Part 14 out of 31
Danglars felt the irony and compressed his lips. "You will,
I trust, excuse me, monsieur, for not calling you by your
title when I first addressed you," he said, "but you are
aware that we are living under a popular form of government,
and that I am myself a representative of the liberties of
"So much so," replied Monte Cristo, "that while you call
yourself baron you are not willing to call anybody else
"Upon my word, monsieur," said Danglars with affected
carelessness, "I attach no sort of value to such empty
distinctions; but the fact is, I was made baron, and also
chevalier of the Legion of Honor, in return for services
rendered, but" --
"But you have discarded your titles after the example set
you by Messrs. de Montmorency and Lafayette? That was a
noble example to follow, monsieur."
"Why," replied Danglars, "not entirely so; with the
servants, -- you understand."
"I see; to your domestics you are `my lord,' the journalists
style you `monsieur,' while your constituents call you
`citizen.' These are distinctions very suitable under a
constitutional government. I understand perfectly." Again
Danglars bit his lips; he saw that he was no match for Monte
Cristo in an argument of this sort, and he therefore
hastened to turn to subjects more congenial.
"Permit me to inform you, Count," said he, bowing, "that I
have received a letter of advice from Thomson & French, of
"I am glad to hear it, baron, -- for I must claim the
privilege of addressing you after the manner of your
servants. I have acquired the bad habit of calling persons
by their titles from living in a country where barons are
still barons by right of birth. But as regards the letter of
advice, I am charmed to find that it has reached you; that
will spare me the troublesome and disagreeable task of
coming to you for money myself. You have received a regular
letter of advice?"
"Yes," said Danglars, "but I confess I didn't quite
comprehend its meaning."
"And for that reason I did myself the honor of calling upon
you, in order to beg for an explanation."
"Go on, monsieur. Here I am, ready to give you any
explanation you desire."
"Why," said Danglers, "in the letter -- I believe I have it
about me" -- here he felt in his breast-pocket -- "yes, here
it is. Well, this letter gives the Count of Monte Cristo
unlimited credit on our house."
"Well, baron, what is there difficult to understand about
"Merely the term unlimited -- nothing else, certainly."
"Is not that word known in France? The people who wrote are
Anglo-Germans, you know."
"Oh, as for the composition of the letter, there is nothing
to be said; but as regards the competency of the document, I
certainly have doubts."
"Is it possible?" asked the count, assuming all air and tone
of the utmost simplicity and candor. "Is it possible that
Thomson & French are not looked upon as safe and solvent
bankers? Pray tell me what you think, baron, for I feel
uneasy, I can assure you, having some considerable property
in their hands."
"Thomson & French are perfectly solvent," replied Danglars,
with an almost mocking smile: "but the word unlimited, in
financial affairs, is so extremely vague."
"Is, in fact, unlimited," said Monte Cristo.
"Precisely what I was about to say," cried Danglars. "Now
what is vague is doubtful; and it was a wise man who said,
`when in doubt, keep out.'"
"Meaning to say," rejoined Monte Cristo, "that however
Thomson & French may be inclined to commit acts of
imprudence and folly, the Baron Danglars is not disposed to
follow their example."
"Not at all."
"Plainly enough. Messrs. Thomson & French set no bounds to
their engagements while those of M. Danglars have their
limits; he is a wise man, according to his own showing."
"Monsieur," replied the banker, drawing himself up with a
haughty air, "the extent of my resources has never yet been
"It seems, then, reserved for me," said Monte Cristo coldly,
"to be the first to do so."
"By what right, sir?"
"By right of the objections you have raised, and the
explanations you have demanded, which certainly must have
Once more Danglars bit his lips. It was the second time he
had been worsted, and this time on his own ground. His
forced politeness sat awkwardly upon him, and approached
almost to impertinence. Monte Cristo on the contrary,
preserved a graceful suavity of demeanor, aided by a certain
degree of simplicity he could assume at pleasure, and thus
possessed the advantage.
"Well, sir," resumed Danglars, after a brief silence, "I
will endeavor to make myself understood, by requesting you
to inform me for what sum you propose to draw upon me?"
"Why, truly," replied Monte Cristo, determined not to lose
an inch of the ground he had gained, "my reason for desiring
an `unlimited' credit was precisely because I did not know
how much money I might need."
The banker thought the time had come for him to take the
upper hand. So throwing himself back in his arm-chair, he
said, with an arrogant and purse-proud air, -- "Let me beg
of you not to hesitate in naming your wishes; you will then
be convinced that the resources of the house of Danglars,
however limited, are still equal to meeting the largest
demands; and were you even to require a million" --
"I beg your pardon," interposed Monte Cristo.
"I said a million," replied Danglars, with the confidence of
"But could I do with a million?" retorted the count. "My
dear sir, if a trifle like that could suffice me, I should
never have given myself the trouble of opening an account. A
million? Excuse my smiling when you speak of a sum I am in
the habit of carrying in my pocket-book or dressing-case."
And with these words Monte Cristo took from his pocket a
small case containing his visiting-cards, and drew forth two
orders on the treasury for 500,000 francs each, payable at
sight to the bearer. A man like Danglars was wholly
inaccessible to any gentler method of correction. The effect
of the present revelation was stunning; he trembled and was
on the verge of apoplexy. The pupils of his eyes, as he
gazed at Monte Cristo dilated horribly.
"Come, come," said Monte Cristo, "confess honestly that you
have not perfect confidence in Thomson & French. I
understand, and foreseeing that such might be the case, I
took, in spite of my ignorance of affairs, certain
precautions. See, here are two similar letters to that you
have yourself received; one from the house of Arstein &
Eskeles of Vienna, to Baron Rothschild, the other drawn by
Baring of London, upon M. Laffitte. Now, sir, you have but
to say the word, and I will spare you all uneasiness by
presenting my letter of credit to one or other of these two
firms." The blow had struck home, and Danglars was entirely
vanquished; with a trembling hand he took the two letters
from the count, who held them carelessly between finger and
thumb, and proceeded to scrutinize the signatures, with a
minuteness that the count might have regarded as insulting,
had it not suited his present purpose to mislead the banker.
"Oh, sir," said Danglars, after he had convinced himself of
the authenticity of the documents he held, and rising as if
to salute the power of gold personified in the man before
him, -- "three letters of unlimited credit! I can be no
longer mistrustful, but you must pardon me, my dear count,
for confessing to some degree of astonishment."
"Nay," answered Monte Cristo, with the most gentlemanly air,
"'tis not for such trifling sums as these that your banking
house is to be incommoded. Then, you can let me have some
money, can you not?"
"Whatever you say, my dear count; I am at your orders."
"Why," replied Monte Cristo, "since we mutually understand
each other -- for such I presume is the case?" Danglars
bowed assentingly. "You are quite sure that not a lurking
doubt or suspicion lingers in your mind?"
"Oh, my dear count," exclaimed Danglars, "I never for an
instant entertained such a feeling towards you."
"No, you merely wished to be convinced, nothing more; but
now that we have come to so clear an understanding, and that
all distrust and suspicion are laid at rest, we may as well
fix a sum as the probable expenditure of the first year,
suppose we say six millions to" --
"Six millions!" gasped Danglars -- "so be it."
"Then, if I should require more," continued Monte Cristo in
a careless manner, "why, of course, I should draw upon you;
but my present intention is not to remain in France more
than a year, and during that period I scarcely think I shall
exceed the sum I mentioned. However, we shall see. Be kind
enough, then, to send me 500,000 francs to-morrow. I shall
be at home till midday, or if not, I will leave a receipt
with my steward."
"The money you desire shall be at your house by ten o'clock
to-morrow morning, my dear count," replied Danglars. "How
would you like to have it? in gold, silver, or notes?"
"Half in gold, and the other half in bank-notes, if you
please," said the count, rising from his seat.
"I must confess to you, count," said Danglars, "that I have
hitherto imagined myself acquainted with the degree of all
the great fortunes of Europe, and still wealth such as yours
has been wholly unknown to me. May I presume to ask whether
you have long possessed it?"
"It has been in the family a very long while," returned
Monte Cristo, "a sort of treasure expressly forbidden to be
touched for a certain period of years, during which the
accumulated interest has doubled the capital. The period
appointed by the testator for the disposal of these riches
occurred only a short time ago, and they have only been
employed by me within the last few years. Your ignorance on
the subject, therefore, is easily accounted for. However,
you will be better informed as to me and my possessions ere
long." And the count, while pronouncing these latter words,
accompanied them with one of those ghastly smiles that used
to strike terror into poor Franz d'Epinay.
"With your tastes, and means of gratifying them," continued
Danglars, "you will exhibit a splendor that must effectually
put us poor miserable millionaires quite in the shade. If I
mistake not you are an admirer of paintings, at least I
judged so from the attention you appeared to be bestowing on
mine when I entered the room. If you will permit me, I shall
be happy to show you my picture gallery, composed entirely
of works by the ancient masters -- warranted as such. Not a
modern picture among them. I cannot endure the modern school
"You are perfectly right in objecting to them, for this one
great fault -- that they have not yet had time to become
"Or will you allow me to show you several fine statues by
Thorwaldsen, Bartoloni, and Canova? -- all foreign artists,
for, as you may perceive, I think but very indifferently of
our French sculptors."
"You have a right to be unjust to them, monsieur; they are
"But all this may come later, when we shall be better known
to each other. For the present, I will confine myself (if
perfectly agreeable to you) to introducing you to the
Baroness Danglars -- excuse my impatience, my dear count,
but a client like you is almost like a member of the
family." Monte Cristo bowed, in sign that he accepted the
proffered honor; Danglars rang and was answered by a servant
in a showy livery. "Is the baroness at home?" inquired
"Yes, my lord," answered the man.
"No, my lord, madame has visitors."
"Have you any objection to meet any persons who may be with
madame, or do you desire to preserve a strict incognito?"
"No, indeed," replied Monte Cristo with a smile, "I do not
arrogate to myself the right of so doing."
