Part 13 out of 31
France, in 1829, he sent you to me, with a letter of
recommendation, in which he enumerated all your valuable
qualities. Well, I shall write to the abbe; I shall hold him
responsible for his protege's misconduct, and I shall soon
know all about this assassination. Only I warn you, that
when I reside in a country, I conform to all its code, and I
have no wish to put myself within the compass of the French
laws for your sake."
"Oh, do not do that, excellency; I have always served you
faithfully," cried Bertuccio, in despair. "I have always
been an honest man, and, as far as lay in my power, I have
"I do not deny it," returned the count; "but why are you
thus agitated. It is a bad sign; a quiet conscience does not
occasion such paleness in the cheeks, and such fever in the
hands of a man."
"But, your excellency," replied Bertuccio hesitatingly, "did
not the Abbe Busoni, who heard my confession in the prison
at Nimes, tell you that I had a heavy burden upon my
"Yes; but as he said you would make an excellent steward, I
concluded you had stolen -- that was all."
"Oh, your excellency," returned Bertuccio in deep contempt.
"Or, as you are a Corsican, that you had been unable to
resist the desire of making a `stiff,' as you call it."
"Yes, my good master," cried Bertuccio, casting himself at
the count's feet, "it was simply vengeance -- nothing else."
"I understand that, but I do not understand what it is that
galvanizes you in this manner."
"But, monsieur, it is very natural," returned Bertuccio,
"since it was in this house that my vengeance was
"What! my house?"
"Oh, your excellency, it was not yours, then."
"Whose, then? The Marquis de Saint-Meran, I think, the
concierge said. What had you to revenge on the Marquis de
"Oh, it was not on him, monsieur; it was on another."
"This is strange," returned Monte Cristo, seeming to yield
to his reflections, "that you should find yourself without
any preparation in a house where the event happened that
causes you so much remorse."
"Monsieur," said the steward, "it is fatality, I am sure.
First, you purchase a house at Auteuil -- this house is the
one where I have committed an assassination; you descend to
the garden by the same staircase by which he descended; you
stop at the spot where he received the blow; and two paces
farther is the grave in which he had just buried his child.
This is not chance, for chance, in this case, is too much
"Well, amiable Corsican, let us suppose it is providence. I
always suppose anything people please, and, besides, you
must concede something to diseased minds. Come, collect
yourself, and tell me all."
"I have related it but once, and that was to the Abbe
Busoni. Such things," continued Bertuccio, shaking his head,
"are only related under the seal of confession."
"Then," said the count, "I refer you to your confessor. Turn
Chartreux or Trappist, and relate your secrets, but, as for
me, I do not like any one who is alarmed by such phantasms,
and I do not choose that my servants should be afraid to
walk in the garden of an evening. I confess I am not very
desirous of a visit from the commissary of police, for, in
Italy, justice is only paid when silent -- in France she is
paid only when she speaks. Peste, I thought you somewhat
Corsican, a great deal smuggler, and an excellent steward;
but I see you have other strings to your bow. You are no
longer in my service, Monsieur Bertuccio."
"Oh, your excellency, your excellency!" cried the steward,
struck with terror at this threat, "if that is the only
reason I cannot remain in your service, I will tell all, for
if I quit you, it will only be to go to the scaffold."
"That is different," replied Monte Cristo; "but if you
intend to tell an untruth, reflect it were better not to
speak at all."
"No, monsieur, I swear to you, by my hopes of salvation, I
will tell you all, for the Abbe Busoni himself only knew a
part of my secret; but, I pray you, go away from that
plane-tree. The moon is just bursting through the clouds,
and there, standing where you do, and wrapped in that cloak
that conceals your figure, you remind me of M. de
"What!" cried Monte Cristo, "it was M. de Villefort?"
"Your excellency knows him?"
"The former royal attorney at Nimes?"
"Who married the Marquis of Saint-Meran's daughter?"
"Who enjoyed the reputation of being the most severe, the
most upright, the most rigid magistrate on the bench?"
"Well, monsieur," said Bertuccio, "this man with this
spotless reputation" --
"Was a villain."
"Bah," replied Monte Cristo, "impossible!"
"It is as I tell you."
"Ah, really," said Monte Cristo. "Have you proof of this?"
"I had it."
"And you have lost it; how stupid!"
"Yes; but by careful search it might be recovered."
"Really," returned the count, "relate it to me, for it
begins to interest me." And the count, humming an air from
"Lucia," went to sit down on a bench, while Bertuccio
followed him, collecting his thoughts. Bertuccio remained
standing before him.
"At what point shall I begin my story, your excellency?"
"Where you please," returned Monte Cristo, "since I know
nothing at all of it."
"I thought the Abbe Busoni had told your excellency."
"Some particulars, doubtless, but that is seven or eight
years ago, and I have forgotten them."
"Then I can speak without fear of tiring your excellency."
"Go on, M. Bertuccio; you will supply the want of the
"The story begins in 1815."
"Ah," said Monte Cristo, "1815 is not yesterday."
"No, monsieur, and yet I recollect all things as clearly as
if they had happened but then. I had a brother, an elder
brother, who was in the service of the emperor; he had
become lieutenant in a regiment composed entirely of
Corsicans. This brother was my only friend; we became
orphans -- I at five, he at eighteen. He brought me up as if
I had been his son, and in 1814 he married. When the emperor
returned from the Island of Elba, my brother instantly
joined the army, was slightly wounded at Waterloo, and
retired with the army beyond the Loire."
"But that is the history of the Hundred Days, M. Bertuccio,"
said the count; "unless I am mistaken, it has been already
"Excuse me, excellency, but these details are necessary, and
you promised to be patient."
"Go on; I will keep my word."
"One day we received a letter. I should tell you that we
lived in the little village of Rogliano, at the extremity of
Cape Corso. This letter was from my brother. He told us that
the army was disbanded, and that he should return by
Chateauroux, Clermont-Ferrand, Le Puy, and Nimes; and, if I
had any money, he prayed me to leave it for him at Nimes,
with an inn-keeper with whom I had dealings."
"In the smuggling line?" said Monte Cristo.
"Eh, your excellency? Every one must live."
"Certainly; go on."
"I loved my brother tenderly, as I told your excellency, and
I resolved not to send the money, but to take it to him
myself. I possessed a thousand francs. I left five hundred
with Assunta, my sister-in-law, and with the other five
hundred I set off for Nimes. It was easy to do so, and as I
had my boat and a lading to take in at sea, everything
favored my project. But, after we had taken in our cargo,
the wind became contrary, so that we were four or five days
without being able to enter the Rhone. At last, however, we
succeeded, and worked up to Arles. I left the boat between
Bellegarde and Beaucaire, and took the road to Nimes."
"We are getting to the story now?"
"Yes, your excellency; excuse me, but, as you will see, I
only tell you what is absolutely necessary. Just at this
time the famous massacres took place in the south of France.
Three brigands, called Trestaillon, Truphemy, and Graffan,
publicly assassinated everybody whom they suspected of
Bonapartism. You have doubtless heard of these massacres,
"Vaguely; I was far from France at that period. Go on."
"As I entered Nimes, I literally waded in blood; at every
step you encountered dead bodies and bands of murderers, who
killed, plundered, and burned. At the sight of this
slaughter and devastation I became terrified, not for myself
-- for I, a simple Corsican fisherman, had nothing to fear;
on the contrary, that time was most favorable for us
smugglers -- but for my brother, a soldier of the empire,
returning from the army of the Loire, with his uniform and
his epaulets, there was everything to apprehend. I hastened
to the inn-keeper. My misgivings had been but too true. My
brother had arrived the previous evening at Nimes, and, at
the very door of the house where he was about to demand
hospitality, he had been assassinated. I did all in my power
to discover the murderers, but no one durst tell me their
names, so much were they dreaded. I then thought of that
French justice of which I had heard so much, and which
feared nothing, and I went to the king's attorney."
"And this king's attorney was named Villefort?" asked Monte
"Yes, your excellency; he came from Marseilles, where he had
been deputy-procureur. His zeal had procured him
advancement, and he was said to be one of the first who had
informed the government of the departure from the Island of
"Then," said Monte Cristo "you went to him?"
"`Monsieur,' I said, `my brother was assassinated yesterday
in the streets of Nimes, I know not by whom, but it is your
duty to find out. You are the representative of justice
here, and it is for justice to avenge those she has been
unable to protect.' -- `Who was your brother?' asked he. --
`A lieutenant in the Corsican battalion.' -- `A soldier of
the usurper, then?' -- `A soldier of the French army.' --
`Well,' replied he, `he has smitten with the sword, and he
has perished by the sword.' -- `You are mistaken, monsieur,'
I replied; `he has perished by the poniard.' -- `What do you
want me to do?' asked the magistrate. -- `I have already
told you -- avenge him.' -- `On whom?' -- `On his
murderers.' -- `How should I know who they are?' -- `Order
them to be sought for.' -- `Why, your brother has been
involved in a quarrel, and killed in a duel. All these old
soldiers commit excesses which were tolerated in the time of
the emperor, but which are not suffered now, for the people
here do not like soldiers of such disorderly conduct.' --
`Monsieur,' I replied, `it is not for myself that I entreat
your interference -- I should grieve for him or avenge him,
but my poor brother had a wife, and were anything to happen
to me, the poor creature would perish from want, for my
brother's pay alone kept her. Pray, try and obtain a small
government pension for her.'
"`Every revolution has its catastrophes,' returned M. de
Villefort; `your brother has been the victim of this. It is
a misfortune, and government owes nothing to his family. If
we are to judge by all the vengeance that the followers of
the usurper exercised on the partisans of the king, when, in
their turn, they were in power, your brother would be
to-day, in all probability, condemned to death. What has
happened is quite natural, and in conformity with the law of
reprisals.' -- `What,' cried I, `do you, a magistrate, speak
thus to me?' -- `All these Corsicans are mad, on my honor,'
replied M. de Villefort; `they fancy that their countryman
is still emperor. You have mistaken the time, you should
have told me this two months ago, it is too late now. Go
now, at once, or I shall have you put out.'
"I looked at him an instant to see if there was anything to
hope from further entreaty. But he was a man of stone. I
approached him, and said in a low voice, `Well, since you
know the Corsicans so well, you know that they always keep
their word. You think that it was a good deed to kill my
brother, who was a Bonapartist, because you are a royalist.
