Part 18 out of 31
back, to settle this affair at once beyond all possibility
of revocation. I will answer for the success of a project
which will reflect so much honor on M. de Villefort." The
procureur arose, delighted with the proposition, but his
wife slightly changed color. "Well, that is all that I
wanted, and I will be guided by a counsellor such as you
are," said he, extending his hand to Monte Cristo.
"Therefore let every one here look upon what has passed
to-day as if it had not happened, and as though we had never
thought of such a thing as a change in our original plans."
"Sir," said the count, "the world, unjust as it is, will be
pleased with your resolution; your friends will be proud of
you, and M. d'Epinay, even if he took Mademoiselle de
Villefort without any dowry, which he will not do, would be
delighted with the idea of entering a family which could
make such sacrifices in order to keep a promise and fulfil a
duty." At the conclusion of these words, the count rose to
depart. "Are you going to leave us, count?" said Madame de
"I am sorry to say I must do so, madame, I only came to
remind you of your promise for Saturday."
"Did you fear that we should forget it?"
"You are very good, madame, but M. de Villefort has so many
important and urgent occupations."
"My husband has given me his word, sir," said Madame de
Villefort; "you have just seen him resolve to keep it when
he has everything to lose, and surely there is more reason
for his doing so where he has everything to gain."
"And," said Villefort, "is it at your house in the
Champs-Elysees that you receive your visitors?"
"No," said Monte Cristo, "which is precisely the reason
which renders your kindness more meritorious, -- it is in
"In the country?"
"Where is it, then? Near Paris, is it not?"
"Very near, only half a league from the Barriers, -- it is
"At Auteuil?" said Villefort; "true, Madame de Villefort
told me you lived at Auteuil, since it was to your house
that she was taken. And in what part of Auteuil do you
"Rue de la Fontaine."
"Rue de la Fontaine!" exclaimed Villefort in an agitated
tone; "at what number?"
"Then," cried Villefort, "was it you who bought M. de
"Did it belong to M. de Saint-Meran?" demanded Monte Cristo.
"Yes," replied Madame de Villefort; "and, would you believe
it, count" --
"You think this house pretty, do you not?"
"I think it charming."
"Well, my husband would never live in it."
"Indeed?" returned Monte Cristo, "that is a prejudice on
your part, M. de Villefort, for which I am quite at a loss
"I do not like Auteuil, sir," said the procureur, making an
evident effort to appear calm.
"But I hope you will not carry your antipathy so far as to
deprive me of the pleasure of your company, sir," said Monte
"No, count, -- I hope -- I assure you I shall do my best,"
"Oh," said Monte Cristo, "I allow of no excuse. On Saturday,
at six o'clock. I shall be expecting you, and if you fail to
come, I shall think -- for how do I know to the contrary? --
that this house, which his remained uninhabited for twenty
years, must have some gloomy tradition or dreadful legend
connected with it."
"I will come, count, -- I will be sure to come," said
"Thank you," said Monte Cristo; "now you must permit me to
take my leave of you."
"You said before that you were obliged to leave us,
monsieur," said Madame de Villefort, "and you were about to
tell us why when your attention was called to some other
"Indeed madame," said Monte Cristo: "I scarcely know if I
dare tell you where I am going."
"Nonsense; say on."
"Well, then, it is to see a thing on which I have sometimes
mused for hours together."
"What is it?"
"A telegraph. So now I have told my secret."
"A telegraph?" repeated Madame de Villefort.
"Yes, a telegraph. I had often seen one placed at the end of
a road on a hillock, and in the light of the sun its black
arms, bending in every direction, always reminded me of the
claws of an immense beetle, and I assure you it was never
without emotion that I gazed on it, for I could not help
thinking how wonderful it was that these various signs
should be made to cleave the air with such precision as to
convey to the distance of three hundred leagues the ideas
and wishes of a man sitting at a table at one end of the
line to another man similarly placed at the opposite
extremity, and all this effected by a simple act of volition
on the part of the sender of the message. I began to think
of genii, sylphs, gnomes, in short, of all the ministers of
the occult sciences, until I laughed aloud at the freaks of
my own imagination. Now, it never occurred to me to wish for
a nearer inspection of these large insects, with their long
black claws, for I always feared to find under their stone
wings some little human genius fagged to death with cabals,
factions, and government intrigues. But one fine day I
learned that the mover of this telegraph was only a poor
wretch, hired for twelve hundred francs a year, and employed
all day, not in studying the heavens like an astronomer, or
in gazing on the water like an angler, or even in enjoying
the privilege of observing the country around him, but all
his monotonous life was passed in watching his
white-bellied, black-clawed fellow insect, four or five
leagues distant from him. At length I felt a desire to study
this living chrysalis more closely, and to endeavor to
understand the secret part played by these insect-actors
when they occupy themselves simply with pulling different
pieces of string."
"And are you going there?"
"What telegraph do you intend visiting? that of the home
department, or of the observatory?"
"Oh, no; I should find there people who would force me to
understand things of which I would prefer to remain
ignorant, and who would try to explain to me, in spite of
myself, a mystery which even they do not understand. Ma foi,
I should wish to keep my illusions concerning insects
unimpaired; it is quite enough to have those dissipated
which I had formed of my fellow-creatures. I shall,
therefore, not visit either of these telegraphs, but one in
the open country where I shall find a good-natured
simpleton, who knows no more than the machine he is employed
"You are a singular man," said Villefort.
"What line would you advise me to study?"
"The one that is most in use just at this time."
"The Spanish one, you mean, I suppose?"
"Yes; should you like a letter to the minister that they
might explain to you" --
"No," said Monte Cristo; "since, as I told you before, I do
not wish to comprehend it. The moment I understand it there
will no longer exist a telegraph for me; it will he nothing
more than a sign from M. Duchatel, or from M. Montalivet,
transmitted to the prefect of Bayonne, mystified by two
Greek words, tele, graphein. It is the insect with black
claws, and the awful word which I wish to retain in my
imagination in all its purity and all its importance."
"Go then; for in the course of two hours it will be dark,
and you will not be able to see anything."
"Ma foi, you frighten me. Which is the nearest way?
"Yes; the road to Bayonne."
"And afterwards the road to Chatillon?"
"By the tower of Montlhery, you mean?"
"Thank you. Good-by. On Saturday I will tell you my
impressions concerning the telegraph." At the door the count
was met by the two notaries, who had just completed the act
which was to disinherit Valentine, and who were leaving
under the conviction of having done a thing which could not
fail of redounding considerably to their credit.
How a Gardener may get rid of the Dormice that eat His
Not on the same night, as he had intended, but the next
morning, the Count of Monte Cristo went out by the Barrier
d'Enfer, taking the road to Orleans. Leaving the village of
Linas, without stopping at the telegraph, which flourished
its great bony arms as he passed, the count reached the
tower of Montlhery, situated, as every one knows, upon the
highest point of the plain of that name. At the foot of the
hill the count dismounted and began to ascend by a little
winding path, about eighteen inches wide; when he reached
the summit he found himself stopped by a hedge, upon which
green fruit had succeeded to red and white flowers.
Monte Cristo looked for the entrance to the enclosure, and
was not long in finding a little wooden gate, working on
willow hinges, and fastened with a nail and string. The
count soon mastered the mechanism, the gate opened, and he
then found himself in a little garden, about twenty feet
long by twelve wide, bounded on one side by part of the
hedge, which contained the ingenious contrivance we have
called a gate, and on the other by the old tower, covered
with ivy and studded with wall-flowers. No one would have
thought in looking at this old, weather-beaten,
floral-decked tower (which might be likened to an elderly
dame dressed up to receive her grandchildren at a birthday
feast) that it would have been capable of telling strange
things, if, -- in addition to the menacing ears which the
proverb says all walls are provided with, -- it had also a
voice. The garden was crossed by a path of red gravel, edged
by a border of thick box, of many years' growth, and of a
tone and color that would have delighted the heart of
Delacroix, our modern Rubens. This path was formed in the
shape of the figure of 8, thus, in its windings, making a
walk of sixty feet in a garden of only twenty.