"And who is with madame? -- M. Debray?" inquired Danglars,
with an air of indulgence and good-nature that made Monte
Cristo smile, acquainted as he was with the secrets of the
banker's domestic life.
"Yes, my lord," replied the servant, "M. Debray is with
madame." Danglars nodded his head; then, turning to Monte
Cristo, said, "M. Lucien Debray is an old friend of ours,
and private secretary to the Minister of the Interior. As
for my wife, I must tell you, she lowered herself by
marrying me, for she belongs to one of the most ancient
families in France. Her maiden name was De Servieres, and
her first husband was Colonel the Marquis of Nargonne."
"I have not the honor of knowing Madame Danglars; but I have
already met M. Lucien Debray."
"Ah, indeed?" said Danglars; "and where was that?"
"At the house of M. de Morcerf."
"Ah, ha, you are acquainted with the young viscount, are
"We were together a good deal during the Carnival at Rome."
"True, true," cried Danglars. "Let me see; have I not heard
talk of some strange adventure with bandits or thieves hid
in ruins, and of his having had a miraculous escape? I
forget how, but I know he used to amuse my wife and daughter
by telling them about it after his return from Italy."
"Her ladyship is waiting to receive you, gentlemen," said
the servant, who had gone to inquire the pleasure of his
mistress. "With your permission," said Danglars, bowing, "I
will precede you, to show you the way."
"By all means," replied Monte Cristo; "I follow you."
The Dappled Grays.
The baron, followed by the count, traversed a long series of
apartments, in which the prevailing characteristics were
heavy magnificence and the gaudiness of ostentatious wealth,
until he reached the boudoir of Madame Danglars -- a small
octagonal-shaped room, hung with pink satin, covered with
white Indian muslin. The chairs were of ancient workmanship
and materials; over the doors were painted sketches of
shepherds and shepherdesses, after the style and manner of
Boucher; and at each side pretty medallions in crayons,
harmonizing well with the furnishings of this charming
apartment, the only one throughout the great mansion in
which any distinctive taste prevailed. The truth was, it had
been entirely overlooked in the plan arranged and followed
out by M. Danglars and his architect, who had been selected
to aid the baron in the great work of improvement solely
because he was the most fashionable and celebrated decorator
of the day. The decorations of the boudoir had then been
left entirely to Madame Danglars and Lucien Debray. M.
Danglars, however, while possessing a great admiration for
the antique, as it was understood during the time of the
Directory, entertained the most sovereign contempt for the
simple elegance of his wife's favorite sitting-room, where,
by the way, he was never permitted to intrude, unless,
indeed, he excused his own appearance by ushering in some
more agreeable visitor than himself; and even then he had
rather the air and manner of a person who was himself
introduced, than that of being the presenter of another, his
reception being cordial or frigid, in proportion as the
person who accompanied him chanced to please or displease
Madame Danglars (who, although past the first bloom of
youth, was still strikingly handsome) was now seated at the
piano, a most elaborate piece of cabinet and inlaid work,
while Lucien Debray, standing before a small work-table, was
turning over the pages of an album. Lucien had found time,
preparatory to the count's arrival, to relate many
particulars respecting him to Madame Danglars. It will be
remembered that Monte Cristo had made a lively impression on
the minds of all the party assembled at the breakfast given
by Albert de Morcerf; and although Debray was not in the
habit of yielding to such feelings, he had never been able
to shake off the powerful influence excited in his mind by
the impressive look and manner of the count, consequently
the description given by Lucien to the baroness bore the
highly-colored tinge of his own heated imagination. Already
excited by the wonderful stories related of the count by De
Morcerf, it is no wonder that Madame Danglars eagerly
listened to, and fully credited, all the additional
circumstances detailed by Debray. This posing at the piano
and over the album was only a little ruse adopted by way of
precaution. A most gracious welcome and unusual smile were
bestowed on M. Danglars; the count, in return for his
gentlemanly bow, received a formal though graceful courtesy,
while Lucien exchanged with the count a sort of distant
recognition, and with Danglars a free and easy nod.
"Baroness," said Danglars, "give me leave to present to you
the Count of Monte Cristo, who has been most warmly
recommended to me by my correspondents at Rome. I need but
mention one fact to make all the ladies in Paris court his
notice, and that is, that he has come to take up his abode
in Paris for a year, during which brief period he proposes
to spend six millions of money. That means balls, dinners,
and lawn parties without end, in all of which I trust the
count will remember us, as he may depend upon it we shall
him, in our own humble entertainments." In spite of the
gross flattery and coarseness of this address, Madame
Danglars could not forbear gazing with considerable interest
on a man capable of expending six millions in twelve months,
and who had selected Paris for the scene of his princely
extravagance. "And when did you arrive here?" inquired she.
"Yesterday morning, madame."
"Coming, as usual, I presume, from the extreme end of the
globe? Pardon me -- at least, such I have heard is your
"Nay, madame. This time I have merely come from Cadiz."
"You have selected a most unfavorable moment for your first
visit. Paris is a horrible place in summer. Balls, parties,
and fetes are over; the Italian opera is in London; the
French opera everywhere except in Paris. As for the Theatre
Francais, you know, of course, that it is nowhere. The only
amusements left us are the indifferent races at the Champ de
Mars and Satory. Do you propose entering any horses at
either of these races, count?"
"I shall do whatever they do at Paris, madame, if I have the
good fortune to find some one who will initiate me into the
prevalent ideas of amusement."
"Are you fond of horses, count?"
"I have passed a considerable part of my life in the East,
madame, and you are doubtless aware that the Orientals value
only two things -- the fine breeding of their horses and the
beauty of their women."
"Nay, count," said the baroness, "it would have been
somewhat more gallant to have placed the ladies first."
"You see, madame, how rightly I spoke when I said I required
a preceptor to guide me in all my sayings and doings here."
At this instant the favorite attendant of Madame Danglars
entered the boudoir; approaching her mistress, she spoke
some words in an undertone. Madame Danglars turned very
pale, then exclaimed, -- "I cannot believe it; the thing is
"I assure you, madame," replied the woman, "it is as I have
said." Turning impatiently towards her husband, Madame
Danglars demanded, "Is this true?"
"Is what true, madame?" inquired Danglars, visibly agitated.
"What my maid tells me."
"But what does she tell you?"
"That when my coachman was about to harness the horses to my
carriage, he discovered that they had been removed from the
stables without his knowledge. I desire to know what is the
meaning of this?"
"Be kind enough, madame, to listen to me," said Danglars.
"Oh, yes; I will listen, monsieur, for I am most curious to
hear what explanation you will give. These two gentlemen
shall decide between us; but, first, I will state the case
to them. Gentlemen," continued the baroness, "among the ten
horses in the stables of Baron Danglars, are two that belong
exclusively to me -- a pair of the handsomest and most
spirited creatures to be found in Paris. But to you, at
least, M. Debray, I need not give a further description,
because to you my beautiful pair of dappled grays were well
known. Well, I had promised Madame de Villefort the loan of
my carriage to drive to-morrow to the Bois; but when my
coachman goes to fetch the grays from the stables they are
gone -- positively gone. No doubt M. Danglars has sacrificed
them to the selfish consideration of gaining some thousands
of paltry francs. Oh, what a detestable crew they are, these
"Madame," replied Danglars, "the horses were not
sufficiently quiet for you; they were scarcely four years
old, and they made me extremely uneasy on your account."
"Nonsense," retorted the baroness; "you could not have
entertained any alarm on the subject, because you are
perfectly well aware that I have had for a month in my
service the very best coachman in Paris. But, perhaps, you
have disposed of the coachman as well as the horses?"
"My dear love, pray do not say any more about them, and I
promise you another pair exactly like them in appearance,
only more quiet and steady." The baroness shrugged her
shoulders with an air of ineffable contempt, while her
husband, affecting not to observe this unconjugal gesture,
turned towards Monte Cristo and said, -- "Upon my word,
count, I am quite sorry not to have met you sooner. You are
setting up an establishment, of course?"
"Why, yes," replied the count.
"I should have liked to have made you the offer of these
horses. I have almost given them away, as it is; but, as I
before said, I was anxious to get rid of them upon any
terms. They were only fit for a young man."
"I am much obliged by your kind intentions towards me," said
Monte Cristo; "but this morning I purchased a very excellent
pair of carriage-horses, and I do not think they were dear.
There they are. Come, M. Debray, you are a connoisseur, I
believe, let me have your opinion upon them." As Debray
walked towards the window, Danglars approached his wife. "I
could not tell you before others," said he in a low tone,
"the reason of my parting with the horses; but a most
enormous price was offered me this morning for them. Some
madman or fool, bent upon ruining himself as fast as he can,
actually sent his steward to me to purchase them at any
cost; and the fact is, I have gained 16,000 francs by the
sale of them. Come, don't look so angry, and you shall have
4,000 francs of the money to do what you like with, and
Eugenie shall have 2,000. There, what do you think now of
the affair? Wasn't I right to part with the horses?" Madame
Danglars surveyed her husband with a look of withering
"Great heavens?" suddenly exclaimed Debray.
"What is it?" asked the baroness.
"I cannot be mistaken; there are your horses! The very
animals we were speaking of, harnessed to the count's
"My dappled grays?" demanded the baroness, springing to the
window. "'Tis indeed they!" said she. Danglars looked
absolutely stupefied. "How very singular," cried Monte
Cristo with well-feigned astonishment.
"I cannot believe it," murmured the banker. Madame Danglars
whispered a few words in the ear of Debray, who approached
Monte Cristo, saying, "The baroness wishes to know what you
paid her husband for the horses."