Well, I, who am a Bonapartist also, declare one thing to
you, which is, that I will kill you. From this moment I
declare the vendetta against you, so protect yourself as
well as you can, for the next time we meet your last hour
has come.' And before he had recovered from his surprise, I
opened the door and left the room."
"Well, well," said Monte Cristo, "such an innocent looking
person as you are to do those things, M. Bertuccio, and to a
king's attorney at that! But did he know what was meant by
the terrible word `vendetta'?"
"He knew so well, that from that moment he shut himself in
his house, and never went out unattended, seeking me high
and low. Fortunately, I was so well concealed that he could
not find me. Then he became alarmed, and dared not stay any
longer at Nimes, so he solicited a change of residence, and,
as he was in reality very influential, he was nominated to
Versailles. But, as you know, a Corsican who has sworn to
avenge himself cares not for distance, so his carriage, fast
as it went, was never above half a day's journey before me,
who followed him on foot. The most important thing was, not
to kill him only -- for I had an opportunity of doing so a
hundred times -- but to kill him without being discovered --
at least, without being arrested. I no longer belonged to
myself, for I had my sister-in-law to protect and provide
for. For three months I watched M. de Villefort, for three
months he took not a step out-of-doors without my following
him. At length I discovered that he went mysteriously to
Auteuil. I followed him thither, and I saw him enter the
house where we now are, only, instead of entering by the
great door that looks into the street, he came on horseback,
or in his carriage, left the one or the other at the little
inn, and entered by the gate you see there." Monte Cristo
made a sign with his head to show that he could discern in
the darkness the door to which Bertuccio alluded. "As I had
nothing more to do at Versailles, I went to Auteuil, and
gained all the information I could. If I wished to surprise
him, it was evident this was the spot to lie in wait for
him. The house belonged, as the concierge informed your
excellency, to M. de Saint-Meran, Villefort's father-in-law.
M. de Saint-Meran lived at Marseilles, so that this country
house was useless to him, and it was reported to be let to a
young widow, known only by the name of `the baroness.'
"One evening, as I was looking over the wall, I saw a young
and handsome woman who was walking alone in that garden,
which was not overlooked by any windows, and I guessed that
she was awaiting M. de Villefort. When she was sufficiently
near for me to distinguish her features, I saw she was from
eighteen to nineteen, tall and very fair. As she had a loose
muslin dress on and as nothing concealed her figure, I saw
she would ere long become a mother. A few moments after, the
little door was opened and a man entered. The young woman
hastened to meet him. They threw themselves into each
other's arms, embraced tenderly, and returned together to
the house. The man was M. de Villefort; I fully believed
that when he went out in the night he would be forced to
traverse the whole of the garden alone."
"And," asked the count, "did you ever know the name of this
"No, excellency," returned Bertuccio; "you will see that I
had no time to learn it."
"That evening," continued Bertuccio, "I could have killed
the procureur, but as I was not sufficiently acquainted with
the neighborhood, I was fearful of not killing him on the
spot, and that if his cries were overheard I might be taken;
so I put it off until the next occasion, and in order that
nothing should escape me, I took a chamber looking into the
street bordered by the wall of the garden. Three days after,
about seven o'clock in the evening, I saw a servant on
horseback leave the house at full gallop, and take the road
to Sevres. I concluded that he was going to Versailles, and
I was not deceived. Three hours later, the man returned
covered with dust, his errand was performed, and two minutes
after, another man on foot, muffled in a mantle, opened the
little door of the garden, which he closed after him. I
descended rapidly; although I had not seen Villefort's face,
I recognized him by the beating of my heart. I crossed the
street, and stopped at a post placed at the angle of the
wall, and by means of which I had once before looked into
the garden. This time I did not content myself with looking,
but I took my knife out of my pocket, felt that the point
was sharp, and sprang over the wall. My first care was to
run to the door; he had left the key in it, taking the
simple precaution of turning it twice in the lock. Nothing,
then, preventing my escape by this means, I examined the
grounds. The garden was long and narrow; a stretch of smooth
turf extended down the middle, and at the corners were
clumps of trees with thick and massy foliage, that made a
background for the shrubs and flowers. In order to go from
the door to the house, or from the house to the door, M. de
Villefort would be obliged to pass by one of these clumps of
"It was the end of September; the wind blew violently. The
faint glimpses of the pale moon, hidden momentarily by
masses of dark clouds that were sweeping across the sky,
whitened the gravel walks that led to the house, but were
unable to pierce the obscurity of the thick shrubberies, in
which a man could conceal himself without any fear of
discovery. I hid myself in the one nearest to the path
Villefort must take, and scarcely was I there when, amidst
the gusts of wind, I fancied I heard groans; but you know,
or rather you do not know, your excellency, that he who is
about to commit an assassination fancies that he hears low
cries perpetually ringing in his ears. Two hours passed
thus, during which I imagined I heard moans repeatedly.
Midnight struck. As the last stroke died away, I saw a faint
light shine through the windows of the private staircase by
which we have just descended. The door opened, and the man
in the mantle reappeared. The terrible moment had come, but
I had so long been prepared for it that my heart did not
fail in the least. I drew my knife from my pocket again,
opened it, and made ready to strike. The man in the mantle
advanced towards me, but as he drew near I saw that he had a
weapon in his hand. I was afraid, not of a struggle, but of
a failure. When he was only a few paces from me, I saw that
what I had taken for a weapon was only a spade. I was still
unable to divine for what reason M. de Villefort had this
spade in his hands, when he stopped close to the thicket
where I was, glanced round, and began to dig a hole in the
earth. I then perceived that he was hiding something under
his mantle, which he laid on the grass in order to dig more
freely. Then, I confess, curiosity mingled with hatred; I
wished to see what Villefort was going to do there, and I
remained motionless, holding my breath. Then an idea crossed
my mind, which was confirmed when I saw the procureur lift
from under his mantle a box, two feet long, and six or eight
inches deep. I let him place the box in the hole he had
made, then, while he stamped with his feet to remove all
traces of his occupation, I rushed on him and plunged my
knife into his breast, exclaiming, -- `I am Giovanni
Bertuccio; thy death for my brother's; thy treasure for his
widow; thou seest that my vengeance is more complete than I
had hoped.' I know not if he heard these words; I think he
did not, for he fell without a cry. I felt his blood gush
over my face, but I was intoxicated, I was delirious, and
the blood refreshed, instead of burning me. In a second I
had disinterred the box; then, that it might not be known I
had done so, I filled up the hole, threw the spade over the
wall, and rushed through the door, which I double-locked,
carrying off the key."
"Ah," said Monte Cristo "it seems to me this was nothing but
murder and robbery."
"No, your excellency," returned Bertuccio; "it was a
vendetta followed by restitution."
"And was the sum a large one?"
"It was not money."
"Ah, I recollect," replied the count; "did you not say
something of an infant?"
"Yes, excellency; I hastened to the river, sat down on the
bank, and with my knife forced open the lock of the box. In
a fine linen cloth was wrapped a new-born child. Its purple
visage, and its violet-colored hands showed that it had
perished from suffocation, but as it was not yet cold, I
hesitated to throw it into the water that ran at my feet.
After a moment I fancied that I felt a slight pulsation of
the heart, and as I had been assistant at the hospital at
Bastia, I did what a doctor would have done -- I inflated
the lungs by blowing air into them, and at the expiration of
a quarter of an hour, it began to breathe, and cried feebly.
In my turn I uttered a cry, but a cry of joy. `God has not
cursed me then,' I cried, `since he permits me to save the
life of a human creature, in exchange for the life I have
"And what did you do with the child?" asked Monte Cristo.
"It was an embarrassing load for a man seeking to escape."
"I had not for a moment the idea of keeping it, but I knew
that at Paris there was an asylum where they receive such
creatures. As I passed the city gates I declared that I had
found the child on the road, and I inquired where the asylum
was; the box confirmed my statement, the linen proved that
the infant belonged to wealthy parents, the blood with which
I was covered might have proceeded from the child as well as
from any one else. No objection was raised, but they pointed
out the asylum, which was situated at the upper end of the
Rue d'Enfer, and after having taken the precaution of
cutting the linen in two pieces, so that one of the two
letters which marked it was on the piece wrapped around the
child, while the other remained in my possession, I rang the
bell, and fled with all speed. A fortnight after I was at
Rogliano, and I said to Assunta, -- `Console thyself,
sister; Israel is dead, but he is avenged.' She demanded
what I meant, and when I had told her all, -- `Giovanni,'
said she, `you should have brought this child with you; we
would have replaced the parents it has lost, have called it
Benedetto, and then, in consequence of this good action, God
would have blessed us.' In reply I gave her the half of the
linen I had kept in order to reclaim him if we became rich."
"What letters were marked on the linen?" said Monte Cristo.
"An H and an N, surmounted by a baron's coronet."
"By heaven, M. Bertuccio, you make use of heraldic terms;
where did you study heraldry?"
"In your service, excellency, where everything is learned."
"Go on, I am curious to know two things."
"What are they, your excellency ?"
"What became of this little boy? for I think you told me it
was a boy, M. Bertuccio."
"No excellency, I do not recollect telling you that."
"I thought you did; I must have been mistaken."
"No, you were not, for it was in reality a little boy. But
your excellency wished to know two things; what was the
"The second was the crime of which you were accused when you
asked for a confessor, and the Abbe Busoni came to visit you
at your request in the prison at Nimes."
"The story will be very long, excellency."
"What matter? you know I take but little sleep, and I do not
suppose you are very much inclined for it either." Bertuccio
bowed, and resumed his story.