Never had Flora, the fresh and smiling goddess of gardeners,
been honored with a purer or more scrupulous worship than
that which was paid to her in this little enclosure. In
fact, of the twenty rose-trees which formed the parterre,
not one bore the mark of the slug, nor were there evidences
anywhere of the clustering aphis which is so destructive to
plants growing in a damp soil. And yet it was not because
the damp had been excluded from the garden; the earth, black
as soot, the thick foliage of the trees betrayed its
presence; besides, had natural humidity been wanting, it
could have been immediately supplied by artificial means,
thanks to a tank of water, sunk in one of the corners of the
garden, and upon which were stationed a frog and a toad,
who, from antipathy, no doubt, always remained on the two
opposite sides of the basin. There was not a blade of grass
to be seen in the paths, or a weed in the flower-beds; no
fine lady ever trained and watered her geraniums, her cacti,
and her rhododendrons, with more pains than this hitherto
unseen gardener bestowed upon his little enclosure. Monte
Cristo stopped after having closed the gate and fastened the
string to the nail, and cast a look around.
"The man at the telegraph," said he, "must either engage a
gardener or devote himself passionately to agriculture."
Suddenly he struck against something crouching behind a
wheelbarrow filled with leaves; the something rose, uttering
an exclamation of astonishment, and Monte Cristo found
himself facing a man about fifty years old, who was plucking
strawberries, which he was placing upon grape leaves. He had
twelve leaves and about as many strawberries, which, on
rising suddenly, he let fall from his hand. "You are
gathering your crop, sir?" said Monte Cristo, smiling.
"Excuse me, sir," replied the man, raising his hand to his
cap; "I am not up there, I know, but I have only just come
"Do not let me interfere with you in anything, my friend,"
said the count; "gather your strawberries, if, indeed, there
are any left."
"I have ten left," said the man, "for here are eleven, and I
had twenty-one, five more than last year. But I am not
surprised; the spring has been warm this year, and
strawberries require heat, sir. This is the reason that,
instead of the sixteen I had last year, I have this year,
you see, eleven, already plucked -- twelve, thirteen,
fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen. Ah, I miss
three, they were here last night, sir -- I am sure they were
here -- I counted them. It must be the Mere Simon's son who
has stolen them; I saw him strolling about here this
morning. Ah, the young rascal -- stealing in a garden -- he
does not know where that may lead him to."
"Certainly, it is wrong," said Monte Cristo, "but you should
take into consideration the youth and greediness of the
"Of course," said the gardener, "but that does not make it
the less unpleasant. But, sir, once more I beg pardon;
perhaps you are an officer that I am detaining here." And he
glanced timidly at the count's blue coat.
"Calm yourself, my friend," said the count, with the smile
which he made at will either terrible or benevolent, and
which now expressed only the kindliest feeling; "I am not an
inspector, but a traveller, brought here by a curiosity he
half repents of, since he causes you to lose your time."
"Ah, my time is not valuable," replied the man with a
melancholy smile. "Still it belongs to government, and I
ought not to waste it; but, having received the signal that
I might rest for an hour" (here he glanced at the sun-dial,
for there was everything in the enclosure of Montlhery, even
a sun-dial), "and having ten minutes before me, and my
strawberries being ripe, when a day longer -- by-the-by,
sir, do you think dormice eat them?"
"Indeed, I should think not," replied Monte Cristo; "dormice
are bad neighbors for us who do not eat them preserved, as
the Romans did."
"What? Did the Romans eat them?" said the gardener -- "ate
"I have read so in Petronius," said the count.
"Really? They can't be nice, though they do say `as fat as a
dormouse.' It is not a wonder they are fat, sleeping all
day, and only waking to eat all night. Listen. Last year I
had four apricots -- they stole one, I had one nectarine,
only one -- well, sir, they ate half of it on the wall; a
splendid nectarine -- I never ate a better."
"You ate it?"
"That is to say, the half that was left -- you understand;
it was exquisite, sir. Ah, those gentlemen never choose the
worst morsels; like Mere Simon's son, who has not chosen the
worst strawberries. But this year," continued the
horticulturist, "I'll take care it shall not happen, even if
I should be forced to sit by the whole night to watch when
the strawberries are ripe." Monte Cristo had seen enough.
Every man has a devouring passion in his heart, as every
fruit has its worm; that of the telegraph man was
horticulture. He began gathering the grape-leaves which
screened the sun from the grapes, and won the heart of the
gardener. "Did you come here, sir, to see the telegraph?" he
"Yes, if it isn't contrary to the rules."
"Oh, no," said the gardener; "not in the least, since there
is no danger that anyone can possibly understand what we are
"I have been told," said the count, "that you do not always
yourselves understand the signals you repeat."
"That is true, sir, and that is what I like best," said the
"Why do you like that best?"
"Because then I have no responsibility. I am a machine then,
and nothing else, and so long as I work, nothing more is
required of me."
"Is it possible," said Monte Cristo to himself, "that I can
have met with a man that has no ambition? That would spoil
"Sir," said the gardener, glancing at the sun-dial, "the ten
minutes are almost up; I must return to my post. Will you go
up with me?"
"I follow you." Monte Cristo entered the tower, which was
divided into three stories. The tower contained implements,
such as spades, rakes, watering-pots, hung against the wall;
this was all the furniture. The second was the man's
conventional abode, or rather sleeping-place; it contained a
few poor articles of household furniture -- a bed, a table,
two chairs, a stone pitcher -- and some dry herbs, hung up
to the ceiling, which the count recognized as sweet pease,
and of which the good man was preserving the seeds; he had
labelled them with as much care as if he had been master
botanist in the Jardin des Plantes.
"Does it require much study to learn the art of
telegraphing?" asked Monte Cristo.
"The study does not take long; it was acting as a
supernumerary that was so tedious."
"And what is the pay?"
"A thousand francs, sir."
"It is nothing."
"No; but then we are lodged, as you perceive."
Monte Cristo looked at the room. They passed to the third
story; it was the telegraph room. Monte Cristo looked in
turn at the two iron handles by which the machine was
worked. "It is very interesting," he said, "but it must be
very tedious for a lifetime."
"Yes. At first my neck was cramped with looking at it, but
at the end of a year I became used to it; and then we have
our hours of recreation, and our holidays."
"When we have a fog."
"Ah, to be sure."
"Those are indeed holidays to me; I go into the garden, I
plant, I prune, I trim, I kill the insects all day long."
"How long have you been here?"
"Ten years, and five as a supernumerary make fifteen."
"You are -- "
"Fifty-five years old."
"How long must you have served to claim the pension?"
"Oh, sir, twenty-five years."
"And how much is the pension?"
"A hundred crowns."
"Poor humanity!" murmured Monte Cristo.
"What did you say, sir?" asked the man.
"I was saying it was very interesting."
"All you were showing me. And you really understand none of
"None at all."
"And have you never tried to understand them?"
"Never. Why should I?"
"But still there are some signals only addressed to you."
"And do you understand them?"
"They are always the same."
"And they mean -- "
"Nothing new; You have an hour; or To-morrow."
"This is simple enough," said the count; "but look, is not
your correspondent putting itself in motion?"
"Ah, yes; thank you, sir."
"And what is it saying -- anything you understand?"
"Yes; it asks if I am ready."
"And you reply?"
"By the same sign, which, at the same time, tells my
right-hand correspondent that I am ready, while it gives
notice to my left-hand correspondent to prepare in his
"It is very ingenious," said the count.
"You will see," said the man proudly; "in five minutes he
"I have, then, five minutes," said Monte Cristo to himself;
"it is more time than I require. My dear sir, will you allow
me to ask you a question?"
"What is it, sir?"
"You are fond of gardening?"
"And you would be pleased to have, instead of this terrace
of twenty feet, an enclosure of two acres?"
"Sir, I should make a terrestrial paradise of it."
"You live badly on your thousand francs?"
"Badly enough; but yet I do live."
"Yes; but you have a wretchedly small garden."
"True, the garden is not large."
"And, then, such as it is, it is filled with dormice, who
"Ah, they are my scourges."
"Tell me, should you have the misfortune to turn your head
while your right-hand correspondent was telegraphing" --
"I should not see him."