"I scarcely know," replied the count; "it was a little
surprise prepared for me by my steward, and cost me -- well,
somewhere about 30,000 francs." Debray conveyed the count's
reply to the baroness. Poor Danglars looked so crest-fallen
and discomfited that Monte Cristo assumed a pitying air
towards him. "See," said the count, "how very ungrateful
women are. Your kind attention, in providing for the safety
of the baroness by disposing of the horses, does not seem to
have made the least impression on her. But so it is; a woman
will often, from mere wilfulness, prefer that which is
dangerous to that which is safe. Therefore, in my opinion,
my dear baron, the best and easiest way is to leave them to
their fancies, and allow them to act as they please, and
then, if any mischief follows, why, at least, they have no
one to blame but themselves." Danglars made no reply; he was
occupied in anticipations of the coming scene between
himself and the baroness, whose frowning brow, like that of
Olympic Jove, predicted a storm. Debray, who perceived the
gathering clouds, and felt no desire to witness the
explosion of Madame Danglars' rage, suddenly recollected an
appointment, which compelled him to take his leave; while
Monte Cristo, unwilling by prolonging his stay to destroy
the advantages he hoped to obtain, made a farewell bow and
departed, leaving Danglars to endure the angry reproaches of
"Excellent," murmured Monte Cristo to himself, as he came
away. "All has gone according to my wishes. The domestic
peace of this family is henceforth in my hands. Now, then,
to play another master-stroke, by which I shall gain the
heart of both husband and wife -- delightful! Still," added
he, "amid all this, I have not yet been presented to
Mademoiselle Eugenie Danglars, whose acquaintance I should
have been glad to make. But," he went on with his peculiar
smile, "I am here in Paris, and have plenty of time before
me -- by and by will do for that." With these reflections he
entered his carriage and returned home. Two hours
afterwards, Madame Danglars received a most flattering
epistle from the count, in which he entreated her to receive
back her favorite "dappled grays," protesting that he could
not endure the idea of making his entry into the Parisian
world of fashion with the knowledge that his splendid
equipage had been obtained at the price of a lovely woman's
regrets. The horses were sent back wearing the same harness
she had seen on them in the morning; only, by the count's
orders, in the centre of each rosette that adorned either
side of their heads, had been fastened a large diamond.
To Danglars Monte Cristo also wrote, requesting him to
excuse the whimsical gift of a capricious millionaire, and
to beg the baroness to pardon the Eastern fashion adopted in
the return of the horses.
During the evening, Monte Cristo quitted Paris for Auteuil,
accompanied by Ali. The following day, about three o'clock,
a single blow struck on the gong summoned Ali to the
presence of the count. "Ali," observed his master, as the
Nubian entered the chamber, "you have frequently explained
to me how more than commonly skilful you are in throwing the
lasso, have you not?" Ali drew himself up proudly, and then
returned a sign in the affirmative. "I thought I did not
mistake. With your lasso you could stop an ox?" Again Ali
repeated his affirmative gesture. "Or a tiger?" Ali bowed
his head in token of assent. "A lion even?" Ali sprung
forwards, imitating the action of one throwing the lasso,
then of a strangled lion.
"I understand," said Monte Cristo; "you wish to tell me you
have hunted the lion?" Ali smiled with triumphant pride as
he signified that he had indeed both chased and captured
many lions. "But do you believe you could arrest the
progress of two horses rushing forwards with ungovernable
fury?" The Nubian smiled. "It is well," said Monte Cristo.
"Then listen to me. Ere long a carriage will dash past here,
drawn by the pair of dappled gray horses you saw me with
yesterday; now, at the risk of your own life, you must
manage to stop those horses before my door."
Ali descended to the street, and marked a straight line on
the pavement immediately at the entrance of the house, and
then pointed out the line he had traced to the count, who
was watching him. The count patted him gently on the
shoulder, his usual mode of praising Ali, who, pleased and
gratified with the commission assigned him, walked calmly
towards a projecting stone forming the angle of the street
and house, and, seating himself thereon, began to smoke his
chibouque, while Monte Cristo re-entered his dwelling,
perfectly assured of the success of his plan. Still, as five
o'clock approached, and the carriage was momentarily
expected by the count, the indication of more than common
impatience and uneasiness might be observed in his manner.
He stationed himself in a room commanding a view of the
street, pacing the chamber with restless steps, stopping
merely to listen from time to time for the sound of
approaching wheels, then to cast an anxious glance on Ali;
but the regularity with which the Nubian puffed forth the
smoke of his chibouque proved that he at least was wholly
absorbed in the enjoyment of his favorite occupation.
Suddenly a distant sound of rapidly advancing wheels was
heard, and almost immediately a carriage appeared, drawn by
a pair of wild, ungovernable horses, while the terrified
coachman strove in vain to restrain their furious speed.
In the vehicle was a young woman and a child of about seven
or eight clasped in each other's arms. Terror seemed to have
deprived them even of the power of uttering a cry. The
carriage creaked and rattled as it flew over the rough
stones, and the slightest obstacle under the wheels would
have caused disaster; but it kept on in the middle of the
road, and those who saw it pass uttered cries of terror.
Ali suddenly cast aside his chibouque, drew the lasso from
his pocket, threw it so skilfully as to catch the forelegs
of the near horse in its triple fold, and suffered himself
to be dragged on for a few steps by the violence of the
shock, then the animal fell over on the pole, which snapped,
and therefore prevented the other horse from pursuing its
way. Gladly availing himself of this opportunity, the
coachman leaped from his box; but Ali had promptly seized
the nostrils of the second horse, and held them in his iron
grasp, till the beast, snorting with pain, sunk beside his
companion. All this was achieved in much less time than is
occupied in the recital. The brief space had, however, been
sufficient for a man, followed by a number of servants, to
rush from the house before which the accident had occurred,
and, as the coachman opened the door of the carriage, to
take from it a lady who was convulsively grasping the
cushions with one hand, while with the other she pressed to
her bosom the young boy, who had lost consciousness.
Monte Cristo carried them both to the salon, and deposited
them on a sofa. "Compose yourself, madame," said he; "all
danger is over." The woman looked up at these words, and,
with a glance far more expressive than any entreaties could
have been, pointed to her child, who still continued
insensible. "I understand the nature of your alarms,
madame," said the count, carefully examining the child, "but
I assure you there is not the slightest occasion for
uneasiness; your little charge has not received the least
injury; his insensibility is merely the effects of terror,
and will soon pass."
"Are you quite sure you do not say so to tranquillize my
fears? See how deadly pale he is! My child, my darling
Edward; speak to your mother -- open your dear eyes and look
on me once again! Oh, sir, in pity send for a physician; my
whole fortune shall not be thought too much for the recovery
of my boy."
With a calm smile and a gentle wave of the hand, Monte
Cristo signed to the distracted mother to lay aside her
apprehensions; then, opening a casket that stood near, he
drew forth a phial of Bohemian glass incrusted with gold,
containing a liquid of the color of blood, of which he let
fall a single drop on the child's lips. Scarcely had it
reached them, ere the boy, though still pale as marble,
opened his eyes, and eagerly gazed around him. At this, the
delight of the mother was almost frantic. "Where am I?"
exclaimed she; "and to whom am I indebted for so happy a
termination to my late dreadful alarm?"
"Madame," answered the count, "you are under the roof of one
who esteems himself most fortunate in having been able to
save you from a further continuance of your sufferings."
"My wretched curiosity has brought all this about," pursued
the lady. "All Paris rung with the praises of Madame
Danglars' beautiful horses, and I had the folly to desire to
know whether they really merited the high praise given to
"Is it possible," exclaimed the count with well-feigned
astonishment, "that these horses belong to the baroness?"
"They do, indeed. May I inquire if you are acquainted with
"I have that honor; and my happiness at your escape from the
danger that threatened you is redoubled by the consciousness
that I have been the unwilling and the unintentional cause
of all the peril you have incurred. I yesterday purchased
these horses of the baron; but as the baroness evidently
regretted parting with them, I ventured to send them back to
her, with a request that she would gratify me by accepting
them from my hands."
"You are, then, doubtless, the Count of Monte Cristo, of
whom Hermine has talked to me so much?"
"You have rightly guessed, madame," replied the count.
"And I am Madame Heloise de Villefort." The count bowed with
the air of a person who hears a name for the first time.
"How grateful will M. de Villefort be for all your goodness;
how thankfully will he acknowledge that to you alone he owes
the existence of his wife and child! Most certainly, but for
the prompt assistance of your intrepid servant, this dear
child and myself must both have perished."
"Indeed, I still shudder at the fearful danger you were
"I trust you will allow me to recompense worthily the
devotion of your man."
"I beseech you, madame," replied Monte Cristo "not to spoil
Ali, either by too great praise or rewards. I cannot allow
him to acquire the habit of expecting to be recompensed for
every trifling service he may render. Ali is my slave, and
in saving your life he was but discharging his duty to me."
"Nay," interposed Madame de Villefort, on whom the
authoritative style adopted by the count made a deep
impression, "nay, but consider that to preserve my life he
has risked his own."
"His life, madame, belongs not to him; it is mine, in return
for my having myself saved him from death." Madame de
Villefort made no further reply; her mind was utterly
absorbed in the contemplation of the person who, from the
first instant she saw him, had made so powerful an
impression on her. During the evident preoccupation of
Madame de Villefort, Monte Cristo scrutinized the features
and appearance of the boy she kept folded in her arms,
lavishing on him the most tender endearments. The child was
small for his age, and unnaturally pale. A mass of straight
black hair, defying all attempts to train or curl it, fell
over his projecting forehead, and hung down to his
shoulders, giving increased vivacity to eyes already
sparkling with a youthful love of mischief and fondness for
every forbidden enjoyment. His mouth was large, and the
lips, which had not yet regained their color, were
particularly thin; in fact, the deep and crafty look, giving
a predominant expression to the child's face, belonged
rather to a boy of twelve or fourteen than to one so young.
His first movement was to free himself by a violent push
from the encircling arms of his mother, and to rush forward
to the casket from whence the count had taken the phial of
elixir; then, without asking permission of any one, he
proceeded, in all the wilfulness of a spoiled child
unaccustomed to restrain either whims or caprices, to pull
the corks out of all the bottles.
