Part 2 out of 31
Paris; four days to go, and the same to return, with one day
to discharge the commission intrusted to me, is all the time
I shall be absent. I shall be back here by the first of
March, and on the second I give my real marriage feast."
This prospect of fresh festivity redoubled the hilarity of
the guests to such a degree, that the elder Dantes, who, at
the commencement of the repast, had commented upon the
silence that prevailed, now found it difficult, amid the
general din of voices, to obtain a moment's tranquillity in
which to drink to the health and prosperity of the bride and
Dantes, perceiving the affectionate eagerness of his father,
responded by a look of grateful pleasure; while Mercedes
glanced at the clock and made an expressive gesture to
Around the table reigned that noisy hilarity which usually
prevails at such a time among people sufficiently free from
the demands of social position not to feel the trammels of
etiquette. Such as at the commencement of the repast had not
been able to seat themselves according to their inclination
rose unceremoniously, and sought out more agreeable
companions. Everybody talked at once, without waiting for a
reply and each one seemed to be contented with expressing
his or her own thoughts.
Fernand's paleness appeared to have communicated itself to
Danglars. As for Fernand himself, he seemed to be enduring
the tortures of the damned; unable to rest, he was among the
first to quit the table, and, as though seeking to avoid the
hilarious mirth that rose in such deafening sounds, he
continued, in utter silence, to pace the farther end of the
Caderousse approached him just as Danglars, whom Fernand
seemed most anxious to avoid, had joined him in a corner of
"Upon my word," said Caderousse, from whose mind the
friendly treatment of Dantes, united with the effect of the
excellent wine he had partaken of, had effaced every feeling
of envy or jealousy at Dantes' good fortune, -- "upon my
word, Dantes is a downright good fellow, and when I see him
sitting there beside his pretty wife that is so soon to be.
I cannot help thinking it would have been a great pity to
have served him that trick you were planning yesterday."
"Oh, there was no harm meant," answered Danglars; "at first
I certainly did feel somewhat uneasy as to what Fernand
might be tempted to do; but when I saw how completely he had
mastered his feelings, even so far as to become one of his
rival's attendants, I knew there was no further cause for
apprehension." Caderousse looked full at Fernand -- he was
"Certainly," continued Danglars, "the sacrifice was no
trifling one, when the beauty of the bride is concerned.
Upon my soul, that future captain of mine is a lucky dog!
Gad, I only wish he would let me take his place."
"Shall we not set forth?" asked the sweet, silvery voice of
Mercedes; "two o'clock has just struck, and you know we are
expected in a quarter of an hour."
"To be sure! -- to be sure!" cried Dantes, eagerly quitting
the table; "let us go directly!"
His words were re-echoed by the whole party, with vociferous
At this moment Danglars, who had been incessantly observing
every change in Fernand's look and manner, saw him stagger
and fall back, with an almost convulsive spasm, against a
seat placed near one of the open windows. At the same
instant his ear caught a sort of indistinct sound on the
stairs, followed by the measured tread of soldiery, with the
clanking of swords and military accoutrements; then came a
hum and buzz as of many voices, so as to deaden even the
noisy mirth of the bridal party, among whom a vague feeling
of curiosity and apprehension quelled every disposition to
talk, and almost instantaneously the most deathlike
The sounds drew nearer. Three blows were struck upon the
panel of the door. The company looked at each other in
"I demand admittance," said a loud voice outside the room,
"in the name of the law!" As no attempt was made to prevent
it, the door was opened, and a magistrate, wearing his
official scarf, presented himself, followed by four soldiers
and a corporal. Uneasiness now yielded to the most extreme
dread on the part of those present.
"May I venture to inquire the reason of this unexpected
visit?" said M. Morrel, addressing the magistrate, whom he
evidently knew; "there is doubtless some mistake easily
"If it be so," replied the magistrate, "rely upon every
reparation being made; meanwhile, I am the bearer of an
order of arrest, and although I most reluctantly perform the
task assigned me, it must, nevertheless, be fulfilled. Who
among the persons here assembled answers to the name of
Edmond Dantes?" Every eye was turned towards the young man
who, spite of the agitation he could not but feel, advanced
with dignity, and said, in a firm voice, "I am he; what is
your pleasure with me?"
"Edmond Dantes," replied the magistrate, "I arrest you in
the name of the law!"
"Me!" repeated Edmond, slightly changing color, "and
wherefore, I pray?"