"Then what would happen?"
"I could not repeat the signals."
"Not having repeated them, through negligence, I should be
"A hundred francs."
"The tenth of your income -- that would be fine work."
"Ah," said the man.
"Has it ever happened to you?" said Monte Cristo.
"Once, sir, when I was grafting a rose-tree."
"Well, suppose you were to alter a signal, and substitute
"Ah, that is another case; I should be turned off, and lose
"Three hundred francs?"
"A hundred crowns, yes, sir; so you see that I am not likely
to do any of these things."
"Not even for fifteen years' wages? Come, it is worth
"For fifteen thousand francs?"
"Sir, you alarm me."
"Sir, you are tempting me?"
"Just so; fifteen thousand francs, do you understand?"
"Sir, let me see my right-hand correspondent."
"On the contrary, do not look at him, but at this."
"What is it?"
"What? Do you not know these bits of paper?"
"Exactly; there are fifteen of them."
"And whose are they?"
"Yours, if you like."
"Mine?" exclaimed the man, half-suffocated.
"Yes; yours -- your own property."
"Sir, my right-hand correspondent is signalling."
"Let him signal."
"Sir, you have distracted me; I shall be fined."
"That will cost you a hundred francs; you see it is your
interest to take my bank-notes."
"Sir, my right-hand correspondent redoubles his signals; he
"Never mind -- take these;" and the count placed the packet
in the man's hands. "Now this is not all," he said; "you
cannot live upon your fifteen thousand francs."
"I shall still have my place."
"No, you will lose it, for you are going to alter your
"Oh, sir, what are you proposing?"
"Sir, unless you force me" --
"I think I can effectually force you;" and Monte Cristo drew
another packet from his pocket. "Here are ten thousand more
francs," he said, "with the fifteen thousand already in your
pocket, they will make twenty-five thousand. With five
thousand you can buy a pretty little house with two acres of
land; the remaining twenty thousand will bring you in a
thousand francs a year."
"A garden with two acres of land!"
"And a thousand francs a year."
"Come, take them," and Monte Cristo forced the bank-notes
into his hand.
"What am I to do?"
"Nothing very difficult."
"But what is it?"
"To repeat these signs." Monte Cristo took a paper from his
pocket, upon which were drawn three signs, with numbers to
indicate the order in which they were to be worked.
"There, you see it will not take long."
"Yes; but" --
"Do this, and you will have nectarines and all the rest."
The shot told; red with fever, while the large drops fell
from his brow, the man executed, one after the other, the
three signs given by the count, in spite of the frightful
contortions of the right-hand correspondent, who, not
understanding the change, began to think the gardener had
gone mad. As to the left-hand one, he conscientiously
repeated the same signals, which were finally transmitted to
the Minister of the Interior. "Now you are rich," said Monte
"Yes," replied the man, "but at what a price!"
"Listen, friend," said Monte Cristo. "I do not wish to cause
you any remorse; believe me, then, when I swear to you that
you have wronged no man, but on the contrary have benefited
mankind." The man looked at the bank-notes, felt them,
counted them, turned pale, then red, then rushed into his
room to drink a glass of water, but he had no time to reach
the water-jug, and fainted in the midst of his dried herbs.
Five minutes after the new telegram reached the minister,
Debray had the horses put to his carriage, and drove to
"Has your husband any Spanish bonds?" he asked of the
"I think so, indeed! He has six millions' worth."
"He must sell them at whatever price."
"Because Don Carlos has fled from Bourges, and has returned
"How do you know?" Debray shrugged his shoulders. "The idea
of asking how I hear the news," he said. The baroness did
not wait for a repetition; she ran to her husband, who
immediately hastened to his agent, and ordered him to sell
at any price. When it was seen that Danglars sold, the
Spanish funds fell directly. Danglars lost five hundred
thousand francs; but he rid himself of all his Spanish
shares. The same evening the following was read in Le
"[By telegraph.] The king, Don Carlos, has escaped the
vigilance of his guardians at Bourges, and has returned to
Spain by the Catalonian frontier. Barcelona has risen in his
All that evening nothing was spoken of but the foresight of
Danglars, who had sold his shares, and of the luck of the
stock-jobber, who only lost five hundred thousand francs by
such a blow. Those who had kept their shares, or bought
those of Danglars, looked upon themselves as ruined, and
passed a very bad night. Next morning Le Moniteur contained
"It was without any foundation that Le Messager yesterday
announced the flight of Don Carlos and the revolt of
Barcelona. The king (Don Carlos) has not left Bourges, and
the peninsula is in the enjoyment of profound peace. A
telegraphic signal, improperly interpreted, owing to the
fog, was the cause of this error."
The funds rose one per cent higher than before they had
fallen. This, reckoning his loss, and what he had missed
gaining, made the difference of a million to Danglars.
"Good," said Monte Cristo to Morrel, who was at his house
when the news arrived of the strange reverse of fortune of
which Danglars had been the victim, "I have just made a
discovery for twenty-five thousand francs, for which I would
have paid a hundred thousand."
"What have you discovered?" asked Morrel.
"I have just discovered how a gardener may get rid of the
dormice that eat his peaches."
At first sight the exterior of the house at Auteuil gave no
indications of splendor, nothing one would expect from the
destined residence of the magnificent Count of Monte Cristo;
but this simplicity was according to the will of its master,
who positively ordered nothing to be altered outside. The
splendor was within. Indeed, almost before the door opened,
the scene changed. M. Bertuccio had outdone himself in the
taste displayed in furnishing, and in the rapidity with
which it was executed. It is told that the Duc d'Antin
removed in a single night a whole avenue of trees that
annoyed Louis XIV.; in three days M. Bertuccio planted an
entirely bare court with poplars, large spreading sycamores
to shade the different parts of the house, and in the
foreground, instead of the usual paving-stones, half hidden
by the grass, there extended a lawn but that morning laid
down, and upon which the water was yet glistening. For the
rest, the orders had been issued by the count; he himself
had given a plan to Bertuccio, marking the spot where each
tree was to be planted, and the shape and extent of the lawn
which was to take the place of the paving-stones. Thus the
house had become unrecognizable, and Bertuccio himself
declared that he scarcely knew it, encircled as it was by a
framework of trees. The overseer would not have objected,
while he was about it, to have made some improvements in the
garden, but the count had positively forbidden it to be
touched. Bertuccio made amends, however, by loading the
ante-chambers, staircases, and mantle-pieces with flowers.
What, above all, manifested the shrewdness of the steward,
and the profound science of the master, the one in carrying
out the ideas of the other, was that this house which
appeared only the night before so sad and gloomy,
impregnated with that sickly smell one can almost fancy to
be the smell of time, had in a single day acquired the
aspect of life, was scented with its master's favorite
perfumes, and had the very light regulated according to his
wish. When the count arrived, he had under his touch his
books and arms, his eyes rested upon his favorite pictures;
his dogs, whose caresses he loved, welcomed him in the
ante-chamber; the birds, whose songs delighted him, cheered
him with their music; and the house, awakened from its long
sleep, like the sleeping beauty in the wood, lived, sang,
and bloomed like the houses we have long cherished, and in
which, when we are forced to leave them, we leave a part of
our souls. The servants passed gayly along the fine
court-yard; some, belonging to the kitchens, gliding down
the stairs, restored but the previous day, as if they had
always inhabited the house; others filling the coach-houses,
where the equipages, encased and numbered, appeared to have
been installed for the last fifty years; and in the stables
the horses replied with neighs to the grooms, who spoke to
them with much more respect than many servants pay their
The library was divided into two parts on either side of the
wall, and contained upwards of two thousand volumes; one
division was entirely devoted to novels, and even the volume
which had been published but the day before was to be seen
in its place in all the dignity of its red and gold binding.