"Touch nothing, my little friend," cried the count eagerly;
"some of those liquids are not only dangerous to taste, but
even to inhale."
Madame de Villefort became very pale, and, seizing her son's
arm, drew him anxiously toward her; but, once satisfied of
his safety, she also cast a brief but expressive glance on
the casket, which was not lost upon the count. At this
moment Ali entered. At sight of him Madame de Villefort
uttered an expression of pleasure, and, holding the child
still closer towards her, she said, "Edward, dearest, do you
see that good man? He has shown very great courage and
resolution, for he exposed his own life to stop the horses
that were running away with us, and would certainly have
dashed the carriage to pieces. Thank him, then, my child, in
your very best manner; for, had he not come to our aid,
neither you nor I would have been alive to speak our
thanks." The child stuck out his lips and turned away his
head in a disdainful manner, saying, "He's too ugly."
The count smiled as if the child bade fair to realize his
hopes, while Madame de Villefort reprimanded her son with a
gentleness and moderation very far from conveying the least
idea of a fault having been committed. "This lady," said the
Count, speaking to Ali in the Arabic language, "is desirous
that her son should thank you for saving both their lives;
but the boy refuses, saying you are too ugly." Ali turned
his intelligent countenance towards the boy, on whom he
gazed without any apparent emotion; but the spasmodic
working of the nostrils showed to the practiced eye of Monte
Cristo that the Arab had been wounded to the heart.
"Will you permit me to inquire," said Madame de Villefort,
as she arose to take her leave, "whether you usually reside
"No, I do not," replied Monte Cristo; "it is a small place I
have purchased quite lately. My place of abode is No. 30,
Avenue des Champs Elysees; but I see you have quite
recovered from your fright, and are, no doubt, desirous of
returning home. Anticipating your wishes, I have desired the
same horses you came with to be put to one of my carriages,
and Ali, he whom you think so very ugly," continued he,
addressing the boy with a smiling air, "will have the honor
of driving you home, while your coachman remains here to
attend to the necessary repairs of your calash. As soon as
that important business is concluded, I will have a pair of
my own horses harnessed to convey it direct to Madame
"I dare not return with those dreadful horses," said Madame
"You will see," replied Monte Cristo, "that they will be as
different as possible in the hands of Ali. With him they
will be gentle and docile as lambs." Ali had, indeed, given
proof of this; for, approaching the animals, who had been
got upon their legs with considerable difficulty, he rubbed
their foreheads and nostrils with a sponge soaked in
aromatic vinegar, and wiped off the sweat and foam that
covered their mouths. Then, commencing a loud whistling
noise, he rubbed them well all over their bodies for several
minutes; then, undisturbed by the noisy crowd collected
round the broken carriage, Ali quietly harnessed the
pacified animals to the count's chariot, took the reins in
his hands, and mounted the box, when to the utter
astonishment of those who had witnessed the ungovernable
spirit and maddened speed of the same horses, he was
actually compelled to apply his whip in no very gentle
manner before he could induce them to start; and even then
all that could be obtained from the celebrated "dappled
grays," now changed into a couple of dull, sluggish, stupid
brutes, was a slow, pottering pace, kept up with so much
difficulty that Madame de Villefort was more than two hours
returning to her residence in the Faubourg St. Honore.
Scarcely had the first congratulations upon her marvellous
escape been gone through when she wrote the following letter
to Madame Danglars: --
Dear Hermine, -- I have just had a wonderful escape from the
most imminent danger, and I owe my safety to the very Count
of Monte Cristo we were talking about yesterday, but whom I
little expected to see to-day. I remember how unmercifully I
laughed at what I considered your eulogistic and exaggerated
praises of him; but I have now ample cause to admit that
your enthusiastic description of this wonderful man fell far
short of his merits. Your horses got as far as Ranelagh,
when they darted forward like mad things, and galloped away
at so fearful a rate, that there seemed no other prospect
for myself and my poor Edward but that of being dashed to
pieces against the first object that impeded their progress,
when a strange-looking man, -- an Arab, a negro, or a
Nubian, at least a black of some nation or other -- at a
signal from the count, whose domestic he is, suddenly seized
and stopped the infuriated animals, even at the risk of
being trampled to death himself; and certainly he must have
had a most wonderful escape. The count then hastened to us,
and took us into his house, where he speedily recalled my
poor Edward to life. He sent us home in his own carriage.
Yours will be returned to you to-morrow. You will find your
horses in bad condition, from the results of this accident;
they seem thoroughly stupefied, as if sulky and vexed at
having been conquered by man. The count, however, his
commissioned me to assure you that two or three days' rest,
with plenty of barley for their sole food during that time,
will bring them back to as fine, that is as terrifying, a
condition as they were in yesterday. Adieu! I cannot return
you many thanks for the drive of yesterday; but, after all,
I ought not to blame you for the misconduct of your horses,
more especially as it procured me the pleasure of an
introduction to the Count of Monte Cristo, -- and certainly
that illustrious personage, apart from the millions he is
said to be so very anxious to dispose of, seemed to me one
of those curiously interesting problems I, for one, delight
in solving at any risk, even if it were to necessitate
another drive to the Bois behind your horses. Edward endured
the accident with miraculous courage -- he did not utter a
single cry, but fell lifeless into my arms; nor did a tear
fall from his eyes after it was over. I doubt not you will
consider these praises the result of blind maternal
affection, but there is a soul of iron in that delicate,
fragile body. Valentine sends many affectionate remembrances
to your dear Eugenie. I embrace you with all my heart.
Heloise de Villefort.
P.S. -- Do pray contrive some means for me to meet the Count
of Monte Cristo at your house. I must and will see him
again. I have just made M. de Villefort promise to call on
him, and I hope the visit will be returned.
That night the adventure at Auteuil was talked of
everywhere. Albert related it to his mother; Chateau-Renaud
recounted it at the Jockey Club, and Debray detailed it at
length in the salons of the minister; even Beauchamp
accorded twenty lines in his journal to the relation of the
count's courage and gallantry, thereby celebrating him as
the greatest hero of the day in the eyes of all the feminine
members of the aristocracy. Vast was the crowd of visitors
and inquiring friends who left their names at the residence
of Madame de Villefort, with the design of renewing their
visit at the right moment, of hearing from her lips all the
interesting circumstances of this most romantic adventure.
As for M. de Villefort, he fulfilled the predictions of
Heloise to the letter, -- donned his dress suit, drew on a
pair of white gloves, ordered the servants to attend the
carriage dressed in their full livery, and drove that same
night to No. 30 in the Avenue des Champs-Elysees.
If the Count of Monte Cristo had been for a long time
familiar with the ways of Parisian society, he would have
appreciated better the significance of the step which M. de
Villefort had taken. Standing well at court, whether the
king regnant was of the older or younger branch, whether the
government was doctrinaire liberal, or conservative; looked
upon by all as a man of talent, since those who have never
experienced a political check are generally so regarded;
hated by many, but warmly supported by others, without being
really liked by anybody, M. de Villefort held a high
position in the magistracy, and maintained his eminence like
a Harlay or a Mole. His drawing-room, under the regenerating
influence of a young wife and a daughter by his first
marriage, scarcely eighteen, was still one of the
well-regulated Paris salons where the worship of traditional
customs and the observance of rigid etiquette were carefully
maintained. A freezing politeness, a strict fidelity to
government principles, a profound contempt for theories and
theorists, a deep-seated hatred of ideality, -- these were
the elements of private and public life displayed by M. de
He was not only a magistrate, he was almost a diplomatist.
His relations with the former court, of which he always
spoke with dignity and respect, made him respected by the
new one, and he knew so many things, that not only was he
always carefully considered, but sometimes consulted.
Perhaps this would not have been so had it been possible to
get rid of M. de Villefort; but, like the feudal barons who
rebelled against their sovereign, he dwelt in an impregnable
fortress. This fortress was his post as king's attorney, all
the advantages of which he exploited with marvellous skill,
and which he would not have resigned but to be made deputy,
and thus to replace neutrality by opposition. Ordinarily M.
de Villefort made and returned very few visits. His wife
visited for him, and this was the received thing in the
world, where the weighty and multifarious occupations of the
magistrate were accepted as an excuse for what was really
only calculated pride, a manifestation of professed
superiority -- in fact, the application of the axiom,
"Pretend to think well of yourself, and the world will think
well of you," an axiom a hundred times more useful in
society nowadays than that of the Greeks, "Know thyself," a
knowledge for which, in our days, we have substituted the
less difficult and more advantageous science of knowing
To his friends M. de Villefort was a powerful protector; to
his enemies, he was a silent, but bitter opponent; for those
who were neither the one nor the other, he was a statue of
the law-made man. He had a haughty bearing, a look either
steady and impenetrable or insolently piercing and
inquisitorial. Four successive revolutions had built and
cemented the pedestal upon which his fortune was based. M.
de Villefort had the reputation of being the least curious
and the least wearisome man in France. He gave a ball every
year, at which he appeared for a quarter of an hour only, --
that is to say, five and forty minutes less than the king is
visible at his balls. He was never seen at the theatres, at
concerts, or in any place of public resort. Occasionally,
but seldom, he played at whist, and then care was taken to
select partners worthy of him -- sometimes they were
ambassadors, sometimes archbishops, or sometimes a prince,
or a president, or some dowager duchess. Such was the man
whose carriage had just now stopped before the Count of
Monte Cristo's door. The valet de chambre announced M. de
Villefort at the moment when the count, leaning over a large
table, was tracing on a map the route from St. Petersburg to
The procureur entered with the same grave and measured step
he would have employed in entering a court of justice. He
was the same man, or rather the development of the same man,
whom we have heretofore seen as assistant attorney at
Marseilles. Nature, according to her way, had made no
deviation in the path he had marked out for himself. From
being slender he had now become meagre; once pale, he was
now yellow; his deep-set eyes were hollow, and the gold
spectacles shielding his eyes seemed to be an integral
portion of his face. He dressed entirely in black, with the
exception of his white tie, and his funeral appearance was
only mitigated by the slight line of red ribbon which passed
almost imperceptibly through his button-hole, and appeared
like a streak of blood traced with a delicate brush.
