Part 17 out of 31
consequently, you can understand that it is not at all
likely I shall ever deny my parent." The major looked
anxiously around him. "Make yourself easy, we are quite
alone," said Andrea; "besides, we are conversing in
"Well, then," replied the major, "they paid me 50,000 francs
"Monsieur Cavalcanti," said Andrea, "do you believe in fairy
"I used not to do so, but I really feel now almost obliged
to have faith in them."
"You have, then, been induced to alter your opinion; you
have had some proofs of their truth?" The major drew from
his pocket a handful of gold. "Most palpable proofs," said
he, "as you may perceive."
"You think, then, that I may rely on the count's promises?"
"Certainly I do."
"You are sure he will keep his word with me?"
"To the letter, but at the same time, remember, we must
continue to play our respective parts. I, as a tender
"And I as a dutiful son, as they choose that I shall be
descended from you."
"Whom do you mean by they?"
"Ma foi, I can hardly tell, but I was alluding to those who
wrote the letter; you received one, did you not?"
"From a certain Abbe Busoni."
"Have you any knowledge of him?"
"No, I have never seen him."
"What did he say in the letter?"
"You will promise not to betray me?"
"Rest assured of that; you well know that our interests are
"Then read for yourself;" and the major gave a letter into
the young man's hand. Andrea read in a low voice --
"You are poor; a miserable old age awaits you. Would you
like to become rich, or at least independent? Set out
immediately for Paris, and demand of the Count of Monte
Cristo, Avenue des Champs Elysees, No. 30, the son whom you
had by the Marchesa Corsinari, and who was taken from you at
five years of age. This son is named Andrea Cavalcanti. In
order that you may not doubt the kind intention of the
writer of this letter, you will find enclosed an order for
2,400 francs, payable in Florence, at Signor Gozzi's; also a
letter of introduction to the Count of Monte Cristo, on whom
I give you a draft of 48,000 francs. Remember to go to the
count on the 26th May at seven o'clock in the evening.
"It is the same."
"What do you mean?" said the major.
"I was going to say that I received a letter almost to the
"From the Abbe Busoni?"
"From whom, then?"
"From an Englishman, called Lord Wilmore, who takes the name
of Sinbad the Sailor."
"And of whom you have no more knowledge than I of the Abbe
"You are mistaken; there I am ahead of you."
"You have seen him, then?"
"Ah, that is just what I cannot tell you; if I did, I should
make you as wise as myself, which it is not my intention to
"And what did the letter contain?"
"`You are poor, and your future prospects are dark and
gloomy. Do you wish for a name? should you like to be rich,
and your own master?'"
"Ma foi," said the young man; "was it possible there could
be two answers to such a question?"
"Take the post-chaise which you will find waiting at the
Porte de Genes, as you enter Nice; pass through Turin,
Chambery, and Pont-de-Beauvoisin. Go to the Count of Monte
Cristo, Avenue des Champs Elysees, on the 26th of May, at
seven o'clock in the evening, and demand of him your father.
You are the son of the Marchese Cavalcanti and the Marchesa
Oliva Corsinari. The marquis will give you some papers which
will certify this fact, and authorize you to appear under
that name in the Parisian world. As to your rank, an annual
income of 50,000 livres will enable you to support it
admirably. I enclose a draft for 5,000 livres, payable on M.
Ferrea, banker at Nice, and also a letter of introduction to
the Count of Monte Cristo, whom I have directed to supply
all your wants.
"Sinbad the Sailor."
"Humph," said the major; "very good. You have seen the
count, you say?"
"I have only just left him "
"And has he conformed to all that the letter specified?"
"Do you understand it?"
"Not in the least."
"There is a dupe somewhere."
"At all events, it is neither you nor I."
"Well, then" --
"Why, it does not much concern us, do you think it does?"
"No; I agree with you there. We must play the game to the
end, and consent to be blindfold."
"Ah, you shall see; I promise you I will sustain my part to
"I never once doubted your doing so." Monte Cristo chose
this moment for re-entering the drawing-room. On hearing the
sound of his footsteps, the two men threw themselves in each
other's arms, and while they were in the midst of this
embrace, the count entered. "Well, marquis," said Monte
Cristo, "you appear to be in no way disappointed in the son
whom your good fortune has restored to you."
"Ah, your excellency, I am overwhelmed with delight."
"And what are your feelings?" said Monte Cristo, turning to
the young man.
"As for me, my heart is overflowing with happiness."
"Happy father, happy son!" said the count.
"There is only one thing which grieves me," observed the
major, "and that is the necessity for my leaving Paris so
"Ah, my dear M. Cavalcanti, I trust you will not leave
before I have had the honor of presenting you to some of my
"I am at your service, sir," replied the major.
"Now, sir," said Monte Cristo, addressing Andrea, "make your
"Tell M. Cavalcanti something of the state of your
"Ma foi, monsieur, you have touched upon a tender chord."
"Do you hear what he says, major?"
"Certainly I do."
"But do you understand?"
"Your son says he requires money."
"Well, what would you have me do?" said the major.
"You should furnish him with some of course," replied Monte
"Yes, you," said the count, at the same time advancing
towards Andrea, and slipping a packet of bank-notes into the
young man's hand.
"What is this?"
"It is from your father."
"From my father?"
"Yes; did you not tell him just now that you wanted money?
Well, then, he deputes me to give you this."
"Am I to consider this as part of my income on account?"
"No, it is for the first expenses of your settling in
"Ah, how good my dear father is!"
"Silence," said Monte Cristo; "he does not wish you to know
that it comes from him."
"I fully appreciate his delicacy," said Andrea, cramming the
notes hastily into his pocket.
"And now, gentlemen, I wish you good-morning," said Monte
"And when shall we have the honor of seeing you again, your
excellency?" asked Cavalcanti.
"Ah," said Andrea, "when may we hope for that pleasure?"
"On Saturday, if you will -- Yes. -- Let me see -- Saturday
-- I am to dine at my country house, at Auteuil, on that
day, Rue de la Fontaine, No. 28. Several persons are
invited, and among others, M. Danglars, your banker. I will
introduce you to him, for it will be necessary he should
know you, as he is to pay your money."
"Full dress?" said the major, half aloud.
"Oh, yes, certainly," said the count; "uniform, cross,
"And how shall I be dressed?" demanded Andrea.
"Oh, very simply; black trousers, patent leather boots,
white waistcoat, either a black or blue coat, and a long
cravat. Go to Blin or Veronique for your clothes. Baptistin
will tell you where, if you do not know their address. The
less pretension there is in your attire, the better will be
the effect, as you are a rich man. If you mean to buy any
horses, get them of Devedeux, and if you purchase a phaeton,
go to Baptiste for it."
"At what hour shall we come?" asked the young man.
"About half-past six."
"We will be with you at that time," said the major. The two
Cavalcanti bowed to the count, and left the house. Monte
Cristo went to the window, and saw them crossing the street,
arm in arm. "There go two miscreants;" said he, "it is a
pity they are not really related!" -- then, after an instant
of gloomy reflection, "Come, I will go to see the Morrels,"
said he; "I think that disgust is even more sickening than
In the Lucerne Patch.
Our readers must now allow us to transport them again to the
enclosure surrounding M. de Villefort's house, and, behind
the gate, half screened from view by the large
chestnut-trees, which on all sides spread their luxuriant
branches, we shall find some people of our acquaintance.
This time Maximilian was the first to arrive. He was
intently watching for a shadow to appear among the trees,
and awaiting with anxiety the sound of a light step on the
gravel walk. At length, the long-desired sound was heard,
and instead of one figure, as he had expected, he perceived
that two were approaching him. The delay had been occasioned
by a visit from Madame Danglars and Eugenie, which had been
prolonged beyond the time at which Valentine was expected.
That she might not appear to fail in her promise to
Maximilian, she proposed to Mademoiselle Danglars that they
should take a walk in the garden, being anxious to show that
the delay, which was doubtless a cause of vexation to him,
was not occasioned by any neglect on her part. The young
man, with the intuitive perception of a lover, quickly
understood the circumstances in which she was involuntarily
placed, and he was comforted. Besides, although she avoided
coming within speaking distance, Valentine arranged so that
Maximilian could see her pass and repass, and each time she
went by, she managed, unperceived by her companion, to cast
an expressive look at the young man, which seemed to say,
"Have patience! You see it is not my fault." And Maximilian
was patient, and employed himself in mentally contrasting
the two girls, -- one fair, with soft languishing eyes, a
figure gracefully bending like a weeping willow; the other a
brunette, with a fierce and haughty expression, and as
straight as a poplar. It is unnecessary to state that, in
the eyes of the young man, Valentine did not suffer by the
contrast. In about half an hour the girls went away, and
Maximilian understood that Mademoiselle Danglars' visit had
at last come to an end. In a few minutes Valentine
re-entered the garden alone. For fear that any one should be
observing her return, she walked slowly; and instead of
immediately directing her steps towards the gate, she seated
herself on a bench, and, carefully casting her eyes around,
to convince herself that she was not watched, she presently
arose, and proceeded quickly to join Maximilian.
