Part 12 out of 31
"The devil take me, if I remember," returned Chateau-Renaud.
"But I recollect perfectly one thing, that, being unwilling
to let such talents as mine sleep, I wished to try upon the
Arabs the new pistols that had been given to me. In
consequence I embarked for Oran, and went from thence to
Constantine, where I arrived just in time to witness the
raising of the siege. I retreated with the rest, for eight
and forty hours. I endured the rain during the day, and the
cold during the night tolerably well, but the third morning
my horse died of cold. Poor brute -- accustomed to be
covered up and to have a stove in the stable, the Arabian
finds himself unable to bear ten degrees of cold in Arabia."
"That's why you want to purchase my English horse," said
Debray, "you think he will bear the cold better."
"You are mistaken, for I have made a vow never to return to
"You were very much frightened, then?" asked Beauchamp.
"Well, yes, and I had good reason to be so," replied
Chateau-Renaud. "I was retreating on foot, for my horse was
dead. Six Arabs came up, full gallop, to cut off my head. I
shot two with my double-barrelled gun, and two more with my
pistols, but I was then disarmed, and two were still left;
one seized me by the hair (that is why I now wear it so
short, for no one knows what may happen), the other swung a
yataghan, and I already felt the cold steel on my neck, when
this gentleman whom you see here charged them, shot the one
who held me by the hair, and cleft the skull of the other
with his sabre. He had assigned himself the task of saving a
man's life that day; chance caused that man to be myself.
When I am rich I will order a statue of Chance from Klagmann
"Yes," said Morrel, smiling, "it was the 5th of September,
the anniversary of the day on which my father was
miraculously preserved; therefore, as far as it lies in my
power, I endeavor to celebrate it by some" --
"Heroic action," interrupted Chateau-Renaud. "I was chosen.
But that is not all -- after rescuing me from the sword, he
rescued me from the cold, not by sharing his cloak with me,
like St. Martin, but by giving me the whole; then from
hunger by sharing with me -- guess what?"
"A Strasbourg pie?" asked Beauchamp.
"No, his horse; of which we each of us ate a slice with a
hearty appetite. It was very hard."
"The horse?" said Morcerf, laughing.
"No, the sacrifice," returned Chateau-Renaud; "ask Debray if
he would sacrifice his English steed for a stranger?"
"Not for a stranger," said Debray, "but for a friend I
"I divined that you would become mine, count," replied
Morrel; "besides, as I had the honor to tell you, heroism or
not, sacrifice or not, that day I owed an offering to bad
fortune in recompense for the favors good fortune had on
other days granted to us."
"The history to which M. Morrel alludes," continued
Chateau-Renaud, "is an admirable one, which he will tell you
some day when you are better acquainted with him; to-day let
us fill our stomachs, and not our memories. What time do you
"At half-past ten."
"Precisely?" asked Debray, taking out his watch.
"Oh, you will give me five minutes' grace," replied Morcerf,
"for I also expect a preserver."
"Of myself," cried Morcerf; "parbleu, do you think I cannot
be saved as well as any one else, and that there are only
Arabs who cut off heads? Our breakfast is a philanthropic
one, and we shall have at table -- at least, I hope so --
two benefactors of humanity."
"What shall we do?" said Debray; "we have only one Monthyon
"Well, it will be given to some one who has done nothing to
deserve it," said Beauchamp; "that is the way the Academy
mostly escapes from the dilemma."
"And where does he come from?" asked Debray. "You have
already answered the question once, but so vaguely that I
venture to put it a second time."
"Really," said Albert, "I do not know; when I invited him
three months ago, he was then at Rome, but since that time
who knows where he may have gone?"
"And you think him capable of being exact?" demanded Debray.
"I think him capable of everything."
"Well, with the five minutes' grace, we have only ten left."
"I will profit by them to tell you something about my
"I beg pardon," interrupted Beauchamp; "are there any
materials for an article in what you are going to tell us?"
"Yes, and for a most curious one."
"Go on, then, for I see I shall not get to the Chamber this
morning, and I must make up for it."
"I was at Rome during the last Carnival."
"We know that," said Beauchamp.
"Yes, but what you do not know is that I was carried off by
"There are no bandits," cried Debray.
"Yes there are, and most hideous, or rather most admirable
ones, for I found them ugly enough to frighten me."
"Come, my dear Albert," said Debray, "confess that your cook
is behindhand, that the oysters have not arrived from Ostend
or Marennes, and that, like Madame de Maintenon, you are
going to replace the dish by a story. Say so at once; we are
sufficiently well-bred to excuse you, and to listen to your
history, fabulous as it promises to be."
"And I say to you, fabulous as it may seem, I tell it as a
true one from beginning to end. The brigands had carried me
off, and conducted me to a gloomy spot, called the Catacombs
of Saint Sebastian."
"I know it," said Chateau-Renaud; "I narrowly escaped
catching a fever there."
"And I did more than that," replied Morcerf, "for I caught
one. I was informed that I was prisoner until I paid the sum
of 4,000 Roman crowns -- about 24,000 francs. Unfortunately,
I had not above 1,500. I was at the end of my journey and of
my credit. I wrote to Franz -- and were he here he would
confirm every word -- I wrote then to Franz that if he did
not come with the four thousand crowns before six, at ten
minutes past I should have gone to join the blessed saints
and glorious martyrs in whose company I had the honor of
being; and Signor Luigi Vampa, such was the name of the
chief of these bandits, would have scrupulously kept his
"But Franz did come with the four thousand crowns," said
Chateau-Renaud. "A man whose name is Franz d'Epinay or
Albert de Morcerf has not much difficulty in procuring
"No, he arrived accompanied simply by the guest I am going
to present to you."
"Ah, this gentleman is a Hercules killing Cacus, a Perseus
"No, he is a man about my own size."
"Armed to the teeth?"
"He had not even a knitting-needle."
"But he paid your ransom?"
"He said two words to the chief and I was free."
"And they apologized to him for having carried you off?"
"Why, he is a second Ariosto."
"No, his name is the Count of Monte Cristo."
"There is no Count of Monte Cristo" said Debray.
"I do not think so," added Chateau-Renaud, with the air of a
man who knows the whole of the European nobility perfectly.
"Does any one know anything of a Count of Monte Cristo?"
"He comes possibly from the Holy Land, and one of his
ancestors possessed Calvary, as the Mortemarts did the Dead
"I think I can assist your researches," said Maximilian.
"Monte Cristo is a little island I have often heard spoken
of by the old sailors my father employed -- a grain of sand
in the centre of the Mediterranean, an atom in the
"Precisely!" cried Albert. "Well, he of whom I speak is the
lord and master of this grain of sand, of this atom; he has
purchased the title of count somewhere in Tuscany."
"He is rich, then?"
"I believe so."
"But that ought to be visible."
"That is what deceives you, Debray."
"I do not understand you."
"Have you read the `Arabian Nights'?"
"What a question!"
"Well, do you know if the persons you see there are rich or
poor, if their sacks of wheat are not rubies or diamonds?
They seem like poor fishermen, and suddenly they open some
mysterious cavern filled with the wealth of the Indies."
"Which means that my Count of Monte Cristo is one of those
fishermen. He has even a name taken from the book, since he
calls himself Sinbad the Sailor, and has a cave filled with
"And you have seen this cavern, Morcerf?" asked Beauchamp.
"No, but Franz has; for heaven's sake, not a word of this
before him. Franz went in with his eyes blindfolded, and was
waited on by mutes and by women to whom Cleopatra was a
painted strumpet. Only he is not quite sure about the women,
for they did not come in until after he had taken hashish,
so that what he took for women might have been simply a row
The two young men looked at Morcerf as if to say, -- "Are
you mad, or are you laughing at us?"
"And I also," said Morrel thoughtfully, "have heard
something like this from an old sailor named Penelon."
"Ah," cried Albert, "it is very lucky that M. Morrel comes
to aid me; you are vexed, are you not, that he thus gives a
clew to the labyrinth?"
"My dear Albert," said Debray, "what you tell us is so
"Ah, because your ambassadors and your consuls do not tell
you of them -- they have no time. They are too much taken up
with interfering in the affairs of their countrymen who
"Now you get angry, and attack our poor agents. How will you
have them protect you? The Chamber cuts down their salaries
every day, so that now they have scarcely any. Will you be
ambassador, Albert? I will send you to Constantinople."
"No, lest on the first demonstration I make in favor of
Mehemet Ali, the Sultan send me the bowstring, and make my
secretaries strangle me."
"You say very true," responded Debray.
"Yes," said Albert, "but this has nothing to do with the
existence of the Count of Monte Cristo."
"Pardieu, every one exists."
"Doubtless, but not in the same way; every one has not black
slaves, a princely retinue, an arsenal of weapons that would
do credit to an Arabian fortress, horses that cost six
thousand francs apiece, and Greek mistresses."
"Have you seen the Greek mistress?"
"I have both seen and heard her. I saw her at the theatre,
and heard her one morning when I breakfasted with the
"He eats, then?"
"Yes; but so little, it can hardly be called eating."
"He must be a vampire."
"Laugh, if you will; the Countess G---- , who knew Lord
Ruthven, declared that the count was a vampire."