"I cannot inform you, but you will be duly acquainted with
the reasons that have rendered such a step necessary at the
M. Morrel felt that further resistance or remonstrance was
useless. He saw before him an officer delegated to enforce
the law, and perfectly well knew that it would be as
unavailing to seek pity from a magistrate decked with his
official scarf, as to address a petition to some cold marble
effigy. Old Dantes, however, sprang forward. There are
situations which the heart of a father or a mother cannot be
made to understand. He prayed and supplicated in terms so
moving, that even the officer was touched, and, although
firm in his duty, he kindly said, "My worthy friend, let me
beg of you to calm your apprehensions. Your son has probably
neglected some prescribed form or attention in registering
his cargo, and it is more than probable he will be set at
liberty directly he has given the information required,
whether touching the health of his crew, or the value of his
"What is the meaning of all this?" inquired Caderousse,
frowningly, of Danglars, who had assumed an air of utter
"How can I tell you?" replied he; "I am, like yourself,
utterly bewildered at all that is going on, and cannot in
the least make out what it is about." Caderousse then looked
around for Fernand, but he had disappeared.
The scene of the previous night now came back to his mind
with startling clearness. The painful catastrophe he had
just witnessed appeared effectually to have rent away the
veil which the intoxication of the evening before had raised
between himself and his memory.
"So, so," said he, in a hoarse and choking voice, to
Danglars, "this, then, I suppose, is a part of the trick you
were concerting yesterday? All I can say is, that if it be
so, 'tis an ill turn, and well deserves to bring double evil
on those who have projected it."
"Nonsense," returned Danglars, "I tell you again I have
nothing whatever to do with it; besides, you know very well
that I tore the paper to pieces."
"No, you did not!" answered Caderousse, "you merely threw it
by -- I saw it lying in a corner."
"Hold your tongue, you fool! -- what should you know about
it? -- why, you were drunk!"
"Where is Fernand?" inquired Caderousse.
"How do I know?" replied Danglars; "gone, as every prudent
man ought to be, to look after his own affairs, most likely.
Never mind where he is, let you and I go and see what is to
be done for our poor friends."
During this conversation, Dantes, after having exchanged a
cheerful shake of the hand with all his sympathizing
friends, had surrendered himself to the officer sent to
arrest him, merely saying, "Make yourselves quite easy, my
good fellows, there is some little mistake to clear up,
that's all, depend upon it; and very likely I may not have
to go so far as the prison to effect that."
"Oh, to be sure!" responded Danglars, who had now approached
the group, "nothing more than a mistake, I feel quite
Dantes descended the staircase, preceded by the magistrate,
and followed by the soldiers. A carriage awaited him at the
door; he got in, followed by two soldiers and the
magistrate, and the vehicle drove off towards Marseilles.
"Adieu, adieu, dearest Edmond!" cried Mercedes, stretching
out her arms to him from the balcony.
The prisoner heard the cry, which sounded like the sob of a
broken heart, and leaning from the coach he called out,
"Good-by, Mercedes -- we shall soon meet again!" Then the
vehicle disappeared round one of the turnings of Fort Saint
"Wait for me here, all of you!" cried M. Morrel; "I will
take the first conveyance I find, and hurry to Marseilles,
whence I will bring you word how all is going on."
"That's right!" exclaimed a multitude of voices, "go, and
return as quickly as you can!"
This second departure was followed by a long and fearful
state of terrified silence on the part of those who were
left behind. The old father and Mercedes remained for some
time apart, each absorbed in grief; but at length the two
poor victims of the same blow raised their eyes, and with a
simultaneous burst of feeling rushed into each other's arms.
Meanwhile Fernand made his appearance, poured out for
himself a glass of water with a trembling hand; then hastily
swallowing it, went to sit down at the first vacant place,
and this was, by mere chance, placed next to the seat on
which poor Mercedes had fallen half fainting, when released
from the warm and affectionate embrace of old Dantes.
Instinctively Fernand drew back his chair.
"He is the cause of all this misery -- I am quite sure of
it," whispered Caderousse, who had never taken his eyes off
Fernand, to Danglars.
"I don't think so," answered the other; he's too stupid to
imagine such a scheme. I only hope the mischief will fall
upon the head of whoever wrought it."
"You don't mention those who aided and abetted the deed,"
"Surely," answered Danglars, "one cannot be held responsible
for every chance arrow shot into the air."
"You can, indeed, when the arrow lights point downward on
Meantime the subject of the arrest was being canvassed in
every different form.
"What think you, Danglars," said one of the party, turning
towards him, "of this event?"
"Why," replied he, "I think it just possible Dantes may have
been detected with some trifling article on board ship
considered here as contraband."
"But how could he have done so without your knowledge,
Danglars, since you are the ship's supercargo?"
"Why, as for that, I could only know what I was told
respecting the merchandise with which the vessel was laden.
I know she was loaded with cotton, and that she took in her
freight at Alexandria from Pastret's warehouse, and at
Smyrna from Pascal's; that is all I was obliged to know, and
I beg I may not be asked for any further particulars."
"Now I recollect," said the afflicted old father; "my poor
boy told me yesterday he had got a small case of coffee, and
another of tobacco for me!"
"There, you see," exclaimed Danglars. "Now the mischief is
out; depend upon it the custom-house people went rummaging
about the ship in our absence, and discovered poor Dantes'
Mercedes, however, paid no heed to this explanation of her
lover's arrest. Her grief, which she had hitherto tried to
restrain, now burst out in a violent fit of hysterical
"Come, come," said the old man, "be comforted, my poor
child; there is still hope!"