"Good-evening, Valentine," said a well-known voice.
"Good-evening, Maximilian; I know I have kept you waiting,
but you saw the cause of my delay."
"Yes, I recognized Mademoiselle Danglars. I was not aware
that you were so intimate with her."
"Who told you we were intimate, Maximilian?"
"No one, but you appeared to be so. From the manner in which
you walked and talked together, one would have thought you
were two school-girls telling your secrets to each other."
"We were having a confidential conversation," returned
Valentine; "she was owning to me her repugnance to the
marriage with M. de Morcerf; and I, on the other hand, was
confessing to her how wretched it made me to think of
marrying M. d'Epinay."
"That will account to you for the unreserved manner which
you observed between me and Eugenie, as in speaking of the
man whom I could not love, my thoughts involuntarily
reverted to him on whom my affections were fixed."
"Ah, how good you are to say so, Valentine! You possess a
quality which can never belong to Mademoiselle Danglars. It
is that indefinable charm which is to a woman what perfume
is to the flower and flavor to the fruit, for the beauty of
either is not the only quality we seek."
"It is your love which makes you look upon everything in
"No, Valentine, I assure you such is not the case. I was
observing you both when you were walking in the garden, and,
on my honor, without at all wishing to depreciate the beauty
of Mademoiselle Danglars, I cannot understand how any man
can really love her."
"The fact is, Maximilian, that I was there, and my presence
had the effect of rendering you unjust in your comparison."
"No; but tell me -- it is a question of simple curiosity,
and which was suggested by certain ideas passing in my mind
relative to Mademoiselle Danglars" --
"I dare say it is something disparaging which you are going
to say. It only proves how little indulgence we may expect
from your sex," interrupted Valentine.
"You cannot, at least, deny that you are very harsh judges
of each other."
"If we are so, it is because we generally judge under the
influence of excitement. But return to your question."
"Does Mademoiselle Danglars object to this marriage with M.
de Morcerf on account of loving another?"
"I told you I was not on terms of strict intimacy with
"Yes, but girls tell each other secrets without being
particularly intimate; own, now, that you did question her
on the subject. Ah, I see you are smiling."
"If you are already aware of the conversation that passed,
the wooden partition which interposed between us and you has
proved but a slight security."
"Come, what did she say?"
"She told me that she loved no one," said Valentine; "that
she disliked the idea of being married; that she would
infinitely prefer leading an independent and unfettered
life; and that she almost wished her father might lose his
fortune, that she might become an artist, like her friend,
Mademoiselle Louise d'Armilly."
"Ah, you see" --
"Well, what does that prove?" asked Valentine.
"Nothing," replied Maximilian.
"Then why did you smile?"
"Why, you know very well that you are reflecting on
"Do you want me to go away?"
"Ah, no, no. But do not let us lose time; you are the
subject on which I wish to speak."
"True, we must be quick, for we have scarcely ten minutes
more to pass together."
"Ma foi," said Maximilian, in consternation.
"Yes, you are right; I am but a poor friend to you. What a
life I cause you to lead, poor Maximilian, you who are
formed for happiness! I bitterly reproach myself, I assure
"Well, what does it signify, Valentine, so long as I am
satisfied, and feel that even this long and painful suspense
is amply repaid by five minutes of your society, or two
words from your lips? And I have also a deep conviction that
heaven would not have created two hearts, harmonizing as
ours do, and almost miraculously brought us together, to
separate us at last."
"Those are kind and cheering words. You must hope for us
both, Maximilian; that will make me at least partly happy."
"But why must you leave me so soon?"
"I do not know particulars. I can only tell you that Madame
de Villefort sent to request my presence, as she had a
communication to make on which a part of my fortune
depended. Let them take my fortune, I am already too rich;
and, perhaps, when they have taken it, they will leave me in
peace and quietness. You would love me as much if I were
poor, would you not, Maximilian?"
"Oh, I shall always love you. What should I care for either
riches or poverty, if my Valentine was near me, and I felt
certain that no one could deprive me of her? But do you not
fear that this communication may relate to your marriage?"
"I do not think that is the case."
"However it may be, Valentine, you must not be alarmed. I
assure you that, as long as I live, I shall never love any
"You think to reassure me when you say that, Maximilian."
"Pardon me, you are right. I am a brute. But I was going to
tell you that I met M. de Morcerf the other day."
"Monsieur Franz is his friend, you know."
"Monsieur de Morcerf has received a letter from Franz,
announcing his immediate return." Valentine turned pale, and
leaned her hand against the gate. "Ah heavens, if it were
that! But no, the communication would not come through
Madame de Villefort."
"Because -- I scarcely know why -- but it has appeared as if
Madame de Villefort secretly objected to the marriage,
although she did not choose openly to oppose it."
"Is it so? Then I feel as if I could adore Madame de
"Do not be in such a hurry to do that," said Valentine, with
a sad smile.
"If she objects to your marrying M. d'Epinay, she would be
all the more likely to listen to any other proposition."
"No, Maximilian, it is not suitors to which Madame de
Villefort objects, it is marriage itself."
"Marriage? If she dislikes that so much, why did she ever
"You do not understand me, Maximilian. About a year ago, I
talked of retiring to a convent. Madame de Villefort, in
spite of all the remarks which she considered it her duty to
make, secretly approved of the proposition, my father
consented to it at her instigation, and it was only on
account of my poor grandfather that I finally abandoned the
project. You can form no idea of the expression of that old
man's eye when he looks at me, the only person in the world
whom he loves, and, I had almost said, by whom he is beloved
in return. When he learned my resolution, I shall never
forget the reproachful look which he cast on me, and the
tears of utter despair which chased each other down his
lifeless cheeks. Ah, Maximilian, I experienced, at that
moment, such remorse for my intention, that, throwing myself
at his feet, I exclaimed, -- `Forgive me, pray forgive me,
my dear grandfather; they may do what they will with me, I
will never leave you.' When I had ceased speaking, he
thankfully raised his eyes to heaven, but without uttering a
word. Ah, Maximilian, I may have much to suffer, but I feel
as if my grandfather's look at that moment would more than
compensate for all."
"Dear Valentine, you are a perfect angel, and I am sure I do
not know what I -- sabring right and left among the Bedouins
-- can have done to merit your being revealed to me, unless,
indeed, heaven took into consideration the fact that the
victims of my sword were infidels. But tell me what interest
Madame de Villefort can have in your remaining unmarried?"
"Did I not tell you just now that I was rich, Maximilian --
too rich? I possess nearly 50,000 livres in right of my
mother; my grandfather and my grandmother, the Marquis and
Marquise de Saint-Meran, will leave me as much, and M.
Noirtier evidently intends making me his heir. My brother
Edward, who inherits nothing from his mother, will,
therefore, be poor in comparison with me. Now, if I had
taken the veil, all this fortune would have descended to my
father, and, in reversion, to his son."
"Ah, how strange it seems that such a young and beautiful
woman should be so avaricious."
"It is not for herself that she is so, but for her son, and
what you regard as a vice becomes almost a virtue when
looked at in the light of maternal love."
"But could you not compromise matters, and give up a portion
of your fortune to her son?"
"How could I make such a proposition, especially to a woman
who always professes to be so entirely disinterested?"
"Valentine, I have always regarded our love in the light of
something sacred; consequently, I have covered it with the
veil of respect, and hid it in the innermost recesses of my
soul. No human being, not even my sister, is aware of its
existence. Valentine, will you permit me to make a confidant
of a friend and reveal to him the love I bear you?"
Valentine started. "A friend, Maximilian; and who is this
friend? I tremble to give my permission."
"Listen, Valentine. Have you never experienced for any one
that sudden and irresistible sympathy which made you feel as
if the object of it had been your old and familiar friend,
though, in reality, it was the first time you had ever met?
Nay, further, have you never endeavored to recall the time,
place, and circumstances of your former intercourse, and
failing in this attempt, have almost believed that your
spirits must have held converse with each other in some
state of being anterior to the present, and that you are
only now occupied in a reminiscence of the past?"