"Ah, capital," said Beauchamp. "For a man not connected with
newspapers, here is the pendant to the famous sea-serpent of
"Wild eyes, the iris of which contracts or dilates at
pleasure," said Debray; "facial angle strongly developed,
magnificent forehead, livid complexion, black beard, sharp
and white teeth, politeness unexceptionable."
"Just so, Lucien," returned Morcerf; "you have described him
feature for feature. Yes, keen and cutting politeness. This
man has often made me shudder; and one day that we were
viewing an execution, I thought I should faint, more from
hearing the cold and calm manner in which he spoke of every
description of torture, than from the sight of the
executioner and the culprit."
"Did he not conduct you to the ruins of the Colosseum and
suck your blood?" asked Beauchamp.
"Or, having delivered you, make you sign a flaming
parchment, surrendering your soul to him as Esau did his
"Rail on, rail on at your ease, gentlemen," said Morcerf,
somewhat piqued. "When I look at you Parisians, idlers on
the Boulevard de Gand or the Bois de Boulogne, and think of
this man, it seems to me we are not of the same race."
"I am highly flattered," returned Beauchamp. "At the same
time," added Chateau-Renaud, "your Count of Monte Cristo is
a very fine fellow, always excepting his little arrangements
with the Italian banditti."
"There are no Italian banditti," said Debray.
"No vampire," cried Beauchamp. "No Count of Monte Cristo"
added Debray. "There is half-past ten striking, Albert."
"Confess you have dreamed this, and let us sit down to
breakfast," continued Beauchamp. But the sound of the clock
had not died away when Germain announced, "His excellency
the Count of Monte Cristo." The involuntary start every one
gave proved how much Morcerf's narrative had impressed them,
and Albert himself could not wholly refrain from manifesting
sudden emotion. He had not heard a carriage stop in the
street, or steps in the ante-chamber; the door had itself
opened noiselessly. The count appeared, dressed with the
greatest simplicity, but the most fastidious dandy could
have found nothing to cavil at in his toilet. Every article
of dress -- hat, coat, gloves, and boots -- was from the
first makers. He seemed scarcely five and thirty. But what
struck everybody was his extreme resemblance to the portrait
Debray had drawn. The count advanced, smiling, into the
centre of the room, and approached Albert, who hastened
towards him holding out his hand in a ceremonial manner.
"Punctuality," said Monte Cristo, "is the politeness of
kings, according to one of your sovereigns, I think; but it
is not the same with travellers. However, I hope you will
excuse the two or three seconds I am behindhand; five
hundred leagues are not to be accomplished without some
trouble, and especially in France, where, it seems, it is
forbidden to beat the postilions."
"My dear count," replied Albert, "I was announcing your
visit to some of my friends, whom I had invited in
consequence of the promise you did me the honor to make, and
whom I now present to you. They are the Count of
Chateau-Renaud, whose nobility goes back to the twelve
peers, and whose ancestors had a place at the Round Table;
M. Lucien Debray, private secretary to the minister of the
interior; M. Beauchamp, an editor of a paper, and the terror
of the French government, but of whom, in spite of his
national celebrity, you perhaps have not heard in Italy,
since his paper is prohibited there; and M. Maximilian
Morrel, captain of Spahis."
At this name the count, who had hitherto saluted every one
with courtesy, but at the same time with coldness and
formality, stepped a pace forward, and a slight tinge of red
colored his pale cheeks. "You wear the uniform of the new
French conquerors, monsieur," said he; "it is a handsome
uniform." No one could have said what caused the count's
voice to vibrate so deeply, and what made his eye flash,
which was in general so clear, lustrous, and limpid when he
pleased. "You have never seen our Africans, count?" said
Albert. "Never," replied the count, who was by this time
perfectly master of himself again.
"Well, beneath this uniform beats one of the bravest and
noblest hearts in the whole army."
"Oh, M. de Morcerf," interrupted Morrel.
"Let me go on, captain. And we have just heard," continued
Albert, "of a new deed of his, and so heroic a one, that,
although I have seen him to-day for the first time, I
request you to allow me to introduce him as my friend." At
these words it was still possible to observe in Monte Cristo
the concentrated look, changing color, and slight trembling
of the eyelid that show emotion. "Ah, you have a noble
heart," said the count; "so much the better." This
exclamation, which corresponded to the count's own thought
rather than to what Albert was saying, surprised everybody,
and especially Morrel, who looked at Monte Cristo with
wonder. But, at the same time, the intonation was so soft
that, however strange the speech might seem, it was
impossible to be offended at it. "Why should he doubt it?"
said Beauchamp to Chateau-Renaud.
"In reality," replied the latter, who, with his aristocratic
glance and his knowledge of the world, had penetrated at
once all that was penetrable in Monte Cristo, "Albert has
not deceived us, for the count is a most singular being.
What say you, Morrel!"
"Ma foi, he has an open look about him that pleases me, in
spite of the singular remark he has made about me."
"Gentlemen," said Albert, "Germain informs me that breakfast
is ready. My dear count, allow me to show you the way." They
passed silently into the breakfast-room, and every one took
his place. "Gentlemen," said the count, seating himself,
"permit me to make a confession which must form my excuse
for any improprieties I may commit. I am a stranger, and a
stranger to such a degree, that this is the first time I
have ever been at Paris. The French way of living is utterly
unknown to me, and up to the present time I have followed
the Eastern customs, which are entirely in contrast to the
Parisian. I beg you, therefore, to excuse if you find
anything in me too Turkish, too Italian, or too Arabian.
Now, then, let us breakfast."
"With what an air he says all this," muttered Beauchamp;
"decidedly he is a great man."
"A great man in his own country," added Debray.
"A great man in every country, M. Debray," said
Chateau-Renaud. The count was, it may be remembered, a most
temperate guest. Albert remarked this, expressing his fears
lest, at the outset, the Parisian mode of life should
displease the traveller in the most essential point. "My
dear count," said he, "I fear one thing, and that is, that
the fare of the Rue du Helder is not so much to your taste
as that of the Piazza di Spagni. I ought to have consulted
you on the point, and have had some dishes prepared
"Did you know me better," returned the count, smiling, "you
would not give one thought of such a thing for a traveller
like myself, who has successively lived on maccaroni at
Naples, polenta at Milan, olla podrida at Valencia, pilau at
Constantinople, karrick in India, and swallows' nests in
China. I eat everywhere, and of everything, only I eat but
little; and to-day, that you reproach me with my want of
appetite, is my day of appetite, for I have not eaten since
"What," cried all the guests, "you have not eaten for four
and twenty hours?"
"No," replied the count; "I was forced to go out of my road
to obtain some information near Nimes, so that I was
somewhat late, and therefore I did not choose to stop."
"And you ate in your carriage?" asked Morcerf.
"No, I slept, as I generally do when I am weary without
having the courage to amuse myself, or when I am hungry
without feeling inclined to eat."
"But you can sleep when you please, monsieur?" said Morrel.
"You have a recipe for it?"
"An infallible one."
"That would be invaluable to us in Africa, who have not
always any food to eat, and rarely anything to drink."
"Yes," said Monte Cristo; "but, unfortunately, a recipe
excellent for a man like myself would be very dangerous
applied to an army, which might not awake when it was
"May we inquire what is this recipe?" asked Debray.
"Oh, yes," returned Monte Cristo; "I make no secret of it.
It is a mixture of excellent opium, which I fetched myself
from Canton in order to have it pure, and the best hashish
which grows in the East -- that is, between the Tigris and
the Euphrates. These two ingredients are mixed in equal
proportions, and formed into pills. Ten minutes after one is
taken, the effect is produced. Ask Baron Franz d'Epinay; I
think he tasted them one day."
"Yes," replied Morcerf, "he said something about it to me."
"But," said Beauchamp, who, as became a journalist, was very
incredulous, "you always carry this drug about you?"
"Would it be an indiscretion to ask to see those precious
pills?" continued Beauchamp, hoping to take him at a
"No, monsieur," returned the count; and he drew from his
pocket a marvellous casket, formed out of a single emerald
and closed by a golden lid which unscrewed and gave passage
to a small greenish colored pellet about the size of a pea.
This ball had an acrid and penetrating odor. There were four
or five more in the emerald, which would contain about a
dozen. The casket passed around the table, but it was more
to examine the admirable emerald than to see the pills that
it passed from hand to hand. "And is it your cook who
prepares these pills?" asked Beauchamp.
"Oh, no, monsieur," replied Monte Cristo; "I do not thus
betray my enjoyments to the vulgar. I am a tolerable
chemist, and prepare my pills myself."
"This is a magnificent emerald, and the largest I have ever
seen," said Chateau-Renaud, "although my mother has some
remarkable family jewels."
"I had three similar ones," returned Monte Cristo. "I gave
one to the Sultan, who mounted it in his sabre; another to
our holy father the Pope, who had it set in his tiara,
opposite to one nearly as large, though not so fine, given
by the Emperor Napoleon to his predecessor, Pius VII. I kept
the third for myself, and I had it hollowed out, which
reduced its value, but rendered it more commodious for the
purpose I intended." Every one looked at Monte Cristo with
astonishment; he spoke with so much simplicity that it was
evident he spoke the truth, or that he was mad. However, the
sight of the emerald made them naturally incline to the
former belief. "And what did these two sovereigns give you
in exchange for these magnificent presents?" asked Debray.
"The Sultan, the liberty of a woman," replied the Count;
"the Pope, the life of a man; so that once in my life I have
been as powerful as if heaven had brought me into the world
on the steps of a throne."