"Partly to drown the recollections of the past that haunted
me, partly to supply the wants of the poor widow, I eagerly
returned to my trade of smuggler, which had become more easy
since that relaxation of the laws which always follows a
revolution. The southern districts were ill-watched in
particular, in consequence of the disturbances that were
perpetually breaking out in Avignon, Nimes, or Uzes. We
profited by this respite on the part of the government to
make friends everywhere. Since my brother's assassination in
the streets of Nimes, I had never entered the town; the
result was that the inn-keeper with whom we were connected,
seeing that we would no longer come to him, was forced to
come to us, and had established a branch to his inn, on the
road from Bellegarde to Beaucaire, at the sign of the Pont
du Gard. We had thus, at Aigues-Mortes, Martigues, or Bouc,
a dozen places where we left our goods, and where, in case
of necessity, we concealed ourselves from the gendarmes and
custom-house officers. Smuggling is a profitable trade, when
a certain degree of vigor and intelligence is employed; as
for myself, brought up in the mountains, I had a double
motive for fearing the gendarmes and custom-house officers,
as my appearance before the judges would cause an inquiry,
and an inquiry always looks back into the past. And in my
past life they might find something far more grave than the
selling of smuggled cigars, or barrels of brandy without a
permit. So, preferring death to capture, I accomplished the
most astonishing deeds, and which, more than once, showed me
that the too great care we take of our bodies is the only
obstacle to the success of those projects which require
rapid decision, and vigorous and determined execution. In
reality, when you have once devoted your life to your
enterprises, you are no longer the equal of other men, or,
rather, other men are no longer your equals, and whosoever
has taken this resolution, feels his strength and resources
"Philosophy, M. Bertuccio," interrupted the Count; "you have
done a little of everything in your life."
"No, no; but philosophy at half-past ten at night is
somewhat late; yet I have no other observation to make, for
what you say is correct, which is more than can be said for
"My journeys became more and more extensive and more
productive. Assunta took care of all, and our little fortune
increased. One day as I was setting off on an expedition,
`Go,' said she; `at your return I will give you a surprise.'
I questioned her, but in vain; she would tell me nothing,
and I departed. Our expedition lasted nearly six weeks; we
had been to Lucca to take in oil, to Leghorn for English
cottons, and we ran our cargo without opposition, and
returned home full of joy. When I entered the house, the
first thing I beheld in the middle of Assunta's chamber was
a cradle that might be called sumptuous compared with the
rest of the furniture, and in it a baby seven or eight
months old. I uttered a cry of joy; the only moments of
sadness I had known since the assassination of the procureur
were caused by the recollection that I had abandoned this
child. For the assassination itself I had never felt any
remorse. Poor Assunta had guessed all. She had profited by
my absence, and furnished with the half of the linen, and
having written down the day and hour at which I had
deposited the child at the asylum, had set off for Paris,
and had reclaimed it. No objection was raised, and the
infant was given up to her. Ah, I confess, your excellency,
when I saw this poor creature sleeping peacefully in its
cradle, I felt my eyes filled with tears. `Ah, Assunta,'
cried I, `you are an excellent woman, and heaven will bless
"This," said Monte Cristo, "is less correct than your
philosophy, -- it is only faith."
"Alas, your excellency is right," replied Bertuccio, "and
God made this infant the instrument of our punishment. Never
did a perverse nature declare itself more prematurely, and
yet it was not owing to any fault in his bringing up. He was
a most lovely child, with large blue eyes, of that deep
color that harmonizes so well with the blond complexion;
only his hair, which was too light, gave his face a most
singular expression, and added to the vivacity of his look,
and the malice of his smile. Unfortunately, there is a
proverb which says that `red is either altogether good or
altogether bad.' The proverb was but too correct as regarded
Benedetto, and even in his infancy he manifested the worst
disposition. It is true that the indulgence of his
foster-mother encouraged him. This child, for whom my poor
sister would go to the town, five or six leagues off, to
purchase the earliest fruits and the most tempting
sweetmeats, preferred to Palma grapes or Genoese preserves,
the chestnuts stolen from a neighbor's orchard, or the dried
apples in his loft, when he could eat as well of the nuts
and apples that grew in my garden. One day, when Benedetto
was about five or six, our neighbor Vasilio, who, according
to the custom of the country, never locked up his purse or
his valuables -- for, as your excellency knows, there are no
thieves in Corsica -- complained that he had lost a louis
out of his purse; we thought he must have made a mistake in
counting his money, but he persisted in the accuracy of his
statement. One day, Benedetto, who had been gone from the
house since morning, to our great anxiety, did not return
until late in the evening, dragging a monkey after him,
which he said he had found chained to the foot of a tree.
For more than a month past, the mischievous child, who knew
not what to wish for, had taken it into his head to have a
monkey. A boatman, who had passed by Rogliano, and who had
several of these animals, whose tricks had greatly diverted
him, had, doubtless, suggested this idea to him. `Monkeys
are not found in our woods chained to trees,' said I;
`confess how you obtained this animal.' Benedetto maintained
the truth of what he had said, and accompanied it with
details that did more honor to his imagination than to his
veracity. I became angry; he began to laugh, I threatened to
strike him, and he made two steps backwards. `You cannot
beat me,' said he; `you have no right, for you are not my
"We never knew who had revealed this fatal secret, which we
had so carefully concealed from him; however, it was this
answer, in which the child's whole character revealed
itself, that almost terrified me, and my arm fell without
touching him. The boy triumphed, and this victory rendered
him so audacious, that all the money of Assunta, whose
affection for him seemed to increase as he became more
unworthy of it, was spent in caprices she knew not how to
contend against, and follies she had not the courage to
prevent. When I was at Rogliano everything went on properly,
but no sooner was my back turned than Benedetto became
master, and everything went ill. When he was only eleven, he
chose his companions from among the young men of eighteen or
twenty, the worst characters in Bastia, or, indeed, in
Corsica, and they had already, for some mischievous pranks,
been several times threatened with a prosecution. I became
alarmed, as any prosecution might be attended with serious
consequences. I was compelled, at this period, to leave
Corsica on an important expedition; I reflected for a long
time, and with the hope of averting some impending
misfortune, I resolved that Benedetto should accompany me. I
hoped that the active and laborious life of a smuggler, with
the severe discipline on board, would have a salutary effect
on his character, which was now well-nigh, if not quite,
corrupt. I spoke to Benedetto alone, and proposed to him to
accompany me, endeavoring to tempt him by all the promises
most likely to dazzle the imagination of a child of twelve.
He heard me patiently, and when I had finished, burst out
"`Are you mad, uncle?' (he called me by this name when he
was in good humor); `do you think I am going to change the
life I lead for your mode of existence -- my agreeable
indolence for the hard and precarious toil you impose on
yourself, exposed to the bitter frost at night, and the
scorching heat by day, compelled to conceal yourself, and
when you are perceived, receive a volley of bullets, all to
earn a paltry sum? Why, I have as much money as I want;
mother Assunta always furnishes me when I ask for it! You
see that I should be a fool to accept your offer.' The
arguments, and his audacity, perfectly stupefied me.
Benedetto rejoined his associates, and I saw him from a
distance point me out to them as a fool."
"Sweet child," murmured Monte Cristo.
"Oh, had he been my own son," replied Bertuccio, "or even my
nephew, I would have brought him back to the right road, for
the knowledge that you are doing your duty gives you
strength, but the idea that I was striking a child whose
father I had killed, made it impossible for me to punish
him. I gave my sister, who constantly defended the
unfortunate boy, good advice, and as she confessed that she
had several times missed money to a considerable amount, I
showed her a safe place in which to conceal our little
treasure for the future. My mind was already made up.
Benedetto could read, write, and cipher perfectly, for when
the fit seized him, he learned more in a day than others in
a week. My intention was to enter him as a clerk in some
ship, and without letting him know anything of my plan, to
convey him some morning on board; by this means his future
treatment would depend upon his own conduct. I set off for
France, after having fixed upon the plan. Our cargo was to
be landed in the Gulf of Lyons, and this was a difficult
thing to do because it was then the year 1829. The most
perfect tranquillity was restored, and the vigilance of the
custom-house officers was redoubled, and their strictness
was increased at this time, in consequence of the fair at
"Our expedition made a favorable beginning. We anchored our
vessel -- which had a double hold, where our goods were
concealed -- amidst a number of other vessels that bordered
the banks of the Rhone from Beaucaire to Arles. On our
arrival we began to discharge our cargo in the night, and to
convey it into the town, by the help of the inn-keeper with
whom we were connected. Whether success rendered us
imprudent, or whether we were betrayed, I know not; but one
evening, about five o'clock, our little cabin-boy came
breathlessly, to inform us that he had seen a detachment of
custom-house officers advancing in our direction. It was not
their proximity that alarmed us, for detachments were
constantly patrolling along the banks of the Rhone, but the
care, according to the boy's account, that they took to
avoid being seen. In an instant we were on the alert, but it
was too late; our vessel was surrounded, and amongst the
custom-house officers I observed several gendarmes, and, as
terrified at the sight of their uniforms as I was brave at
the sight of any other, I sprang into the hold, opened a
port, and dropped into the river, dived, and only rose at
intervals to breathe, until I reached a ditch that had
recently been made from the Rhone to the canal that runs
from Beaucaire to Aigues-Mortes. I was now safe, for I could
swim along the ditch without being seen, and I reached the
canal in safety. I had designedly taken this direction. I
have already told your excellency of an inn-keeper from
Nimes who had set up a little tavern on the road from
Bellegarde to Beaucaire."
"Yes," said Monte Cristo "I perfectly recollect him; I think
he was your colleague."
"Precisely," answered Bertuccio; "but he had, seven or eight
years before this period, sold his establishment to a tailor
at Marseilles, who, having almost ruined himself in his old
trade, wished to make his fortune in another. Of course, we
made the same arrangements with the new landlord that we had
with the old; and it was of this man that I intended to ask
"What was his name?" inquired the count, who seemed to
become somewhat interested in Bertuccio's story.
"Gaspard Caderousse; he had married a woman from the village
of Carconte, and whom we did not know by any other name than
that of her village. She was suffering from malarial fever,
and seemed dying by inches. As for her husband, he was a
strapping fellow of forty, or five and forty, who had more
than once, in time of danger, given ample proof of his
presence of mind and courage."
"And you say," interrupted Monte Cristo "that this took
place towards the year" --
"1829, your excellency."
"In what month?"
"The beginning or the end?"
"The evening of the 3d."
"Ah," said Monte Cristo "the evening of the 3d of June,
1829. Go on."
"It was from Caderousse that I intended demanding shelter,
and, as we never entered by the door that opened onto the
road, I resolved not to break through the rule, so climbing
over the garden-hedge, I crept amongst the olive and wild
fig trees, and fearing that Caderousse might have some
guest, I entered a kind of shed in which I had often passed
the night, and which was only separated from the inn by a
partition, in which holes had been made in order to enable
us to watch an opportunity of announcing our presence. My
intention was, if Caderousse was alone, to acquaint him with
my presence, finish the meal the custom-house officers had
interrupted, and profit by the threatened storm to return to
the Rhone, and ascertain the state of our vessel and its
crew. I stepped into the shed, and it was fortunate I did
so, for at that moment Caderousse entered with a stranger.