Although master of himself, Monte Cristo, scrutinized with
irrepressible curiosity the magistrate whose salute he
returned, and who, distrustful by habit, and especially
incredulous as to social prodigies, was much more despised
to look upon "the noble stranger," as Monte Cristo was
already called, as an adventurer in search of new fields, or
an escaped criminal, rather than as a prince of the Holy
See, or a sultan of the Thousand and One Nights.
"Sir," said Villefort, in the squeaky tone assumed by
magistrates in their oratorical periods, and of which they
cannot, or will not, divest themselves in society, "sir, the
signal service which you yesterday rendered to my wife and
son has made it a duty for me to offer you my thanks. I have
come, therefore, to discharge this duty, and to express to
you my overwhelming gratitude." And as he said this, the
"eye severe" of the magistrate had lost nothing of its
habitual arrogance. He spoke in a voice of the
procureur-general, with the rigid inflexibility of neck and
shoulders which caused his flatterers to say (as we have
before observed) that he was the living statue of the law.
"Monsieur," replied the count, with a chilling air, "I am
very happy to have been the means of preserving a son to his
mother, for they say that the sentiment of maternity is the
most holy of all; and the good fortune which occurred to me,
monsieur, might have enabled you to dispense with a duty
which, in its discharge, confers an undoubtedly great honor;
for I am aware that M. de Villefort is not usually lavish of
the favor which he now bestows on me, -- a favor which,
however estimable, is unequal to the satisfaction which I
have in my own consciousness." Villefort, astonished at this
reply, which he by no means expected, started like a soldier
who feels the blow levelled at him over the armor he wears,
and a curl of his disdainful lip indicated that from that
moment he noted in the tablets of his brain that the Count
of Monte Cristo was by no means a highly bred gentleman. He
glanced around. in order to seize on something on which the
conversation might turn, and seemed to fall easily on a
topic. He saw the map which Monte Cristo had been examining
when he entered, and said, "You seem geographically engaged,
sir? It is a rich study for you, who, as I learn, have seen
as many lands as are delineated on this map."
"Yes, sir," replied the count; "I have sought to make of the
human race, taken in the mass, what you practice every day
on individuals -- a physiological study. I have believed it
was much easier to descend from the whole to a part than to
ascend from a part to the whole. It is an algebraic axiom,
which makes us proceed from a known to an unknown quantity,
and not from an unknown to a known; but sit down, sir, I beg
Monte Cristo pointed to a chair, which the procureur was
obliged to take the trouble to move forwards himself, while
the count merely fell back into his own, on which he had
been kneeling when M. Villefort entered. Thus the count was
halfway turned towards his visitor, having his back towards
the window, his elbow resting on the geographical chart
which furnished the theme of conversation for the moment, --
a conversation which assumed, as in the case of the
interviews with Danglars and Morcerf, a turn analogous to
the persons, if not to the situation. "Ah, you
philosophize," replied Villefort, after a moment's silence,
during which, like a wrestler who encounters a powerful
opponent, he took breath; "well, sir, really, if, like you,
I had nothing else to do, I should seek a more amusing
"Why, in truth, sir," was Monte Cristo's reply, "man is but
an ugly caterpillar for him who studies him through a solar
microscope; but you said, I think, that I had nothing else
to do. Now, really, let me ask, sir, have you? -- do you
believe you have anything to do? or to speak in plain terms,
do you really think that what you do deserves being called
Villefort's astonishment redoubled at this second thrust so
forcibly made by his strange adversary. It was a long time
since the magistrate had heard a paradox so strong, or
rather, to say the truth more exactly, it was the first time
he had ever heard of it. The procureur exerted himself to
reply. "Sir," he responded, "you are a stranger, and I
believe you say yourself that a portion of your life has
been spent in Oriental countries, so you are not aware how
human justice, so expeditions in barbarous countries, takes
with us a prudent and well-studied course."
"Oh, yes -- yes, I do, sir; it is the pede claudo of the
ancients. I know all that, for it is with the justice of all
countries especially that I have occupied myself -- it is
with the criminal procedure of all nations that I have
compared natural justice, and I must say, sir, that it is
the law of primitive nations, that is, the law of
retaliation, that I have most frequently found to be
according to the law of God."
"If this law were adopted, sir," said the procureur, "it
would greatly simplify our legal codes, and in that case the
magistrates would not (as you just observed) have much to
"It may, perhaps, come to this in time," observed Monte
Cristo; "you know that human inventions march from the
complex to the simple, and simplicity is always perfection."
"In the meanwhile," continued the magistrate, "our codes are
in full force, with all their contradictory enactments
derived from Gallic customs, Roman laws, and Frank usages;
the knowledge of all which, you will agree, is not to be
acquired without extended labor; it needs tedious study to
acquire this knowledge, and, when acquired, a strong power
of brain to retain it."
"I agree with you entirely, sir; but all that even you know
with respect to the French code, I know, not only in
reference to that code, but as regards the codes of all
nations. The English, Turkish, Japanese, Hindu laws, are as
familiar to me as the French laws, and thus I was right,
when I said to you, that relatively (you know that
everything is relative, sir) -- that relatively to what I
have done, you have very little to do; but that relatively
to all I have learned, you have yet a great deal to learn."
"But with what motive have you learned all this?" inquired
Villefort, in astonishment. Monte Cristo smiled. "Really,
sir," he observed, "I see that in spite of the reputation
which you have acquired as a superior man, you look at
everything from the material and vulgar view of society,
beginning with man, and ending with man -- that is to say,
in the most restricted, most narrow view which it is
possible for human understanding to embrace."
"Pray, sir, explain yourself," said Villefort, more and more
astonished, "I really do -- not -- understand you --
"I say, sir, that with the eyes fixed on the social
organization of nations, you see only the springs of the
machine, and lose sight of the sublime workman who makes
them act; I say that you do not recognize before you and
around you any but those office-holders whose commissions
have been signed by a minister or king; and that the men
whom God has put above those office-holders, ministers, and
kings, by giving them a mission to follow out, instead of a
post to fill -- I say that they escape your narrow, limited
field of observation. It is thus that human weakness fails,
from its debilitated and imperfect organs. Tobias took the
angel who restored him to light for an ordinary young man.
The nations took Attila, who was doomed to destroy them, for
a conqueror similar to other conquerors, and it was
necessary for both to reveal their missions, that they might
be known and acknowledged; one was compelled to say, `I am
the angel of the Lord'; and the other, `I am the hammer of
God,' in order that the divine essence in both might be
"Then," said Villefort, more and more amazed, and really
supposing he was speaking to a mystic or a madman, "you
consider yourself as one of those extraordinary beings whom
you have mentioned?"
"And why not?" said Monte Cristo coldly.
"Your pardon, sir," replied Villefort, quite astounded, "but
you will excuse me if, when I presented myself to you, I was
unaware that I should meet with a person whose knowledge and
understanding so far surpass the usual knowledge and
understanding of men. It is not usual with us corrupted
wretches of civilization to find gentlemen like yourself,
possessors, as you are, of immense fortune -- at least, so
it is said -- and I beg you to observe that I do not
inquire, I merely repeat; -- it is not usual, I say, for
such privileged and wealthy beings to waste their time in
speculations on the state of society, in philosophical
reveries, intended at best to console those whom fate has
disinherited from the goods of this world."
"Really, sir," retorted the count, "have you attained the
eminent situation in which you are, without having admitted,
or even without having met with exceptions? and do you never
use your eyes, which must have acquired so much finesse and
certainty, to divine, at a glance, the kind of man by whom
you are confronted? Should not a magistrate be not merely
the best administrator of the law, but the most crafty
expounder of the chicanery of his profession, a steel probe
to search hearts, a touchstone to try the gold which in each
soul is mingled with more or less of alloy?"
"Sir," said Villefort, "upon my word, you overcome me. I
really never heard a person speak as you do."
"Because you remain eternally encircled in a round of
general conditions, and have never dared to raise your wings
into those upper spheres which God has peopled with
invisible or exceptional beings."
"And you allow then, sir, that spheres exist, and that these
marked and invisible beings mingle amongst us?"
"Why should they not? Can you see the air you breathe, and
yet without which you could not for a moment exist?"
"Then we do not see those beings to whom you allude?"
"Yes, we do; you see them whenever God pleases to allow them
to assume a material form. You touch them, come in contact
with them, speak to them, and they reply to you."
"Ah," said Villefort, smiling, "I confess I should like to
be warned when one of these beings is in contact with me."
"You have been served as you desire, monsieur, for you were
warned just now, and I now again warn you."
"Then you yourself are one of these marked beings?"
"Yes, monsieur, I believe so; for until now, no man has
found himself in a position similar to mine. The dominions
of kings are limited either by mountains or rivers, or a
change of manners, or an alteration of language. My kingdom
is bounded only by the world, for I am not an Italian, or a
Frenchman, or a Hindu, or an American, or a Spaniard -- I am
a cosmopolite. No country can say it saw my birth. God alone
knows what country will see me die. I adopt all customs,
speak all languages. You believe me to be a Frenchman, for I
speak French with the same facility and purity as yourself.
Well, Ali, my Nubian, believes me to be an Arab; Bertuccio,
my steward, takes me for a Roman; Haidee, my slave, thinks
me a Greek. You may, therefore, comprehend, that being of no
country, asking no protection from any government,
acknowledging no man as my brother, not one of the scruples
that arrest the powerful, or the obstacles which paralyze
the weak, paralyzes or arrests me. I have only two
adversaries -- I will not say two conquerors, for with
perseverance I subdue even them, -- they are time and
distance. There is a third, and the most terrible -- that is
my condition as a mortal being. This alone can stop me in my
onward career, before I have attained the goal at which I
aim, for all the rest I have reduced to mathematical terms.