"Hope!" repeated Danglars.
"Hope!" faintly murmured Fernand, but the word seemed to die
away on his pale agitated lips, and a convulsive spasm
passed over his countenance.
"Good news! good news!" shouted forth one of the party
stationed in the balcony on the lookout. "Here comes M.
Morrel back. No doubt, now, we shall hear that our friend is
Mercedes and the old man rushed to meet the shipowner and
greeted him at the door. He was very pale.
"What news?" exclaimed a general burst of voices.
"Alas, my friends," replied M. Morrel, with a mournful shake
of his head, "the thing has assumed a more serious aspect
than I expected."
"Oh, indeed -- indeed, sir, he is innocent!" sobbed forth
"That I believe!" answered M. Morrel; "but still he is
"With what?" inquired the elder Dantes.
"With being an agent of the Bonapartist faction!" Many of
our readers may be able to recollect how formidable such an
accusation became in the period at which our story is dated.
A despairing cry escaped the pale lips of Mercedes; the old
man sank into a chair.
"Ah, Danglars!" whispered Caderousse, "you have deceived me
-- the trick you spoke of last night has been played; but I
cannot suffer a poor old man or an innocent girl to die of
grief through your fault. I am determined to tell them all
"Be silent, you simpleton!" cried Danglars, grasping him by
the arm, "or I will not answer even for your own safety. Who
can tell whether Dantes be innocent or guilty? The vessel
did touch at Elba, where he quitted it, and passed a whole
day in the island. Now, should any letters or other
documents of a compromising character be found upon him,
will it not be taken for granted that all who uphold him are
With the rapid instinct of selfishness, Caderousse readily
perceived the solidity of this mode of reasoning; he gazed,
doubtfully, wistfully, on Danglars, and then caution
"Suppose we wait a while, and see what comes of it," said
he, casting a bewildered look on his companion.
"To be sure!" answered Danglars. "Let us wait, by all means.
If he be innocent, of course he will be set at liberty; if
guilty, why, it is no use involving ourselves in a
"Let us go, then. I cannot stay here any longer."
"With all my heart!" replied Danglars, pleased to find the
other so tractable. "Let us take ourselves out of the way,
and leave things for the present to take their course."
After their departure, Fernand, who had now again become the
friend and protector of Mercedes, led the girl to her home,
while the friends of Dantes conducted the now half-fainting
man back to his abode.
The rumor of Edmond's arrest as a Bonapartist agent was not
slow in circulating throughout the city.
"Could you ever have credited such a thing, my dear
Danglars?" asked M. Morrel, as, on his return to the port
for the purpose of gleaning fresh tidings of Dantes, from M.
de Villefort, the assistant procureur, he overtook his
supercargo and Caderousse. "Could you have believed such a
"Why, you know I told you," replied Danglars, "that I
considered the circumstance of his having anchored at the
Island of Elba as a very suspicious circumstance."
"And did you mention these suspicions to any person beside
"Certainly not!" returned Danglars. Then added in a low
whisper, "You understand that, on account of your uncle, M.
Policar Morrel, who served under the other government, and
who does not altogether conceal what he thinks on the
subject, you are strongly suspected of regretting the
abdication of Napoleon. I should have feared to injure both
Edmond and yourself, had I divulged my own apprehensions to
a soul. I am too well aware that though a subordinate, like
myself, is bound to acquaint the shipowner with everything
that occurs, there are many things he ought most carefully
to conceal from all else."
"'Tis well, Danglars -- 'tis well!" replied M. Morrel. "You
are a worthy fellow; and I had already thought of your
interests in the event of poor Edmond having become captain
of the Pharaon."
"Is it possible you were so kind?"
"Yes, indeed; I had previously inquired of Dantes what was
his opinion of you, and if he should have any reluctance to
continue you in your post, for somehow I have perceived a
sort of coolness between you."
"And what was his reply?"
"That he certainly did think he had given you offence in an
affair which he merely referred to without entering into
particulars, but that whoever possessed the good opinion and
confidence of the ship's owner would have his preference
"The hypocrite!" murmured Danglars.
"Poor Dantes!" said Caderousse. "No one can deny his being a
noble-hearted young fellow."
"But meanwhile," continued M. Morrel, "here is the Pharaon
without a captain."
"Oh," replied Danglars, "since we cannot leave this port for
the next three months, let us hope that ere the expiration
of that period Dantes will be set at liberty."
"No doubt; but in the meantime?"
"I am entirely at your service, M. Morrel," answered
Danglars. "You know that I am as capable of managing a ship
as the most experienced captain in the service; and it will
be so far advantageous to you to accept my services, that
upon Edmond's release from prison no further change will be
requisite on board the Pharaon than for Dantes and myself
each to resume our respective posts."
"Thanks, Danglars -- that will smooth over all difficulties.