On the other side of the house, to match with the library,
was the conservatory, ornamented with rare flowers, that
bloomed in china jars; and in the midst of the greenhouse,
marvellous alike to sight and smell, was a billiard-table
which looked as if it had been abandoned during the past
hour by players who had left the balls on the cloth. One
chamber alone had been respected by the magnificent
Bertuccio. Before this room, to which you could ascend by
the grand, and go out by the back staircase, the servants
passed with curiosity, and Bertuccio with terror. At five
o'clock precisely, the count arrived before the house at
Auteuil, followed by Ali. Bertuccio was awaiting this
arrival with impatience, mingled with uneasiness; he hoped
for some compliments, while, at the same time, he feared to
have frowns. Monte Cristo descended into the courtyard,
walked all over the house, without giving any sign of
approbation or pleasure, until he entered his bedroom,
situated on the opposite side to the closed room; then he
approached a little piece of furniture, made of rosewood,
which he had noticed at a previous visit. "That can only be
to hold gloves," he said.
"Will your excellency deign to open it?" said the delighted
Bertuccio, "and you will find gloves in it." Elsewhere the
count found everything he required -- smelling-bottles,
"Good," he said; and M. Bertuccio left enraptured, so great,
so powerful, and real was the influence exercised by this
man over all who surrounded him. At precisely six o'clock
the clatter of horses' hoofs was heard at the entrance door;
it was our captain of Spahis, who had arrived on Medeah. "I
am sure I am the first," cried Morrel; "I did it on purpose
to have you a minute to myself, before every one came. Julie
and Emmanuel have a thousand things to tell you. Ah, really
this is magnificent! But tell me, count, will your people
take care of my horse?"
"Do not alarm yourself, my dear Maximilian -- they
"I mean, because he wants petting. If you had seen at what a
pace he came -- like the wind!"
"I should think so, -- a horse that cost 5,000 francs!" said
Monte Cristo, in the tone which a father would use towards a
"Do you regret them?" asked Morrel, with his open laugh.
"I? Certainly not," replied the count. "No; I should only
regret if the horse had not proved good."
"It is so good, that I have distanced M. de Chateau-Renaud,
one of the best riders in France, and M. Debray, who both
mount the minister's Arabians; and close on their heels are
the horses of Madame Danglars, who always go at six leagues
"Then they follow you?" asked Monte Cristo.
"See, they are here." And at the same minute a carriage with
smoking horses, accompanied by two mounted gentlemen,
arrived at the gate, which opened before them. The carriage
drove round, and stopped at the steps, followed by the
horsemen. The instant Debray had touched the ground, he was
at the carriage-door. He offered his hand to the baroness,
who, descending, took it with a peculiarity of manner
imperceptible to every one but Monte Cristo. But nothing
escaped the count's notice, and he observed a little note,
passed with the facility that indicates frequent practice,
from the hand of Madame Danglars to that of the minister's
secretary. After his wife the banker descended, as pale as
though he had issued from his tomb instead of his carriage.
Madame Danglars threw a rapid and inquiring glance which
could only be interpreted by Monte Cristo, around the
court-yard, over the peristyle, and across the front of the
house, then, repressing a slight emotion, which must have
been seen on her countenance if she had not kept her color,
she ascended the steps, saying to Morrel, "Sir, if you were
a friend of mine, I should ask you if you would sell your
Morrel smiled with an expression very like a grimace, and
then turned round to Monte Cristo, as if to ask him to
extricate him from his embarrassment. The count understood
him. "Ah, madame," he said, "why did you not make that
request of me?"
"With you, sir," replied the baroness, "one can wish for
nothing, one is so sure to obtain it. If it were so with M.
"Unfortunately," replied the count, "I am witness that M.
Morrel cannot give up his horse, his honor being engaged in
"He laid a wager he would tame Medeah in the space of six
months. You understand now that if he were to get rid of the
animal before the time named, he would not only lose his
bet, but people would say he was afraid; and a brave captain
of Spahis cannot risk this, even to gratify a pretty woman,
which is, in my opinion, one of the most sacred obligations
in the world."
"You see my position, madame," said Morrel, bestowing a
grateful smile on Monte Cristo.
"It seems to me," said Danglars, in his coarse tone,
ill-concealed by a forced smile, "that you have already got
horses enough." Madame Danglars seldom allowed remarks of
this kind to pass unnoticed, but, to the surprise of the
young people, she pretended not to hear it, and said
nothing. Monte Cristo smiled at her unusual humility, and
showed her two immense porcelain jars, over which wound
marine plants, of a size and delicacy that nature alone
could produce. The baroness was astonished. "Why," said she,
"you could plant one of the chestnut-trees in the Tuileries
inside! How can such enormous jars have been manufactured?"
"Ah, madame," replied Monte Cristo, "you must not ask of us,
the manufacturers of fine porcelain, such a question. It is
the work of another age, constructed by the genii of earth
"How so? -- at what period can that have been?"
"I do not know; I have only heard that an emperor of China
had an oven built expressly, and that in this oven twelve
jars like this were successively baked. Two broke, from the
heat of the fire; the other ten were sunk three hundred
fathoms deep into the sea. The sea, knowing what was
required of her, threw over them her weeds, encircled them
with coral, and encrusted them with shells; the whole was
cemented by two hundred years beneath these almost
impervious depths, for a revolution carried away the emperor
who wished to make the trial, and only left the documents
proving the manufacture of the jars and their descent into
the sea. At the end of two hundred years the documents were
found, and they thought of bringing up the jars. Divers
descended in machines, made expressly on the discovery, into
the bay where they were thrown; but of ten three only
remained, the rest having been broken by the waves. I am
fond of these jars, upon which, perhaps, misshapen,
frightful monsters have fixed their cold, dull eyes, and in
which myriads of small fish have slept, seeking a refuge
from the pursuit of their enemies." Meanwhile, Danglars, who
had cared little for curiosities, was mechanically tearing
off the blossoms of a splendid orange-tree, one after
another. When he had finished with the orange-tree, he began
at the cactus; but this, not being so easily plucked as the
orange-tree, pricked him dreadfully. He shuddered, and
rubbed his eyes as though awaking from a dream.
"Sir," said Monte Cristo to him, "I do not recommend my
pictures to you, who possess such splendid paintings; but,
nevertheless, here are two by Hobbema, a Paul Potter, a
Mieris, two by Gerard Douw, a Raphael, a Vandyke, a
Zurbaran, and two or three by Murillo, worth looking at."
"Stay," said Debray; "I recognize this Hobbema."
"Yes; it was proposed for the Museum."
"Which, I believe, does not contain one?" said Monte Cristo.
"No; and yet they refused to buy it."
"Why?" said Chateau-Renaud.
"You pretend not to know, -- because government was not rich
"Ah, pardon me," said Chateau-Renaud; "I have heard of these
things every day during the last eight years, and I cannot
understand them yet."
"You will, by and by," said Debray.
"I think not," replied Chateau-Renaud.
"Major Bartolomeo Cavalcanti and Count Andrea Cavalcanti,"
announced Baptistin. A black satin stock, fresh from the
maker's hands, gray moustaches, a bold eye, a major's
uniform, ornamented with three medals and five crosses -- in
fact, the thorough bearing of an old soldier -- such was the
appearance of Major Bartolomeo Cavalcanti, that tender
father with whom we are already acquainted. Close to him,
dressed in entirely new clothes, advanced smilingly Count
Andrea Cavalcanti, the dutiful son, whom we also know. The
three young people were talking together. On the entrance of
the new comers, their eyes glanced from father to son, and
then, naturally enough, rested on the latter, whom they
began criticising. "Cavalcanti!" said Debray. "A fine name,"
"Yes," said Chateau-Renaud, "these Italians are well named
and badly dressed."
"You are fastidious, Chateau-Renaud," replied Debray; "those
clothes are well cut and quite new."
"That is just what I find fault with. That gentleman appears
to be well dressed for the first time in his life."
"Who are those gentlemen?" asked Danglars of Monte Cristo.
"You heard -- Cavalcanti."
"That tells me their name, and nothing else."
"Ah, true. You do not know the Italian nobility; the
Cavalcanti are all descended from princes."
"Have they any fortune?"
"An enormous one."
"What do they do?"
"Try to spend it all. They have some business with you, I
think, from what they told me the day before yesterday. I,
indeed, invited them here to-day on your account. I will
introduce you to them."
"But they appear to speak French with a very pure accent,"
"The son has been educated in a college in the south; I
believe near Marseilles. You will find him quite
"Upon what subject?" asked Madame Danglars.