What men call the chances of fate -- namely, ruin, change,
circumstances -- I have fully anticipated, and if any of
these should overtake me, yet it will not overwhelm me.
Unless I die, I shall always be what I am, and therefore it
is that I utter the things you have never heard, even from
the mouths of kings -- for kings have need, and other
persons have fear of you. For who is there who does not say
to himself, in a society as incongruously organized as ours,
`Perhaps some day I shall have to do with the king's
"But can you not say that, sir? The moment you become an
inhabitant of France, you are naturally subjected to the
"I know it sir," replied Monte Cristo; "but when I visit a
country I begin to study, by all the means which are
available, the men from whom I may have anything to hope or
to fear, till I know them as well as, perhaps better than,
they know themselves. It follows from this, that the king's
attorney, be he who he may, with whom I should have to deal,
would assuredly be more embarrassed than I should."
"That is to say," replied Villefort with hesitation, "that
human nature being weak, every man, according to your creed,
has committed faults."
"Faults or crimes," responded Monte Cristo with a negligent
"And that you alone, amongst the men whom you do not
recognize as your brothers -- for you have said so,"
observed Villefort in a tone that faltered somewhat -- "you
alone are perfect."
"No, not perfect," was the count's reply; "only
impenetrable, that's all. But let us leave off this strain,
sir, if the tone of it is displeasing to you; I am no more
disturbed by your justice than are you by my second-sight."
"No, no, -- by no means," said Villefort, who was afraid of
seeming to abandon his ground. "No; by your brilliant and
almost sublime conversation you have elevated me above the
ordinary level; we no longer talk, we rise to dissertation.
But you know how the theologians in their collegiate chairs,
and philosophers in their controversies, occasionally say
cruel truths; let us suppose for the moment that we are
theologizing in a social way, or even philosophically, and I
will say to you, rude as it may seem, `My brother, you
sacrifice greatly to pride; you may be above others, but
above you there is God.'"
"Above us all, sir," was Monte Cristo's response, in a tone
and with an emphasis so deep that Villefort involuntarily
shuddered. "I have my pride for men -- serpents always ready
to threaten every one who would pass without crushing them
under foot. But I lay aside that pride before God, who has
taken me from nothing to make me what I am."
"Then, count, I admire you," said Villefort, who, for the
first time in this strange conversation, used the
aristocratic form to the unknown personage, whom, until now,
he had only called monsieur. "Yes, and I say to you, if you
are really strong, really superior, really pious, or
impenetrable, which you were right in saying amounts to the
same thing -- then be proud, sir, for that is the
characteristic of predominance. Yet you have unquestionably
"I have, sir."
"And what may it be?"
"I too, as happens to every man once in his life, have been
taken by Satan into the highest mountain in the earth, and
when there he showed me all the kingdoms of the world, and
as he said before, so said he to me, `Child of earth, what
wouldst thou have to make thee adore me?' I reflected long,
for a gnawing ambition had long preyed upon me, and then I
replied, `Listen, -- I have always heard of providence, and
yet I have never seen him, or anything that resembles him,
or which can make me believe that he exists. I wish to be
providence myself, for I feel that the most beautiful,
noblest, most sublime thing in the world, is to recompense
and punish.' Satan bowed his head, and groaned. `You
mistake,' he said, `providence does exist, only you have
never seen him, because the child of God is as invisible as
the parent. You have seen nothing that resembles him,
because he works by secret springs, and moves by hidden
ways. All I can do for you is to make you one of the agents
of that providence.' The bargain was concluded. I may
sacrifice my soul, but what matters it?" added Monte Cristo.
"If the thing were to do again, I would again do it."
Villefort looked at Monte Cristo with extreme amazement.
"Count," he inquired, "have you any relations?"
"No, sir, I am alone in the world."
"So much the worse."
"Why?" asked Monte Cristo.
"Because then you might witness a spectacle calculated to
break down your pride. You say you fear nothing but death?"
"I did not say that I feared it; I only said that death
alone could check the execution of my plans."
"And old age?"
"My end will be achieved before I grow old."
"I have been nearly mad; and you know the axiom, -- non bis
in idem. It is an axiom of criminal law, and, consequently,
you understand its full application."
"Sir," continued Villefort, "there is something to fear
besides death, old age, and madness. For instance, there is
apoplexy -- that lightning-stroke which strikes but does not
destroy you, and yet which brings everything to an end. You
are still yourself as now, and yet you are yourself no
longer; you who, like Ariel, verge on the angelic, are but
an inert mass, which, like Caliban, verges on the brutal;
and this is called in human tongues, as I tell you, neither
more nor less than apoplexy. Come, if so you will, count,
and continue this conversation at my house, any day you may
be willing to see an adversary capable of understanding and
anxious to refute you, and I will show you my father, M.
Noirtier de Villefort, one of the most fiery Jacobins of the
French Revolution; that is to say, he had the most
remarkable audacity, seconded by a most powerful
organization -- a man who has not, perhaps, like yourself
seen all the kingdoms of the earth, but who has helped to
overturn one of the greatest; in fact, a man who believed
himself, like you, one of the envoys, not of God, but of a
supreme being; not of providence, but of fate. Well, sir,
the rupture of a blood-vessel on the lobe of the brain has
destroyed all this, not in a day, not in an hour, but in a
second. M. Noirtier, who, on the previous night, was the old
Jacobin, the old senator, the old Carbonaro, laughing at the
guillotine, the cannon, and the dagger -- M. Noirtier,
playing with revolutions -- M. Noirtier, for whom France was
a vast chess-board, from which pawns, rooks, knights, and
queens were to disappear, so that the king was checkmated --
M. Noirtier, the redoubtable, was the next morning `poor M.
Noirtier,' the helpless old man, at the tender mercies of
the weakest creature in the household, that is, his
grandchild, Valentine; a dumb and frozen carcass, in fact,
living painlessly on, that time may be given for his frame
to decompose without his consciousness of its decay."
"Alas, sir," said Monte Cristo "this spectacle is neither
strange to my eye nor my thought. I am something of a
physician, and have, like my fellows, sought more than once
for the soul in living and in dead matter; yet, like
providence, it has remained invisible to my eyes, although
present to my heart. A hundred writers since Socrates,
Seneca, St. Augustine, and Gall, have made, in verse and
prose, the comparison you have made, and yet I can well
understand that a father's sufferings may effect great
changes in the mind of a son. I will call on you, sir, since
you bid me contemplate, for the advantage of my pride, this
terrible spectacle, which must have been so great a source
of sorrow to your family."
"It would have been so unquestionably, had not God given me
so large a compensation. In contrast with the old man, who
is dragging his way to the tomb, are two children just
entering into life -- Valentine, the daughter by my first
wife -- Mademoiselle Renee de Saint-Meran -- and Edward, the
boy whose life you have this day saved."
"And what is your deduction from this compensation, sir?"
inquired Monte Cristo.
"My deduction is," replied Villefort, "that my father, led
away by his passions, has committed some fault unknown to
human justice, but marked by the justice of God. That God,
desirous in his mercy to punish but one person, has visited
this justice on him alone." Monte Cristo with a smile on his
lips, uttered in the depths of his soul a groan which would
have made Villefort fly had he but heard it. "Adieu, sir,"
said the magistrate, who had risen from his seat; "I leave
you, bearing a remembrance of you -- a remembrance of
esteem, which I hope will not be disagreeable to you when
you know me better; for I am not a man to bore my friends,
as you will learn. Besides, you have made an eternal friend
of Madame de Villefort." The count bowed, and contented
himself with seeing Villefort to the door of his cabinet,
the procureur being escorted to his carriage by two footmen,
who, on a signal from their master, followed him with every
mark of attention. When he had gone, Monte Cristo breathed a
profound sigh, and said, -- "Enough of this poison, let me
now seek the antidote." Then sounding his bell, he said to
Ali, who entered, "I am going to madam's chamber -- have the
carriage ready at one o'clock."
It will be recollected that the new, or rather old,
acquaintances of the Count of Monte Cristo, residing in the
Rue Meslay, were no other than Maximilian, Julie, and
Emmanuel. The very anticipations of delight to be enjoyed in
his forthcoming visits -- the bright, pure gleam of heavenly
happiness it diffused over the almost deadly warfare in
which he had voluntarily engaged, illumined his whole
countenance with a look of ineffable joy and calmness, as,
immediately after Villefort's departure, his thoughts flew
back to the cheering prospect before him, of tasting, at
least, a brief respite from the fierce and stormy passions
of his mind. Even Ali, who had hastened to obey the Count's
summons, went forth from his master's presence in charmed
amazement at the unusual animation and pleasure depicted on
features ordinarily so stern and cold; while, as though
dreading to put to flight the agreeable ideas hovering over
his patron's meditations, whatever they were, the faithful
Nubian walked on tiptoe towards the door, holding his
breath, lest its faintest sound should dissipate his
master's happy reverie.