I fully authorize you at once to assume the command of the
Pharaon, and look carefully to the unloading of her freight.
Private misfortunes must never be allowed to interfere with
"Be easy on that score, M. Morrel; but do you think we shall
be permitted to see our poor Edmond?"
"I will let you know that directly I have seen M. de
Villefort, whom I shall endeavor to interest in Edmond's
favor. I am aware he is a furious royalist; but, in spite of
that, and of his being king's attorney, he is a man like
ourselves, and I fancy not a bad sort of one."
"Perhaps not," replied Danglars; "but I hear that he is
ambitious, and that's rather against him."
"Well, well," returned M. Morrel, "we shall see. But now
hasten on board, I will join you there ere long." So saying,
the worthy shipowner quitted the two allies, and proceeded
in the direction of the Palais de Justice.
"You see," said Danglars, addressing Caderousse, "the turn
things have taken. Do you still feel any desire to stand up
in his defence?"
"Not the slightest, but yet it seems to me a shocking thing
that a mere joke should lead to such consequences."
"But who perpetrated that joke, let me ask? neither you nor
myself, but Fernand; you knew very well that I threw the
paper into a corner of the room -- indeed, I fancied I had
"Oh, no," replied Caderousse, "that I can answer for, you
did not. I only wish I could see it now as plainly as I saw
it lying all crushed and crumpled in a corner of the arbor."
"Well, then, if you did, depend upon it, Fernand picked it
up, and either copied it or caused it to be copied; perhaps,
even, he did not take the trouble of recopying it. And now I
think of it, by Heavens, he may have sent the letter itself!
Fortunately, for me, the handwriting was disguised."
"Then you were aware of Dantes being engaged in a
"Not I. As I before said, I thought the whole thing was a
joke, nothing more. It seems, however, that I have
unconsciously stumbled upon the truth."
"Still," argued Caderousse, "I would give a great deal if
nothing of the kind had happened; or, at least, that I had
had no hand in it. You will see, Danglars, that it will turn
out an unlucky job for both of us."
"Nonsense! If any harm come of it, it should fall on the
guilty person; and that, you know, is Fernand. How can we be
implicated in any way? All we have got to do is, to keep our
own counsel, and remain perfectly quiet, not breathing a
word to any living soul; and you will see that the storm
will pass away without in the least affecting us."
"Amen!" responded Caderousse, waving his hand in token of
adieu to Danglars, and bending his steps towards the Allees
de Meillan, moving his head to and fro, and muttering as he
went, after the manner of one whose mind was overcharged
with one absorbing idea.
"So far, then," said Danglars, mentally, "all has gone as I
would have it. I am, temporarily, commander of the Pharaon,
with the certainty of being permanently so, if that fool of
a Caderousse can be persuaded to hold his tongue. My only
fear is the chance of Dantes being released. But, there, he
is in the hands of Justice; and," added he with a smile,
"she will take her own." So saying, he leaped into a boat,
desiring to be rowed on board the Pharaon, where M. Morrel
had agreed to meet him.
The Deputy Procureur du Roi.
In one of the aristocratic mansions built by Puget in the
Rue du Grand Cours opposite the Medusa fountain, a second
marriage feast was being celebrated, almost at the same hour
with the nuptial repast given by Dantes. In this case,
however, although the occasion of the entertainment was
similar, the company was strikingly dissimilar. Instead of a
rude mixture of sailors, soldiers, and those belonging to
the humblest grade of life, the present assembly was
composed of the very flower of Marseilles society, --
magistrates who had resigned their office during the
usurper's reign; officers who had deserted from the imperial
army and joined forces with Conde; and younger members of
families, brought up to hate and execrate the man whom five
years of exile would convert into a martyr, and fifteen of
restoration elevate to the rank of a god.
The guests were still at table, and the heated and energetic
conversation that prevailed betrayed the violent and
vindictive passions that then agitated each dweller of the
South, where unhappily, for five centuries religious strife
had long given increased bitterness to the violence of party
The emperor, now king of the petty Island of Elba, after
having held sovereign sway over one-half of the world,
counting as his subjects a small population of five or six
thousand souls, -- after having been accustomed to hear the
"Vive Napoleons" of a hundred and twenty millions of human
beings, uttered in ten different languages, -- was looked
upon here as a ruined man, separated forever from any fresh
connection with France or claim to her throne.
The magistrates freely discussed their political views; the
military part of the company talked unreservedly of Moscow
and Leipsic, while the women commented on the divorce of
Josephine. It was not over the downfall of the man, but over
the defeat of the Napoleonic idea, that they rejoiced, and
in this they foresaw for themselves the bright and cheering
prospect of a revivified political existence.