"I waited patiently, not to overhear what they said, but
because I could do nothing else; besides, the same thing had
occurred often before. The man who was with Caderousse was
evidently a stranger to the South of France; he was one of
those merchants who come to sell jewellery at the Beaucaire
fair, and who during the month the fair lasts, and during
which there is so great an influx of merchants and customers
from all parts of Europe, often have dealings to the amount
of 100,000 to 150,000 francs. Caderousse entered hastily.
Then, seeing that the room was, as usual, empty, and only
guarded by the dog, he called to his wife, `Hello,
Carconte,' said he, `the worthy priest has not deceived us;
the diamond is real.' An exclamation of joy was heard, and
the staircase creaked beneath a feeble step. `What do you
say?' asked his wife, pale as death.
"`I say that the diamond is real, and that this gentleman,
one of the first jewellers of Paris, will give us 50,000
francs for it. Only, in order to satisfy himself that it
really belongs to us, he wishes you to relate to him, as I
have done already, the miraculous manner in which the
diamond came into our possession. In the meantime please to
sit down, monsieur, and I will fetch you some refreshment.'
The jeweller examined attentively the interior of the inn
and the apparent poverty of the persons who were about to
sell him a diamond that seemed to have come from the casket
of a prince. `Relate your story, madame,' said he, wishing,
no doubt, to profit by the absence of the husband, so that
the latter could not influence the wife's story, to see if
the two recitals tallied.
"`Oh,' returned she, `it was a gift of heaven. My husband
was a great friend, in 1814 or 1815, of a sailor named
Edmond Dantes. This poor fellow, whom Caderousse had
forgotten, had not forgotten him, and at his death he
bequeathed this diamond to him.' -- `But how did he obtain
it?' asked the jeweller; `had he it before he was
imprisoned?' -- `No, monsieur; but it appears that in prison
he made the acquaintance of a rich Englishman, and as in
prison he fell sick, and Dantes took the same care of him as
if he had been his brother, the Englishman, when he was set
free, gave this stone to Dantes, who, less fortunate, died,
and, in his turn, left it to us, and charged the excellent
abbe, who was here this morning, to deliver it.' -- `The
same story,' muttered the jeweller; `and improbable as it
seemed at first, it may be true. There's only the price we
are not agreed about.' -- `How not agreed about?' said
Caderousse. `I thought we agreed for the price I asked.' --
`That is,' replied the jeweller, `I offered 40,000 francs.'
-- `Forty thousand,' cried La Carconte; `we will not part
with it for that sum. The abbe told us it was worth 50,000
without the setting.'
"`What was the abbe's name?' asked the indefatigable
questioner. -- `The Abbe Busoni,' said La Carconte. -- `He
was a foreigner?' -- `An Italian, from the neighborhood of
Mantua, I believe.' -- `Let me see this diamond again,'
replied the jeweller; `the first time you are often mistaken
as to the value of a stone.' Caderousse took from his pocket
a small case of black shagreen, opened, and gave it to the
jeweller. At the sight of the diamond, which was as large as
a hazel-nut, La Carconte's eyes sparkled with cupidity."
"And what did you think of this fine story, eavesdropper?"
said Monte Cristo; "did you credit it?"
"Yes, your excellency. I did not look on Caderousse as a bad
man, and I thought him incapable of committing a crime, or
even a theft."
"That did more honor to your heart than to your experience,
M. Bertuccio. Had you known this Edmond Dantes, of whom they
"No, your excellency, I had never heard of him before, and
never but once afterwards, and that was from the Abbe Busoni
himself, when I saw him in the prison at Nimes."
"The jeweller took the ring, and drawing from his pocket a
pair of steel pliers and a small set of copper scales, he
took the stone out of its setting, and weighed it carefully.
`I will give you 45,000,' said he, `but not a sou more;
besides, as that is the exact value of the stone, I brought
just that sum with me.' -- `Oh, that's no matter,' replied
Caderousse, `I will go back with you to fetch the other
5,000 francs.' -- `No,' returned the jeweller, giving back
the diamond and the ring to Caderousse -- `no, it is worth
no more, and I am sorry I offered so much, for the stone has
a flaw in it, which I had not seen. However, I will not go
back on my word, and I will give 45,000.' -- `At least,
replace the diamond in the ring,' said La Carconte sharply.
-- `Ah, true,' replied the jeweller, and he reset the stone.
-- `No matter,' observed Caderousse, replacing the box in
his pocket, `some one else will purchase it.' -- `Yes,'
continued the jeweller; `but some one else will not be so
easy as I am, or content himself with the same story. It is
not natural that a man like you should possess such a
diamond. He will inform against you. You will have to find
the Abbe Busoni; and abbes who give diamonds worth two
thousand louis are rare. The law would seize it, and put you
in prison; if at the end of three or four months you are set
at liberty, the ring will be lost, or a false stone, worth
three francs, will be given you, instead of a diamond worth
50,000 or perhaps 55,000 francs; from which you must allow
that one runs considerable risk in purchasing.' Caderousse
and his wife looked eagerly at each other. -- `No,' said
Caderousse, `we are not rich enough to lose 5,000 francs.'
-- `As you please, my dear sir,' said the, jeweller; `I had,
however, as you see, brought you the money in bright coin.'
And he drew from his pocket a handful of gold, and held it
sparkling before the dazzled eyes of the innkeeper, and in
the other hand he held a packet of bank-notes.
"There was evidently a severe struggle in the mind of
Caderousse; it was plain that the small shagreen case, which
he turned over and over in his hand, did not seem to him
commensurate in value to the enormous sum which fascinated
his gaze. He turned towards his wife. `What do you think of
this?' he asked in a low voice. -- `Let him have it -- let
him have it,' she said. `If he returns to Beaucaire without
the diamond, he will inform against us, and, as he says, who
knows if we shall ever again see the Abbe Busoni? -- in all
probability we shall never see him.' -- `Well, then, so I
will!' said Caderousse; `so you may have the diamond for
45,000 francs. But my wife wants a gold chain, and I want a
pair of silver buckles.' The jeweller drew from his pocket a
long flat box, which contained several samples of the
articles demanded. `Here,' he said, `I am very
straightforward in my dealings -- take your choice.' The
woman selected a gold chain worth about five louis, and the
husband a pair of buckles, worth perhaps fifteen francs. --
`I hope you will not complain now?' said the jeweller.
"`The abbe told me it was worth 50,000 francs,' muttered
Caderousse. `Come, come -- give it to me! What a strange
fellow you are,' said the jeweller, taking the diamond from
his hand. `I give you 45,000 francs -- that is, 2,500 livres
of income, -- a fortune such as I wish I had myself, and you
are not satisfied!' -- `And the five and forty thousand
francs,' inquired Caderousse in a hoarse voice, `where are
they? Come -- let us see them.' -- `Here they are,' replied
the jeweller, and he counted out upon the table 15,000
francs in gold, and 30,000 francs in bank-notes.
"`Wait while I light the lamp,' said La Carconte; `it is
growing dark, and there may be some mistake.' In fact, night
had come on during this conversation, and with night the
storm which had been threatening for the last half-hour. The
thunder growled in the distance; but it was apparently not
heard by the jeweller, Caderousse, or La Carconte, absorbed
as they were all three with the demon of gain. I myself
felt; a strange kind of fascination at the sight of all this
gold and all these bank-notes; it seemed to me that I was in
a dream, and, as it always happens in a dream, I felt myself
riveted to the spot. Caderousse counted and again counted
the gold and the notes, then handed them to his wife, who
counted and counted them again in her turn. During this
time, the jeweller made the diamond play and sparkle in the
lamplight, and the gem threw out jets of light which made
him unmindful of those which -- precursors of the storm --
began to play in at the windows. `Well,' inquired the
jeweller, `is the cash all right?'
"`Yes,' said Caderousse. `Give me the pocket-book, La
Carconte, and find a bag somewhere.'
"La Carconte went to a cupboard, and returned with an old
leathern pocket-book and a bag. From the former she took
some greasy letters, and put in their place the bank-notes,
and from the bag took two or three crowns of six livres
each, which, in all probability, formed the entire fortune
of the miserable couple. `There,' said Caderousse; `and now,
although you have wronged us of perhaps 10,000 francs, will
you have your supper with us? I invite you with good-will.'
-- `Thank you,' replied the jeweller, `it must be getting
late, and I must return to Beaucaire -- my wife will be
getting uneasy.' He drew out his watch, and exclaimed,
`Morbleu, nearly nine o'clock -- why, I shall not get back
to Beaucaire before midnight! Good-night, my friends. If the
Abbe Busoni should by any accident return, think of me.' --
`In another week you will have left Beaucaire.' remarked
Caderousse, `for the fair ends in a few days.' -- `True, but
that makes no difference. Write to me at Paris, to M.
Joannes, in the Palais Royal, arcade Pierre, No. 45. I will
make the journey on purpose to see him, if it is worth
while.' At this moment there was a tremendous clap of
thunder, accompanied by a flash of lightning so vivid, that
it quite eclipsed the light of the lamp.
"`See here,' exclaimed Caderousse. `You cannot think of
going out in such weather as this.' -- `Oh, I am not afraid
of thunder,' said the jeweller. -- `And then there are
robbers,' said La Carconte. `The road is never very safe
during fair time.' -- `Oh, as to the robbers,' said Joannes,
`here is something for them,' and he drew from his pocket a
pair of small pistols, loaded to the muzzle. `Here,' said
he, `are dogs who bark and bite at the same time, they are
for the two first who shall have a longing for your diamond,
"Caderousse and his wife again interchanged a meaning look.
It seemed as though they were both inspired at the same time
with some horrible thought. `Well, then, a good journey to
you,' said Caderousse. -- `Thanks,' replied the jeweller. He
then took his cane, which he had placed against an old
cupboard, and went out. At the moment when he opened the
door, such a gust of wind came in that the lamp was nearly
extinguished. `Oh,' said he, `this is very nice weather, and
two leagues to go in such a storm.' -- `Remain,' said
Caderousse. `You can sleep here.' -- `Yes; do stay,' added
La Carconte in a tremulous voice; `we will take every care
of you.' -- `No; I must sleep at Beaucaire. So, once more,
good-night.' Caderousse followed him slowly to the
threshold. `I can see neither heaven nor earth,' said the
jeweller, who was outside the door. `Do I turn to the right,
or to the left hand?' -- `To the right,' said Caderousse.