"And it was Peppino you saved, was it not?" cried Morcerf;
"it was for him that you obtained pardon?"
"Perhaps," returned the count, smiling.
"My dear count, you have no idea what pleasure it gives me
to hear you speak thus," said Morcerf. "I had announced you
beforehand to my friends as an enchanter of the `Arabian
Nights,' a wizard of the Middle Ages; but the Parisians are
so subtle in paradoxes that they mistake for caprices of the
imagination the most incontestable truths, when these truths
do not form a part of their daily existence. For example,
here is Debray who reads, and Beauchamp who prints, every
day, `A member of the Jockey Club has been stopped and
robbed on the Boulevard;' `four persons have been
assassinated in the Rue St. Denis' or `the Faubourg St.
Germain;' `ten, fifteen, or twenty thieves, have been
arrested in a cafe on the Boulevard du Temple, or in the
Thermes de Julien,' -- and yet these same men deny the
existence of the bandits in the Maremma, the Campagna di
Romana, or the Pontine Marshes. Tell them yourself that I
was taken by bandits, and that without your generous
intercession I should now have been sleeping in the
Catacombs of St. Sebastian, instead of receiving them in my
humble abode in the Rue du Helder."
"Ah," said Monte Cristo "you promised me never to mention
"It was not I who made that promise," cried Morcerf; "it
must have been some one else whom you have rescued in the
same manner, and whom you have forgotten. Pray speak of it,
for I shall not only, I trust, relate the little I do know,
but also a great deal I do not know."
"It seems to me," returned the count, smiling, "that you
played a sufficiently important part to know as well as
myself what happened."
"Well, you promise me, if I tell all I know, to relate, in
your turn, all that I do not know?"
"That is but fair," replied Monte Cristo.
"Well," said Morcerf, "for three days I believed myself the
object of the attentions of a masque, whom I took for a
descendant of Tullia or Poppoea, while I was simply the
object of the attentions of a contadina, and I say contadina
to avoid saying peasant girl. What I know is, that, like a
fool, a greater fool than he of whom I spoke just now, I
mistook for this peasant girl a young bandit of fifteen or
sixteen, with a beardless chin and slim waist, and who, just
as I was about to imprint a chaste salute on his lips,
placed a pistol to my head, and, aided by seven or eight
others, led, or rather dragged me, to the Catacombs of St.
Sebastian, where I found a highly educated brigand chief
perusing Caesar's `Commentaries,' and who deigned to leave
off reading to inform me, that unless the next morning,
before six o'clock, four thousand piastres were paid into
his account at his banker's, at a quarter past six I should
have ceased to exist. The letter is still to be seen, for it
is in Franz d'Epinay's possession, signed by me, and with a
postscript of M. Luigi Vampa. This is all I know, but I know
not, count, how you contrived to inspire so much respect in
the bandits of Rome who ordinarily have so little respect
for anything. I assure you, Franz and I were lost in
"Nothing more simple," returned the count. "I had known the
famous Vampa for more than ten years. When he was quite a
child, and only a shepherd, I gave him a few gold pieces for
showing me my way, and he, in order to repay me, gave me a
poniard, the hilt of which he had carved with his own hand,
and which you may have seen in my collection of arms. In
after years, whether he had forgotten this interchange of
presents, which ought to have cemented our friendship, or
whether he did not recollect me, he sought to take me, but,
on the contrary, it was I who captured him and a dozen of
his band. I might have handed him over to Roman justice,
which is somewhat expeditious, and which would have been
particularly so with him; but I did nothing of the sort -- I
suffered him and his band to depart."
"With the condition that they should sin no more," said
Beauchamp, laughing. "I see they kept their promise."
"No, monsieur," returned Monte Cristo "upon the simple
condition that they should respect myself and my friends.
Perhaps what I am about to say may seem strange to you, who
are socialists, and vaunt humanity and your duty to your
neighbor, but I never seek to protect a society which does
not protect me, and which I will even say, generally
occupies itself about me only to injure me; and thus by
giving them a low place in my esteem, and preserving a
neutrality towards them, it is society and my neighbor who
are indebted to me."
"Bravo," cried Chateau-Renaud; "you are the first man I ever
met sufficiently courageous to preach egotism. Bravo, count,
"It is frank, at least," said Morrel. "But I am sure that
the count does not regret having once deviated from the
principles he has so boldly avowed."
"How have I deviated from those principles, monsieur?" asked
Monte Cristo, who could not help looking at Morrel with so
much intensity, that two or three times the young man had
been unable to sustain that clear and piercing glance.
"Why, it seems to me," replied Morrel, "that in delivering
M. de Morcerf, whom you did not know, you did good to your
neighbor and to society."
"Of which he is the brightest ornament," said Beauchamp,
drinking off a glass of champagne.
"My dear count," cried Morcerf, "you are at fault -- you,
one of the most formidable logicians I know -- and you must
see it clearly proved that instead of being an egotist, you
are a philanthropist. Ah, you call yourself Oriental, a
Levantine, Maltese, Indian, Chinese; your family name is
Monte Cristo; Sinbad the Sailor is your baptismal
appellation, and yet the first day you set foot in Paris you
instinctively display the greatest virtue, or rather the
chief defect, of us eccentric Parisians, -- that is, you
assume the vices you have not, and conceal the virtues you
"My dear vicomte," returned Monte Cristo, "I do not see, in
all I have done, anything that merits, either from you or
these gentlemen, the pretended eulogies I have received. You
were no stranger to me, for I knew you from the time I gave
up two rooms to you, invited you to breakfast with me, lent
you one of my carriages, witnessed the Carnival in your
company, and saw with you from a window in the Piazza del
Popolo the execution that affected you so much that you
nearly fainted. I will appeal to any of these gentlemen,
could I leave my guest in the hands of a hideous bandit, as
you term him? Besides, you know, I had the idea that you
could introduce me into some of the Paris salons when I came
to France. You might some time ago have looked upon this
resolution as a vague project, but to-day you see it was a
reality, and you must submit to it under penalty of breaking
"I will keep it," returned Morcerf; "but I fear that you
will be much disappointed, accustomed as you are to
picturesque events and fantastic horizons. Amongst us you
will not meet with any of those episodes with which your
adventurous existence has so familiarized you; our
Chimborazo is Mortmartre, our Himalaya is Mount Valerien,
our Great Desert is the plain of Grenelle, where they are
now boring an artesian well to water the caravans. We have
plenty of thieves, though not so many as is said; but these
thieves stand in far more dread of a policeman than a lord.
France is so prosaic, and Paris so civilized a city, that
you will not find in its eighty-five departments -- I say
eighty-five, because I do not include Corsica -- you will
not find, then, in these eighty-five departments a single
hill on which there is not a telegraph, or a grotto in which
the commissary of police has not put up a gaslamp. There is
but one service I can render you, and for that I place
myself entirely at your orders, that is, to present, or make
my friends present, you everywhere; besides, you have no
need of any one to introduce you -- with your name, and your
fortune, and your talent" (Monte Cristo bowed with a
somewhat ironical smile) "you can present yourself
everywhere, and be well received. I can be useful in one way
only -- if knowledge of Parisian habits, of the means of
rendering yourself comfortable, or of the bazaars, can
assist, you may depend upon me to find you a fitting
dwelling here. I do not dare offer to share my apartments
with you, as I shared yours at Rome -- I, who do not profess
egotism, but am yet egotist par excellence; for, except
myself, these rooms would not hold a shadow more, unless
that shadow were feminine."
"Ah," said the count, "that is a most conjugal reservation;
I recollect that at Rome you said something of a projected
marriage. May I congratulate you?"
"The affair is still in projection."
"And he who says in `projection,' means already decided,"
"No," replied Morcerf, "my father is most anxious about it;
and I hope, ere long, to introduce you, if not to my wife,
at least to my betrothed -- Mademoiselle Eugenie Danglars."
"Eugenie Danglars," said Monte Cristo; "tell me, is not her
father Baron Danglars?"
"Yes," returned Morcerf, "a baron of a new creation."
"What matter," said Monte Cristo "if he has rendered the
State services which merit this distinction?"
"Enormous ones," answered Beauchamp. "Although in reality a
Liberal, he negotiated a loan of six millions for Charles
X., in 1829, who made him a baron and chevalier of the
Legion of Honor; so that he wears the ribbon, not, as you
would think, in his waistcoat-pocket, but at his
"Ah," interrupted Morcerf, laughing, "Beauchamp, Beauchamp,
keep that for the Corsaire or the Charivari, but spare my
future father-in-law before me." Then, turning to Monte
Cristo, "You just now spoke his name as if you knew the
"I do not know him," returned Monte Cristo; "but I shall
probably soon make his acquaintance, for I have a credit
opened with him by the house of Richard & Blount, of London,
Arstein & Eskeles of Vienna, and Thomson & French at Rome."
As he pronounced the two last names, the count glanced at
Maximilian Morrel. If the stranger expected to produce an
effect on Morrel, he was not mistaken -- Maximilian started
as if he had been electrified. "Thomson & French," said he;
"do you know this house, monsieur?"
"They are my bankers in the capital of the Christian world,"
returned the count quietly. "Can my influence with them be
of any service to you?"
"Oh, count, you could assist me perhaps in researches which
have been, up to the present, fruitless. This house, in past
years, did ours a great service, and has, I know not for
what reason, always denied having rendered us this service."