An old man, decorated with the cross of Saint Louis, now
rose and proposed the health of King Louis XVIII. It was the
Marquis de Saint-Meran. This toast, recalling at once the
patient exile of Hartwell and the peace-loving King of
France, excited universal enthusiasm; glasses were elevated
in the air a l'Anglais, and the ladies, snatching their
bouquets from their fair bosoms, strewed the table with
their floral treasures. In a word, an almost poetical fervor
"Ah," said the Marquise de Saint-Meran, a woman with a
stern, forbidding eye, though still noble and distinguished
in appearance, despite her fifty years -- "ah, these
revolutionists, who have driven us from those very
possessions they afterwards purchased for a mere trifle
during the Reign of Terror, would be compelled to own, were
they here, that all true devotion was on our side, since we
were content to follow the fortunes of a falling monarch,
while they, on the contrary, made their fortune by
worshipping the rising sun; yes, yes, they could not help
admitting that the king, for whom we sacrificed rank,
wealth, and station was truly our `Louis the well-beloved,'
while their wretched usurper his been, and ever will be, to
them their evil genius, their `Napoleon the accursed.' Am I
not right, Villefort?"
"I beg your pardon, madame. I really must pray you to excuse
me, but -- in truth -- I was not attending to the
"Marquise, marquise!" interposed the old nobleman who had
proposed the toast, "let the young people alone; let me tell
you, on one's wedding day there are more agreeable subjects
of conversation than dry politics."
"Never mind, dearest mother," said a young and lovely girl,
with a profusion of light brown hair, and eyes that seemed
to float in liquid crystal, "'tis all my fault for seizing
upon M. de Villefort, so as to prevent his listening to what
you said. But there -- now take him -- he is your own for as
long as you like. M. Villefort, I beg to remind you my
mother speaks to you."
"If the marquise will deign to repeat the words I but
imperfectly caught, I shall be delighted to answer," said M.
"Never mind, Renee," replied the marquise, with a look of
tenderness that seemed out of keeping with her harsh dry
features; but, however all other feelings may be withered in
a woman's nature, there is always one bright smiling spot in
the desert of her heart, and that is the shrine of maternal
love. "I forgive you. What I was saying, Villefort, was,
that the Bonapartists had not our sincerity, enthusiasm, or
"They had, however, what supplied the place of those fine
qualities," replied the young man, "and that was fanaticism.
Napoleon is the Mahomet of the West, and is worshipped by
his commonplace but ambitions followers, not only as a
leader and lawgiver, but also as the personification of
"He!" cried the marquise: "Napoleon the type of equality!
For mercy's sake, then, what would you call Robespierre?
Come, come, do not strip the latter of his just rights to
bestow them on the Corsican, who, to my mind, has usurped
"Nay, madame; I would place each of these heroes on his
right pedestal -- that of Robespierre on his scaffold in the
Place Louis Quinze; that of Napoleon on the column of the
Place Vendome. The only difference consists in the opposite
character of the equality advocated by these two men; one is
the equality that elevates, the other is the equality that
degrades; one brings a king within reach of the guillotine,
the other elevates the people to a level with the throne.
Observe," said Villefort, smiling, "I do not mean to deny
that both these men were revolutionary scoundrels, and that
the 9th Thermidor and the 4th of April, in the year 1814,
were lucky days for France, worthy of being gratefully
remembered by every friend to monarchy and civil order; and
that explains how it comes to pass that, fallen, as I trust
he is forever, Napoleon has still retained a train of
parasitical satellites. Still, marquise, it has been so with
other usurpers -- Cromwell, for instance, who was not half
so bad as Napoleon, had his partisans and advocates."
"Do you know, Villefort, that you are talking in a most
dreadfully revolutionary strain? But I excuse it, it is
impossible to expect the son of a Girondin to be free from a
small spice of the old leaven." A deep crimson suffused the
countenance of Villefort.
"'Tis true, madame," answered he, "that my father was a
Girondin, but he was not among the number of those who voted
for the king's death; he was an equal sufferer with yourself
during the Reign of Terror, and had well-nigh lost his head
on the same scaffold on which your father perished."
"True," replied the marquise, without wincing in the
slightest degree at the tragic remembrance thus called up;
"but bear in mind, if you please, that our respective
parents underwent persecution and proscription from
diametrically opposite principles; in proof of which I may
remark, that while my family remained among the stanchest
adherents of the exiled princes, your father lost no time in
joining the new government; and that while the Citizen
Noirtier was a Girondin, the Count Noirtier became a
"Dear mother," interposed Renee, "you know very well it was
agreed that all these disagreeable reminiscences should
forever be laid aside."
"Suffer me, also, madame," replied Villefort, "to add my
earnest request to Mademoiselle de Saint-Meran's, that you
will kindly allow the veil of oblivion to cover and conceal
the past. What avails recrimination over matters wholly past
recall? For my own part, I have laid aside even the name of
my father, and altogether disown his political principles.
He was -- nay, probably may still be -- a Bonapartist, and
is called Noirtier; I, on the contrary, am a stanch
royalist, and style myself de Villefort. Let what may remain
of revolutionary sap exhaust itself and die away with the
old trunk, and condescend only to regard the young shoot
which has started up at a distance from the parent tree,
without having the power, any more than the wish, to
separate entirely from the stock from which it sprung."