`You cannot go wrong -- the road is bordered by trees on
both sides.' -- `Good -- all right,' said a voice almost
lost in the distance. `Close the door,' said La Carconte; `I
do not like open doors when it thunders.' -- `Particularly
when there is money in the house, eh?' answered Caderousse,
double-locking the door.
"He came into the room, went to the cupboard, took out the
bag and pocket-book, and both began, for the third time, to
count their gold and bank-notes. I never saw such an
expression of cupidity as the flickering lamp revealed in
those two countenances. The woman, especially, was hideous;
her usual feverish tremulousness was intensified, her
countenance had become livid, and her eyes resembled burning
coals. `Why,' she inquired in a hoarse voice, `did you
invite him to sleep here to-night?' -- `Why?' said
Caderousse with a shudder; `why, that he might not have the
trouble of returning to Beaucaire.' -- `Ah,' responded the
woman, with an expression impossible to describe; `I thought
it was for something else.' -- `Woman, woman -- why do you
have such ideas?' cried Caderousse; `or, if you have them,
why don't you keep them to yourself?' -- `Well,' said La
Carconte, after a moment's pause, `you are not a man.' --
`What do you mean?' added Caderousse. -- `If you had been a
man, you would not have let him go from here.' -- `Woman!'
-- `Or else he should not have reached Beaucaire.' --
`Woman!' -- `The road takes a turn -- he is obliged to
follow it -- while alongside of the canal there is a shorter
road.' -- `Woman! -- you offend the good God. There --
listen!' And at this moment there was a tremendous peal of
thunder, while the livid lightning illumined the room, and
the thunder, rolling away in the distance, seemed to
withdraw unwillingly from the cursed abode. `Mercy!' said
Caderousse, crossing himself.
At the same moment, and in the midst of the terrifying
silence which usually follows a clap of thunder, they heard
a knocking at the door. Caderousse and his wife started and
looked aghast at each other. `Who's there?' cried
Caderousse, rising, and drawing up in a heap the gold and
notes scattered over the table, and which he covered with
his two hands. -- `It is I,' shouted a voice. -- `And who
are you?' -- `Eh, pardieu, Joannes, the jeweller.' -- `Well,
and you said I offended the good God,' said La Carconte with
a horrid smile. `Why, the good God sends him back again.'
Caderousse sank pale and breathless into his chair. La
Carconte, on the contrary, rose, and going with a firm step
towards the door, opened it, saying, as she did so -- `Come
in, dear M. Joannes.' -- `Ma foi,' said the jeweller,
drenched with rain, `I am not destined to return to
Beaucaire to-night. The shortest follies are best, my dear
Caderousse. You offered me hospitality, and I accept it, and
have returned to sleep beneath your friendly roof.'
Caderousse stammered out something, while he wiped away the
sweat that started to his brow. La Carconte double-locked
the door behind the jeweller.
The Rain of Blood.
"As the jeweller returned to the apartment, he cast around
him a scrutinizing glance -- but there was nothing to excite
suspicion, if it did not exist, or to confirm it, if it were
already awakened. Caderousse's hands still grasped the gold
and bank-notes, and La Carconte called up her sweetest
smiles while welcoming the reappearance of their guest.
`Well, well,' said the jeweller, `you seem, my good friends,
to have had some fears respecting the accuracy of your
money, by counting it over so carefully directly I was
gone.' -- `Oh, no,' answered Caderousse, `that was not my
reason, I can assure you; but the circumstances by which we
have become possessed of this wealth are so unexpected, as
to make us scarcely credit our good fortune, and it is only
by placing the actual proof of our riches before our eyes
that we can persuade ourselves that the whole affair is not
a dream.' The jeweller smiled. -- `Have you any other guests
in your house?' inquired he. -- `Nobody but ourselves,'
replied Caderousse; `the fact is, we do not lodge travellers
-- indeed, our tavern is so near the town, that nobody would
think of stopping here. -- `Then I am afraid I shall very
much inconvenience you.' -- `Inconvenience us? Not at all,
my dear sir,' said La Carconte in her most gracious manner.
`Not at all, I assure you.' -- `But where will you manage to
stow me?' -- `In the chamber overhead.' -- `Surely that is
where you yourselves sleep?' -- `Never mind that; we have a
second bed in the adjoining room.' Caderousse stared at his
wife with much astonishment.
"The jeweller, meanwhile, was humming a song as he stood
warming his back at the fire La Carconte had kindled to dry
the wet garments of her guest; and this done, she next
occupied herself in arranging his supper, by spreading a
napkin at the end of the table, and placing on it the
slender remains of their dinner, to which she added three or
four fresh-laid eggs. Caderousse had once more parted with
his treasure -- the banknotes were replaced in the
pocket-book, the gold put back into the bag, and the whole
carefully locked in the cupboard. He then began pacing the
room with a pensive and gloomy air, glancing from time to
time at the jeweller, who stood reeking with the steam from
his wet clothes, and merely changing his place on the warm
hearth, to enable the whole of his garments to be dried.
"`There,' said La Carconte, as she placed a bottle of wine
on the table, `supper is ready whenever you are.' -- `And
you?' asked Joannes. -- `I don't want any supper,' said
Caderousse. -- `We dined so very late,' hastily interposed
La Carconte. -- `Then it seems I am to eat alone,' remarked
the jeweller. -- `Oh, we shall have the pleasure of waiting
upon you,' answered La Carconte, with an eager attention she
was not accustomed to manifest even to guests who paid for
what they took.
"From time to time Caderousse darted on his wife keen,
searching glances, but rapid as the lightning flash. The
storm still continued. `There, there,' said La Carconte; `do
you hear that? upon my word, you did well to come back.' --
`Nevertheless,' replied the jeweller, `if by the time I have
finished my supper the tempest has at all abated, I shall
make another start.' -- `It's the mistral,' said Caderousse,
`and it will be sure to last till to-morrow morning.' He
sighed heavily. -- `Well,' said the jeweller, as he placed
himself at table, `all I can say is, so much the worse for
those who are abroad.' -- `Yes,' chimed in La Carconte,
`they will have a wretched night of it.'
"The jeweller began eating his supper, and the woman, who
was ordinarily so querulous and indifferent to all who
approached her, was suddenly transformed into the most
smiling and attentive hostess. Had the unhappy man on whom
she lavished her assiduities been previously acquainted with
her, so sudden an alteration might well have excited
suspicion in his mind, or at least have greatly astonished
him. Caderousse, meanwhile, continued to pace the room in
gloomy silence, sedulously avoiding the sight of his guest;
but as soon as the stranger had completed his repast, the
agitated inn-keeper went eagerly to the door and opened it.
`I believe the storm is over,' said he. But as if to
contradict his statement, at that instant a violent clap of
thunder seemed to shake the house to its very foundation,
while a sudden gust of wind, mingled with rain, extinguished
the lamp he held in his hand. Trembling and awe-struck,
Caderousse hastily shut the door and returned to his guest,
while La Carconte lighted a candle by the smouldering ashes
that glimmered on the hearth. `You must be tired,' said she
to the jeweller; `I have spread a pair of white sheets on
your bed; go up when you are ready, and sleep well.'
"Joannes stayed for a while to see whether the storm seemed
to abate in its fury, but a brief space of time sufficed to
assure him that, instead of diminishing, the violence of the
rain and thunder momentarily increased; resigning himself,
therefore, to what seemed inevitable, he bade his host
good-night, and mounted the stairs. He passed over my head
and I heard the flooring creak beneath his footsteps. The
quick, eager glance of La Carconte followed him as he
ascended, while Caderousse, on the contrary, turned his
back, and seemed most anxiously to avoid even glancing at
"All these circumstances did not strike me as painfully at
the time as they have since done; in fact, all that had
happened (with the exception of the story of the diamond,
which certainly did wear an air of improbability), appeared
natural enough, and called for neither apprehension nor
mistrust; but, worn out as I was with fatigue, and fully
purposing to proceed onwards directly the tempest abated, I
determined to obtain a few hours' sleep. Overhead I could
accurately distinguish every movement of the jeweller, who,
after making the best arrangements in his power for passing
a comfortable night, threw himself on his bed, and I could
hear it creak and groan beneath his weight. Insensibly my
eyelids grew heavy, deep sleep stole over me, and having no
suspicion of anything wrong, I sought not to shake it off. I
looked into the kitchen once more and saw Caderousse sitting
by the side of a long table upon one of the low wooden
stools which in country places are frequently used instead
of chairs; his back was turned towards me, so that I could
not see the expression of his countenance -- neither should
I have been able to do so had he been placed differently, as
his head was buried between his two hands. La Carconte
continued to gaze on him for some time, then shrugging her
shoulders, she took her seat immediately opposite to him. At
this moment the expiring embers threw up a fresh flame from
the kindling of a piece of wood that lay near, and a bright
light flashed over the room. La Carconte still kept her eyes
fixed on her husband, but as he made no sign of changing his
position, she extended her hard, bony hand, and touched him
on the forehead.
"Caderousse shuddered. The woman's lips seemed to move, as
though she were talking; but because she merely spoke in an
undertone, or my senses were dulled by sleep, I did not
catch a word she uttered. Confused sights and sounds seemed
to float before me, and gradually I fell into a deep, heavy
slumber. How long I had been in this unconscious state I
know not, when I was suddenly aroused by the report of a
pistol, followed by a fearful cry. Weak and tottering
footsteps resounded across the chamber above me, and the
next instant a dull, heavy weight seemed to fall powerless
on the staircase. I had not yet fully recovered
consciousness, when again I heard groans, mingled with
half-stifled cries, as if from persons engaged in a deadly
struggle. A cry more prolonged than the others and ending in
a series of groans effectually roused me from my drowsy
lethargy. Hastily raising myself on one arm, I looked
around, but all was dark; and it seemed to me as if the rain
must have penetrated through the flooring of the room above,
for some kind of moisture appeared to fall, drop by drop,
upon my forehead, and when I passed my hand across my brow,
I felt that it was wet and clammy.