"Well, that is precisely the feeling which I experienced
when I first saw that extraordinary man."
"Extraordinary, did you say?"
"You have known him for some time, then?"
"Scarcely longer than eight or ten days."
"And do you call a man your friend whom you have only known
for eight or ten days? Ah, Maximilian, I had hoped you set a
higher value on the title of friend."
"Your logic is most powerful, Valentine, but say what you
will, I can never renounce the sentiment which has
instinctively taken possession of my mind. I feel as if it
were ordained that this man should be associated with all
the good which the future may have in store for me, and
sometimes it really seems as if his eye was able to see what
was to come, and his hand endowed with the power of
directing events according to his own will."
"He must be a prophet, then," said Valentine, smiling.
"Indeed," said Maximilian, "I have often been almost tempted
to attribute to him the gift of prophecy; at all events, he
has a wonderful power of foretelling any future good."
"Ah," said Valentine in a mournful tone, "do let me see this
man, Maximilian; he may tell me whether I shall ever be
loved sufficiently to make amends for all I have suffered."
"My poor girl, you know him already."
"I know him?"
"Yes; it was he who saved the life of your step-mother and
"The Count of Monte Cristo?"
"Ah," cried Valentine, "he is too much the friend of Madame
de Villefort ever to be mine."
"The friend of Madame de Villefort! It cannot be; surely,
Valentine, you are mistaken?"
"No, indeed, I am not; for I assure you, his power over our
household is almost unlimited. Courted by my step-mother,
who regards him as the epitome of human wisdom; admired by
my father, who says he has never before heard such sublime
ideas so eloquently expressed; idolized by Edward, who,
notwithstanding his fear of the count's large black eyes,
runs to meet him the moment he arrives, and opens his hand,
in which he is sure to find some delightful present, -- M.
de Monte Cristo appears to exert a mysterious and almost
uncontrollable influence over all the members of our
"If such be the case, my dear Valentine, you must yourself
have felt, or at all events will soon feel, the effects of
his presence. He meets Albert de Morcerf in Italy -- it is
to rescue him from the hands of the banditti; he introduces
himself to Madame Danglars -- it is that he may give her a
royal present; your step-mother and her son pass before his
door -- it is that his Nubian may save them from
destruction. This man evidently possesses the power of
influencing events, both as regards men and things. I never
saw more simple tastes united to greater magnificence. His
smile is so sweet when he addresses me, that I forget it
ever can be bitter to others. Ah, Valentine, tell me, if he
ever looked on you with one of those sweet smiles? if so,
depend on it, you will be happy."
"Me?" said the young girl, "he never even glances at me; on
the contrary, if I accidentally cross his path, he appears
rather to avoid me. Ah, he is not generous, neither does he
possess that supernatural penetration which you attribute to
him, for if he did, he would have perceived that I was
unhappy; and if he had been generous, seeing me sad and
solitary, he would have used his influence to my advantage,
and since, as you say, he resembles the sun, he would have
warmed my heart with one of his life-giving rays. You say he
loves you, Maximilian; how do you know that he does? All
would pay deference to an officer like you, with a fierce
mustache and a long sabre, but they think they may crush a
poor weeping girl with impunity."
"Ah, Valentine, I assure you you are mistaken."
"If it were otherwise -- if he treated me diplomatically --
that is to say, like a man who wishes, by some means or
other, to obtain a footing in the house, so that he may
ultimately gain the power of dictating to its occupants --
he would, if it had been but once, have honored me with the
smile which you extol so loudly; but no, he saw that I was
unhappy, he understood that I could be of no use to him, and
therefore paid no attention to me whatever. Who knows but
that, in order to please Madame de Villefort and my father,
he may not persecute me by every means in his power? It is
not just that he should despise me so, without any reason.
Ah, forgive me," said Valentine, perceiving the effect which
her words were producing on Maximilian: "I have done wrong,
for I have given utterance to thoughts concerning that man
which I did not even know existed in my heart. I do not deny
the influence of which you speak, or that I have not myself
experienced it, but with me it has been productive of evil
rather than good."
"Well, Valentine," said Morrel with a sigh, "we will not
discuss the matter further. I will not make a confidant of
"Alas," said Valentine, "I see that I have given you pain. I
can only say how sincerely I ask pardon for having griefed
you. But, indeed, I am not prejudiced beyond the power of
conviction. Tell me what this Count of Monte Cristo has done
"I own that your question embarrasses me, Valentine, for I
cannot say that the count has rendered me any ostensible
service. Still, as I have already told you I have an
instinctive affection for him, the source of which I cannot
explain to you. Has the sun done anything for me? No; he
warms me with his rays, and it is by his light that I see
you -- nothing more. Has such and such a perfume done
anything for me? No; its odor charms one of my senses --
that is all I can say when I am asked why I praise it. My
friendship for him is as strange and unaccountable as his
for me. A secret voice seems to whisper to me that there
must be something more than chance in this unexpected
reciprocity of friendship. In his most simple actions, as
well as in his most secret thoughts, I find a relation to my
own. You will perhaps smile at me when I tell you that, ever
since I have known this man, I have involuntarily
entertained the idea that all the good fortune which his
befallen me originated from him. However, I have managed to
live thirty years without this protection, you will say; but
I will endeavor a little to illustrate my meaning. He
invited me to dine with him on Saturday, which was a very
natural thing for him to do. Well, what have I learned
since? That your mother and M. de Villefort are both coming
to this dinner. I shall meet them there, and who knows what
future advantages may result from the interview? This may
appear to you to be no unusual combination of circumstances;
nevertheless, I perceive some hidden plot in the arrangement
-- something, in fact, more than is apparent on a casual
view of the subject. I believe that this singular man, who
appears to fathom the motives of every one, has purposely
arranged for me to meet M. and Madame de Villefort, and
sometimes, I confess, I have gone so far as to try to read
in his eyes whether he was in possession of the secret of
"My good friend," said Valentine, "I should take you for a
visionary, and should tremble for your reason, if I were
always to hear you talk in a strain similar to this. Is it
possible that you can see anything more than the merest
chance in this meeting? Pray reflect a little. My father,
who never goes out, has several times been on the point of
refusing this invitation; Madame de Villefort, on the
contrary, is burning with the desire of seeing this
extraordinary nabob in his own house, therefore, she has
with great difficulty prevailed on my father to accompany
her. No, no; it is as I have said, Maximilian, -- there is
no one in the world of whom I can ask help but yourself and
my grandfather, who is little better than a corpse."
"I see that you are right, logically speaking," said
Maximilian; "but the gentle voice which usually has such
power over me fails to convince me to-day."
"I feel the same as regards yourself." said Valentine; "and
I own that, if you have no stronger proof to give me" --
"I have another," replied Maximilian; "but I fear you will
deem it even more absurd than the first."
"So much the worse," said Valentine, smiling.
"It is, nevertheless, conclusive to my mind. My ten years of
service have also confirmed my ideas on the subject of
sudden inspirations, for I have several times owed my life
to a mysterious impulse which directed me to move at once
either to the right or to the left, in order to escape the
ball which killed the comrade fighting by my side, while it
left me unharmed."
"Dear Maximilian, why not attribute your escape to my
constant prayers for your safety? When you are away, I no
longer pray for myself, but for you."
"Yes, since you have known me," said Morrel, smiling; "but
that cannot apply to the time previous to our acquaintance,
"You are very provoking, and will not give me credit for
anything; but let me hear this second proof, which you
yourself own to be absurd."
"Well, look through this opening, and you will see the
beautiful new horse which I rode here."
"Ah, what a beautiful creature!" cried Valentine; "why did
you not bring him close to the gate, so that I could talk to
him and pat him?"
"He is, as you see, a very valuable animal," said
Maximilian. "You know that my means are limited, and that I
am what would be designated a man of moderate pretensions.
Well, I went to a horse dealer's, where I saw this
magnificent horse, which I have named Medeah. I asked the
price; they told me it was 4,500 francs. I was, therefore,
obliged to give it up, as you may imagine, but I own I went
away with rather a heavy heart, for the horse had looked at
me affectionately, had rubbed his head against me and, when
I mounted him, had pranced in the most delightful way
imaginable, so that I was altogether fascinated with him.
The same evening some friends of mine visited me, -- M. de
Chateau-Renaud, M. Debray, and five or six other choice
spirits, whom you do not know, even by name. They proposed a
game of bouillotte. I never play, for I am not rich enough
to afford to lose, or sufficiently poor to desire to gain.
But I was at my own house, you understand, so there was
nothing to be done but to send for the cards, which I did.