"The French ladies, madame. He has made up his mind to take
a wife from Paris."
"A fine idea that of his," said Danglars, shrugging his
shoulders. Madame Danglars looked at her husband with an
expression which, at any other time, would have indicated a
storm, but for the second time she controlled herself. "The
baron appears thoughtful to-day," said Monte Cristo to her;
"are they going to put him in the ministry?"
"Not yet, I think. More likely he has been speculating on
the Bourse, and has lost money."
"M. and Madame de Villefort," cried Baptistin. They entered.
M. de Villefort, notwithstanding his self-control, was
visibly affected, and when Monte Cristo touched his hand, he
felt it tremble. "Certainly, women alone know how to
dissimulate," said Monte Cristo to himself, glancing at
Madame Danglars, who was smiling on the procureur, and
embracing his wife. After a short time, the count saw
Bertuccio, who, until then, had been occupied on the other
side of the house, glide into an adjoining room. He went to
him. "What do you want, M. Bertuccio?" said he.
"Your excellency has not stated the number of guests."
"How many covers?"
"Count for yourself."
"Is every one here, your excellency?"
Bertuccio glanced through the door, which was ajar. The
count watched him. "Good heavens!" he exclaimed.
"What is the matter?" said the count.
"That woman -- that woman!"
"The one with a white dress and so many diamonds -- the fair
"I do not know her name; but it is she, sir, it is she!"
"Whom do you mean?"
"The woman of the garden! -- she that was enciente -- she
who was walking while she waited for" -- Bertuccio stood at
the open door, with his eyes starting and his hair on end.
"Waiting for whom?" Bertuccio, without answering, pointed to
Villefort with something of the gesture Macbeth uses to
point out Banquo. "Oh, oh," he at length muttered, "do you
"Him! -- M. de Villefort, the king's attorney? Certainly I
"Then I did not kill him?"
"Really, I think you are going mad, good Bertuccio," said
"Then he is not dead?"
"No; you see plainly he is not dead. Instead of striking
between the sixth and seventh left ribs, as your countrymen
do, you must have struck higher or lower, and life is very
tenacious in these lawyers, or rather there is no truth in
anything you have told me -- it was a fright of the
imagination, a dream of your fancy. You went to sleep full
of thoughts of vengeance; they weighed heavily upon your
stomach; you had the nightmare -- that's all. Come, calm
yourself, and reckon them up -- M. and Madame de Villefort,
two; M. and Madame Danglars, four; M. de Chateau-Renaud, M.
Debray, M. Morrel, seven; Major Bartolomeo Cavalcanti,
"Eight!" repeated Bertuccio.
"Stop! You are in a shocking hurry to be off -- you forget
one of my guests. Lean a little to the left. Stay! look at
M. Andrea Cavalcanti, the young man in a black coat, looking
at Murillo's Madonna; now he is turning." This time
Bertuccio would have uttered an exclamation, had not a look
from Monte Cristo silenced him. "Benedetto?" he muttered;
"Half-past six o'clock has just struck, M. Bertuccio," said
the count severely; "I ordered dinner at that hour, and I do
not like to wait;" and he returned to his guests, while
Bertuccio, leaning against the wall, succeeded in reaching
the dining-room. Five minutes afterwards the doors of the
drawing-room were thrown open, and Bertuccio appearing said,
with a violent effort, "The dinner waits."
The Count of Monte Cristo offered his arm to Madame de
Villefort. "M. de Villefort," he said, "will you conduct the
Villefort complied, and they passed on to the dining-room.
It was evident that one sentiment affected all the guests on
entering the dining-room. Each one asked what strange
influence had brought them to this house, and yet
astonished, even uneasy though they were, they still felt
that they would not like to be absent. The recent events,
the solitary and eccentric position of the count, his
enormous, nay, almost incredible fortune, should have made
men cautious, and have altogether prevented ladies visiting
a house where there was no one of their own sex to receive
them; and yet curiosity had been enough to lead them to
overleap the bounds of prudence and decorum. And all
present, even including Cavalcanti and his son,
notwithstanding the stiffness of the one and the
carelessness of the other, were thoughtful, on finding
themselves assembled at the house of this incomprehensible
man. Madame Danglars had started when Villefort, on the
count's invitation, offered his arm; and Villefort felt that
his glance was uneasy beneath his gold spectacles, when he
felt the arm of the baroness press upon his own. None of
this had escaped the count, and even by this mere contact of
individuals the scene had already acquired considerable
interest for an observer. M. de Villefort had on the right
hand Madame Danglars, on his left Morrel. The count was
seated between Madame de Villefort and Danglars; the other
seats were filled by Debray, who was placed between the two
Cavalcanti, and by Chateau-Renaud, seated between Madame de
Villefort and Morrel.
The repast was magnificent; Monte Cristo had endeavored
completely to overturn the Parisian ideas, and to feed the
curiosity as much as the appetite of his guests. It was an
Oriental feast that he offered to them, but of such a kind
as the Arabian fairies might be supposed to prepare. Every
delicious fruit that the four quarters of the globe could
provide was heaped in vases from China and jars from Japan.
Rare birds, retaining their most brilliant plumage, enormous
fish, spread upon massive silver dishes, together with every
wine produced in the Archipelago, Asia Minor, or the Cape,
sparkling in bottles, whose grotesque shape seemed to give
an additional flavor to the draught, -- all these, like one
of the displays with which Apicius of old gratified his
guests, passed in review before the eyes of the astonished
Parisians, who understood that it was possible to expend a
thousand louis upon a dinner for ten persons, but only on
the condition of eating pearls, like Cleopatra, or drinking
refined gold, like Lorenzo de' Medici.
Monte Cristo noticed the general astonishment, and began
laughing and joking about it. "Gentlemen," he said, "you
will admit that, when arrived at a certain degree of
fortune, the superfluities of life are all that can be
desired; and the ladies will allow that, after having risen
to a certain eminence of position, the ideal alone can be
more exalted. Now, to follow out this reasoning, what is the
marvellous? -- that which we do not understand. What is it
that we really desire? -- that which we cannot obtain. Now,
to see things which I cannot understand, to procure
impossibilities, these are the study of my life. I gratify
my wishes by two means -- my will and my money. I take as
much interest in the pursuit of some whim as you do, M.
Danglars, in promoting a new railway line; you, M. de
Villefort, in condemning a culprit to death; you, M. Debray,
in pacifying a kingdom; you, M. de Chateau-Renaud, in
pleasing a woman; and you, Morrel, in breaking a horse that
no one can ride. For example, you see these two fish; one
brought fifty leagues beyond St. Petersburg, the other five
leagues from Naples. Is it not amusing to see them both on
the same table?"
"What are the two fish?" asked Danglars.
"M. Chateau-Renaud, who has lived in Russia, will tell you
the name of one, and Major Cavalcanti, who is an Italian,
will tell you the name of the other."
"This one is, I think, a sterlet," said Chateau-Renaud.
"And that one, if I mistake not, a lamprey."
"Just so. Now, M. Danglars, ask these gentlemen where they
"Starlets," said Chateau-Renaud, "are only found in the
"And," said Cavalcanti, "I know that Lake Fusaro alone
supplies lampreys of that size."
"Exactly; one comes from the Volga, and the other from Lake
"Impossible!" cried all the guests simultaneously.
"Well, this is just what amuses me," said Monte Cristo. "I
am like Nero -- cupitor impossibilium; and that is what is
amusing you at this moment. This fish, which seems so
exquisite to you, is very likely no better than perch or
salmon; but it seemed impossible to procure it, and here it
"But how could you have these fish brought to France?"
"Oh, nothing more easy. Each fish was brought over in a cask
-- one filled with river herbs and weeds, the other with
rushes and lake plants; they were placed in a wagon built on
purpose, and thus the sterlet lived twelve days, the lamprey
eight, and both were alive when my cook seized them, killing
one with milk and the other with wine. You do not believe
me, M. Danglars!"
"I cannot help doubting," answered Danglars with his stupid
"Baptistin," said the count, "have the other fish brought in
-- the sterlet and the lamprey which came in the other
casks, and which are yet alive." Danglars opened his
bewildered eyes; the company clapped their hands. Four
servants carried in two casks covered with aquatic plants,
and in each of which was breathing a fish similar to those
on the table.