It was noon, and Monte Cristo had set apart one hour to be
passed in the apartments of Haidee, as though his oppressed
spirit could not all at once admit the feeling of pure and
unmixed joy, but required a gradual succession of calm and
gentle emotions to prepare his mind to receive full and
perfect happiness, in the same manner as ordinary natures
demand to be inured by degrees to the reception of strong or
violent sensations. The young Greek, as we have already
said, occupied apartments wholly unconnected with those of
the count. The rooms had been fitted up in strict accordance
with Oriental ideas; the floors were covered with the
richest carpets Turkey could produce; the walls hung with
brocaded silk of the most magnificent designs and texture;
while around each chamber luxurious divans were placed, with
piles of soft and yielding cushions, that needed only to be
arranged at the pleasure or convenience of such as sought
repose. Haidee and three French maids, and one who was a
Greek. The first three remained constantly in a small
waiting-room, ready to obey the summons of a small golden
bell, or to receive the orders of the Romaic slave, who knew
just enough French to be able to transmit her mistress's
wishes to the three other waiting-women; the latter had
received most peremptory instructions from Monte Cristo to
treat Haidee with all the deference they would observe to a
The young girl herself generally passed her time in the
chamber at the farther end of her apartments. This was a
sort of boudoir, circular, and lighted only from the roof,
which consisted of rose-colored glass. Haidee was reclining
upon soft downy cushions, covered with blue satin spotted
with silver; her head, supported by one of her exquisitely
moulded arms, rested on the divan immediately behind her,
while the other was employed in adjusting to her lips the
coral tube of a rich narghile, through whose flexible pipe
she drew the smoke fragrant by its passage through perfumed
water. Her attitude, though perfectly natural for an Eastern
woman would, in a European, have been deemed too full of
coquettish straining after effect. Her dress, which was that
of the women of Epirus, consisted of a pair of white satin
trousers, embroidered with pink roses, displaying feet so
exquisitely formed and so delicately fair, that they might
well have been taken for Parian marble, had not the eye been
undeceived by their movements as they constantly shifted in
and out of a pair of little slippers with upturned toes,
beautifully ornamented with gold and pearls. She wore a blue
and white-striped vest, with long open sleeves, trimmed with
silver loops and buttons of pearls, and a sort of bodice,
which, closing only from the centre to the waist, exhibited
the whole of the ivory throat and upper part of the bosom;
it was fastened with three magnificent diamond clasps. The
junction of the bodice and drawers was entirely concealed by
one of the many-colored scarfs, whose brilliant hues and
rich silken fringe have rendered them so precious in the
eyes of Parisian belles. Tilted on one side of her head she
had a small cap of gold-colored silk, embroidered with
pearls; while on the other a purple rose mingled its glowing
colors with the luxuriant masses of her hair, of which the
blackness was so intense that it was tinged with blue. The
extreme beauty of the countenance, that shone forth in
loveliness that mocked the vain attempts of dress to augment
it, was peculiarly and purely Grecian; there were the large,
dark, melting eyes, the finely formed nose, the coral lips,
and pearly teeth, that belonged to her race and country.
And, to complete the whole, Haidee was in the very
springtide and fulness of youthful charms -- she had not yet
numbered more than twenty summers.
Monte Cristo summoned the Greek attendant, and bade her
inquire whether it would be agreeable to her mistress to
receive his visit. Haidee's only reply was to direct her
servant by a sign to withdraw the tapestried curtain that
hung before the door of her boudoir, the framework of the
opening thus made serving as a sort of border to the
graceful tableau presented by the young girl's picturesque
attitude and appearance. As Monte Cristo approached, she
leaned upon the elbow of the arm that held the narghile, and
extending to him her other hand, said, with a smile of
captivating sweetness, in the sonorous language spoken by
the women of Athens and Sparta, "Why demand permission ere
you enter? Are you no longer my master, or have I ceased to
be your slave?" Monte Cristo returned her smile. "Haidee,"
said he, "you well know."
"Why do you address me so coldly -- so distantly?" asked the
young Greek. "Have I by any means displeased you? Oh, if so,
punish me as you will; but do not -- do not speak to me in
tones and manner so formal and constrained."
"Haidee," replied the count, "you know that you are now in
France, and are free."
"Free to do what?" asked the young girl.
"Free to leave me."
"Leave you? Why should I leave you?"
"That is not for me to say; but we are now about to mix in
society -- to visit and be visited."
"I don't wish to see anybody but you."
"And should you see one whom you could prefer, I would not
be so unjust" --
"I have never seen any one I preferred to you, and I have
never loved any one but you and my father."
"My poor child," replied Monte Cristo, "that is merely
because your father and myself are the only men who have
ever talked to you."
"I don't want anybody else to talk to me. My father said I
was his `joy' -- you style me your `love,' -- and both of
you have called me `my child.'"
"Do you remember your father, Haidee?" The young Greek
smiled. "He is here, and here," said she, touching her eyes
and her heart. "And where am I?" inquired Monte Cristo
"You?" cried she, with tones of thrilling tenderness, "you
are everywhere!" Monte Cristo took the delicate hand of the
young girl in his, and was about to raise it to his lips,
when the simple child of nature hastily withdrew it, and
presented her cheek. "You now understand, Haidee," said the
count, "that from this moment you are absolutely free; that
here you exercise unlimited sway, and are at liberty to lay
aside or continue the costume of your country, as it may
suit your inclination. Within this mansion you are absolute
mistress of your actions, and may go abroad or remain in
your apartments as may seem most agreeable to you. A
carriage waits your orders, and Ali and Myrtho will
accompany you whithersoever you desire to go. There is but
one favor I would entreat of you."
"Guard carefully the secret of your birth. Make no allusion
to the past; nor upon any occasion be induced to pronounce
the names of your illustrious father or ill-fated mother."
"I have already told you, my lord, that I shall see no one."
"It is possible, Haidee, that so perfect a seclusion, though
conformable with the habits and customs of the East, may not
be practicable in Paris. Endeavor, then, to accustom
yourself to our manner of living in these northern climes as
you did to those of Rome, Florence, Milan, and Madrid; it
may be useful to you one of these days, whether you remain
here or return to the East." The young girl raised her
tearful eyes towards Monte Cristo as she said with touching
earnestness, "Whether we return to the East, you mean to
say, my lord, do you not?"
"My child," returned Monte Cristo "you know full well that
whenever we part, it will be no fault or wish of mine; the
tree forsakes not the flower -- the flower falls from the
"My lord," replied Haidee, "I never will leave you, for I am
sure I could not exist without you."
"My poor girl, in ten years I shall be old, and you will be
"My father had a long white beard, but I loved him; he was
sixty years old, but to me he was handsomer than all the
fine youths I saw."
"Then tell me, Haidee, do you believe you shall be able to
accustom yourself to our present mode of life?"
"Shall I see you?"
"Then what do you fear, my lord?"
"You might find it dull."
"No, my lord. In the morning, I shall rejoice in the
prospect of your coming, and in the evening dwell with
delight on the happiness I have enjoyed in your presence;
then too, when alone, I can call forth mighty pictures of
the past, see vast horizons bounded only by the towering
mountains of Pindus and Olympus. Oh, believe me, that when
three great passions, such as sorrow, love, and gratitude
fill the heart, ennui can find no place."
"You are a worthy daughter of Epirus, Haidee, and your
charming and poetical ideas prove well your descent from
that race of goddesses who claim your country as their
birthplace. Depend on my care to see that your youth is not
blighted, or suffered to pass away in ungenial solitude; and
of this be well assured, that if you love me as a father, I
love you as a child."
"You are wrong, my lord. The love I have for you is very
different from the love I had for my father. My father died,
but I did not die. If you were to die, I should die too."
The Count, with a smile of profound tenderness, extended his
hand, and she carried it to her lips. Monte Cristo, thus
attuned to the interview he proposed to hold with Morrel and
his family, departed, murmuring as he went these lines of
Pindar, "Youth is a flower of which love is the fruit; happy
is he who, after having watched its silent growth, is
permitted to gather and call it his own." The carriage was
prepared according to orders, and stepping lightly into it,
the count drove off at his usual rapid pace.
The Morrel Family.
In a very few minutes the count reached No. 7 in the Rue
Meslay. The house was of white stone, and in a small court
before it were two small beds full of beautiful flowers. In
the concierge that opened the gate the count recognized
Cocles; but as he had but one eye, and that eye had become
somewhat dim in the course of nine years, Cocles did not
recognize the count. The carriages that drove up to the door
were compelled to turn, to avoid a fountain that played in a
basin of rockwork, -- an ornament that had excited the
jealousy of the whole quarter, and had gained for the place
the appellation of "The Little Versailles." It is needless
to add that there were gold and silver fish in the basin.
The house, with kitchens and cellars below, had above the
ground-floor, two stories and attics. The whole of the
property, consisting of an immense workshop, two pavilions
at the bottom of the garden, and the garden itself, had been
purchased by Emmanuel, who had seen at a glance that he
could make of it a profitable speculation. He had reserved
the house and half the garden, and building a wall between
the garden and the workshops, had let them upon lease with
the pavilions at the bottom of the garden. So that for a
trifling sum he was as well lodged, and as perfectly shut
out from observation, as the inhabitants of the finest
mansion in the Faubourg St. Germain. The breakfast-room was
finished in oak; the salon in mahogany, and the furnishings
were of blue velvet; the bedroom was in citronwood and green
damask. There was a study for Emmanuel, who never studied,
and a music-room for Julie, who never played. The whole of
the second story was set apart for Maximilian; it was
precisely similar to his sister's apartments, except that
for the breakfast-parlor he had a billiard-room, where he
received his friends. He was superintending the grooming of
his horse, and smoking his cigar at the entrance of the
garden, when the count's carriage stopped at the gate.
Cocles opened the gate, and Baptistin, springing from the
box, inquired whether Monsieur and Madame Herbault and
Monsieur Maximilian Morrel would see his excellency the
Count of Monte Cristo. "The Count of Monte Cristo?" cried
Morrel, throwing away his cigar and hastening to the
carriage; "I should think we would see him. Ah, a thousand
thanks, count, for not having forgotten your promise." And
the young officer shook the count's hand so warmly, that
Monte Cristo could not be mistaken as to the sincerity of
his joy, and he saw that he had been expected with
impatience, and was received with pleasure. "Come, come,"
said Maximilian, "I will serve as your guide; such a man as
you are ought not to be introduced by a servant. My sister
is in the garden plucking the dead roses; my brother is
reading his two papers, the Presse and the Debats, within
six steps of her; for wherever you see Madame Herbault, you
have only to look within a circle of four yards and you will
find M. Emmanuel, and `reciprocally,' as they say at the
Polytechnic School." At the sound of their steps a young
woman of twenty to five and twenty, dressed in a silk
morning gown, and busily engaged in plucking the dead leaves
off a noisette rose-tree, raised her head. This was Julie,
who had become, as the clerk of the house of Thomson &
French had predicted, Madame Emmanuel Herbault. She uttered
a cry of surprise at the sight of a stranger, and Maximilian
began to laugh. "Don't disturb yourself, Julie," said he.