"Just as they were sitting down to table, M. de Monte Cristo
arrived. He took his seat amongst them; they played, and I
won. I am almost ashamed to say that my gains amounted to
5,000 francs. We separated at midnight. I could not defer my
pleasure, so I took a cabriolet and drove to the horse
dealer's. Feverish and excited, I rang at the door. The
person who opened it must have taken me for a madman, for I
rushed at once to the stable. Medeah was standing at the
rack, eating his hay. I immediately put on the saddle and
bridle, to which operation he lent himself with the best
grace possible; then, putting the 4,500 francs into the
hands of the astonished dealer, I proceeded to fulfil my
intention of passing the night in riding in the Champs
Elysees. As I rode by the count's house I perceived a light
in one of the windows, and fancied I saw the shadow of his
figure moving behind the curtain. Now, Valentine, I firmly
believe that he knew of my wish to possess this horse, and
that he lost expressly to give me the means of procuring
"My dear Maximilian, you are really too fanciful; you will
not love even me long. A man who accustoms himself to live
in such a world of poetry and imagination must find far too
little excitement in a common, every-day sort of attachment
such as ours. But they are calling me. Do you hear?"
"Ah, Valentine," said Maximilian, "give me but one finger
through this opening in the grating, one finger, the
littlest finger of all, that I may have the happiness of
"Maximilian, we said we would be to each other as two
voices, two shadows."
"As you will, Valentine."
"Shall you be happy if I do what you wish?"
"Oh, yes!" Valentine mounted on a bench, and passed not only
her finger but her whole hand through the opening.
Maximilian uttered a cry of delight, and, springing
forwards, seized the hand extended towards him, and
imprinted on it a fervent and impassioned kiss. The little
hand was then immediately withdrawn, and the young man saw
Valentine hurrying towards the house, as though she were
almost terrified at her own sensations.
M. Noirtier de Villefort.
We will now relate what was passing in the house of the
king's attorney after the departure of Madame Danglars and
her daughter, and during the time of the conversation
between Maximilian and Valentine, which we have just
detailed. M. de Villefort entered his father's room,
followed by Madame de Villefort. Both of the visitors, after
saluting the old man and speaking to Barrois, a faithful
servant, who had been twenty-five years in his service, took
their places on either side of the paralytic.
M. Noirtier was sitting in an arm-chair, which moved upon
casters, in which he was wheeled into the room in the
morning, and in the same way drawn out again at night. He
was placed before a large glass, which reflected the whole
apartment, and so, without any attempt to move, which would
have been impossible, he could see all who entered the room
and everything which was going on around him. M. Noirtier,
although almost as immovable as a corpse, looked at the
newcomers with a quick and intelligent expression,
perceiving at once, by their ceremonious courtesy, that they
were come on business of an unexpected and official
character. Sight and hearing were the only senses remaining,
and they, like two solitary sparks, remained to animate the
miserable body which seemed fit for nothing but the grave;
it was only, however, by means of one of these senses that
he could reveal the thoughts and feelings that still
occupied his mind, and the look by which he gave expression
to his inner life was like the distant gleam of a candle
which a traveller sees by night across some desert place,
and knows that a living being dwells beyond the silence and
obscurity. Noirtier's hair was long and white, and flowed
over his shoulders; while in his eyes, shaded by thick black
lashes, was concentrated, as it often happens with an organ
which is used to the exclusion of the others, all the
activity, address, force, and intelligence which were
formerly diffused over his whole body; and so although the
movement of the arm, the sound of the voice, and the agility
of the body, were wanting, the speaking eye sufficed for
all. He commanded with it; it was the medium through which
his thanks were conveyed. In short, his whole appearance
produced on the mind the impression of a corpse with living
eyes, and nothing could be more startling than to observe
the expression of anger or joy suddenly lighting up these
organs, while the rest of the rigid and marble-like features
were utterly deprived of the power of participation. Three
persons only could understand this language of the poor
paralytic; these were Villefort, Valentine, and the old
servant of whom we have already spoken. But as Villefort saw
his father but seldom, and then only when absolutely
obliged, and as he never took any pains to please or gratify
him when he was there, all the old man's happiness was
centred in his granddaughter. Valentine, by means of her
love, her patience, and her devotion, had learned to read in
Noirtier's look all the varied feelings which were passing
in his mind. To this dumb language, which was so
unintelligible to others, she answered by throwing her whole
soul into the expression of her countenance, and in this
manner were the conversations sustained between the blooming
girl and the helpless invalid, whose body could scarcely be
called a living one, but who, nevertheless, possessed a fund
of knowledge and penetration, united with a will as powerful
as ever although clogged by a body rendered utterly
incapable of obeying its impulses. Valentine had solved the
problem, and was able easily to understand his thoughts, and
to convey her own in return, and, through her untiring and
devoted assiduity, it was seldom that, in the ordinary
transactions of every-day life, she failed to anticipate the
wishes of the living, thinking mind, or the wants of the
almost inanimate body. As to the servant, he had, as we have
said, been with his master for five and twenty years,
therefore he knew all his habits, and it was seldom that
Noirtier found it necessary to ask for anything, so prompt
was he in administering to all the necessities of the
invalid. Villefort did not need the help of either Valentine
or the domestic in order to carry on with his father the
strange conversation which he was about to begin. As we have
said, he perfectly understood the old man's vocabulary, and
if he did not use it more often, it was only indifference
and ennui which prevented him from so doing. He therefore
allowed Valentine to go into the garden, sent away Barrois,
and after having seated himself at his father's right hand,
while Madame de Villefort placed herself on the left, he
addressed him thus: --
"I trust you will not be displeased, sir, that Valentine has
not come with us, or that I dismissed Barrois, for our
conference will be one which could not with propriety be
carried on in the presence of either. Madame de Villefort
and I have a communication to make to you."
Noirtier's face remained perfectly passive during this long
preamble, while, on the contrary, Villefort's eye was
endeavoring to penetrate into the inmost recesses of the old
"This communication," continued the procureur, in that cold
and decisive tone which seemed at once to preclude all
discussion, "will, we are sure, meet with your approbation."
The eye of the invalid still retained that vacancy of
expression which prevented his son from obtaining any
knowledge of the feelings which were passing in his mind; he
listened, nothing more. "Sir," resumed Villefort, "we are
thinking of marrying Valentine." Had the old man's face been
moulded in wax it could not have shown less emotion at this
news than was now to be traced there. "The marriage will
take place in less than three months," said Villefort.
Noirtier's eye still retained its inanimate expression.
Madame de Villefort now took her part in the conversation
and added, -- "We thought this news would possess an
interest for you, sir, who have always entertained a great
affection for Valentine; it therefore only now remains for
us to tell you the name of the young man for whom she is
destined. It is one of the most desirable connections which
could possibly be formed; he possesses fortune, a high rank
in society, and every personal qualification likely to
render Valentine supremely happy, -- his name, moreover,
cannot be wholly unknown to you. It is M. Franz de Quesnel,
While his wife was speaking, Villefort had narrowly watched
the old man's countenance. When Madame de Villefort
pronounced the name of Franz, the pupil of M. Noirtier's eye
began to dilate, and his eyelids trembled with the same
movement that may be perceived on the lips of an individual
about to speak, and he darted a lightning glance at Madame
de Villefort and his son. The procureur, who knew the
political hatred which had formerly existed between M.
Noirtier and the elder d'Epinay, well understood the
agitation and anger which the announcement had produced;
but, feigning not to perceive either, he immediately resumed
the narrative begun by his wife. "Sir," said he, "you are
aware that Valentine is about to enter her nineteenth year,
which renders it important that she should lose no time in
forming a suitable alliance. Nevertheless, you have not been
forgotten in our plans, and we have fully ascertained
beforehand that Valentine's future husband will consent, not
to live in this house, for that might not be pleasant for
the young people, but that you should live with them; so
that you and Valentine, who are so attached to each other,
would not be separated, and you would be able to pursue
exactly the same course of life which you have hitherto
done, and thus, instead of losing, you will be a gainer by
the change, as it will secure to you two children instead of
one, to watch over and comfort you."
Noirtier's look was furious; it was very evident that
something desperate was passing in the old man's mind, for a
cry of anger and grief rose in his throat, and not being
able to find vent in utterance, appeared almost to choke
him, for his face and lips turned quite purple with the
struggle. Villefort quietly opened a window, saying, "It is
very warm, and the heat affects M. Noirtier." He then
returned to his place, but did not sit down. "This
marriage," added Madame de Villefort, "is quite agreeable to
the wishes of M. d'Epinay and his family; besides, he had no
relations nearer than an uncle and aunt, his mother having
died at his birth, and his father having been assassinated
in 1815, that is to say, when he was but two years old; it
naturally followed that the child was permitted to choose
his own pursuits, and he has, therefore, seldom acknowledged
any other authority but that of his own will."