"To the fearful noises that had awakened me had succeeded
the most perfect silence -- unbroken, save by the footsteps
of a man walking about in the chamber above. The staircase
creaked, he descended into the room below, approached the
fire and lit a candle. The man was Caderousse -- he was pale
and his shirt was all blood. Having obtained the light, he
hurried up-stairs again, and once more I heard his rapid and
uneasy footsteps. A moment later he came down again, holding
in his hand the small shagreen case, which he opened, to
assure himself it contained the diamond, -- seemed to
hesitate as to which pocket he should put it in, then, as if
dissatisfied with the security of either pocket, he
deposited it in his red handkerchief, which he carefully
rolled round his head. After this he took from his cupboard
the bank-notes and gold he had put there, thrust the one
into the pocket of his trousers, and the other into that of
his waistcoat, hastily tied up a small bundle of linen, and
rushing towards the door, disappeared in the darkness of the
"Then all became clear and manifest to me, and I reproached
myself with what had happened, as though I myself had done
the guilty deed. I fancied that I still heard faint moans,
and imagining that the unfortunate jeweller might not be
quite dead, I determined to go to his relief, by way of
atoning in some slight degree, not for the crime I had
committed, but for that which I had not endeavored to
prevent. For this purpose I applied all the strength I
possessed to force an entrance from the cramped spot in
which I lay to the adjoining room. The poorly fastened
boards which alone divided me from it yielded to my efforts,
and I found myself in the house. Hastily snatching up the
lighted candle, I hurried to the staircase; about midway a
body was lying quite across the stairs. It was that of La
Carconte. The pistol I had heard had doubtless been fired at
her. The shot had frightfully lacerated her throat, leaving
two gaping wounds from which, as well as the mouth, the
blood was pouring in floods. She was stone dead. I strode
past her, and ascended to the sleeping chamber, which
presented an appearance of the wildest disorder. The
furniture had been knocked over in the deadly struggle that
had taken place there, and the sheets, to which the
unfortunate jeweller had doubtless clung, were dragged
across the room. The murdered man lay on the floor, his head
leaning against the wall, and about him was a pool of blood
which poured forth from three large wounds in his breast;
there was a fourth gash, in which a long table knife was
plunged up to the handle.
"I stumbled over some object; I stooped to examine -- it was
the second pistol, which had not gone off, probably from the
powder being wet. I approached the jeweller, who was not
quite dead, and at the sound of my footsteps and the
creaking of the floor, he opened his eyes, fixed them on me
with an anxious and inquiring gaze, moved his lips as though
trying to speak, then, overcome by the effort, fell back and
expired. This appalling sight almost bereft me of my senses,
and finding that I could no longer be of service to any one
in the house, my only desire was to fly. I rushed towards
the staircase, clutching my hair, and uttering a groan of
horror. Upon reaching the room below, I found five or six
custom-house officers, and two or three gendarmes -- all
heavily armed. They threw themselves upon me. I made no
resistance; I was no longer master of my senses. When I
strove to speak, a few inarticulate sounds alone escaped my
"As I noticed the significant manner in which the whole
party pointed to my blood-stained garments, I involuntarily
surveyed myself, and then I discovered that the thick warm
drops that had so bedewed me as I lay beneath the staircase
must have been the blood of La Carconte. I pointed to the
spot where I had concealed myself. `What does he mean?'
asked a gendarme. One of the officers went to the place I
directed. `He means,' replied the man upon his return, `that
he got in that way;' and he showed the hole I had made when
I broke through.
"Then I saw that they took me for the assassin. I recovered
force and energy enough to free myself from the hands of
those who held me, while I managed to stammer forth -- `I
did not do it! Indeed, indeed I did not!' A couple of
gendarmes held the muzzles of their carbines against my
breast. -- `Stir but a step,' said they, `and you are a dead
man.' -- `Why should you threaten me with death,' cried I,
`when I have already declared my innocence?' -- `Tush,
tush,' cried the men; `keep your innocent stories to tell to
the judge at Nimes. Meanwhile, come along with us; and the
best advice we can give you is to do so unresistingly.'
Alas, resistance was far from my thoughts. I was utterly
overpowered by surprise and terror; and without a word I
suffered myself to be handcuffed and tied to a horse's tail,
and thus they took me to Nimes.
"I had been tracked by a customs-officer, who had lost sight
of me near the tavern; feeling certain that I intended to
pass the night there, he had returned to summon his
comrades, who just arrived in time to hear the report of the
pistol, and to take me in the midst of such circumstantial
proofs of my guilt as rendered all hopes of proving my
innocence utterly futile. One only chance was left me, that
of beseeching the magistrate before whom I was taken to
cause every inquiry to be made for the Abbe Busoni, who had
stopped at the inn of the Pont du Gard on that morning. If
Caderousse had invented the story relative to the diamond,
and there existed no such person as the Abbe Busoni, then,
indeed, I was lost past redemption, or, at least, my life
hung upon the feeble chance of Caderousse himself being
apprehended and confessing the whole truth. Two months
passed away in hopeless expectation on my part, while I must
do the magistrate the justice to say that he used every
means to obtain information of the person I declared could
exculpate me if he would. Caderousse still evaded all
pursuit, and I had resigned myself to what seemed my
inevitable fate. My trial was to come on at the approaching
assizes; when, on the 8th of September -- that is to say,
precisely three months and five days after the events which
had perilled my life -- the Abbe Busoni, whom I never
ventured to believe I should see, presented himself at the
prison doors, saying he understood one of the prisoners
wished to speak to him; he added, that having learned at
Marseilles the particulars of my imprisonment, he hastened
to comply with my desire. You may easily imagine with what
eagerness I welcomed him, and how minutely I related the
whole of what I had seen and heard. I felt some degree of
nervousness as I entered upon the history of the diamond,
but, to my inexpressible astonishment, he confirmed it in
every particular, and to my equal surprise, he seemed to
place entire belief in all I said. And then it was that, won
by his mild charity, seeing that he was acquainted with all
the habits and customs of my own country, and considering
also that pardon for the only crime of which I was really
guilty might come with a double power from lips so
benevolent and kind, I besought him to receive my
confession, under the seal of which I recounted the Auteuil
affair in all its details, as well as every other
transaction of my life. That which I had done by the impulse
of my best feelings produced the same effect as though it
had been the result of calculation. My voluntary confession
of the assassination at Auteuil proved to him that I had not
committed that of which I stood accused. When he quitted me,
he bade me be of good courage, and to rely upon his doing
all in his power to convince my judges of my innocence.
"I had speedy proofs that the excellent abbe was engaged in
my behalf, for the rigors of my imprisonment were alleviated
by many trifling though acceptable indulgences, and I was
told that my trial was to be postponed to the assizes
following those now being held. In the interim it pleased
providence to cause the apprehension of Caderousse, who was
discovered in some distant country, and brought back to
France, where he made a full confession, refusing to make
the fact of his wife's having suggested and arranged the
murder any excuse for his own guilt. The wretched man was
sentenced to the galleys for life, and I was immediately set
"And then it was, I presume," said Monte Cristo "that you
came to me as the bearer of a letter from the Abbe Busoni?"
"It was, your excellency; the benevolent abbe took an
evident interest in all that concerned me.
"`Your mode of life as a smuggler,' said he to me one day,
`will be the ruin of you; if you get out, don't take it up
again.' -- `But how,' inquired I, `am I to maintain myself
and my poor sister?'
"`A person, whose confessor I am,' replied he, `and who
entertains a high regard for me, applied to me a short time
since to procure him a confidential servant. Would you like
such a post? If so, I will give you a letter of introduction
to him.' -- `Oh, father,' I exclaimed, `you are very good.'
"`But you must swear solemnly that I shall never have reason
to repent my recommendation.' I extended my hand, and was
about to pledge myself by any promise he would dictate, but
he stopped me. `It is unnecessary for you to bind yourself
by any vow,' said he; `I know and admire the Corsican nature
too well to fear you. Here, take this,' continued he, after
rapidly writing the few lines I brought to your excellency,
and upon receipt of which you deigned to receive me into
your service, and proudly I ask whether your excellency has
ever had cause to repent having done so?"
"No," replied the count; "I take pleasure in saying that you
have served me faithfully, Bertuccio; but you might have
shown more confidence in me."
"I, your excellency?"
"Yes; you. How comes it, that having both a sister and an
adopted son, you have never spoken to me of either?"
"Alas, I have still to recount the most distressing period
of my life. Anxious as you may suppose I was to behold and
comfort my dear sister, I lost no time in hastening to
Corsica, but when I arrived at Rogliano I found a house of
mourning, the consequences of a scene so horrible that the
neighbors remember and speak of it to this day. Acting by my
advice, my poor sister had refused to comply with the
unreasonable demands of Benedetto, who was continually
tormenting her for money, as long as he believed there was a
sou left in her possession. One morning that he had demanded
money, threatening her with the severest consequences if she
did not supply him with what he desired, he disappeared and
remained away all day, leaving the kind-hearted Assunta, who
loved him as if he were her own child, to weep over his
conduct and bewail his absence. Evening came, and still,
with all the patient solicitude of a mother, she watched for
"As the eleventh hour struck, he entered with a swaggering
air, attended by two of the most dissolute and reckless of
his boon companions. She stretched out her arms to him, but
they seized hold of her, and one of the three -- none other
than the accursed Benedetto exclaimed, -- `Put her to
torture and she'll soon tell us where her money is.'
"It unfortunately happened that our neighbor, Vasilio, was
at Bastia, leaving no person in his house but his wife; no
human creature beside could hear or see anything that took
place within our dwelling. Two held poor Assunta, who,
unable to conceive that any harm was intended to her, smiled
in the face of those who were soon to become her
executioners. The third proceeded to barricade the doors and
windows, then returned, and the three united in stifling the
cries of terror incited by the sight of these preparations,
and then dragged Assunta feet foremost towards the brazier,
expecting to wring from her an avowal of where her supposed
treasure was secreted. In the struggle her clothes caught
fire, and they were obliged to let go their hold in order to
preserve themselves from sharing the same fate. Covered with
flames, Assunta rushed wildly to the door, but it was
fastened; she flew to the windows, but they were also
secured; then the neighbors heard frightful shrieks; it was
Assunta calling for help. The cries died away in groans, and
next morning, as soon as Vasilio's wife could muster up
courage to venture abroad, she caused the door of our
dwelling to be opened by the public authorities, when
Assunta, although dreadfully burnt, was found still
breathing; every drawer and closet in the house had been
forced open, and the money stolen. Benedetto never again
appeared at Rogliano, neither have I since that day either
seen or heard anything concerning him.