"But why have two of each sort?" asked Danglars.
"Merely because one might have died," carelessly answered
"You are certainly an extraordinary man," said Danglars;
"and philosophers may well say it is a fine thing to be
"And to have ideas," added Madame Danglars.
"Oh, do not give me credit for this, madame; it was done by
the Romans, who much esteemed them, and Pliny relates that
they sent slaves from Ostia to Rome, who carried on their
heads fish which he calls the mulus, and which, from the
description, must probably be the goldfish. It was also
considered a luxury to have them alive, it being an amusing
sight to see them die, for, when dying, they change color
three or four times, and like the rainbow when it
disappears, pass through all the prismatic shades, after
which they were sent to the kitchen. Their agony formed part
of their merit -- if they were not seen alive, they were
despised when dead."
"Yes," said Debray, "but then Ostia is only a few leagues
"True," said Monte Cristo; "but what would be the use of
living eighteen hundred years after Lucullus, if we can do
no better than he could?" The two Cavalcanti opened their
enormous eyes, but had the good sense not to say anything.
"All this is very extraordinary," said Chateau-Renaud;
"still, what I admire the most, I confess, is the marvellous
promptitude with which your orders are executed. Is it not
true that you only bought this house five or six days ago?"
"Certainly not longer."
"Well, I am sure it is quite transformed since last week. If
I remember rightly, it had another entrance, and the
court-yard was paved and empty; while to-day we have a
splendid lawn, bordered by trees which appear to be a
hundred years old."
"Why not? I am fond of grass and shade," said Monte Cristo.
"Yes," said Madame de Villefort, "the door was towards the
road before, and on the day of my miraculous escape you
brought me into the house from the road, I remember."
"Yes, madame," said Monte Cristo; "but I preferred having an
entrance which would allow me to see the Bois de Boulogne
over my gate."
"In four days," said Morrel; "it is extraordinary!"
"Indeed," said Chateau-Renaud, "it seems quite miraculous to
make a new house out of an old one; for it was very old, and
dull too. I recollect coming for my mother to look at it
when M. de Saint-Meran advertised it for sale two or three
"M. de Saint-Meran?" said Madame de Villefort; "then this
house belonged to M. de Saint-Meran before you bought it?"
"It appears so," replied Monte Cristo.
"Is it possible that you do not know of whom you purchased
"Quite so; my steward transacts all this business for me."
"It is certainly ten years since the house had been
occupied," said Chateau-Renaud, "and it was quite melancholy
to look at it, with the blinds closed, the doors locked, and
the weeds in the court. Really, if the house had not
belonged to the father-in-law of the procureur, one might
have thought it some accursed place where a horrible crime
had been committed." Villefort, who had hitherto not tasted
the three or four glasses of rare wine which were placed
before him, here took one, and drank it off. Monte Cristo
allowed a short time to elapse, and then said, "It is
singular, baron, but the same idea came across me the first
time I came here; it looked so gloomy I should never have
bought it if my steward had not taken the matter into his
own hands. Perhaps the fellow had been bribed by the
"It is probable," stammered out Villefort, trying to smile;
"but I can assure you that I had nothing to do with any such
proceeding. This house is part of Valentine's
marriage-portion, and M. de Saint-Meran wished to sell it;
for if it had remained another year or two uninhabited it
would have fallen to ruin." It was Morrel's turn to become
"There was, above all, one room," continued Monte Cristo,
"very plain in appearance, hung with red damask, which, I
know not why, appeared to me quite dramatic."
"Why so?" said Danglars; "why dramatic?"
"Can we account for instinct?" said Monte Cristo. "Are there
not some places where we seem to breathe sadness? -- why, we
cannot tell. It is a chain of recollections -- an idea which
carries you back to other times, to other places -- which,
very likely, have no connection with the present time and
place. And there is something in this room which reminds me
forcibly of the chamber of the Marquise de Ganges* or
Desdemona. Stay, since we have finished dinner, I will show
it to you, and then we will take coffee in the garden. After
dinner, the play." Monte Cristo looked inquiringly at his
guests. Madame de Villefort rose, Monte Cristo did the same,
and the rest followed their example. Villefort and Madame
Danglars remained for a moment, as if rooted to their seats;
they questioned each other with vague and stupid glances.
"Did you hear?" said Madame Danglars.
* Elisabeth de Rossan, Marquise de Ganges, was one of the
famous women of the court of Louis XIV. where she was known
as "La Belle Provencale." She was the widow of the Marquise
de Castellane when she married de Ganges, and having the
misfortune to excite the enmity of her new brothers-in-law,
was forced by them to take poison; and they finished her off
with pistol and dagger. -- Ed.
"We must go," replied Villefort, offering his arm. The
others, attracted by curiosity, were already scattered in
different parts of the house; for they thought the visit
would not be limited to the one room, and that, at the same
time, they would obtain a view of the rest of the building,
of which Monte Cristo had created a palace. Each one went
out by the open doors. Monte Cristo waited for the two who
remained; then, when they had passed, he brought up the
rear, and on his face was a smile, which, if they could have
understood it, would have alarmed them much more than a
visit to the room they were about to enter. They began by
walking through the apartments, many of which were fitted up
in the Eastern style, with cushions and divans instead of
beds, and pipes instead of furniture. The drawing-rooms were
decorated with the rarest pictures by the old masters, the
boudoirs hung with draperies from China, of fanciful colors,
fantastic design, and wonderful texture. At length they
arrived at the famous room. There was nothing particular
about it, excepting that, although daylight had disappeared,
it was not lighted, and everything in it was old-fashioned,
while the rest of the rooms had been redecorated. These two
causes were enough to give it a gloomy aspect. "Oh." cried
Madame de Villefort, "it is really frightful." Madame
Danglars tried to utter a few words, but was not heard. Many
observations were made, the import of which was a unanimous
opinion that there was something sinister about the room.
"Is it not so?" asked Monte Cristo. "Look at that large
clumsy bed, hung with such gloomy, blood-colored drapery!
And those two crayon portraits, that have faded from the
dampness; do they not seem to say, with their pale lips and
staring eyes, `We have seen'?" Villefort became livid;
Madame Danglars fell into a long seat placed near the
chimney. "Oh," said Madame de Villefort, smiling, "are you
courageous enough to sit down upon the very seat perhaps
upon which the crime was committed?" Madame Danglars rose
"And then," said Monte Cristo, "this is not all."
"What is there more?" said Debray, who had not failed to
notice the agitation of Madame Danglars.
"Ah, what else is there?" said Danglars; "for, at present, I
cannot say that I have seen anything extraordinary. What do
you say, M. Cavalcanti?"
"Ah," said he, "we have at Pisa, Ugolino's tower; at
Ferrara, Tasso's prison; at Rimini, the room of Francesca
"Yes, but you have not this little staircase," said Monte
Cristo, opening a door concealed by the drapery. "Look at
it, and tell me what you think of it."
"What a wicked-looking, crooked staircase," said
Chateau-Renaud with a smile.
"I do not know whether the wine of Chios produces
melancholy, but certainly everything appears to me black in
this house," said Debray.
Ever since Valentine's dowry had been mentioned, Morrel had
been silent and sad. "Can you imagine," said Monte Cristo,
"some Othello or Abbe de Ganges, one stormy, dark night,
descending these stairs step by step, carrying a load, which
he wishes to hide from the sight of man, if not from God?"
Madame Danglars half fainted on the arm of Villefort, who
was obliged to support himself against the wall. "Ah,
madame," cried Debray, "what is the matter with you? how
pale you look!"
"It is very evident what is the matter with her," said
Madame de Villefort; "M. de Monte Cristo is relating
horrible stories to us, doubtless intending to frighten us
"Yes," said Villefort, "really, count, you frighten the
"What is the matter?" asked Debray, in a whisper, of Madame
"Nothing," she replied with a violent effort. "I want air,
that is all."
"Will you come into the garden?" said Debray, advancing
towards the back staircase.
"No, no," she answered, "I would rather remain here."