"That assassination was a mysterious affair," said
Villefort, "and the perpetrators have hitherto escaped
detection, although suspicion has fallen on the head of more
than one person." Noirtier made such an effort that his lips
expanded into a smile.
"Now," continued Villefort, "those to whom the guilt really
belongs, by whom the crime was committed, on whose heads the
justice of man may probably descend here, and the certain
judgment of God hereafter, would rejoice in the opportunity
thus afforded of bestowing such a peace-offering as
Valentine on the son of him whose life they so ruthlessly
destroyed." Noirtier had succeeded in mastering his emotion
more than could have been deemed possible with such an
enfeebled and shattered frame. "Yes, I understand," was the
reply contained in his look; and this look expressed a
feeling of strong indignation, mixed with profound contempt.
Villefort fully understood his father's meaning, and
answered by a slight shrug of his shoulders. He then
motioned to his wife to take leave. "Now sir," said Madame
de Villefort, "I must bid you farewell. Would you like me to
send Edward to you for a short time?"
It had been agreed that the old man should express his
approbation by closing his eyes, his refusal by winking them
several times, and if he had some desire or feeling to
express, he raised them to heaven. If he wanted Valentine,
he closed his right eye only, and if Barrois, the left. At
Madame de Villefort's proposition he instantly winked his
eyes. Provoked by a complete refusal, she bit her lip and
said, "Then shall I send Valentine to you?" The old man
closed his eyes eagerly, thereby intimating that such was
his wish. M. and Madame de Villefort bowed and left the
room, giving orders that Valentine should be summoned to her
grandfather's presence, and feeling sure that she would have
much to do to restore calmness to the perturbed spirit of
the invalid. Valentine, with a color still heightened by
emotion, entered the room just after her parents had quitted
it. One look was sufficient to tell her that her grandfather
was suffering, and that there was much on his mind which he
was wishing to communicate to her. "Dear grandpapa," cried
she, "what has happened? They have vexed you, and you are
angry?" The paralytic closed his eyes in token of assent.
"Who has displeased you? Is it my father?"
"Madame de Villefort?"
"Me?" The former sign was repeated. "Are you displeased with
me?" cried Valentine in astonishment. M. Noirtier again
closed his eyes. "And what have I done, dear grandpapa, that
you should be angry with me?" cried Valentine.
There was no answer, and she continued. "I have not seen you
all day. Has any one been speaking to you against me?"
"Yes," said the old man's look, with eagerness.
"Let me think a moment. I do assure you, grandpapa -- Ah --
M. and Madame de Villefort have just left this room, have
"And it was they who told you something which made you
angry? What was it then? May I go and ask them, that I may
have the opportunity of making my peace with you?"
"No, no," said Noirtier's look.
"Ah, you frighten me. What can they have said?" and she
again tried to think what it could be.
"Ah, I know," said she, lowering her voice and going close
to the old man. "They have been speaking of my marriage, --
have they not?"
"Yes," replied the angry look.
"I understand; you are displeased at the silence I have
preserved on the subject. The reason of it was, that they
had insisted on my keeping the matter a secret, and begged
me not to tell you anything of it. They did not even
acquaint me with their intentions, and I only discovered
them by chance, that is why I have been so reserved with
you, dear grandpapa. Pray forgive me." But there was no look
calculated to reassure her; all it seemed to say was, "It is
not only your reserve which afflicts me."
"What is it, then?" asked the young girl. "Perhaps you think
I shall abandon you, dear grandpapa, and that I shall forget
you when I am married?"
"They told you, then, that M. d'Epinay consented to our all
"Then why are you still vexed and grieved?" The old man's
eyes beamed with an expression of gentle affection. "Yes, I
understand," said Valentine; "it is because you love me."
The old man assented. "And you are afraid I shall be
"You do not like M. Franz?" The eyes repeated several times,
"No, no, no."
"Then you are vexed with the engagement?"
"Well, listen," said Valentine, throwing herself on her
knees, and putting her arm round her grandfather's neck, "I
am vexed, too, for I do not love M. Franz d'Epinay." An
expression of intense joy illumined the old man's eyes.
"When I wished to retire into a convent, you remember how
angry you were with me?" A tear trembled in the eye of the
invalid. "Well," continued Valentine, "the reason of my
proposing it was that I might escape this hateful marriage,
which drives me to despair." Noirtier's breathing came thick
and short. "Then the idea of this marriage really grieves
you too? Ah, if you could but help me -- if we could both
together defeat their plan! But you are unable to oppose
them, -- you, whose mind is so quick, and whose will is so
firm are nevertheless, as weak and unequal to the contest as
I am myself. Alas, you, who would have been such a powerful
protector to me in the days of your health and strength, can
now only sympathize in my joys and sorrows, without being
able to take any active part in them. However, this is much,
and calls for gratitude and heaven has not taken away all my
blessings when it leaves me your sympathy and kindness."
At these words there appeared in Noirtier's eye an
expression of such deep meaning that the young girl thought
she could read these words there: "You are mistaken; I can
still do much for you."
"Do you think you can help me, dear grandpapa?" said
"Yes." Noirtier raised his eyes, it was the sign agreed on
between him and Valentine when he wanted anything.
"What is it you want, dear grandpapa?" said Valentine, and
she endeavored to recall to mind all the things which he
would be likely to need; and as the ideas presented
themselves to her mind, she repeated them aloud, then, --
finding that all her efforts elicited nothing but a constant
"No," -- she said, "Come, since this plan does not answer, I
will have recourse to another." She then recited all the
letters of the alphabet from A down to N. When she arrived
at that letter the paralytic made her understand that she
had spoken the initial letter of the thing he wanted. "Ah,"
said Valentine, "the thing you desire begins with the letter
N; it is with N that we have to do, then. Well, let me see,
what can you want that begins with N? Na -- Ne -- Ni -- No"
"Yes, yes, yes," said the old man's eye.
"Ah, it is No, then?"
"Yes." Valentine fetched a dictionary, which she placed on a
desk before Noirtier; she opened it, and, seeing that the
odd man's eye was thoroughly fixed on its pages, she ran her
finger quickly up and down the columns. During the six years
which had passed since Noirtier first fell into this sad
state, Valentine's powers of invention had been too often
put to the test not to render her expert in devising
expedients for gaining a knowledge of his wishes, and the
constant practice had so perfected her in the art that she
guessed the old man's meaning as quickly as if he himself
had been able to seek for what he wanted. At the word
"Notary," Noirtier made a sign to her to stop. "Notary,"
said she, "do you want a notary, dear grandpapa?" The old
man again signified that it was a notary he desired.
"You would wish a notary to be sent for then?" said
"Shall my father be informed of your wish?"
"Do you wish the notary to be sent for immediately?"
"Then they shall go for him directly, dear grandpapa. Is
that all you want?"
"Yes." Valentine rang the bell, and ordered the servant to
tell Monsieur or Madame de Villefort that they were
requested to come to M. Noirtier's room. "Are you satisfied
now?" inquired Valentine.
"I am sure you are; it is not very difficult to discover
that," -- and the young girl smiled on her grandfather, as
if he had been a child. M. de Villefort entered, followed by
Barrois. "What do you want me for, sir?" demanded he of the
"Sir," said Valentine, "my grandfather wishes for a notary."
At this strange and unexpected demand M. de Villefort and
his father exchanged looks. "Yes," motioned the latter, with
a firmness which seemed to declare that with the help of
Valentine and his old servant, who both knew what his wishes
were, he was quite prepared to maintain the contest. "Do you
wish for a notary?" asked Villefort.
"What to do?"
Noirtier made no answer. "What do you want with a notary?"
again repeated Villefort. The invalid's eye remained fixed,
by which expression he intended to intimate that his
resolution was unalterable. "Is it to do us some ill turn?
Do you think it is worth while?" said Villefort.
"Still," said Barrois, with the freedom and fidelity of an
old servant, "if M. Noirtier asks for a notary, I suppose he
really wishes for a notary; therefore I shall go at once and
fetch one." Barrois acknowledged no master but Noirtier, and
never allowed his desires in any way to be contradicted.
"Yes, I do want a notary," motioned the old man, shutting
his eyes with a look of defiance, which seemed to say, "and
I should like to see the person who dares to refuse my
"You shall have a notary, as you absolutely wish for one,
sir," said Villefort; "but I shall explain to him your state
of health, and make excuses for you, for the scene cannot
fail of being a most ridiculous one."