"Bravo, Villefort!" cried the marquis; "excellently well
said! Come, now, I have hopes of obtaining what I have been
for years endeavoring to persuade the marquise to promise;
namely, a perfect amnesty and forgetfulness of the past."
"With all my heart," replied the marquise; "let the past be
forever forgotten. I promise you it affords me as little
pleasure to revive it as it does you. All I ask is, that
Villefort will be firm and inflexible for the future in his
political principles. Remember, also, Villefort, that we
have pledged ourselves to his majesty for your fealty and
strict loyalty, and that at our recommendation the king
consented to forget the past, as I do" (and here she
extended to him her hand) -- "as I now do at your entreaty.
But bear in mind, that should there fall in your way any one
guilty of conspiring against the government, you will be so
much the more bound to visit the offence with rigorous
punishment, as it is known you belong to a suspected
"Alas, madame," returned Villefort, "my profession, as well
as the times in which we live, compels me to be severe. I
have already successfully conducted several public
prosecutions, and brought the offenders to merited
punishment. But we have not done with the thing yet."
"Do you, indeed, think so?" inquired the marquise.
"I am, at least, fearful of it. Napoleon, in the Island of
Elba, is too near France, and his proximity keeps up the
hopes of his partisans. Marseilles is filled with half-pay
officers, who are daily, under one frivolous pretext or
other, getting up quarrels with the royalists; from hence
arise continual and fatal duels among the higher classes of
persons, and assassinations in the lower."
"You have heard, perhaps," said the Comte de Salvieux, one
of M. de Saint-Meran's oldest friends, and chamberlain to
the Comte d'Artois, "that the Holy Alliance purpose removing
him from thence?"
"Yes; they were talking about it when we left Paris," said
M. de Saint-Meran; "and where is it decided to transfer
"To Saint Helena."
"For heaven's sake, where is that?" asked the marquise.
"An island situated on the other side of the equator, at
least two thousand leagues from here," replied the count.
"So much the better. As Villefort observes, it is a great
act of folly to have left such a man between Corsica, where
he was born, and Naples, of which his brother-in-law is
king, and face to face with Italy, the sovereignty of which
he coveted for his son."
"Unfortunately," said Villefort, "there are the treaties of
1814, and we cannot molest Napoleon without breaking those
"Oh, well, we shall find some way out of it," responded M.
de Salvieux. "There wasn't any trouble over treaties when it
was a question of shooting the poor Duc d'Enghien."
"Well," said the marquise, "it seems probable that, by the
aid of the Holy Alliance, we shall be rid of Napoleon; and
we must trust to the vigilance of M. de Villefort to purify
Marseilles of his partisans. The king is either a king or no
king; if he be acknowledged as sovereign of France, he
should be upheld in peace and tranquillity; and this can
best be effected by employing the most inflexible agents to
put down every attempt at conspiracy -- 'tis the best and
surest means of preventing mischief."
"Unfortunately, madame," answered Villefort, "the strong arm
of the law is not called upon to interfere until the evil
has taken place."
"Then all he has got to do is to endeavor to repair it."
"Nay, madame, the law is frequently powerless to effect
this; all it can do is to avenge the wrong done."
"Oh, M. de Villefort," cried a beautiful young creature,
daughter to the Comte de Salvieux, and the cherished friend
of Mademoiselle de Saint-Meran, "do try and get up some
famous trial while we are at Marseilles. I never was in a
law-court; I am told it is so very amusing!"
"Amusing, certainly," replied the young man, "inasmuch as,
instead of shedding tears as at the fictitious tale of woe
produced at a theatre, you behold in a law-court a case of
real and genuine distress -- a drama of life. The prisoner
whom you there see pale, agitated, and alarmed, instead of
-- as is the case when a curtain falls on a tragedy -- going
home to sup peacefully with his family, and then retiring to
rest, that he may recommence his mimic woes on the morrow,
-- is removed from your sight merely to be reconducted to
his prison and delivered up to the executioner. I leave you
to judge how far your nerves are calculated to bear you
through such a scene. Of this, however, be assured, that
should any favorable opportunity present itself, I will not
fail to offer you the choice of being present."
"For shame, M. de Villefort!" said Renee, becoming quite
pale; "don't you see how you are frightening us? -- and yet
"What would you have? 'Tis like a duel. I have already
recorded sentence of death, five or six times, against the
movers of political conspiracies, and who can say how many
daggers may be ready sharpened, and only waiting a favorable
opportunity to be buried in my heart?"
"Gracious heavens, M. de Villefort," said Renee, becoming
more and more terrified; "you surely are not in earnest."
"Indeed I am," replied the young magistrate with a smile;
"and in the interesting trial that young lady is anxious to
witness, the case would only be still more aggravated.