"I shall be at your orders," said Monte Cristo bowing.
"But," continued Morcerf, "a propos of Danglars, -- we have
strangely wandered from the subject. We were speaking of a
suitable habitation for the Count of Monte Cristo. Come,
gentlemen, let us all propose some place. Where shall we
lodge this new guest in our great capital?"
"Faubourg Saint-Germain," said Chateau-Renaud. "The count
will find there a charming hotel, with a court and garden."
"Bah, Chateau-Renaud," returned Debray, "you only know your
dull and gloomy Faubourg Saint-Germain; do not pay any
attention to him, count -- live in the Chaussee d'Antin,
that's the real centre of Paris."
"Boulevard de l'Opera," said Beauchamp; "the second floor --
a house with a balcony. The count will have his cushions of
silver cloth brought there, and as he smokes his chibouque,
see all Paris pass before him."
"You have no idea, then, Morrel?" asked Chateau-Renaud; "you
do not propose anything."
"Oh, yes," returned the young man, smiling; "on the
contrary, I have one, but I expected the count would be
tempted by one of the brilliant proposals made him, yet as
he has not replied to any of them, I will venture to offer
him a suite of apartments in a charming hotel, in the
Pompadour style, that my sister has inhabited for a year, in
the Rue Meslay."
"You have a sister?" asked the count.
"Yes, monsieur, a most excellent sister."
"Nearly nine years."
"Happy?" asked the count again.
"As happy as it is permitted to a human creature to be,"
replied Maximilian. "She married the man she loved, who
remained faithful to us in our fallen fortunes -- Emmanuel
Herbaut." Monte Cristo smiled imperceptibly. "I live there
during my leave of absence," continued Maximilian; "and I
shall be, together with my brother-in-law Emmanuel, at the
disposition of the Count, whenever he thinks fit to honor
"One minute," cried Albert, without giving Monte Cristo the
time to reply. "Take care, you are going to immure a
traveller, Sinbad the Sailor, a man who comes to see Paris;
you are going to make a patriarch of him."
"Oh, no," said Morrel; "my sister is five and twenty, my
brother-in-law is thirty, they are gay, young, and happy.
Besides, the count will be in his own house, and only see
them when he thinks fit to do so."
"Thanks, monsieur," said Monte Cristo; "I shall content
myself with being presented to your sister and her husband,
if you will do me the honor to introduce me; but I cannot
accept the offer of any one of these gentlemen, since my
habitation is already prepared."
"What," cried Morcerf; "you are, then, going to an hotel --
that will be very dull for you."
"Was I so badly lodged at Rome?" said Monte Cristo smiling.
"Parbleu, at Rome you spent fifty thousand piastres in
furnishing your apartments, but I presume that you are not
disposed to spend a similar sum every day."
"It is not that which deterred me," replied Monte Cristo;
"but as I determined to have a house to myself, I sent on my
valet de chambre, and he ought by this time to have bought
the house and furnished it."
"But you have, then, a valet de chambre who knows Paris?"
"It is the first time he has ever been in Paris. He is
black, and cannot speak," returned Monte Cristo.
"It is Ali!" cried Albert, in the midst of the general
"Yes, Ali himself, my Nubian mute, whom you saw, I think, at
"Certainly," said Morcerf; "I recollect him perfectly. But
how could you charge a Nubian to purchase a house, and a
mute to furnish it? -- he will do everything wrong."
"Undeceive yourself, monsieur," replied Monte Cristo; "I am
quite sure, that, on the contrary, he will choose everything
as I wish. He knows my tastes, my caprices, my wants. He has
been here a week, with the instinct of a hound, hunting by
himself. He will arrange everything for me. He knew, that I
should arrive to-day at ten o'clock; he was waiting for me
at nine at the Barriere de Fontainebleau. He gave me this
paper; it contains the number of my new abode; read it
yourself," and Monte Cristo passed a paper to Albert. "Ah,
that is really original," said Beauchamp.
"And very princely," added Chateau-Renaud.
"What, do you not know your house?" asked Debray.
"No," said Monte Cristo; "I told you I did not wish to be
behind my time; I dressed myself in the carriage, and
descended at the viscount's door." The young men looked at
each other; they did not know if it was a comedy Monte
Cristo was playing, but every word he uttered had such an
air of simplicity, that it was impossible to suppose what he
said was false -- besides, why should he tell a falsehood?
"We must content ourselves, then," said Beauchamp, "with
rendering the count all the little services in our power. I,
in my quality of journalist, open all the theatres to him."
"Thanks, monsieur," returned Monte Cristo, "my steward has
orders to take a box at each theatre."
"Is your steward also a Nubian?" asked Debray.
"No, he is a countryman of yours, if a Corsican is a
countryman of any one's. But you know him, M. de Morcerf."
"Is it that excellent M. Bertuccio, who understands hiring
windows so well?"
"Yes, you saw him the day I had the honor of receiving you;
he has been a soldier, a smuggler -- in fact, everything. I
would not be quite sure that he has not been mixed up with
the police for some trifle -- a stab with a knife, for
"And you have chosen this honest citizen for your steward,"
said Debray. "Of how much does he rob you every year?"
"On my word," replied the count, "not more than another. I
am sure he answers my purpose, knows no impossibility, and
so I keep him."
"Then," continued Chateau-Renaud, "since you have an
establishment, a steward, and a hotel in the Champs Elysees,
you only want a mistress." Albert smiled. He thought of the
fair Greek he had seen in the count's box at the Argentina
and Valle theatres. "I have something better than that,"
said Monte Cristo; "I have a slave. You procure your
mistresses from the opera, the Vaudeville, or the Varietes;
I purchased mine at Constantinople; it cost me more, but I
have nothing to fear."
"But you forget," replied Debray, laughing, "that we are
Franks by name and franks by nature, as King Charles said,
and that the moment she puts her foot in France your slave
"Who will tell her?"
"The first person who sees her."
"She only speaks Romaic."
"That is different."
"But at least we shall see her," said Beauchamp, "or do you
keep eunuchs as well as mutes?"
"Oh, no," replied Monte Cristo; "I do not carry brutalism so
far. Every one who surrounds me is free to quit me, and when
they leave me will no longer have any need of me or any one
else; it is for that reason, perhaps, that they do not quit
me." They had long since passed to dessert and cigars.
"My dear Albert," said Debray, rising, "it is half-past two.
Your guest is charming, but you leave the best company to go
into the worst sometimes. I must return to the minister's. I
will tell him of the count, and we shall soon know who he
"Take care," returned Albert; "no one has been able to
"Oh, we have three millions for our police; it is true they
are almost always spent beforehand, but, no matter, we shall
still have fifty thousand francs to spend for this purpose."
"And when you know, will you tell me?"
"I promise you. Au revoir, Albert. Gentlemen, good morning."
As he left the room, Debray called out loudly, "My
"Bravo," said Beauchamp to Albert; "I shall not go to the
Chamber, but I have something better to offer my readers
than a speech of M. Danglars."
"For heaven's sake, Beauchamp," returned Morcerf, "do not
deprive me of the merit of introducing him everywhere. Is he
"He is more than that," replied Chateau-Renaud; "he is one
of the most extraordinary men I ever saw in my life. Are you
"Directly I have given my card to the count, who has
promised to pay us a visit at Rue Meslay, No. 14."
"Be sure I shall not fail to do so," returned the count,
bowing. And Maximilian Morrel left the room with the Baron
de Chateau-Renaud, leaving Monte Cristo alone with Morcerf.
When Albert found himself alone with Monte Cristo, "My dear
count," said he, "allow me to commence my services as
cicerone by showing you a specimen of a bachelor's
apartment. You, who are accustomed to the palaces of Italy,
can amuse yourself by calculating in how many square feet a
young man who is not the worst lodged in Paris can live. As
we pass from one room to another, I will open the windows to
let you breathe." Monte Cristo had already seen the
breakfast-room and the salon on the ground-floor. Albert led
him first to his atelier, which was, as we have said, his
favorite apartment. Monte Cristo quickly appreciated all
that Albert had collected here -- old cabinets, Japanese
porcelain, Oriental stuffs, Venetian glass, arms from all
parts of the world -- everything was familiar to him; and at
the first glance he recognized their date, their country,
and their origin. Morcerf had expected he should be the
guide; on the contrary, it was he who, under the count's
guidance, followed a course of archaeology, mineralogy, and
natural history. They descended to the first floor; Albert
led his guest into the salon. The salon was filled with the
works of modern artists; there were landscapes by Dupre,
with their long reeds and tall trees, their lowing oxen and
marvellous skies; Delacroix's Arabian cavaliers, with their
long white burnouses, their shining belts, their damasked
arms, their horses, who tore each other with their teeth
while their riders contended fiercely with their maces;
aquarelles of Boulanger, representing Notre Dame de Paris
with that vigor that makes the artist the rival of the poet;
there were paintings by Diaz, who makes his flowers more
beautiful than flowers, his suns more brilliant than the
sun; designs by Decamp, as vividly colored as those of
Salvator Rosa, but more poetic; pastels by Giraud and
Muller, representing children like angels and women with the
features of a virgin; sketches torn from the album of
Dauzats' "Travels in the East," that had been made in a few
seconds on the saddle of a camel, or beneath the dome of a
mosque -- in a word, all that modern art can give in
exchange and as recompense for the art lost and gone with
ages long since past.