"Never mind that," said Barrois; "I shall go and fetch a
notary, nevertheless," -- and the old servant departed
triumphantly on his mission.
As soon as Barrois had left the room, Noirtier looked at
Valentine with a malicious expression that said many things.
The young girl perfectly understood the look, and so did
Villefort, for his countenance became clouded, and he
knitted his eyebrows angrily. He took a seat, and quietly
awaited the arrival of the notary. Noirtier saw him seat
himself with an appearance of perfect indifference, at the
same time giving a side look at Valentine, which made her
understand that she also was to remain in the room.
Three-quarters of an hour after, Barrois returned, bringing
the notary with him. "Sir," said Villefort, after the first
salutations were over, "you were sent for by M. Noirtier,
whom you see here. All his limbs have become completely
paralysed, he has lost his voice also, and we ourselves find
much trouble in endeavoring to catch some fragments of his
meaning." Noirtier cast an appealing look on Valentine,
which look was at once so earnest and imperative, that she
answered immediately. "Sir," said she, "I perfectly
understand my grandfather's meaning at all times."
"That is quite true," said Barrois; "and that is what I told
the gentleman as we walked along."
"Permit me," said the notary, turning first to Villefort and
then to Valentine -- "permit me to state that the case in
question is just one of those in which a public officer like
myself cannot proceed to act without thereby incurring a
dangerous responsibility. The first thing necessary to
render an act valid is, that the notary should be thoroughly
convinced that he has faithfully interpreted the will and
wishes of the person dictating the act. Now I cannot be sure
of the approbation or disapprobation of a client who cannot
speak, and as the object of his desire or his repugnance
cannot be clearly proved to me, on account of his want of
speech, my services here would be quite useless, and cannot
be legally exercised." The notary then prepared to retire.
An imperceptible smile of triumph was expressed on the lips
of the procureur. Noirtier looked at Valentine with an
expression so full of grief, that she arrested the departure
of the notary. "Sir," said she, "the language which I speak
with my grandfather may be easily learnt, and I can teach
you in a few minutes, to understand it almost as well as I
can myself. Will you tell me what you require, in order to
set your conscience quite at ease on the subject?"
"In order to render an act valid, I must be certain of the
approbation or disapprobation of my client. Illness of body
would not affect the validity of the deed, but sanity of
mind is absolutely requisite."
"Well, sir, by the help of two signs, with which I will
acquaint you presently, you may ascertain with perfect
certainty that my grandfather is still in the full
possession of all his mental faculties. M. Noirtier, being
deprived of voice and motion, is accustomed to convey his
meaning by closing his eyes when he wishes to signify `yes,'
and to wink when he means `no.' You now know quite enough to
enable you to converse with M. Noirtier; -- try." Noirtier
gave Valentine such a look of tenderness and gratitude that
it was comprehended even by the notary himself. "You have
heard and understood what your granddaughter has been
saying, sir, have you?" asked the notary. Noirtier closed
his eyes. "And you approve of what she said -- that is to
say, you declare that the signs which she mentioned are
really those by means of which you are accustomed to convey
"It was you who sent for me?"
"To make your will?"
"And you do not wish me to go away without fulfilling your
original intentions?" The old man winked violently. "Well,
sir," said the young girl, "do you understand now, and is
your conscience perfectly at rest on the subject?" But
before the notary could answer, Villefort had drawn him
aside. "Sir," said he, "do you suppose for a moment that a
man can sustain a physical shock, such as M. Noirtier has
received, without any detriment to his mental faculties?"
"It is not exactly that, sir," said the notary, "which makes
me uneasy, but the difficulty will be in wording his
thoughts and intentions, so as to be able to get his
"You must see that to be an utter impossibility," said
Villefort. Valentine and the old man heard this
conversation, and Noirtier fixed his eye so earnestly on
Valentine that she felt bound to answer to the look.
"Sir," said she, "that need not make you uneasy, however
difficult it may at first sight appear to be. I can discover
and explain to you my grandfather's thoughts, so as to put
an end to all your doubts and fears on the subject. I have
now been six years with M. Noirtier, and let him tell you if
ever once, during that time, he has entertained a thought
which he was unable to make me understand."
"No," signed the old man.
"Let us try what we can do, then," said the notary. "You
accept this young lady as your interpreter, M. Noirtier?"
"Well, sir, what do you require of me, and what document is
it that you wish to be drawn up?" Valentine named all the
letters of the alphabet until she came to W. At this letter
the eloquent eye of Noirtier gave her notice that she was to
stop. "It is very evident that it is the letter W which M.
Noirtier wants," said the notary. "Wait," said Valentine;
and, turning to her grandfather, she repeated, "Wa -- We --
Wi" -- The old man stopped her at the last syllable.
Valentine then took the dictionary, and the notary watched
her while she turned over the pages. She passed her finger
slowly down the columns, and when she came to the word
"Will," M. Noirtier's eye bade her stop. "Will," said the
notary; "it is very evident that M. Noirtier is desirous of
making his will."
"Yes, yes, yes," motioned the invalid.
"Really, sir, you must allow that this is most
extraordinary," said the astonished notary, turning to M. de
Villefort. "Yes," said the procureur, "and I think the will
promises to be yet more extraordinary, for I cannot see how
it is to be drawn up without the intervention of Valentine,
and she may, perhaps, be considered as too much interested
in its contents to allow of her being a suitable interpreter
of the obscure and ill-defined wishes of her grandfather."
"No, no, no," replied the eye of the paralytic.
"What?" said Villefort, "do you mean to say that Valentine
is not interested in your will?"
"Sir," said the notary, whose interest had been greatly
excited, and who had resolved on publishing far and wide the
account of this extraordinary and picturesque scene, "what
appeared so impossible to me an hour ago, has now become
quite easy and practicable, and this may be a perfectly
valid will, provided it be read in the presence of seven
witnesses, approved by the testator, and sealed by the
notary in the presence of the witnesses. As to the time, it
will not require very much more than the generality of
wills. There are certain forms necessary to be gone through,
and which are always the same. As to the details, the
greater part will be furnished afterwards by the state in
which we find the affairs of the testator, and by yourself,
who, having had the management of them, can doubtless give
full information on the subject. But besides all this, in
order that the instrument may not be contested, I am anxious
to give it the greatest possible authenticity, therefore,
one of my colleagues will help me, and, contrary to custom,
will assist in the dictation of the testament. Are you
satisfied, sir?" continued the notary, addressing the old
"Yes," looked the invalid, his eye beaming with delight at
the ready interpretation of his meaning.
"What is he going to do?" thought Villefort, whose position
demanded much reserve, but who was longing to know what his
father's intentions were. He left the room to give orders
for another notary to be sent, but Barrois, who had heard
all that passed, had guessed his master's wishes, and had
already gone to fetch one. The procureur then told his wife
to come up. In the course of a quarter of an hour every one
had assembled in the chamber of the paralytic; the second
notary had also arrived. A few words sufficed for a mutual
understanding between the two officers of the law. They read
to Noirtier the formal copy of a will, in order to give him
an idea of the terms in which such documents are generally
couched; then, in order to test the capacity of the
testator, the first notary said, turning towards him, --
"When an individual makes his will, it is generally in favor
or in prejudice of some person."
"Have you an exact idea of the amount of your fortune?"
"I will name to you several sums which will increase by
gradation; you will stop me when I reach the one
representing the amount of your own possessions?"
"Yes." There was a kind of solemnity in this interrogation.
Never had the struggle between mind and matter been more
apparent than now, and if it was not a sublime, it was, at
least, a curious spectacle. They had formed a circle round
the invalid; the second notary was sitting at a table,
prepared for writing, and his colleague was standing before
the testator in the act of interrogating him on the subject
to which we have alluded. "Your fortune exceeds 300,000
francs, does it not?" asked he. Noirtier made a sign that it
did. "Do you possess 400,000 francs?" inquired the notary.
Noirtier's eye remained immovable. "Five hundred thousand?"
The same expression continued. "Six hundred thousand --
700,000 -- 800,000 -- 900,000?" Noirtier stopped him at the
last-named sum. "You are then in possession of 900,000
francs?" asked the notary. "Yes."
"In landed property?"
"The stock is in your own hands?" The look which M. Noirtier
cast on Barrois showed that there was something wanting
which he knew where to find. The old servant left the room,
and presently returned, bringing with him a small casket.
"Do you permit us to open this casket?" asked the notary.