Suppose, for instance, the prisoner, as is more than
probable, to have served under Napoleon -- well, can you
expect for an instant, that one accustomed, at the word of
his commander, to rush fearlessly on the very bayonets of
his foe, will scruple more to drive a stiletto into the
heart of one he knows to be his personal enemy, than to
slaughter his fellow-creatures, merely because bidden to do
so by one he is bound to obey? Besides, one requires the
excitement of being hateful in the eyes of the accused, in
order to lash one's self into a state of sufficient
vehemence and power. I would not choose to see the man
against whom I pleaded smile, as though in mockery of my
words. No; my pride is to see the accused pale, agitated,
and as though beaten out of all composure by the fire of my
eloquence." Renee uttered a smothered exclamation.
"Bravo!" cried one of the guests; "that is what I call
talking to some purpose."
"Just the person we require at a time like the present,"
said a second.
"What a splendid business that last case of yours was, my
dear Villefort!" remarked a third; "I mean the trial of the
man for murdering his father. Upon my word, you killed him
ere the executioner had laid his hand upon him."
"Oh, as for parricides, and such dreadful people as that,"
interposed Renee, "it matters very little what is done to
them; but as regards poor unfortunate creatures whose only
crime consists in having mixed themselves up in political
"Why, that is the very worst offence they could possibly
commit; for, don't you see, Renee, the king is the father of
his people, and he who shall plot or contrive aught against
the life and safety of the parent of thirty-two millions of
souls, is a parricide upon a fearfully great scale?"
"I don't know anything about that," replied Renee; "but, M.
de Villefort, you have promised me -- have you not? --
always to show mercy to those I plead for."
"Make yourself quite easy on that point," answered
Villefort, with one of his sweetest smiles; "you and I will
always consult upon our verdicts."
"My love," said the marquise, "attend to your doves, your
lap-dogs, and embroidery, but do not meddle with what you do
not understand. Nowadays the military profession is in
abeyance and the magisterial robe is the badge of honor.
There is a wise Latin proverb that is very much in point."
"Cedant arma togae," said Villefort with a bow.
"I cannot speak Latin," responded the marquise.
"Well," said Renee, "I cannot help regretting you had not
chosen some other profession than your own -- a physician,
for instance. Do you know I always felt a shudder at the
idea of even a destroying angel?"
"Dear, good Renee," whispered Villefort, as he gazed with
unutterable tenderness on the lovely speaker.
"Let us hope, my child," cried the marquis, "that M. de
Villefort may prove the moral and political physician of
this province; if so, he will have achieved a noble work."
"And one which will go far to efface the recollection of his
father's conduct," added the incorrigible marquise.
"Madame," replied Villefort, with a mournful smile, "I have
already had the honor to observe that my father has -- at
least, I hope so -- abjured his past errors, and that he is,
at the present moment, a firm and zealous friend to religion
and order -- a better royalist, possibly, than his son; for
he has to atone for past dereliction, while I have no other
impulse than warm, decided preference and conviction."
Having made this well-turned speech, Villefort looked
carefully around to mark the effect of his oratory, much as
he would have done had he been addressing the bench in open
"Do you know, my dear Villefort," cried the Comte de
Salvieux, "that is exactly what I myself said the other day
at the Tuileries, when questioned by his majesty's principal
chamberlain touching the singularity of an alliance between
the son of a Girondin and the daughter of an officer of the
Duc de Conde; and I assure you he seemed fully to comprehend
that this mode of reconciling political differences was
based upon sound and excellent principles. Then the king,
who, without our suspecting it, had overheard our
conversation, interrupted us by saying, `Villefort' --
observe that the king did not pronounce the word Noirtier,
but, on the contrary, placed considerable emphasis on that
of Villefort -- `Villefort,' said his majesty, `is a young
man of great judgment and discretion, who will be sure to
make a figure in his profession; I like him much, and it
gave me great pleasure to hear that he was about to become
the son-in-law of the Marquis and Marquise de Saint-Meran. I
should myself have recommended the match, had not the noble
marquis anticipated my wishes by requesting my consent to
"Is it possible the king could have condescended so far as
to express himself so favorably of me?" asked the enraptured
"I give you his very words; and if the marquis chooses to be
candid, he will confess that they perfectly agree with what
his majesty said to him, when he went six months ago to
consult him upon the subject of your espousing his
"That is true," answered the marquis.
"How much do I owe this gracious prince! What is there I
would not do to evince my earnest gratitude!"
"That is right," cried the marquise. "I love to see you
thus. Now, then, were a conspirator to fall into your hands,
he would be most welcome."
"For my part, dear mother." interposed Renee, "I trust your
wishes will not prosper, and that Providence will only
permit petty offenders, poor debtors, and miserable cheats
to fall into M. de Villefort's hands, -- then I shall be
"Just the same as though you prayed that a physician might
only be called upon to prescribe for headaches, measles, and
the stings of wasps, or any other slight affection of the
epidermis. If you wish to see me the king's attorney, you
must desire for me some of those violent and dangerous
diseases from the cure of which so much honor redounds to
At this moment, and as though the utterance of Villefort's
wish had sufficed to effect its accomplishment, a servant
entered the room, and whispered a few words in his ear.