Albert expected to have something new this time to show to
the traveller, but, to his great surprise, the latter,
without seeking for the signatures, many of which, indeed,
were only initials, named instantly the author of every
picture in such a manner that it was easy to see that each
name was not only known to him, but that each style
associated with it had been appreciated and studied by him.
From the salon they passed into the bed-chamber; it was a
model of taste and simple elegance. A single portrait,
signed by Leopold Robert, shone in its carved and gilded
frame. This portrait attracted the Count of Monte Cristo's
attention, for he made three rapid steps in the chamber, and
stopped suddenly before it. It was the portrait of a young
woman of five or six and twenty, with a dark complexion, and
light and lustrous eyes, veiled beneath long lashes. She
wore the picturesque costume of the Catalan fisherwomen, a
red and black bodice, and golden pins in her hair. She was
looking at the sea, and her form was outlined on the blue
ocean and sky. The light was so faint in the room that
Albert did not perceive the pallor that spread itself over
the count's visage, or the nervous heaving of his chest and
shoulders. Silence prevailed for an instant, during which
Monte Cristo gazed intently on the picture.
"You have there a most charming mistress, viscount," said
the count in a perfectly calm tone; "and this costume -- a
ball costume, doubtless -- becomes her admirably."
"Ah, monsieur," returned Albert, "I would never forgive you
this mistake if you had seen another picture beside this.
You do not know my mother; she it is whom you see here. She
had her portrait painted thus six or eight years ago. This
costume is a fancy one, it appears, and the resemblance is
so great that I think I still see my mother the same as she
was in 1830. The countess had this portrait painted during
the count's absence. She doubtless intended giving him an
agreeable surprise; but, strange to say, this portrait
seemed to displease my father, and the value of the picture,
which is, as you see, one of the best works of Leopold
Robert, could not overcome his dislike to it. It is true,
between ourselves, that M. de Morcerf is one of the most
assiduous peers at the Luxembourg, a general renowned for
theory, but a most mediocre amateur of art. It is different
with my mother, who paints exceedingly well, and who,
unwilling to part with so valuable a picture, gave it to me
to put here, where it would be less likely to displease M.
de Morcerf, whose portrait, by Gros, I will also show you.
Excuse my talking of family matters, but as I shall have the
honor of introducing you to the count, I tell you this to
prevent you making any allusions to this picture. The
picture seems to have a malign influence, for my mother
rarely comes here without looking at it, and still more
rarely does she look at it without weeping. This
disagreement is the only one that has ever taken place
between the count and countess, who are still as much
united, although married more than twenty years, as on the
first day of their wedding."
Monte Cristo glanced rapidly at Albert, as if to seek a
hidden meaning in his words, but it was evident the young
man uttered them in the simplicity of his heart. "Now," said
Albert, "that you have seen all my treasures, allow me to
offer them to you, unworthy as they are. Consider yourself
as in your own house, and to put yourself still more at your
ease, pray accompany me to the apartments of M. de Morcerf,
he whom I wrote from Rome an account of the services you
rendered me, and to whom I announced your promised visit,
and I may say that both the count and countess anxiously
desire to thank you in person. You are somewhat blase I
know, and family scenes have not much effect on Sinbad the
Sailor, who has seen so many others. However, accept what I
propose to you as an initiation into Parisian life -- a life
of politeness, visiting, and introductions." Monte Cristo
bowed without making any answer; he accepted the offer
without enthusiasm and without regret, as one of those
conventions of society which every gentleman looks upon as a
duty. Albert summoned his servant, and ordered him to
acquaint M. and Madame de Morcerf of the arrival of the
Count of Monte Cristo. Albert followed him with the count.
When they arrived at the ante-chamber, above the door was
visible a shield, which, by its rich ornaments and its
harmony with the rest of the furniture, indicated the
importance the owner attached to this blazon. Monte Cristo
stopped and examined it attentively.
"Azure seven merlets, or, placed bender," said he. "These
are, doubtless, your family arms? Except the knowledge of
blazons, that enables me to decipher them, I am very
ignorant of heraldry -- I, a count of a fresh creation,
fabricated in Tuscany by the aid of a commandery of St.
Stephen, and who would not have taken the trouble had I not
been told that when you travel much it is necessary.
Besides, you must have something on the panels of your
carriage, to escape being searched by the custom-house
officers. Excuse my putting such a question to you."
"It is not indiscreet," returned Morcerf, with the
simplicity of conviction. "You have guessed rightly. These
are our arms, that is, those of my father, but they are, as
you see, joined to another shield, which has gules, a silver
tower, which are my mother's. By her side I am Spanish, but
the family of Morcerf is French, and, I have heard, one of
the oldest of the south of France."
"Yes," replied Monte Cristo "these blazons prove that.
Almost all the armed pilgrims that went to the Holy Land
took for their arms either a cross, in honor of their
mission, or birds of passage, in sign of the long voyage
they were about to undertake, and which they hoped to
accomplish on the wings of faith. One of your ancestors had
joined the Crusades, and supposing it to be only that of St.
Louis, that makes you mount to the thirteenth century, which
is tolerably ancient."
"It is possible," said Morcerf; "my father has in his study
a genealogical tree which will tell you all that, and on
which I made commentaries that would have greatly edified
Hozier and Jaucourt. At present I no longer think of it, and
yet I must tell you that we are beginning to occupy
ourselves greatly with these things under our popular
"Well, then, your government would do well to choose from
the past something better than the things that I have
noticed on your monuments, and which have no heraldic
meaning whatever. As for you, viscount," continued Monte
Cristo to Morcerf, "you are more fortunate than the
government, for your arms are really beautiful, and speak to
the imagination. Yes, you are at once from Provence and
Spain; that explains, if the portrait you showed me be like,
the dark hue I so much admired on the visage of the noble
Catalan." It would have required the penetration of Oedipus
or the Sphinx to have divined the irony the count concealed
beneath these words, apparently uttered with the greatest
politeness. Morcerf thanked him with a smile, and pushed
open the door above which were his arms, and which, as we
have said, opened into the salon. In the most conspicuous
part of the salon was another portrait. It was that of a
man, from five to eight and thirty, in the uniform of a
general officer, wearing the double epaulet of heavy
bullion, that indicates superior rank, the ribbon of the
Legion of Honor around his neck, which showed he was a
commander, and on the right breast, the star of a grand
officer of the order of the Saviour, and on the left that of
the grand cross of Charles III., which proved that the
person represented by the picture had served in the wars of
Greece and Spain, or, what was just the same thing as
regarded decorations, had fulfilled some diplomatic mission
in the two countries.
Monte Cristo was engaged in examining this portrait with no
less care than he had bestowed upon the other, when another
door opened, and he found himself opposite to the Count of
Morcerf in person. He was a man of forty to forty-five
years, but he seemed at least fifty, and his black mustache
and eyebrows contrasted strangely with his almost white
hair, which was cut short, in the military fashion. He was
dressed in plain clothes, and wore at his button-hole the
ribbons of the different orders to which he belonged. He
entered with a tolerably dignified step, and some little
haste. Monte Cristo saw him advance towards him without
making a single step. It seemed as if his feet were rooted
to the ground, and his eyes on the Count of Morcerf.
"Father," said the young man, "I have the honor of
presenting to you the Count of Monte Cristo, the generous
friend whom I had the good fortune to meet in the critical
situation of which I have told you."
"You are most welcome, monsieur," said the Count of Morcerf,
saluting Monte Cristo with a smile, "and monsieur has
rendered our house, in preserving its only heir, a service
which insures him our eternal gratitude." As he said these
words, the count of Morcerf pointed to a chair, while he
seated himself in another opposite the window.
Monte Cristo, in taking the seat Morcerf offered him, placed
himself in such a manner as to remain concealed in the
shadow of the large velvet curtains, and read on the
careworn and livid features of the count a whole history of
secret griefs written in each wrinkle time had planted
there. "The countess," said Morcerf, "was at her toilet when
she was informed of the visit she was about to receive. She
will, however, be in the salon in ten minutes."
"It is a great honor to me," returned Monte Cristo, "to be
thus, on the first day of my arrival in Paris, brought in
contact with a man whose merit equals his reputation, and to
whom fortune has for once been equitable, but has she not
still on the plains of Metidja, or in the mountains of
Atlas, a marshal's staff to offer you?"
"Oh," replied Morcerf, reddening slightly, "I have left the
service, monsieur. Made a peer at the Restoration, I served
through the first campaign under the orders of Marshal
Bourmont. I could, therefore, expect a higher rank, and who
knows what might have happened had the elder branch remained
on the throne? But the Revolution of July was, it seems,
sufficiently glorious to allow itself to be ungrateful, and
it was so for all services that did not date from the
imperial period. I tendered my resignation, for when you
have gained your epaulets on the battle-field, you do not
know how to manoeuvre on the slippery grounds of the salons.
I have hung up my sword, and cast myself into politics. I
have devoted myself to industry; I study the useful arts.
During the twenty years I served, I often wished to do so,
but I had not the time."