"Are you really frightened, madame?" said Monte Cristo.
"Oh, no, sir," said Madame Danglars; "but you suppose scenes
in a manner which gives them the appearance of reality."
"Ah, yes," said Monte Cristo smiling; "it is all a matter of
imagination. Why should we not imagine this the apartment of
an honest mother? And this bed with red hangings, a bed
visited by the goddess Lucina? And that mysterious
staircase, the passage through which, not to disturb their
sleep, the doctor and nurse pass, or even the father
carrying the sleeping child?" Here Madame Danglars, instead
of being calmed by the soft picture, uttered a groan and
fainted. "Madame Danglars is ill," said Villefort; "it would
be better to take her to her carriage."
"Oh, mon Dieu," said Monte Cristo, "and I have forgotten my
"I have mine," said Madame de Villefort; and she passed over
to Monte Cristo a bottle full of the same kind of red liquid
whose good properties the count had tested on Edward.
"Ah," said Monte Cristo, taking it from her hand.
"Yes," she said, "at your advice I have made the trial."
"And have you succeeded?"
"I think so."
Madame Danglars was carried into the adjoining room; Monte
Cristo dropped a very small portion of the red liquid upon
her lips; she returned to consciousness. "Ah," she cried,
"what a frightful dream!"
Villefort pressed her hand to let her know it was not a
dream. They looked for M. Danglars, but, as he was not
especially interested in poetical ideas, he had gone into
the garden, and was talking with Major Cavalcanti on the
projected railway from Leghorn to Florence. Monte Cristo
seemed in despair. He took the arm of Madame Danglars, and
conducted her into the garden, where they found Danglars
taking coffee between the Cavalcanti. "Really, madame," he
said, "did I alarm you much?"
"Oh, no, sir," she answered; "but you know, things impress
us differently, according to the mood of our minds."
Villefort forced a laugh. "And then, you know," he said, "an
idea, a supposition, is sufficient."
"Well," said Monte Cristo, "you may believe me if you like,
but it is my opinion that a crime has been committed in this
"Take care," said Madame de Villefort, "the king's attorney
"Ah," replied Monte Cristo, "since that is the case, I will
take advantage of his presence to make my declaration."
"Your declaration?" said Villefort.
"Yes, before witnesses."
"Oh, this is very interesting," said Debray; "if there
really has been a crime, we will investigate it."
"There has been a crime," said Monte Cristo. "Come this way,
gentlemen; come, M. Villefort, for a declaration to be
available, should be made before the competent authorities."
He then took Villefort's arm, and, at the same time, holding
that of Madame Danglars under his own, he dragged the
procureur to the plantain-tree, where the shade was
thickest. All the other guests followed. "Stay," said Monte
Cristo, "here, in this very spot" (and he stamped upon the
ground), "I had the earth dug up and fresh mould put in, to
refresh these old trees; well, my man, digging, found a box,
or rather, the iron-work of a box, in the midst of which was
the skeleton of a newly born infant." Monte Cristo felt the
arm of Madame Danglars stiffen, while that of Villefort
trembled. "A newly born infant," repeated Debray; "this
affair becomes serious!"
"Well," said Chateau-Renaud, "I was not wrong just now then,
when I said that houses had souls and faces like men, and
that their exteriors carried the impress of their
characters. This house was gloomy because it was remorseful:
it was remorseful because it concealed a crime."
"Who said it was a crime?" asked Villefort, with a last
"How? is it not a crime to bury a living child in a garden?"
cried Monte Cristo. "And pray what do you call such an
"But who said it was buried alive?"
"Why bury it there if it were dead? This garden has never
been a cemetery."
"What is done to infanticides in this country?" asked Major
"Oh, their heads are soon cut off," said Danglars.
"Ah, indeed?" said Cavalcanti.
"I think so; am I not right, M. de Villefort?" asked Monte
"Yes, count," replied Villefort, in a voice now scarcely
Monte Cristo, seeing that the two persons for whom he had
prepared this scene could scarcely endure it, and not
wishing to carry it too far, said, "Come, gentlemen, -- some
coffee, we seem to have forgotten it," and he conducted the
guests back to the table on the lawn.
"Indeed, count," said Madame Danglars, "I am ashamed to own
it, but all your frightful stories have so upset me, that I
must beg you to let me sit down;" and she fell into a chair.
Monte Cristo bowed, and went to Madame de Villefort. "I
think Madame Danglars again requires your bottle," he said.
But before Madame de Villefort could reach her friend the
procureur had found time to whisper to Madame Danglars, "I
must speak to you."
"In my office, or in the court, if you like, -- that is the
"I will be there." -- At this moment Madame de Villefort
approached. "Thanks, my dear friend," said Madame Danglars,
trying to smile; "it is over now, and I am much better."
The evening passed on; Madame de Villefort expressed a
desire to return to Paris, which Madame Danglars had not
dared to do, notwithstanding the uneasiness she experienced.
On his wife's request, M. de Villefort was the first to give
the signal of departure. He offered a seat in his landau to
Madame Danglars, that she might be under the care of his
wife. As for M. Danglars, absorbed in an interesting
conversation with M. Cavalcanti, he paid no attention to
anything that was passing. While Monte Cristo had begged the
smelling-bottle of Madame de Villefort, he had noticed the
approach of Villefort to Madame Danglars, and he soon
guessed all that had passed between them, though the words
had been uttered in so low a voice as hardly to be heard by
Madame Danglars. Without opposing their arrangements, he
allowed Morrel, Chateau-Renaud, and Debray to leave on
horseback, and the ladies in M. de Villefort's carriage.
Danglars, more and more delighted with Major Cavalcanti, had
offered him a seat in his carriage. Andrea Cavalcanti found
his tilbury waiting at the door; the groom, in every respect
a caricature of the English fashion, was standing on tiptoe
to hold a large iron-gray horse.
Andrea had spoken very little during dinner; he was an
intelligent lad, and he feared to utter some absurdity
before so many grand people, amongst whom, with dilating
eyes, he saw the king's attorney. Then he had been seized
upon by Danglars, who, with a rapid glance at the
stiff-necked old major and his modest son, and taking into
consideration the hospitality of the count, made up his mind
that he was in the society of some nabob come to Paris to
finish the worldly education of his heir. He contemplated
with unspeakable delight the large diamond which shone on
the major's little finger; for the major, like a prudent
man, in case of any accident happening to his bank-notes,
had immediately converted them into an available asset.
Then, after dinner, on the pretext of business, he
questioned the father and son upon their mode of living; and
the father and son, previously informed that it was through
Danglars the one was to receive his 48,000 francs and the
other 50,000 livres annually, were so full of affability
that they would have shaken hands even with the banker's
servants, so much did their gratitude need an object to
expend itself upon. One thing above all the rest heightened
the respect, nay almost the veneration, of Danglars for
Cavalcanti. The latter, faithful to the principle of Horace,
nil admirari, had contented himself with showing his
knowledge by declaring in what lake the best lampreys were
caught. Then he had eaten some without saying a word more;
Danglars, therefore, concluded that such luxuries were
common at the table of the illustrious descendant of the
Cavalcanti, who most likely in Lucca fed upon trout brought
from Switzerland, and lobsters sent from England, by the
same means used by the count to bring the lampreys from Lake
Fusaro, and the sterlet from the Volga. Thus it was with
much politeness of manner that he heard Cavalcanti pronounce
these words, "To-morrow, sir, I shall have the honor of
waiting upon you on business."
"And I, sir," said Danglars, "shall be most happy to receive
you." Upon which he offered to take Cavalcanti in his
carriage to the Hotel des Princes, if it would not be
depriving him of the company of his son. To this Cavalcanti
replied by saying that for some time past his son had lived
independently of him, that he had his own horses and
carriages, and that not having come together, it would not
be difficult for them to leave separately. The major seated
himself, therefore, by the side of Danglars, who was more
and more charmed with the ideas of order and economy which
ruled this man, and yet who, being able to allow his son
60,000 francs a year, might be supposed to possess a fortune
of 500,000 or 600,000 livres.
