quite right to pacify that country."
"Yes; but Don Carlos?"
"Well, Don Carlos will drink Bordeaux, and in ten years we
will marry his son to the little queen."
"You will then obtain the Golden Fleece, if you are still in
"I think, Albert, you have adopted the system of feeding me
on smoke this morning."
"Well, you must allow it is the best thing for the stomach;
but I hear Beauchamp in the next room; you can dispute
together, and that will pass away the time."
"About the papers."
"My dear friend," said Lucien with an air of sovereign
contempt, "do I ever read the papers?"
"Then you will dispute the more."
"M. Beauchamp," announced the servant. "Come in, come in,"
said Albert, rising and advancing to meet the young man.
"Here is Debray, who detests you without reading you, so he
"He is quite right," returned Beauchamp; "for I criticise
him without knowing what he does. Good-day, commander!"
"Ah, you know that already," said the private secretary,
smiling and shaking hands with him.
"And what do they say of it in the world?"
"In which world? we have so many worlds in the year of grace
"In the entire political world, of which you are one of the
"They say that it is quite fair, and that sowing so much
red, you ought to reap a little blue."
"Come, come, that is not bad!" said Lucien. "Why do you not
join our party, my dear Beauchamp? With your talents you
would make your fortune in three or four years."
"I only await one thing before following your advice; that
is, a minister who will hold office for six months. My dear
Albert, one word, for I must give poor Lucien a respite. Do
we breakfast or dine? I must go to the Chamber, for our life
is not an idle one."
"You only breakfast; I await two persons, and the instant
they arrive we shall sit down to table."
"And what sort of persons do you expect to breakfast?" said
"A gentleman, and a diplomatist."
"Then we shall have to wait two hours for the gentleman, and
three for the diplomatist. I shall come back to dessert;
keep me some strawberries, coffee, and cigars. I shall take
a cutlet on my way to the Chamber."
"Do not do anything of the sort; for were the gentleman a
Montmorency, and the diplomatist a Metternich, we will
breakfast at eleven; in the meantime, follow Debray's
example, and take a glass of sherry and a biscuit."
"Be it so; I will stay; I must do something to distract my
"You are like Debray, and yet it seems to me that when the
minister is out of spirits, the opposition ought to be
"Ah, you do not know with what I am threatened. I shall hear
this morning that M. Danglars make a speech at the Chamber
of Deputies, and at his wife's this evening I shall hear the
tragedy of a peer of France. The devil take the
constitutional government, and since we had our choice, as
they say, at least, how could we choose that?"
"I understand; you must lay in a stock of hilarity."
"Do not run down M. Danglars' speeches," said Debray; "he
votes for you, for he belongs to the opposition."
"Pardieu, that is exactly the worst of all. I am waiting
until you send him to speak at the Luxembourg, to laugh at
"My dear friend," said Albert to Beauchamp, "it is plain
that the affairs of Spain are settled, for you are most
desperately out of humor this morning. Recollect that
Parisian gossip has spoken of a marriage between myself and
Mlle. Eugenie Danglars; I cannot in conscience, therefore,
let you run down the speeches of a man who will one day say
to me, `Vicomte, you know I give my daughter two millions.'"
"Ah, this marriage will never take place," said Beauchamp.
"The king has made him a baron, and can make him a peer, but
he cannot make him a gentleman, and the Count of Morcerf is
too aristocratic to consent, for the paltry sum of two
million francs, to a mesalliance. The Viscount of Morcerf
can only wed a marchioness."
"But two million francs make a nice little sum," replied
"It is the social capital of a theatre on the boulevard, or
a railroad from the Jardin des Plantes to La Rapee."
"Never mind what he says, Morcerf," said Debray, "do you
marry her. You marry a money-bag label, it is true; well,
but what does that matter? It is better to have a blazon
less and a figure more on it. You have seven martlets on
your arms; give three to your wife, and you will still have
four; that is one more than M. de Guise had, who so nearly
became King of France, and whose cousin was Emperor of
"On my word, I think you are right, Lucien," said Albert
"To be sure; besides, every millionaire is as noble as a
bastard -- that is, he can be."
"Do not say that, Debray," returned Beauchamp, laughing,
"for here is Chateau-Renaud, who, to cure you of your mania
for paradoxes, will pass the sword of Renaud de Montauban,
his ancestor, through your body."
"He will sully it then," returned Lucien; "for I am low --
"Oh, heavens," cried Beauchamp, "the minister quotes
Beranger, what shall we come to next?"
"M. de Chateau-Renaud -- M. Maximilian Morrel," said the
servant, announcing two fresh guests.
"Now, then, to breakfast," said Beauchamp; "for, if I
remember, you told me you only expected two persons,
"Morrel," muttered Albert -- "Morrel -- who is he?" But
before he had finished, M. de Chateau-Renaud, a handsome
young man of thirty, gentleman all over, -- that is, with
the figure of a Guiche and the wit of a Mortemart, -- took
Albert's hand. "My dear Albert," said he, "let me introduce
to you M. Maximilian Morrel, captain of Spahis, my friend;
and what is more -- however the man speaks for himself ---my
preserver. Salute my hero, viscount." And he stepped on one
side to give place to a young man of refined and dignified
bearing, with large and open brow, piercing eyes, and black
mustache, whom our readers have already seen at Marseilles,
under circumstances sufficiently dramatic not to be
forgotten. A rich uniform, half French, half Oriental, set
off his graceful and stalwart figure, and his broad chest
was decorated with the order of the Legion of Honor. The
young officer bowed with easy and elegant politeness.
"Monsieur," said Albert with affectionate courtesy, "the
count of Chateau-Renaud knew how much pleasure this
introduction would give me; you are his friend, be ours
"Well said," interrupted Chateau-Renaud; "and pray that, if
you should ever be in a similar predicament, he may do as
much for you as he did for me."
"What has he done?" asked Albert.
"Oh, nothing worth speaking of," said Morrel; "M. de
"Not worth speaking of?" cried Chateau-Renaud; "life is not
worth speaking of! -- that is rather too philosophical, on
my word, Morrel. It is very well for you, who risk your life
every day, but for me, who only did so once" --
"We gather from all this, baron, that Captain Morrel saved
"On what occasion?" asked Beauchamp.
"Beauchamp, my good fellow, you know I am starving," said
Debray: "do not set him off on some long story."
"Well, I do not prevent your sitting down to table," replied
Beauchamp, "Chateau-Renaud can tell us while we eat our
"Gentlemen," said Morcerf, "it is only a quarter past ten,
and I expect some one else."
"Ah, true, a diplomatist!" observed Debray.
"Diplomat or not, I don't know; I only know that he charged
himself on my account with a mission, which he terminated so
entirely to my satisfaction, that had I been king, I should
have instantly created him knight of all my orders, even had
I been able to offer him the Golden Fleece and the Garter."
"Well, since we are not to sit down to table," said Debray,
"take a glass of sherry, and tell us all about it."
"You all know that I had the fancy of going to Africa."
"It is a road your ancestors have traced for you," said
"Yes? but I doubt that your object was like theirs -- to
rescue the Holy Sepulchre."
"You are quite right, Beauchamp," observed the young
aristocrat. "It was only to fight as an amateur. I cannot
bear duelling since two seconds, whom I had chosen to
arrange an affair, forced me to break the arm of one of my
best friends, one whom you all know -- poor Franz d'Epinay."
"Ah, true," said Debray, "you did fight some time ago; about