Noirtier gave his assent. They opened it, and found 900,000
francs in bank scrip. The first notary handed over each
note, as he examined it, to his colleague.
The total amount was found to be as M. Noirtier had stated.
"It is all as he has said; it is very evident that the mind
still retains its full force and vigor." Then, turning
towards the paralytic, he said, "You possess, then, 900,000
francs of capital, which, according to the manner in which
you have invested it, ought to bring in an income of about
"To whom do you desire to leave this fortune?"
"Oh," said Madame de Villefort, "there is not much doubt on
that subject. M. Noirtier tenderly loves his granddaughter,
Mademoiselle de Villefort; it is she who has nursed and
tended him for six years, and has, by her devoted attention,
fully secured the affection, I had almost said the
gratitude, of her grandfather, and it is but just that she
should reap the fruit of her devotion." The eye of Noirtier
clearly showed by its expression that he was not deceived by
the false assent given by Madame de Villefort's words and
manner to the motives which she supposed him to entertain.
"Is it, then, to Mademoiselle Valentine de Villefort that
you leave these 900,000 francs?" demanded the notary,
thinking he had only to insert this clause, but waiting
first for the assent of Noirtier, which it was necessary
should be given before all the witnesses of this singular
scene. Valentine, when her name was made the subject of
discussion, had stepped back, to escape unpleasant
observation; her eyes were cast down, and she was crying.
The old man looked at her for an instant with an expression
of the deepest tenderness, then, turning towards the notary,
he significantly winked his eye in token of dissent.
"What," said the notary, "do you not intend making
Mademoiselle Valentine de Villefort your residuary legatee?"
"You are not making any mistake, are you?" said the notary;
"you really mean to declare that such is not your
"No," repeated Noirtier; "No." Valentine raised her head,
struck dumb with astonishment. It was not so much the
conviction that she was disinherited that caused her grief,
but her total inability to account for the feelings which
had provoked her grandfather to such an act. But Noirtier
looked at her with so much affectionate tenderness that she
exclaimed, "Oh, grandpapa, I see now that it is only your
fortune of which you deprive me; you still leave me the love
which I have always enjoyed."
"Ah, yes, most assuredly," said the eyes of the paralytic,
for he closed them with an expression which Valentine could
not mistake. "Thank you, thank you," murmured she. The old
man's declaration that Valentine was not the destined
inheritor of his fortune had excited the hopes of Madame de
Villefort; she gradually approached the invalid, and said:
"Then, doubtless, dear M. Noirtier, you intend leaving your
fortune to your grandson, Edward de Villefort?" The winking
of the eyes which answered this speech was most decided and
terrible, and expressed a feeling almost amounting to
"No?" said the notary; "then, perhaps, it is to your son, M.
"No." The two notaries looked at each other in mute
astonishment and inquiry as to what were the real intentions
of the testator. Villefort and his wife both grew red, one
from shame, the other from anger.
"What have we all done, then, dear grandpapa?" said
Valentine; "you no longer seem to love any of us?" The old
man's eyes passed rapidly from Villefort and his wife, and
rested on Valentine with a look of unutterable fondness.
"Well," said she; "if you love me, grandpapa, try and bring
that love to bear upon your actions at this present moment.
You know me well enough to be quite sure that I have never
thought of your fortune; besides, they say I am already rich
in right of my mother -- too rich, even. Explain yourself,
then." Noirtier fixed his intelligent eyes on Valentine's
hand. "My hand?" said she.
"Her hand!" exclaimed every one.
"Oh, gentlemen, you see it is all useless, and that my
father's mind is really impaired," said Villefort.
"Ah," cried Valentine suddenly, "I understand. It is my
marriage you mean, is it not, dear grandpapa?"
"Yes, yes, yes," signed the paralytic, casting on Valentine
a look of joyful gratitude for having guessed his meaning.
"You are angry with us all on account of this marriage, are
"Really, this is too absurd," said Villefort.
"Excuse me, sir," replied the notary; "on the contrary, the
meaning of M. Noirtier is quite evident to me, and I can
quite easily connect the train of ideas passing in his
"You do not wish me to marry M. Franz d'Epinay?" observed
"I do not wish it," said the eye of her grandfather. "And
you disinherit your granddaughter," continued the notary,
"because she has contracted an engagement contrary to your
"So that, but for this marriage, she would have been your
"Yes." There was a profound silence. The two notaries were
holding a consultation as to the best means of proceeding
with the affair. Valentine was looking at her grandfather
with a smile of intense gratitude, and Villefort was biting
his lips with vexation, while Madame de Villefort could not
succeed in repressing an inward feeling of joy, which, in
spite of herself, appeared in her whole countenance. "But,"
said Villefort, who was the first to break the silence, "I
consider that I am the best judge of the propriety of the
marriage in question. I am the only person possessing the
right to dispose of my daughter's hand. It is my wish that
she should marry M. Franz d'Epinay -- and she shall marry
him." Valentine sank weeping into a chair.
"Sir," said the notary, "how do you intend disposing of your
fortune in case Mademoiselle de Villefort still determines
on marrying M. Franz?" The old man gave no answer. "You
will, of course, dispose of it in some way or other?"
"In favor of some member of your family?"
"Do you intend devoting it to charitable purposes, then?"
pursued the notary.
"But," said the notary, "you are aware that the law does not
allow a son to be entirely deprived of his patrimony?"
"You only intend, then, to dispose of that part of your
fortune which the law allows you to subtract from the
inheritance of your son?" Noirtier made no answer. "Do you
still wish to dispose of all?"
"But they will contest the will after your death?"
"My father knows me," replied Villefort; "he is quite sure
that his wishes will be held sacred by me; besides, he
understands that in my position I cannot plead against the
poor." The eye of Noirtier beamed with triumph. "What do you
decide on, sir?" asked the notary of Villefort.
"Nothing, sir; it is a resolution which my father has taken
and I know he never alters his mind. I am quite resigned.
These 900,000 francs will go out of the family in order to
enrich some hospital; but it is ridiculous thus to yield to
the caprices of an old man, and I shall, therefore, act
according to my conscience." Having said this, Villefort
quitted the room with his wife, leaving his father at
liberty to do as he pleased. The same day the will was made,
the witnesses were brought, it was approved by the old man,
sealed in the presence of all and given in charge to M.
Deschamps, the family notary.
M. and Madame de Villefort found on their return that the
Count of Monte Cristo, who had come to visit them in their
absence, had been ushered into the drawing-room, and was
still awaiting them there. Madame de Villefort, who had not
yet sufficiently recovered from her late emotion to allow of
her entertaining visitors so immediately, retired to her
bedroom, while the procureur, who could better depend upon
himself, proceeded at once to the salon. Although M. de
Villefort flattered himself that, to all outward view, he
had completely masked the feelings which were passing in his
mind, he did not know that the cloud was still lowering on
his brow, so much so that the count, whose smile was
radiant, immediately noticed his sombre and thoughtful air.
"Ma foi," said Monte Cristo, after the first compliments
were over, "what is the matter with you, M. de Villefort?
Have I arrived at the moment when you were drawing up an
indictment for a capital crime?" Villefort tried to smile.
"No, count," he replied, "I am the only victim in this case.
It is I who lose my cause, and it is ill-luck, obstinacy,
and folly which have caused it to be decided against me."
"To what do you refer?" said Monte Cristo with well-feigned
interest. "Have you really met with some great misfortune?"
"Oh, no, monsieur," said Villefort with a bitter smile; "it
is only a loss of money which I have sustained -- nothing
worth mentioning, I assure you."
"True," said Monte Cristo, "the loss of a sum of money
becomes almost immaterial with a fortune such as you
possess, and to one of your philosophic spirit."
"It is not so much the loss of the money that vexes me,"
said Villefort, "though, after all, 900,000 francs are worth
regretting; but I am the more annoyed with this fate,
chance, or whatever you please to call the power which has
destroyed my hopes and my fortune, and may blast the
prospects of my child also, as it is all occasioned by an
old man relapsed into second childhood."
"What do you say?" said the count; "900,000 francs? It is
indeed a sum which might be regretted even by a philosopher.
And who is the cause of all this annoyance?"
"My father, as I told you."
"M. Noirtier? But I thought you told me he had become
entirely paralyzed, and that all his faculties were
"Yes, his bodily faculties, for he can neither move nor
speak, nevertheless he thinks, acts, and wills in the manner
I have described. I left him about five minutes ago, and he
is now occupied in dictating his will to two notaries."
"But to do this he must have spoken?"
"He has done better than that -- he has made himself
"How was such a thing possible?"