As for Andrea, he began, by way of showing off, to scold his
groom, who, instead of bringing the tilbury to the steps of
the house, had taken it to the outer door, thus giving him
the trouble of walking thirty steps to reach it. The groom
heard him with humility, took the bit of the impatient
animal with his left hand, and with the right held out the
reins to Andrea, who, taking them from him, rested his
polished boot lightly on the step. At that moment a hand
touched his shoulder. The young man turned round, thinking
that Danglars or Monte Cristo had forgotten something they
wished to tell him, and had returned just as they were
starting. But instead of either of these, he saw nothing but
a strange face, sunburnt, and encircled by a beard, with
eyes brilliant as carbuncles, and a smile upon the mouth
which displayed a perfect set of white teeth, pointed and
sharp as the wolf's or jackal's. A red handkerchief
encircled his gray head; torn and filthy garments covered
his large bony limbs, which seemed as though, like those of
a skeleton, they would rattle as he walked; and the hand
with which he leaned upon the young man's shoulder, and
which was the first thing Andrea saw, seemed of gigantic
size. Did the young man recognize that face by the light of
the lantern in his tilbury, or was he merely struck with the
horrible appearance of his interrogator? We cannot say; but
only relate the fact that he shuddered and stepped back
suddenly. "What do you want of me?" he asked.
"Pardon me, my friend, if I disturb you," said the man with
the red handkerchief, "but I want to speak to you."
"You have no right to beg at night," said the groom,
endeavoring to rid his master of the troublesome intruder.
"I am not begging, my fine fellow," said the unknown to the
servant, with so ironical an expression of the eye, and so
frightful a smile, that he withdrew; "I only wish to say two
or three words to your master, who gave me a commission to
execute about a fortnight ago."
"Come," said Andrea, with sufficient nerve for his servant
not to perceive his agitation, "what do you want? Speak
The man said, in a low voice: "I wish -- I wish you to spare
me the walk back to Paris. I am very tired, and as I have
not eaten so good a dinner as you, I can scarcely stand."
The young man shuddered at this strange familiarity. "Tell
me," he said -- "tell me what you want?"
"Well, then, I want you to take me up in your fine carriage,
and carry me back." Andrea turned pale, but said nothing.
"Yes," said the man, thrusting his hands into his pockets,
and looking impudently at the youth; "I have taken the whim
into my head; do you understand, Master Benedetto?"
At this name, no doubt, the young man reflected a little,
for he went towards his groom, saying, "This man is right; I
did indeed charge him with a commission, the result of which
he must tell me; walk to the barrier, there take a cab, that
you may not be too late." The surprised groom retired. "Let
me at least reach a shady spot," said Andrea.
"Oh, as for that, I'll take you to a splendid place," said
the man with the handkerchief; and taking the horse's bit he
led the tilbury where it was certainly impossible for any
one to witness the honor that Andrea conferred upon him.
"Don't think I want the glory of riding in your fine
carriage," said he; "oh, no, it's only because I am tired,
and also because I have a little business to talk over with
"Come, step in," said the young man. It was a pity this
scene had not occurred in daylight, for it was curious to
see this rascal throwing himself heavily down on the cushion
beside the young and elegant driver of the tilbury. Andrea
drove past the last house in the village without saying a
word to his companion, who smiled complacently, as though
well-pleased to find himself travelling in so comfortable a
vehicle. Once out of Auteuil, Andrea looked around, in order
to assure himself that he could neither be seen nor heard,
and then, stopping the horse and crossing his arms before
the man, he asked, -- "Now, tell me why you come to disturb
"Let me ask you why you deceived me?"
"How have I deceived you?"
"`How,' do you ask? When we parted at the Pont du Var, you
told me you were going to travel through Piedmont and
Tuscany; but instead of that, you come to Paris."
"How does that annoy you?"
"It does not; on the contrary, I think it will answer my
"So," said Andrea, "you are speculating upon me?"
"What fine words he uses!"
"I warn you, Master Caderousse, that you are mistaken."
"Well, well, don't be angry, my boy; you know well enough
what it is to be unfortunate; and misfortunes make us
jealous. I thought you were earning a living in Tuscany or
Piedmont by acting as facchino or cicerone, and I pitied you
sincerely, as I would a child of my own. You know I always
did call you my child."
"Come, come, what then?"
"Patience -- patience!"
"I am patient, but go on."
"All at once I see you pass through the barrier with a
groom, a tilbury, and fine new clothes. You must have
discovered a mine, or else become a stockbroker."
"So that, as you confess, you are jealous?"
"No, I am pleased -- so pleased that I wished to
congratulate you; but as I am not quite properly dressed, I
chose my opportunity, that I might not compromise you."
"Yes, and a fine opportunity you have chosen!" exclaimed
Andrea; "you speak to me before my servant."
"How can I help that, my boy? I speak to you when I can
catch you. You have a quick horse, a light tilbury, you are
naturally as slippery as an eel; if I had missed you
to-night, I might not have had another chance."
"You see, I do not conceal myself."
"You are lucky; I wish I could say as much, for I do conceal
myself; and then I was afraid you would not recognize me,
but you did," added Caderousse with his unpleasant smile.
"It was very polite of you."
"Come," said Andrea, "what do want?"
"You do not speak affectionately to me, Benedetto, my old
friend, that is not right -- take care, or I may become
troublesome." This menace smothered the young man's passion.
He urged the horse again into a trot. "You should not speak
so to an old friend like me, Caderousse, as you said just
now; you are a native of Marseilles, I am" --
"Do you know then now what you are?"
"No, but I was brought up in Corsica; you are old and
obstinate, I am young and wilful. Between people like us
threats are out of place, everything should be amicably
arranged. Is it my fault if fortune, which has frowned on
you, has been kind to me?"
"Fortune has been kind to you, then? Your tilbury, your
groom, your clothes, are not then hired? Good, so much the
better," said Caderousse, his eyes sparkling with avarice.
"Oh, you knew that well enough before speaking to me," said
Andrea, becoming more and more excited. "If I had been
wearing a handkerchief like yours on my head, rags on my
back, and worn-out shoes on my feet, you would not have
"You wrong me, my boy; now I have found you, nothing
prevents my being as well-dressed as any one, knowing, as I
do, the goodness of your heart. If you have two coats you
will give me one of them. I used to divide my soup and beans
with you when you were hungry."
"True," said Andrea.
"What an appetite you used to have! Is it as good now?"
"Oh, yes," replied Andrea, laughing.
"How did you come to be dining with that prince whose house
you have just left?"
"He is not a prince; simply a count."
"A count, and a rich one too, eh?"
"Yes; but you had better not have anything to say to him,
for he is not a very good-tempered gentleman."
"Oh, be easy! I have no design upon your count, and you
shall have him all to yourself. But," said Caderousse, again
smiling with the disagreeable expression he had before
assumed, "you must pay for it -- you understand?"
"Well, what do you want?"
"I think that with a hundred francs a month" --
"I could live" --
"Upon a hundred francs!"
"Come -- you understand me; but that with" --
"With a hundred and fifty francs I should be quite happy."
"Here are two hundred," said Andrea; and he placed ten gold
louis in the hand of Caderousse.
"Good!" said Caderousse.
"Apply to the steward on the first day of every mouth, and
you will receive the same sum."
"There now, again you degrade me."
"By making me apply to the servants, when I want to transact
business with you alone."
"Well, be it so, then. Take it from me then, and so long at
least as I receive my income, you shall be paid yours."
"Come, come; I always said you were a fine fellow, and it is
a blessing when good fortune happens to such as you. But
tell me all about it?"
"Why do you wish to know?" asked Cavalcanti.
"What? do you again defy me?"
"No; the fact is, I have found my father."
"What? a real father?"
"Yes, so long as he pays me" --
"You'll honor and believe him -- that's right. What is his
"Is he pleased with you?"
"So far I have appeared to answer his purpose."
"And who found this father for you?"
"The Count of Monte Cristo."
"The man whose house you have just left?"
"I wish you would try and find me a situation with him as
grandfather, since he holds the money-chest!"
"Well, I will mention you to him. Meanwhile, what are you
going to do?"
"It is very kind of you to trouble yourself about me."
"Since you interest yourself in my affairs, I think it is