"These are the ideas that render your nation superior to any
other," returned Monte Cristo. "A gentleman of high birth,
possessor of an ample fortune, you have consented to gain
your promotion as an obscure soldier, step by step -- this
is uncommon; then become general, peer of France, commander
of the Legion of Honor, you consent to again commence a
second apprenticeship, without any other hope or any other
desire than that of one day becoming useful to your
fellow-creatures; this, indeed, is praiseworthy, -- nay,
more, it is sublime." Albert looked on and listened with
astonishment; he was not used to see Monte Cristo give vent
to such bursts of enthusiasm. "Alas," continued the
stranger, doubtless to dispel the slight cloud that covered
Morcerf's brow, "we do not act thus in Italy; we grow
according to our race and our species, and we pursue the
same lines, and often the same uselessness, all our lives."
"But, monsieur," said the Count of Morcerf, "for a man of
your merit, Italy is not a country, and France opens her
arms to receive you; respond to her call. France will not,
perhaps, be always ungrateful. She treats her children ill,
but she always welcomes strangers."
"Ah, father," said Albert with a smile, "it is evident you
do not know the Count of Monte Cristo; he despises all
honors, and contents himself with those written on his
"That is the most just remark," replied the stranger, "I
ever heard made concerning myself."
"You have been free to choose your career," observed the
Count of Morcerf, with a sigh; "and you have chosen the path
strewed with flowers."
"Precisely, monsieur," replied Monte Cristo with one of
those smiles that a painter could never represent or a
"If I did not fear to fatigue you," said the general,
evidently charmed with the count's manners, "I would have
taken you to the Chamber; there is a debate very curious to
those who are strangers to our modern senators."
"I shall be most grateful, monsieur, if you will, at some
future time, renew your offer, but I have been flattered
with the hope of being introduced to the countess, and I
will therefore wait."
"Ah, here is my mother," cried the viscount. Monte Cristo,
turned round hastily, and saw Madame de Morcerf at the
entrance of the salon, at the door opposite to that by which
her husband had entered, pale and motionless; when Monte
Cristo turned round, she let fall her arm, which for some
unknown reason had been resting on the gilded door-post. She
had been there some moments, and had heard the last words of
the visitor. The latter rose and bowed to the countess, who
inclined herself without speaking. "Ah, good heavens,
madame," said the count, "are you ill, or is it the heat of
the room that affects you?"
"Are you ill, mother?" cried the viscount, springing towards
She thanked them both with a smile. "No," returned she, "but
I feel some emotion on seeing, for the first time, the man
without whose intervention we should have been in tears and
desolation. Monsieur," continued the countess, advancing
with the majesty of a queen, "I owe to you the life of my
son, and for this I bless you. Now, I thank you for the
pleasure you give me in thus affording me the opportunity of
thanking you as I have blessed you, from the bottom of my
heart." The count bowed again, but lower than before; He was
even paler than Mercedes. "Madame," said he, "the count and
yourself recompense too generously a simple action. To save
a man, to spare a father's feelings, or a mother's
sensibility, is not to do a good action, but a simple deed
of humanity." At these words, uttered with the most
exquisite sweetness and politeness, Madame de Morcerf
replied. "It is very fortunate for my son, monsieur, that he
found such a friend, and I thank God that things are thus."
And Mercedes raised her fine eyes to heaven with so fervent
an expression of gratitude, that the count fancied he saw
tears in them. M. de Morcerf approached her. "Madame," said
he. "I have already made my excuses to the count for
quitting him, and I pray you to do so also. The sitting
commences at two; it is now three, and I am to speak."
"Go, then, and monsieur and I will strive our best to forget
your absence," replied the countess, with the same tone of
deep feeling. "Monsieur," continued she, turning to Monte
Cristo, "will you do us the honor of passing the rest of the
day with us?"
"Believe me, madame, I feel most grateful for your kindness,
but I got out of my travelling carriage at your door this
morning, and I am ignorant how I am installed in Paris,
which I scarcely know; this is but a trifling inquietude, I
know, but one that may be appreciated."
"We shall have the pleasure another time," said the
countess; "you promise that?" Monte Cristo inclined himself
without answering, but the gesture might pass for assent. "I
will not detain you, monsieur," continued the countess; "I
would not have our gratitude become indiscreet or
"My dear Count," said Albert, "I will endeavor to return
your politeness at Rome, and place my coupe at your disposal
until your own be ready."
"A thousand thanks for your kindness, viscount," returned
the Count of Monte Cristo "but I suppose that M. Bertuccio
has suitably employed the four hours and a half I have given
him, and that I shall find a carriage of some sort ready at
the door." Albert was used to the count's manner of
proceeding; he knew that, like Nero, he was in search of the
impossible, and nothing astonished him, but wishing to judge
with his own eyes how far the count's orders had been
executed, he accompanied him to the door of the house. Monte
Cristo was not deceived. As soon as he appeared in the Count
of Morcerf's ante-chamber, a footman, the same who at Rome
had brought the count's card to the two young men, and
announced his visit, sprang into the vestibule, and when he
arrived at the door the illustrious traveller found his
carriage awaiting him. It was a coupe of Koller's building,
and with horses and harness for which Drake had, to the
knowledge of all the lions of Paris, refused on the previous
day seven hundred guineas. "Monsieur," said the count to
Albert, "I do not ask you to accompany me to my house, as I
can only show you a habitation fitted up in a hurry, and I
have, as you know, a reputation to keep up as regards not
being taken by surprise. Give me, therefore, one more day
before I invite you; I shall then be certain not to fail in
"If you ask me for a day, count, I know what to anticipate;
it will not be a house I shall see, but a palace. You have
decidedly some genius at your control."
"Ma foi, spread that idea," replied the Count of Monte
Cristo, putting his foot on the velvet-lined steps of his
splendid carriage, "and that will be worth something to me
among the ladies." As he spoke, he sprang into the vehicle,
the door was closed, but not so rapidly that Monte Cristo
failed to perceive the almost imperceptible movement which
stirred the curtains of the apartment in which he had left
Madame de Morcerf. When Albert returned to his mother, he
found her in the boudoir reclining in a large velvet
arm-chair, the whole room so obscure that only the shining
spangle, fastened here and there to the drapery, and the
angles of the gilded frames of the pictures, showed with
some degree of brightness in the gloom. Albert could not see
the face of the countess, as it was covered with a thin veil
she had put on her head, and which fell over her features in
misty folds, but it seemed to him as though her voice had
altered. He could distinguish amid the perfumes of the roses
and heliotropes in the flower-stands, the sharp and fragrant
odor of volatile salts, and he noticed in one of the chased
cups on the mantle-piece the countess's smelling-bottle,
taken from its shagreen case, and exclaimed in a tone of
uneasiness, as he entered, -- "My dear mother, have you been
ill during my absence?"
"No, no, Albert, but you know these roses, tuberoses, and
orange-flowers throw out at first, before one is used to
them, such violent perfumes."
"Then, my dear mother," said Albert, putting his hand to the
bell, "they must be taken into the ante-chamber. You are
really ill, and just now were so pale as you came into the
"Was I pale, Albert?"
"Yes; a pallor that suits you admirably, mother, but which
did not the less alarm my father and myself."
"Did your father speak of it?" inquired Mercedes eagerly.
"No, madame; but do you not remember that he spoke of the
fact to you?"
"Yes, I do remember," replied the countess. A servant
entered, summoned by Albert's ring of the bell. "Take these
flowers into the anteroom or dressing-room," said the
viscount; "they make the countess ill." The footman obeyed
his orders. A long pause ensued, which lasted until all the
flowers were removed. "What is this name of Monte Cristo?"
inquired the countess, when the servant had taken away the
last vase of flowers, "is it a family name, or the name of
the estate, or a simple title?"
"I believe, mother, it is merely a title. The count
purchased an island in the Tuscan archipelago, and, as he
told you to-day, has founded a commandery. You know the same
thing was done for Saint Stephen of Florence, Saint George,
Constantinian of Parma, and even for the Order of Malta.
Except this, he has no pretension to nobility, and calls
himself a chance count, although the general opinion at Rome
is that the count is a man of very high distinction."
"His manners are admirable," said the countess, "at least,
as far as I could judge in the few minutes he remained
"They are perfect mother, so perfect, that they surpass by
far all I have known in the leading aristocracy of the three
proudest nobilities of Europe -- the English, the Spanish,
and the German." The countess paused a moment; then, after a
slight hesitation, she resumed, -- "You have seen, my dear
Albert -- I ask the question as a mother -- you have seen M.
de Monte Cristo in his house, you are quicksighted, have
much knowledge of the world, more tact than is usual at your
age, do you think the count is really what he appears to
"What does he appear to be?"
"Why, you have just said, -- a man of high distinction."
"I told you, my dear mother, he was esteemed such."
"But what is your own opinion, Albert?"
"I must tell you that I have not come to any decided opinion
respecting him, but I think him a Maltese."
"I do not ask you of his origin but what he is."
"Ah, what he is; that is quite another thing. I have seen so
many remarkable things in him, that if you would have me
really say what I think, I shall reply that I really do look
upon him as one of Byron's heroes, whom misery has marked
with a fatal brand; some Manfred, some Lara, some Werner,
one of those wrecks, as it were, of some ancient family,
who, disinherited of their patrimony, have achieved one by
the force of their adventurous genius, which has placed them
above the laws of society."
"You say" --
"I say that Monte Cristo is an island in the midst of the
Mediterranean, without inhabitants or garrison, the resort
of smugglers of all nations, and pirates of every flag. Who
knows whether or not these industrious worthies do not pay
to their feudal lord some dues for his protection?"