"It was subsequently to these dreadful events that I waited
on your excellency, to whom it would have been folly to have
mentioned Benedetto, since all trace of him seemed entirely
lost; or of my sister, since she was dead."
"And in what light did you view the occurrence?" inquired
"As a punishment for the crime I had committed," answered
Bertuccio. "Oh, those Villeforts are an accursed race!"
"Truly they are," murmured the count in a lugubrious tone.
"And now," resumed Bertuccio, "your excellency may, perhaps,
be able to comprehend that this place, which I revisit for
the first time -- this garden, the actual scene of my crime
-- must have given rise to reflections of no very agreeable
nature, and produced that gloom and depression of spirits
which excited the notice of your excellency, who was pleased
to express a desire to know the cause. At this instant a
shudder passes over me as I reflect that possibly I am now
standing on the very grave in which lies M. de Villefort, by
whose hand the ground was dug to receive the corpse of his
"Everything is possible," said Monte Cristo, rising from the
bench on which he had been sitting; "even," he added in an
inaudible voice, "even that the procureur be not dead. The
Abbe Busoni did right to send you to me," he went on in his
ordinary tone, "and you have done well in relating to me the
whole of your history, as it will prevent my forming any
erroneous opinions concerning you in future. As for that
Benedetto, who so grossly belied his name, have you never
made any effort to trace out whither he has gone, or what
has become of him?"
"No; far from wishing to learn whither he has betaken
himself, I should shun the possibility of meeting him as I
would a wild beast. Thank God, I have never heard his name
mentioned by any person, and I hope and believe he is dead."
"Do not think so, Bertuccio," replied the count; "for the
wicked are not so easily disposed of, for God seems to have
them under his special watch-care to make of them
instruments of his vengeance."
"So be it," responded Bertuccio, "all I ask of heaven is
that I may never see him again. And now, your excellency,"
he added, bowing his head, "you know everything -- you are
my judge on earth, as the Almighty is in heaven; have you
for me no words of consolation?"
"My good friend, I can only repeat the words addressed to
you by the Abbe Busoni. Villefort merited punishment for
what he had done to you, and, perhaps, to others. Benedetto,
if still living, will become the instrument of divine
retribution in some way or other, and then be duly punished
in his turn. As far as you yourself are concerned, I see but
one point in which you are really guilty. Ask yourself,
wherefore, after rescuing the infant from its living grave,
you did not restore it to its mother? There was the crime,
Bertuccio -- that was where you became really culpable."
"True, excellency, that was the crime, the real crime, for
in that I acted like a coward. My first duty, directly I had
succeeded in recalling the babe to life, was to restore it
to its mother; but, in order to do so, I must have made
close and careful inquiry, which would, in all probability,
have led to my own apprehension; and I clung to life, partly
on my sister's account, and partly from that feeling of
pride inborn in our hearts of desiring to come off untouched
and victorious in the execution of our vengeance. Perhaps,
too, the natural and instinctive love of life made me wish
to avoid endangering my own. And then, again, I am not as
brave and courageous as was my poor brother." Bertuccio hid
his face in his hands as he uttered these words, while Monte
Cristo fixed on him a look of inscrutable meaning. After a
brief silence, rendered still more solemn by the time and
place, the count said, in a tone of melancholy wholly unlike
his usual manner, "In order to bring this conversation to a
fitting termination (the last we shall ever hold upon this
subject), I will repeat to you some words I have heard from
the lips of the Abbe Busoni. For all evils there are two
remedies -- time and silence. And now leave me, Monsieur
Bertuccio, to walk alone here in the garden. The very
circumstances which inflict on you, as a principal in the
tragic scene enacted here, such painful emotions, are to me,
on the contrary, a source of something like contentment, and
serve but to enhance the value of this dwelling in my
estimation. The chief beauty of trees consists in the deep
shadow of their umbrageous boughs, while fancy pictures a
moving multitude of shapes and forms flitting and passing
beneath that shade. Here I have a garden laid out in such a
way as to afford the fullest scope for the imagination, and
furnished with thickly grown trees, beneath whose leafy
screen a visionary like myself may conjure up phantoms at
will. This to me, who expected but to find a blank enclosure
surrounded by a straight wall, is, I assure you, a most
agreeable surprise. I have no fear of ghosts, and I have
never heard it said that so much harm had been done by the
dead during six thousand years as is wrought by the living
in a single day. Retire within, Bertuccio, and tranquillize
your mind. Should your confessor be less indulgent to you in
your dying moments than you found the Abbe Busoni, send for
me, if I am still on earth, and I will soothe your ears with
words that shall effectually calm and soothe your parting
soul ere it goes forth to traverse the ocean called
Bertuccio bowed respectfully, and turned away, sighing
heavily. Monte Cristo, left alone, took three or four steps
onwards, and murmured, "Here, beneath this plane-tree, must
have been where the infant's grave was dug. There is the
little door opening into the garden. At this corner is the
private staircase communicating with the sleeping apartment.
There will be no necessity for me to make a note of these
particulars, for there, before my eyes, beneath my feet, all
around me, I have the plan sketched with all the living
reality of truth." After making the tour of the garden a
second time, the count re-entered his carriage, while
Bertuccio, who perceived the thoughtful expression of his
master's features, took his seat beside the driver without
uttering a word. The carriage proceeded rapidly towards
That same evening, upon reaching his abode in the Champs
Elysees, the Count of Monte Cristo went over the whole
building with the air of one long acquainted with each nook
or corner. Nor, although preceding the party, did he once
mistake one door for another, or commit the smallest error
when choosing any particular corridor or staircase to
conduct him to a place or suite of rooms he desired to
visit. Ali was his principal attendant during this nocturnal
survey. Having given various orders to Bertuccio relative to
the improvements and alterations he desired to make in the
house, the Count, drawing out his watch, said to the
attentive Nubian, "It is half-past eleven o'clock; Haidee
will soon he here. Have the French attendants been summoned
to await her coming?" Ali extended his hands towards the
apartments destined for the fair Greek, which were so
effectually concealed by means of a tapestried entrance,
that it would have puzzled the most curious to have divined
their existence. Ali, having pointed to the apartments, held
up three fingers of his right hand, and then, placing it
beneath his head, shut his eyes, and feigned to sleep. "I
understand," said Monte Cristo, well acquainted with Ali's
pantomime; "you mean to tell me that three female attendants
await their new mistress in her sleeping-chamber." Ali, with
considerable animation, made a sign in the affirmative.
"Madame will be tired to-night," continued Monte Cristo,
"and will, no doubt, wish to rest. Desire the French
attendants not to weary her with questions, but merely to
pay their respectful duty and retire. You will also see that
the Greek servants hold no communication with those of this
country." He bowed. Just at that moment voices were heard
hailing the concierge. The gate opened, a carriage rolled
down the avenue, and stopped at the steps. The count hastily
descended, presented himself at the already opened carriage
door, and held out his hand to a young woman, completely
enveloped in a green silk mantle heavily embroidered with
gold. She raised the hand extended towards her to her lips,
and kissed it with a mixture of love and respect. Some few
words passed between them in that sonorous language in which
Homer makes his gods converse. The young woman spoke with an
expression of deep tenderness, while the count replied with
an air of gentle gravity. Preceded by Ali, who carried a
rose-colored flambeau in his hand, the new-comer, who was no
other than the lovely Greek who had been Monte Cristo's
companion in Italy, was conducted to her apartments, while
the count retired to the pavilion reserved for himself. In
another hour every light in the house was extinguished, and
it might have been thought that all its inmates slept.
About two o'clock the following day a calash, drawn by a
pair of magnificent English horses, stopped at the door of
Monte Cristo and a person, dressed in a blue coat, with
buttons of a similar color, a white waistcoat, over which
was displayed a massive gold chain, brown trousers, and a
quantity of black hair descending so low over his eyebrows
as to leave it doubtful whether it were not artificial so
little did its jetty glossiness assimilate with the deep
wrinkles stamped on his features -- a person, in a word,
who, although evidently past fifty, desired to be taken for
not more than forty, bent forwards from the carriage door,
on the panels of which were emblazoned the armorial bearings
of a baron, and directed his groom to inquire at the
porter's lodge whether the Count of Monte Cristo resided
there, and if he were within. While waiting, the occupant of
the carriage surveyed the house, the garden as far as he
could distinguish it, and the livery of servants who passed
to and fro, with an attention so close as to be somewhat
impertinent. His glance was keen but showed cunning rather
than intelligence; his lips were straight, and so thin that,
as they closed, they were drawn in over the teeth; his
cheek-bones were broad and projecting, a never-failing proof
of audacity and craftiness; while the flatness of his
forehead, and the enlargement of the back of his skull,
which rose much higher than his large and coarsely shaped
ears, combined to form a physiognomy anything but
prepossessing, save in the eyes of such as considered that
the owner of so splendid an equipage must needs be all that
was admirable and enviable, more especially when they gazed
on the enormous diamond that glittered in his shirt, and the
red ribbon that depended from his button-hole.
The groom, in obedience to his orders, tapped at the window
of the porter's lodge, saying, "Pray, does not the Count of
Monte Cristo live here?"
"His excellency does reside here," replied the concierge;
"but" -- added he, glancing an inquiring look at Ali. Ali
returned a sign in the negative. "But what?" asked the
"His excellency does not receive visitors to-day."
"Then here is my master's card, -- the Baron Danglars. You
will take it to the count, and say that, although in haste
to attend the Chamber, my master came out of his way to have
the honor of calling upon him."
"I never speak to his excellency," replied the concierge;
"the valet de chambre will carry your message." The groom
returned to the carriage. "Well?" asked Danglars. The man,
somewhat crest-fallen by the rebuke he had received,
repeated what the concierge had said. "Bless me," murmured
Baron Danglars, "this must surely be a prince instead of a
count by their styling him `excellency,' and only venturing
to address him by the medium of his valet de chambre.
However, it does not signify; he has a letter of credit on
me, so I must see him when he requires his money."
Then, throwing himself back in his carriage, Danglars called
out to his coachman, in a voice that might be heard across
the road, "To the Chamber of Deputies."
Apprised in time of the visit paid him, Monte Cristo had,
from behind the blinds of his pavilion, as minutely observed
the baron, by means of an excellent lorgnette, as Danglars
himself had scrutinized the house, garden, and servants.