"By the help of his eyes, which are still full of life, and,
as you perceive, possess the power of inflicting mortal
"My dear," said Madame de Villefort, who had just entered
the room, "perhaps you exaggerate the evil."
"Good-morning, madame," said the count, bowing. Madame de
Villefort acknowledged the salutation with one of her most
gracious smiles. "What is this that M. de Villefort has been
telling me?" demanded Monte Cristo "and what
incomprehensible misfortune" --
"Incomprehensible is not the word," interrupted the
procureur, shrugging his shoulders. "It is an old man's
"And is there no means of making him revoke his decision?"
"Yes," said Madame de Villefort; "and it is still entirely
in the power of my husband to cause the will, which is now
in prejudice of Valentine, to be altered in her favor." The
count, who perceived that M. and Madame de Villefort were
beginning to speak in parables, appeared to pay no attention
to the conversation, and feigned to be busily engaged in
watching Edward, who was mischievously pouring some ink into
the bird's water-glass. "My dear," said Villefort, in answer
to his wife, "you know I have never been accustomed to play
the patriarch in my family, nor have I ever considered that
the fate of a universe was to be decided by my nod.
Nevertheless, it is necessary that my will should be
respected in my family, and that the folly of an old man and
the caprice of a child should not be allowed to overturn a
project which I have entertained for so many years. The
Baron d'Epinay was my friend, as you know, and an alliance
with his son is the most suitable thing that could possibly
"Do you think," said Madame de Villefort, "that Valentine is
in league with him? She has always been opposed to this
marriage, and I should not be at all surprised if what we
have just seen and heard is nothing but the execution of a
plan concerted between them."
"Madame," said Villefort, "believe me, a fortune of 900,000
francs is not so easily renounced."
"She could, nevertheless, make up her mind to renounce the
world, sir, since it is only about a year ago that she
herself proposed entering a convent."
"Never mind," replied Villefort; "I say that this marriage
shall be consummated."
"Notwithstanding your father's wishes to the contrary?" said
Madame de Villefort, selecting a new point of attack. "That
is a serious thing." Monte Cristo, who pretended not to be
listening, heard however, every word that was said.
"Madame," replied Villefort "I can truly say that I have
always entertained a high respect for my father, because, to
the natural feeling of relationship was added the
consciousness of his moral superiority. The name of father
is sacred in two senses; he should be reverenced as the
author of our being and as a master whom we ought to obey.
But, under the present circumstances, I am justified in
doubting the wisdom of an old man who, because he hated the
father, vents his anger on the son. It would be ridiculous
in me to regulate my conduct by such caprices. I shall still
continue to preserve the same respect toward M. Noirtier; I
will suffer, without complaint, the pecuniary deprivation to
which he has subjected me; but I shall remain firm in my
determination, and the world shall see which party has
reason on his side. Consequently I shall marry my daughter
to the Baron Franz d'Epinay, because I consider it would be
a proper and eligible match for her to make, and, in short,
because I choose to bestow my daughter's hand on whomever I
"What?" said the count, the approbation of whose eye
Villefort had frequently solicited during this speech.
"What? Do you say that M. Noirtier disinherits Mademoiselle
de Villefort because she is going to marry M. le Baron Franz
"Yes, sir, that is the reason," said Villefort, shrugging
"The apparent reason, at least," said Madame de Villefort.
"The real reason, madame, I can assure you; I know my
"But I want to know in what way M. d'Epinay can have
displeased your father more than any other person?"
"I believe I know M. Franz d'Epinay," said the count; "is he
not the son of General de Quesnel, who was created Baron
d'Epinay by Charles X.?"
"The same," said Villefort.
"Well, but he is a charming young man, according to my
"He is, which makes me believe that it is only an excuse of
M. Noirtier to prevent his granddaughter marrying; old men
are always so selfish in their affection," said Madame de
"But," said Monte Cristo "do you not know any cause for this
"Ah, ma foi, who is to know?"
"Perhaps it is some political difference?"
"My father and the Baron d'Epinay lived in the stormy times
of which I only saw the ending," said Villefort.
"Was not your father a Bonapartist?" asked Monte Cristo; "I
think I remember that you told me something of that kind."
"My father has been a Jacobin more than anything else," said
Villefort, carried by his emotion beyond the bounds of
prudence; "and the senator's robe, which Napoleon cast on
his shoulders, only served to disguise the old man without
in any degree changing him. When my father conspired, it was
not for the emperor, it was against the Bourbons; for M.
Noirtier possessed this peculiarity, he never projected any
Utopian schemes which could never be realized, but strove
for possibilities, and he applied to the realization of
these possibilities the terrible theories of The Mountain,
-- theories that never shrank from any means that were
deemed necessary to bring about the desired result."
"Well," said Monte Cristo, "it is just as I thought; it was
politics which brought Noirtier and M. d'Epinay into
personal contact. Although General d'Epinay served under
Napoleon, did he not still retain royalist sentiments? And
was he not the person who was assassinated one evening on
leaving a Bonapartist meeting to which he had been invited
on the supposition that he favored the cause of the
emperor?" Villefort looked at the count almost with terror.
"Am I mistaken, then?" said Monte Cristo.
"No, sir, the facts were precisely what you have stated,"
said Madame de Villefort; "and it was to prevent the renewal
of old feuds that M. de Villefort formed the idea of uniting
in the bonds of affection the two children of these
"It was a sublime and charitable thought," said Monte
Cristo, "and the whole world should applaud it. It would be
noble to see Mademoiselle Noirtier de Villefort assuming the
title of Madame Franz d'Epinay." Villefort shuddered and
looked at Monte Cristo as if he wished to read in his
countenance the real feelings which had dictated the words
he had just uttered. But the count completely baffled the
procureur, and prevented him from discovering anything
beneath the never-varying smile he was so constantly in the
habit of assuming. "Although," said Villefort, "it will be a
serious thing for Valentine to lose her grandfather's
fortune, I do not think that M. d'Epinay will be frightened
at this pecuniary loss. He will, perhaps, hold me in greater
esteem than the money itself, seeing that I sacrifice
everything in order to keep my word with him. Besides, he
knows that Valentine is rich in right of her mother, and
that she will, in all probability, inherit the fortune of M.
and Madame de Saint-Meran, her mother's parents, who both
love her tenderly."
"And who are fully as well worth loving and tending as M.
Noirtier," said Madame de Villefort; "besides, they are to
come to Paris in about a month, and Valentine, after the
affront she has received, need not consider it necessary to
continue to bury herself alive by being shut up with M.
Noirtier." The count listened with satisfaction to this tale
of wounded self-love and defeated ambition. "But it seems to
me," said Monte Cristo, "and I must begin by asking your
pardon for what I am about to say, that if M. Noirtier
disinherits Mademoiselle de Villefort because she is going
to marry a man whose father he detested, he cannot have the
same cause of complaint against this dear Edward."
"True," said Madame de Villefort, with an intonation of
voice which it is impossible to describe; "is it not unjust
-- shamefully unjust? Poor Edward is as much M. Noirtier's
grandchild as Valentine, and yet, if she had not been going
to marry M. Franz, M. Noirtier would have left her all his
money; and supposing Valentine to be disinherited by her
grandfather, she will still be three times richer than he."
The count listened and said no more. "Count," said
Villefort, "we will not entertain you any longer with our
family misfortunes. It is true that my patrimony will go to
endow charitable institutions, and my father will have
deprived me of my lawful inheritance without any reason for
doing so, but I shall have the satisfaction of knowing that
I have acted like a man of sense and feeling. M. d'Epinay,
to whom I had promised the interest of this sum, shall
receive it, even if I endure the most cruel privations."
"However," said Madame de Villefort, returning to the one
idea which incessantly occupied her mind, "perhaps it would
be better to explain this unlucky affair to M. d'Epinay, in
order to give him the opportunity of himself renouncing his
claim to the hand of Mademoiselle de Villefort."
"Ah, that would be a great pity," said Villefort.
"A great pity," said Monte Cristo.
"Undoubtedly," said Villefort, moderating the tones of his
voice, "a marriage once concerted and then broken off,
throws a sort of discredit on a young lady; then again, the
old reports, which I was so anxious to put an end to, will
instantly gain ground. No, it will all go well; M. d'Epinay,
if he is an honorable man, will consider himself more than
ever pledged to Mademoiselle de Villefort, unless he were
actuated by a decided feeling of avarice, but that is
"I agree with M. de Villefort," said Monte Cristo, fixing
his eyes on Madame de Villefort; "and if I were sufficiently
intimate with him to allow of giving my advice, I would
persuade him, since I have been told M. d'Epinay is coming