"That is possible," said the countess, reflecting.
"Never mind," continued the young man, "smuggler or not, you
must agree, mother dear, as you have seen him, that the
Count of Monte Cristo is a remarkable man, who will have the
greatest success in the salons of Paris. Why, this very
morning, in my rooms, he made his entree amongst us by
striking every man of us with amazement, not even excepting
"And what do you suppose is the count's age?" inquired
Mercedes, evidently attaching great importance to this
"Thirty-five or thirty-six, mother."
"So young, -- it is impossible," said Mercedes, replying at
the same time to what Albert said as well as to her own
"It is the truth, however. Three or four times he has said
to me, and certainly without the slightest premeditation,
`at such a period I was five years old, at another ten years
old, at another twelve,' and I, induced by curiosity, which
kept me alive to these details, have compared the dates, and
never found him inaccurate. The age of this singular man,
who is of no age, is then, I am certain, thirty-five.
Besides, mother, remark how vivid his eye, how raven-black
his hair, and his brow, though so pale, is free from
wrinkles, -- he is not only vigorous, but also young." The
countess bent her head, as if beneath a heavy wave of bitter
thoughts. "And has this man displayed a friendship for you,
Albert?" she asked with a nervous shudder.
"I am inclined to think so."
"And -- do -- you -- like -- him?"
"Why, he pleases me in spite of Franz d'Epinay, who tries to
convince me that he is a being returned from the other
world." The countess shuddered. "Albert," she said, in a
voice which was altered by emotion, "I have always put you
on your guard against new acquaintances. Now you are a man,
and are able to give me advice; yet I repeat to you, Albert,
"Why, my dear mother, it is necessary, in order to make your
advice turn to account, that I should know beforehand what I
have to distrust. The count never plays, he only drinks pure
water tinged with a little sherry, and is so rich that he
cannot, without intending to laugh at me, try to borrow
money. What, then, have I to fear from him?"
"You are right," said the countess, "and my fears are
weakness, especially when directed against a man who has
saved your life. How did your father receive him, Albert? It
is necessary that we should be more than complaisant to the
count. M. de Morcerf is sometimes occupied, his business
makes him reflective, and he might, without intending it" --
"Nothing could be in better taste than my father's demeanor,
madame," said Albert; "nay, more, he seemed greatly
flattered at two or three compliments which the count very
skilfully and agreeably paid him with as much ease as if he
had known him these thirty years. Each of these little
tickling arrows must have pleased my father," added Albert
with a laugh. "And thus they parted the best possible
friends, and M. de Morcerf even wished to take him to the
Chamber to hear the speakers." The countess made no reply.
She fell into so deep a revery that her eyes gradually
closed. The young man, standing up before her, gazed upon
her with that filial affection which is so tender and
endearing with children whose mothers are still young and
handsome. Then, after seeing her eyes closed, and hearing
her breathe gently, he believed she had dropped asleep, and
left the apartment on tiptoe, closing the door after him
with the utmost precaution. "This devil of a fellow," he
muttered, shaking his head; "I said at the time he would
create a sensation here, and I measure his effect by an
infallible thermometer. My mother has noticed him, and he
must therefore, perforce, be remarkable." He went down to
the stables, not without some slight annoyance, when he
remembered that the Count of Monte Cristo had laid his hands
on a "turnout" which sent his bays down to second place in
the opinion of connoisseurs. "Most decidedly," said he, "men
are not equal, and I must beg my father to develop this
theorem in the Chamber of Peers."
Meanwhile the count had arrived at his house; it had taken
him six minutes to perform the distance, but these six
minutes were sufficient to induce twenty young men who knew
the price of the equipage they had been unable to purchase
themselves, to put their horses in a gallop in order to see
the rich foreigner who could afford to give 20,000 francs
apiece for his horses. The house Ali had chosen, and which
was to serve as a town residence to Monte Cristo, was
situated on the right hand as you ascend the Champs Elysees.
A thick clump of trees and shrubs rose in the centre, and
masked a portion of the front; around this shrubbery two
alleys, like two arms, extended right and left, and formed a
carriage-drive from the iron gates to a double portico, on
every step of which stood a porcelain vase, filled with
flowers. This house, isolated from the rest, had, besides
the main entrance, another in the Rue Ponthieu. Even before
the coachman had hailed the concierge, the massy gates
rolled on their hinges -- they had seen the Count coming,
and at Paris, as everywhere else, he was served with the
rapidity of lightning. The coachman entered and traversed
the half-circle without slackening his speed, and the gates
were closed ere the wheels had ceased to sound on the
gravel. The carriage stopped at the left side of the
portico, two men presented themselves at the
carriage-window; the one was Ali, who, smiling with an
expression of the most sincere joy, seemed amply repaid by a
mere look from Monte Cristo. The other bowed respectfully,
and offered his arm to assist the count in descending.
"Thanks, M. Bertuccio," said the count, springing lightly up
the three steps of the portico; "and the notary?"
"He is in the small salon, excellency," returned Bertuccio.
"And the cards I ordered to be engraved as soon as you knew
the number of the house?"
"Your excellency, it is done already. I have been myself to
the best engraver of the Palais Royal, who did the plate in
my presence. The first card struck off was taken, according
to your orders, to the Baron Danglars, Rue de la Chaussee
d'Antin, No. 7; the others are on the mantle-piece of your
"Good; what o'clock is it?"
"Four o'clock." Monte Cristo gave his hat, cane, and gloves
to the same French footman who had called his carriage at
the Count of Morcerf's, and then he passed into the small
salon, preceded by Bertuccio, who showed him the way. "These
are but indifferent marbles in this ante-chamber," said
Monte Cristo. "I trust all this will soon be taken away."
Bertuccio bowed. As the steward had said, the notary awaited
him in the small salon. He was a simple-looking lawyer's
clerk, elevated to the extraordinary dignity of a provincial
scrivener. "You are the notary empowered to sell the country
house that I wish to purchase, monsieur?" asked Monte
"Yes, count," returned the notary.
"Is the deed of sale ready?"
"Have you brought it?"
"Here it is."
"Very well; and where is this house that I purchase?" asked
the count carelessly, addressing himself half to Bertuccio,
half to the notary. The steward made a gesture that
signified, "I do not know." The notary looked at the count
with astonishment. "What!" said he, "does not the count know
where the house he purchases is situated?"
"No," returned the count.
"The count does not know?"
"How should I know? I have arrived from Cadiz this morning.
I have never before been at Paris, and it is the first time
I have ever even set my foot in France."
"Ah, that is different; the house you purchase is at
Auteuil." At these words Bertuccio turned pale. "And where
is Auteuil?" asked the count.
"Close by here, monsieur," replied the notary -- "a little
beyond Passy; a charming situation, in the heart of the Bois
"So near as that?" said the Count; "but that is not in the
country. What made you choose a house at the gates of Paris,
"I," cried the steward with a strange expression. "His
excellency did not charge me to purchase this house. If his
excellency will recollect -- if he will think" --
"Ah, true," observed Monte Cristo; "I recollect now. I read
the advertisement in one of the papers, and was tempted by
the false title, `a country house.'"
"It is not yet too late," cried Bertuccio, eagerly; "and if
your excellency will intrust me with the commission, I will
find you a better at Enghien, at Fontenay-aux-Roses, or at
"Oh, no," returned Monte Cristo negligently; "since I have
this, I will keep it."
"And you are quite right," said the notary, who feared to
lose his fee. "It is a charming place, well supplied with
spring-water and fine trees; a comfortable habitation,
although abandoned for a long time, without reckoning the
furniture, which, although old, is yet valuable, now that
old things are so much sought after. I suppose the count has
the tastes of the day?"
"To be sure," returned Monte Cristo; "it is very convenient,
"It is more -- it is magnificent."
"Peste, let us not lose such an opportunity," returned Monte
Cristo. "The deed, if you please, Mr. Notary." And he signed
it rapidly, after having first run his eye over that part of
the deed in which were specified the situation of the house
and the names of the proprietors. "Bertuccio," said he,
"give fifty-five thousand francs to monsieur." The steward
left the room with a faltering step, and returned with a
bundle of bank-notes, which the notary counted like a man
who never gives a receipt for money until after he is sure
it is all there. "And now," demanded the count, "are all the
forms complied with?"
"Have you the keys?"
"They are in the hands of the concierge, who takes care of
the house, but here is the order I have given him to install
the count in his new possessions."
"Very well;" and Monte Cristo made a sign with his hand to
the notary, which said, "I have no further need of you; you
"But," observed the honest notary, "the count is, I think,
mistaken; it is only fifty thousand francs, everything
"And your fee?"
"Is included in this sum."
"But have you not come from Auteuil here?"
"Well, then, it is but fair that you should be paid for your
loss of time and trouble," said the count; and he made a
gesture of polite dismissal. The notary left the room
backwards, and bowing down to the ground; it was the first
time he had ever met a similar client. "See this gentleman
out," said the count to Bertuccio. And the steward followed
the notary out of the room. Scarcely was the count alone,
when he drew from his pocket a book closed with a lock, and
opened it with a key which he wore round his neck, and which
never left him. After having sought for a few minutes, he
stopped at a leaf which had several notes, and compared them
with the deed of sale, which lay on the table. "`Auteuil,
Rue de la Fontaine, No. 28;' it is indeed the same," said
he; "and now, am I to rely upon an avowal extorted by
religious or physical terror? However, in an hour I shall
know all. Bertuccio!" cried he, striking a light hammer with
a pliant handle on a small gong. "Bertuccio!" The steward
appeared at the door. "Monsieur Bertuccio," said the count,
"did you never tell me that you had travelled in France?"