"That fellow has a decidedly bad countenance," said the
count in a tone of disgust, as he shut up his glass into its
ivory case. "How comes it that all do not retreat in
aversion at sight of that flat, receding, serpent-like
forehead, round, vulture-shaped head, and sharp-hooked nose,
like the beak of a buzzard? Ali," cried he, striking at the
same time on the brazen gong. Ali appeared. "Summon
Bertuccio," said the count. Almost immediately Bertuccio
entered the apartment. "Did your excellency desire to see
me?" inquired he. "I did," replied the count. "You no doubt
observed the horses standing a few minutes since at the
"Certainly, your excellency. I noticed them for their
"Then how comes it," said Monte Cristo with a frown, "that,
when I desired you to purchase for me the finest pair of
horses to be found in Paris, there is another pair, fully as
fine as mine, not in my stables?" At the look of
displeasure, added to the angry tone in which the count
spoke, Ali turned pale and held down his head. "It is not
your fault, my good Ali," said the count in the Arabic
language, and with a gentleness none would have thought him
capable of showing, either in voice or face -- "it is not
your fault. You do not understand the points of English
horses." The countenance of poor Ali recovered its serenity.
"Permit me to assure your excellency," said Bertuccio, "that
the horses you speak of were not to be sold when I purchased
yours." Monte Cristo shrugged his shoulders. "It seems, sir
steward," said he, "that you have yet to learn that all
things are to be sold to such as care to pay the price."
"His excellency is not, perhaps, aware that M. Danglars gave
16,000 francs for his horses?"
"Very well. Then offer him double that sum; a banker never
loses an opportunity of doubling his capital."
"Is your excellency really in earnest?" inquired the
steward. Monte Cristo regarded the person who durst presume
to doubt his words with the look of one equally surprised
and displeased. "I have to pay a visit this evening,"
replied he. "I desire that these horses, with completely new
harness, may be at the door with my carriage." Bertuccio
bowed, and was about to retire; but when he reached the
door, he paused, and then said, "At what o'clock does your
excellency wish the carriage and horses to be ready?"
"At five o'clock," replied the count.
"I beg your excellency's pardon," interposed the steward in
a deprecating manner, "for venturing to observe that it is
already two o'clock."
"I am perfectly aware of that fact," answered Monte Cristo
calmly. Then, turning towards Ali, he said, "Let all the
horses in my stables be led before the windows of your young
lady, that she may select those she prefers for her
carriage. Request her also to oblige me by saying whether it
is her pleasure to dine with me; if so, let dinner be served
in her apartments. Now, leave me, and desire my valet de
chambre to come hither." Scarcely had Ali disappeared when
the valet entered the chamber. "Monsieur Baptistin," said
the count, "you have been in my service one year, the time I
generally give myself to judge of the merits or demerits of
those about me. You suit me very well." Baptistin bowed low.
"It only remains for me to know whether I also suit you?"
"Oh, your excellency!" exclaimed Baptistin eagerly.
"Listen, if you please, till I have finished speaking,"
replied Monte Cristo. "You receive 1,500 francs per annum
for your services here -- more than many a brave subaltern,
who continually risks his life for his country, obtains. You
live in a manner far superior to many clerks who work ten
times harder than you do for their money. Then, though
yourself a servant, you have other servants to wait upon
you, take care of your clothes, and see that your linen is
duly prepared for you. Again, you make a profit upon each
article you purchase for my toilet, amounting in the course
of a year to a sum equalling your wages."
"Nay, indeed, your excellency."
"I am not condemning you for this, Monsieur Baptistin; but
let your profits end here. It would be long indeed ere you
would find so lucrative a post as that you have now the good
fortune to fill. I neither ill-use nor ill-treat my servants
by word or action. An error I readily forgive, but wilful
negligence or forgetfulness, never. My commands are
ordinarily short, clear, and precise; and I would rather be
obliged to repeat my words twice, or even three times, than
they should be misunderstood. I am rich enough to know
whatever I desire to know, and I can promise you I am not
wanting in curiosity. If, then, I should learn that you had
taken upon yourself to speak of me to any one favorably or
unfavorably, to comment on my actions, or watch my conduct,
that very instant you would quit my service. You may now
retire. I never caution my servants a second time --
remember that." Baptistin bowed, and was proceeding towards
the door. "I forgot to mention to you," said the count,
"that I lay yearly aside a certain sum for each servant in
my establishment; those whom I am compelled to dismiss lose
(as a matter of course) all participation in this money,
while their portion goes to the fund accumulating for those
domestics who remain with me, and among whom it will be
divided at my death. You have been in my service a year,
your fund has already begun to accumulate -- let it continue
to do so."
This address, delivered in the presence of Ali, who, not
understanding one word of the language in which it was
spoken, stood wholly unmoved, produced an effect on M.
Baptistin only to be conceived by such as have occasion to
study the character and disposition of French domestics. "I
assure your excellency," said he, "that at least it shall be
my study to merit your approbation in all things, and I will
take M. Ali as my model."
"By no means," replied the count in the most frigid tones;
"Ali has many faults mixed with most excellent qualities. He
cannot possibly serve you as a pattern for your conduct, not
being, as you are, a paid servant, but a mere slave -- a
dog, who, should he fail in his duty towards me, I should
not discharge from my service, but kill." Baptistin opened
his eyes with astonishment.
"You seem incredulous," said Monte Cristo, who repeated to
Ali in the Arabic language what he had just been saying to
Baptistin in French. The Nubian smiled assentingly to his
master's words, then, kneeling on one knee, respectfully
kissed the hand of the count. This corroboration of the
lesson he had just received put the finishing stroke to the
wonder and stupefaction of M. Baptistin. The count then
motioned the valet de chambre to retire, and to Ali to
follow to his study, where they conversed long and earnestly
together. As the hand of the clock pointed to five the count
struck thrice upon his gong. When Ali was wanted one stroke
was given, two summoned Baptistin, and three Bertuccio. The
steward entered. "My horses," said Monte Cristo.
"They are at the door harnessed to the carriage as your
excellency desired. Does your excellency wish me to
"No, the coachman, Ali, and Baptistin will go." The count
descended to the door of his mansion, and beheld his
carriage drawn by the very pair of horses he had so much
admired in the morning as the property of Danglars. As he
passed them he said -- "They are extremely handsome
certainly, and you have done well to purchase them, although
you were somewhat remiss not to have procured them sooner."
"Indeed, your excellency, I had very considerable difficulty
in obtaining them, and, as it is, they have cost an enormous
"Does the sum you gave for them make the animals less
beautiful," inquired the count, shrugging his shoulders.
"Nay, if your excellency is satisfied, it is all that I
could wish. Whither does your excellency desire to be
"To the residence of Baron Danglars, Rue de la Chaussee
d'Antin." This conversation had passed as they stood upon
the terrace, from which a flight of stone steps led to the
carriage-drive. As Bertuccio, with a respectful bow, was
moving away, the count called him back. "I have another
commission for you, M. Bertuccio," said he; "I am desirous
of having an estate by the seaside in Normandy -- for
instance, between Havre and Boulogne. You see I give you a
wide range. It will be absolutely necessary that the place
you may select have a small harbor, creek, or bay, into
which my corvette can enter and remain at anchor. She draws
only fifteen feet. She must be kept in constant readiness to
sail immediately I think proper to give the signal. Make the
requisite inquiries for a place of this description, and
when you have met with an eligible spot, visit it, and if it
possess the advantages desired, purchase it at once in your
own name. The corvette must now, I think, be on her way to
Fecamp, must she not?"
"Certainly, your excellency; I saw her put to sea the same
evening we quitted Marseilles."
"And the yacht."
"Was ordered to remain at Martigues."
"'Tis well. I wish you to write from time to time to the
captains in charge of the two vessels so as to keep them on
"And the steamboat?"
"She is at Chalons?"
"The same orders for her as for the two sailing vessels."
"When you have purchased the estate I desire, I want
constant relays of horses at ten leagues apart along the
northern and southern road."
"Your excellency may depend upon me." The Count made a
gesture of satisfaction, descended the terrace steps, and
sprang into his carriage, which was whirled along swiftly to
the banker's house. Danglars was engaged at that moment,
presiding over a railroad committee. But the meeting was
nearly concluded when the name of his visitor was announced.
As the count's title sounded on his ear he rose, and
addressing his colleagues, who were members of one or the
other Chamber, he said, -- "Gentlemen, pardon me for leaving
you so abruptly; but a most ridiculous circumstance has
occurred, which is this, -- Thomson & French, the Roman
bankers, have sent to me a certain person calling himself
the Count of Monte Cristo, and have given him an unlimited
credit with me. I confess this is the drollest thing I have
ever met with in the course of my extensive foreign
transactions, and you may readily suppose it has greatly
roused my curiosity. I took the trouble this morning to call
on the pretended count -- if he were a real count he
wouldn't be so rich. But, would you believe it, `He was not
receiving.' So the master of Monte Cristo gives himself airs
befitting a great millionaire or a capricious beauty. I made
inquiries, and found that the house in the Champs Elysees is
his own property, and certainly it was very decently kept
up. But," pursued Danglars with one of his sinister smiles,
"an order for unlimited credit calls for something like
caution on the part of the banker to whom that order is
given. I am very anxious to see this man. I suspect a hoax
is intended, but the instigators of it little knew whom they
had to deal with. `They laugh best who laugh last!'"
Having delivered himself of this pompous address, uttered
with a degree of energy that left the baron almost out of
breath, he bowed to the assembled party and withdrew to his
drawing-room, whose sumptuous furnishings of white and gold
had caused a great sensation in the Chaussee d'Antin. It was
to this apartment he had desired his guest to be shown, with
the purpose of overwhelming him at the sight of so much
luxury. He found the count standing before some copies of
Albano and Fattore that had been passed off to the banker as
originals; but which, mere copies as they were, seemed to
feel their degradation in being brought into juxtaposition
with the gaudy colors that covered the ceiling. The count
turned round as he heard the entrance of Danglars into the
room. With a slight inclination of the head, Danglars signed
to the count to be seated, pointing significantly to a
gilded arm-chair, covered with white satin embroidered with
gold. The count sat down. "I have the honor, I presume, of
addressing M. de Monte Cristo."
The count bowed. "And I of speaking to Baron Danglars,
chevalier of the Legion of Honor, and member of the Chamber
Monte Cristo repeated all the titles he had read on the