"The count has only been two or three days in Paris, but he
already knows what a fashionable woman of the Marais is, and
if he does not, you will show him."
"Ah, monsieur," returned Julie, "it is treason in my brother
to bring you thus, but he never has any regard for his poor
sister. Penelon, Penelon!" An old man, who was digging
busily at one of the beds, stuck his spade in the earth, and
approached, cap in hand, striving to conceal a quid of
tobacco he had just thrust into his cheek. A few locks of
gray mingled with his hair, which was still thick and
matted, while his bronzed features and determined glance
well suited an old sailor who had braved the heat of the
equator and the storms of the tropics. "I think you hailed
me, Mademoiselle Julie?" said he. Penelon had still
preserved the habit of calling his master's daughter
"Mademoiselle Julie," and had never been able to change the
name to Madame Herbault. "Penelon," replied Julie, "go and
inform M. Emmanuel of this gentleman's visit, and Maximilian
will conduct him to the salon." Then, turning to Monte
Cristo, -- "I hope you will permit me to leave you for a few
minutes," continued she; and without awaiting any reply,
disappeared behind a clump of trees, and escaped to the
house by a lateral alley.
"I am sorry to see," observed Monte Cristo to Morrel, "that
I cause no small disturbance in your house."
"Look there," said Maximilian, laughing; "there is her
husband changing his jacket for a coat. I assure you, you
are well known in the Rue Meslay."
"Your family appears to be a very happy one," said the
count, as if speaking to himself.
"Oh, yes, I assure you, count, they want nothing that can
render them happy; they are young and cheerful, they are
tenderly attached to each other, and with twenty-five
thousand francs a year they fancy themselves as rich as
"Five and twenty thousand francs is not a large sum,
however," replied Monte Cristo, with a tone so sweet and
gentle, that it went to Maximilian's heart like the voice of
a father; "but they will not be content with that. Your
brother-in-law is a barrister? a doctor?"
"He was a merchant, monsieur, and had succeeded to the
business of my poor father. M. Morrel, at his death, left
500,000 francs, which were divided between my sister and
myself, for we were his only children. Her husband, who,
when he married her, had no other patrimony than his noble
probity, his first-rate ability, and his spotless
reputation, wished to possess as much as his wife. He
labored and toiled until he had amassed 250,000 francs; six
years sufficed to achieve this object. Oh, I assure you,
sir, it was a touching spectacle to see these young
creatures, destined by their talents for higher stations,
toiling together, and through their unwillingness to change
any of the customs of their paternal house, taking six years
to accomplish what less scrupulous people would have
effected in two or three. Marseilles resounded with their
well-earned praises. At last, one day, Emmanuel came to his
wife, who had just finished making up the accounts. `Julie,'
said he to her, `Cocles has just given me the last rouleau
of a hundred francs; that completes the 250,000 francs we
had fixed as the limits of our gains. Can you content
yourself with the small fortune which we shall possess for
the future? Listen to me. Our house transacts business to
the amount of a million a year, from which we derive an
income of 40,000 francs. We can dispose of the business, if
we please, in an hour, for I have received a letter from M.
Delaunay, in which he offers to purchase the good-will of
the house, to unite with his own, for 300,000 francs. Advise
me what I had better do.' -- `Emmanuel,' returned my sister,
`the house of Morrel can only be carried on by a Morrel. Is
it not worth 300,000 francs to save our father's name from
the chances of evil fortune and failure?' -- `I thought so,'
replied Emmanuel; `but I wished to have your advice.' --
`This is my counsel: -- Our accounts are made up and our
bills paid; all we have to do is to stop the issue of any
more, and close our office.' This was done instantly. It was
three o'clock; at a quarter past, a merchant presented
himself to insure two ships; it was a clear profit of 15,000
francs. `Monsieur,' said Emmanuel, `have the goodness to
address yourself to M. Delaunay. We have quitted business.'
-- `How long?' inquired the astonished merchant. `A quarter
of an hour,' was the reply. And this is the reason,
monsieur," continued Maximilian, "of my sister and
brother-in-law having only 25,000 francs a year."
Maximilian had scarcely finished his story, during which the
count's heart had swelled within him, when Emmanuel entered
wearing a hat and coat. He saluted the count with the air of
a man who is aware of the rank of his guest; then, after
having led Monte Cristo around the little garden, he
returned to the house. A large vase of Japan porcelain,
filled with flowers that loaded the air with their perfume,
stood in the salon. Julie, suitably dressed, and her hair
arranged (she had accomplished this feat in less than ten
minutes), received the count on his entrance. The songs of
the birds were heard in an aviary hard by, and the branches
of laburnums and rose acacias formed an exquisite framework
to the blue velvet curtains. Everything in this charming
retreat, from the warble of the birds to the smile of the
mistress, breathed tranquillity and repose. The count had
felt the influence of this happiness from the moment he
entered the house, and he remained silent and pensive,
forgetting that he was expected to renew the conversation,
which had ceased after the first salutations had been
exchanged. The silence became almost painful when, by a
violent effort, tearing himself from his pleasing reverie --
"Madame," said he at length, "I pray you to excuse my
emotion, which must astonish you who are only accustomed to
the happiness I meet here; but contentment is so new a sight
to me, that I could never be weary of looking at yourself
and your husband."
"We are very happy, monsieur," replied Julie; "but we have
also known unhappiness, and few have ever undergone more
bitter sufferings than ourselves." The Count's features
displayed an expression of the most intense curiosity.
"Oh, all this is a family history, as Chateau-Renaud told
you the other day," observed Maximilian. "This humble
picture would have but little interest for you, accustomed
as you are to behold the pleasures and the misfortunes of
the wealthy and industrious; but such as we are, we have
experienced bitter sorrows."
"And God has poured balm into your wounds, as he does into
those of all who are in affliction?" said Monte Cristo
"Yes, count," returned Julie, "we may indeed say he has, for
he has done for us what he grants only to his chosen; he
sent us one of his angels." The count's cheeks became
scarlet, and he coughed, in order to have an excuse for
putting his handkerchief to his mouth. "Those born to
wealth, and who have the means of gratifying every wish,"
said Emmanuel, "know not what is the real happiness of life,
just as those who have been tossed on the stormy waters of
the ocean on a few frail planks can alone realize the
blessings of fair weather."
Monte Cristo rose, and without making any answer (for the
tremulousness of his voice would have betrayed his emotion)
walked up and down the apartment with a slow step.
"Our magnificence makes you smile, count," said Maximilian,
who had followed him with his eyes. "No, no," returned Monte
Cristo, pale as death, pressing one hand on his heart to
still its throbbings, while with the other he pointed to a
crystal cover, beneath which a silken purse lay on a black
velvet cushion. "I was wondering what could be the
significance of this purse, with the paper at one end and
the large diamond at the other."
"Count," replied Maximilian, with an air of gravity, "those
are our most precious family treasures."
"The stone seems very brilliant," answered the count.
"Oh, my brother does not allude to its value, although it
has been estimated at 100,000 francs; he means, that the
articles contained in this purse are the relics of the angel
I spoke of just now."
"This I do not comprehend; and yet I may not ask for an
explanation, madame," replied Monte Cristo bowing. "Pardon
me, I had no intention of committing an indiscretion."
"Indiscretion, -- oh, you make us happy by giving us an
excuse for expatiating on this subject. If we wanted to
conceal the noble action this purse commemorates, we should
not expose it thus to view. Oh, would we could relate it
everywhere, and to every one, so that the emotion of our
unknown benefactor might reveal his presence."
"Ah, really," said Monte Cristo in a half-stifled voice.
"Monsieur," returned Maximilian, raising the glass cover,
and respectfully kissing the silken purse, "this has touched
the hand of a man who saved my father from suicide, us from
ruin, and our name from shame and disgrace, -- a man by
whose matchless benevolence we poor children, doomed to want
and wretchedness, can at present hear every one envying our
happy lot. This letter" (as he spoke, Maximilian drew a
letter from the purse and gave it to the count) -- "this
letter was written by him the day that my father had taken a
desperate resolution, and this diamond was given by the
generous unknown to my sister as her dowry." Monte Cristo
opened the letter, and read it with an indescribable feeling
of delight. It was the letter written (as our readers know)
to Julie, and signed "Sinbad the Sailor." "Unknown you say,
is the man who rendered you this service -- unknown to you?"
"Yes; we have never had the happiness of pressing his hand,"
continued Maximilian. "We have supplicated heaven in vain to
grant us this favor, but the whole affair has had a
mysterious meaning that we cannot comprehend -- we have been
guided by an invisible hand, -- a hand as powerful as that
of an enchanter."
"Oh," cried Julie, "I have not lost all hope of some day
kissing that hand, as I now kiss the purse which he has
touched. Four years ago, Penelon was at Trieste -- Penelon,
count, is the old sailor you saw in the garden, and who,
from quartermaster, has become gardener -- Penelon, when he
was at Trieste, saw on the quay an Englishman, who was on
the point of embarking on board a yacht, and he recognized
him as the person who called on my father the fifth of June,
1829, and who wrote me this letter on the fifth of
September. He felt convinced of his identity, but he did not
venture to address him."
"An Englishman," said Monte Cristo, who grew uneasy at the
attention with which Julie looked at him. "An Englishman you
"Yes," replied Maximilian, "an Englishman, who represented
himself as the confidential clerk of the house of Thomson &
French, at Rome. It was this that made me start when you
said the other day, at M. de Morcerf's, that Messrs. Thomson
& French were your bankers. That happened, as I told you, in
1829. For God's sake, tell me, did you know this
"But you tell me, also, that the house of Thomson & French
have constantly denied having rendered you this service?"
"Then is it not probable that this Englishman may be some
one who, grateful for a kindness your father had shown him,