"In some parts of France -- yes, excellency."
"You know the environs of Paris, then?"
"No, excellency, no," returned the steward, with a sort of
nervous trembling, which Monte Cristo, a connoisseur in all
emotions, rightly attributed to great disquietude.
"It is unfortunate," returned he, "that you have never
visited the environs, for I wish to see my new property this
evening, and had you gone with me, you could have given me
some useful information."
"To Auteuil!" cried Bertuccio, whose copper complexion
became livid -- "I go to Auteuil?"
"Well, what is there surprising in that? When I live at
Auteuil, you must come there, as you belong to my service."
Bertuccio hung down his head before the imperious look of
his master, and remained motionless, without making any
answer. "Why, what has happened to you? -- are you going to
make me ring a second time for the carriage?" asked Monte
Cristo, in the same tone that Louis XIV. pronounced the
famous, "I have been almost obliged to wait." Bertuccio made
but one bound to the ante-chamber, and cried in a hoarse
voice -- "His excellency's horses!" Monte Cristo wrote two
or three notes, and, as he sealed the last, the steward
appeared. "Your excellency's carriage is at the door," said
"Well, take your hat and gloves," returned Monte Cristo.
"Am I to accompany you, your excellency?" cried Bertuccio.
"Certainly, you must give the orders, for I intend residing
at the house." It was unexampled for a servant of the
count's to dare to dispute an order of his, so the steward,
without saying a word, followed his master, who got into the
carriage, and signed to him to follow, which he did, taking
his place respectfully on the front seat.
The House at Auteuil.
Monte Cristo noticed, as they descended the staircase, that
Bertuccio signed himself in the Corsican manner; that is,
had formed the sign of the cross in the air with his thumb,
and as he seated himself in the carriage, muttered a short
prayer. Any one but a man of exhaustless thirst for
knowledge would have had pity on seeing the steward's
extraordinary repugnance for the count's projected drive
without the walls; but the Count was too curious to let
Bertuccio off from this little journey. In twenty minutes
they were at Auteuil; the steward's emotion had continued to
augment as they entered the village. Bertuccio, crouched in
the corner of the carriage, began to examine with a feverish
anxiety every house they passed. "Tell them to stop at Rue
de la Fontaine, No. 28," said the count, fixing his eyes on
the steward, to whom he gave this order. Bertuccio's
forehead was covered with perspiration; however, he obeyed,
and, leaning out of the window, he cried to the coachman, --
"Rue de la Fontaine, No. 28." No. 28 was situated at the
extremity of the village; during the drive night had set in,
and darkness gave the surroundings the artificial appearance
of a scene on the stage. The carriage stopped, the footman
sprang off the box, and opened the door. "Well," said the
count, "you do not get out, M. Bertuccio -- you are going to
stay in the carriage, then? What are you thinking of this
evening?" Bertuccio sprang out, and offered his shoulder to
the count, who, this time, leaned upon it as he descended
the three steps of the carriage. "Knock," said the count,
"and announce me." Bertuccio knocked, the door opened, and
the concierge appeared. "What is it?" asked he.
"It is your new master, my good fellow," said the footman.
And he held out to the concierge the notary's order.
"The house is sold, then?" demanded the concierge; "and this
gentleman is coming to live here?"
"Yes, my friend," returned the count; "and I will endeavor
to give you no cause to regret your old master."
"Oh, monsieur," said the concierge, "I shall not have much
cause to regret him, for he came here but seldom; it is five
years since he was here last, and he did well to sell the
house, for it did not bring him in anything at all."
"What was the name of your old master?" said Monte Cristo.
"The Marquis of Saint-Meran. Ah, I am sure he has not sold
the house for what he gave for it."
"The Marquis of Saint-Meran!" returned the count. "The name
is not unknown to me; the Marquis of Saint-Meran!" and he
appeared to meditate.
"An old gentleman," continued the concierge, "a stanch
follower of the Bourbons; he had an only daughter, who
married M. de Villefort, who had been the king's attorney at
Nimes, and afterwards at Versailles." Monte Cristo glanced
at Bertuccio, who became whiter than the wall against which
he leaned to prevent himself from falling. "And is not this
daughter dead?" demanded Monte Cristo; "I fancy I have heard
"Yes, monsieur, one and twenty years ago; and since then we
have not seen the poor marquis three times."
"Thanks, thanks," said Monte Cristo, judging from the
steward's utter prostration that he could not stretch the
cord further without danger of breaking it. "Give me a
"Shall I accompany you, monsieur?"
"No, it is unnecessary; Bertuccio will show me a light." And
Monte Cristo accompanied these words by the gift of two gold
pieces, which produced a torrent of thanks and blessings
from the concierge. "Ah, monsieur," said he, after having
vainly searched on the mantle-piece and the shelves, "I have
not got any candles."
"Take one of the carriage-lamps, Bertuccio," said the count,
"and show me the apartments." The steward obeyed in silence,
but it was easy to see, from the manner in which the hand
that held the light trembled, how much it cost him to obey.
They went over a tolerably large ground-floor; a second
floor consisted of a salon, a bathroom, and two bedrooms;
near one of the bedrooms they came to a winding staircase
that led down to the garden.
"Ah, here is a private staircase," said the count; "that is
convenient. Light me, M. Bertuccio, and go first; we will
see where it leads to."
"Monsieur," replied Bertuccio, "it leads to the garden."
"And, pray, how do you know that?"
"It ought to do so, at least."
"Well, let us be sure of that." Bertuccio sighed, and went
on first; the stairs did, indeed, lead to the garden. At the
outer door the steward paused. "Go on, Monsieur Bertuccio,"
said the count. But he who was addressed stood there,
stupefied, bewildered, stunned; his haggard eyes glanced
around, as if in search of the traces of some terrible
event, and with his clinched hands he seemed striving to
shut out horrible recollections. "Well," insisted the Count.
"No, no," cried Bertuccio, setting down the lantern at the
angle of the interior wall. "No, monsieur, it is impossible;
I can go no farther."
"What does this mean?" demanded the irresistible voice of
"Why, you must see, your excellency," cried the steward,
"that this is not natural; that, having a house to purchase,
you purchase it exactly at Auteuil, and that, purchasing it
at Auteuil, this house should be No. 28, Rue de la Fontaine.
Oh, why did I not tell you all? I am sure you would not have
forced me to come. I hoped your house would have been some
other one than this; as if there was not another house at
Auteuil than that of the assassination!"
"What, what!" cried Monte Cristo, stopping suddenly, "what
words do you utter? Devil of a man, Corsican that you are --
always mysteries or superstitions. Come, take the lantern,
and let us visit the garden; you are not afraid of ghosts
with me, I hope?" Bertuccio raised the lantern, and obeyed.
The door, as it opened, disclosed a gloomy sky, in which the
moon strove vainly to struggle through a sea of clouds that
covered her with billows of vapor which she illumined for an
instant, only to sink into obscurity. The steward wished to
turn to the left. "No, no, monsieur," said Monte Cristo.
"What is the use of following the alleys? Here is a
beautiful lawn; let us go on straight forwards."
Bertuccio wiped the perspiration from his brow, but obeyed;
however, he continued to take the left hand. Monte Cristo,
on the contrary, took the right hand; arrived near a clump
of trees, he stopped. The steward could not restrain
himself. "Move, monsieur -- move away, I entreat you; you
are exactly in the spot!"
"Where he fell."
"My dear Monsieur Bertuccio," said Monte Cristo, laughing,
"control yourself; we are not at Sartena or at Corte. This
is not a Corsican arbor, but an English garden; badly kept,
I own, but still you must not calumniate it for that."
"Monsieur, I implore you do not stay there!"
"I think you are going mad, Bertuccio," said the count
coldly. "If that is the case, I warn you, I shall have you
put in a lunatic asylum."
"Alas, excellency," returned Bertuccio, joining his hands,
and shaking his head in a manner that would have excited the
count's laughter, had not thoughts of a superior interest
occupied him, and rendered him attentive to the least
revelation of this timorous conscience. "Alas, excellency,
the evil has arrived!"
"M. Bertuccio," said the count, "I am very glad to tell you,
that while you gesticulate, you wring your hands and roll
your eyes like a man possessed by a devil who will not leave
him; and I have always observed, that the devil most
obstinate to be expelled is a secret. I knew you were a
Corsican. I knew you were gloomy, and always brooding over
some old history of the vendetta; and I overlooked that in
Italy, because in Italy those things are thought nothing of.
But in France they are considered in very bad taste; there
are gendarmes who occupy themselves with such affairs,
judges who condemn, and scaffolds which avenge." Bertuccio
clasped his hands, and as, in all these evolutions, he did
not let fall the lantern, the light showed his pale and
altered countenance. Monte Cristo examined him with the same
look that, at Rome, he had bent upon the execution of
Andrea, and then, in a tone that made a shudder pass through
the veins of the poor steward, -- "The Abbe Busoni, then
told me an untruth," said he, "when, after his journey in