Villefort immediately rose from table and quitted the room
upon the plea of urgent business; he soon, however,
returned, his whole face beaming with delight. Renee
regarded him with fond affection; and certainly his handsome
features, lit up as they then were with more than usual fire
and animation, seemed formed to excite the innocent
admiration with which she gazed on her graceful and
"You were wishing just now," said Villefort, addressing her,
"that I were a doctor instead of a lawyer. Well, I at least
resemble the disciples of Esculapius in one thing -- that of
not being able to call a day my own, not even that of my
"And wherefore were you called away just now?" asked
Mademoiselle de Saint-Meran, with an air of deep interest.
"For a very serious matter, which bids fair to make work for
"How dreadful!" exclaimed Renee, turning pale.
"Is it possible?" burst simultaneously from all who were
near enough to the magistrate to hear his words.
"Why, if my information prove correct, a sort of Bonaparte
conspiracy has just been discovered."
"Can I believe my ears?" cried the marquise.
"I will read you the letter containing the accusation, at
least," said Villefort: --
"`The king's attorney is informed by a friend to the throne
and the religions institutions of his country, that one
named Edmond Dantes, mate of the ship Pharaon, this day
arrived from Smyrna, after having touched at Naples and
Porto-Ferrajo, has been the bearer of a letter from Murat to
the usurper, and again taken charge of another letter from
the usurper to the Bonapartist club in Paris. Ample
corroboration of this statement may be obtained by arresting
the above-mentioned Edmond Dantes, who either carries the
letter for Paris about with him, or has it at his father's
abode. Should it not be found in the possession of father or
son, then it will assuredly be discovered in the cabin
belonging to the said Dantes on board the Pharaon.'"
"But," said Renee, "this letter, which, after all, is but an
anonymous scrawl, is not even addressed to you, but to the
"True; but that gentleman being absent, his secretary, by
his orders, opened his letters; thinking this one of
importance, he sent for me, but not finding me, took upon
himself to give the necessary orders for arresting the
"Then the guilty person is absolutely in custody?" said the
"Nay, dear mother, say the accused person. You know we
cannot yet pronounce him guilty."
"He is in safe custody," answered Villefort; "and rely upon
it, if the letter is found, he will not be likely to be
trusted abroad again, unless he goes forth under the
especial protection of the headsman."
"And where is the unfortunate being?" asked Renee.
"He is at my house."
"Come, come, my friend," interrupted the marquise, "do not
neglect your duty to linger with us. You are the king's
servant, and must go wherever that service calls you."
"O Villefort!" cried Renee, clasping her hands, and looking
towards her lover with piteous earnestness, "be merciful on
this the day of our betrothal."
The young man passed round to the side of the table where
the fair pleader sat, and leaning over her chair said
"To give you pleasure, my sweet Renee, I promise to show all
the lenity in my power; but if the charges brought against
this Bonapartist hero prove correct, why, then, you really
must give me leave to order his head to be cut off." Renee
"Never mind that foolish girl, Villefort," said the
marquise. "She will soon get over these things." So saying,
Madame de Saint-Meran extended her dry bony hand to
Villefort, who, while imprinting a son-in-law's respectful
salute on it, looked at Renee, as much as to say, "I must
try and fancy 'tis your dear hand I kiss, as it should have
"These are mournful auspices to accompany a betrothal,"
sighed poor Renee.
"Upon my word, child!" exclaimed the angry marquise, "your
folly exceeds all bounds. I should be glad to know what
connection there can possibly be between your sickly
sentimentality and the affairs of the state!"
"O mother!" murmured Renee.
"Nay, madame, I pray you pardon this little traitor. I
promise you that to make up for her want of loyalty, I will
be most inflexibly severe;" then casting an expressive
glance at his betrothed, which seemed to say, "Fear not, for
your dear sake my justice shall be tempered with mercy," and
receiving a sweet and approving smile in return, Villefort
quitted the room.
No sooner had Villefort left the salon, than he assumed the
grave air of a man who holds the balance of life and death
in his hands. Now, in spite of the mobility of his
countenance, the command of which, like a finished actor, he
had carefully studied before the glass, it was by no means
easy for him to assume an air of judicial severity. Except
the recollection of the line of politics his father had
adopted, and which might interfere, unless he acted with the
greatest prudence, with his own career, Gerard de Villefort
was as happy as a man could be. Already rich, he held a high
official situation, though only twenty-seven. He was about
to marry a young and charming woman, whom he loved, not
passionately, but reasonably, as became a deputy attorney of
the king; and besides her personal attractions, which were
very great, Mademoiselle de Saint-Meran's family possessed
considerable political influence, which they would, of
course, exert in his favor. The dowry of his wife amounted
to fifty thousand crowns, and he had, besides, the prospect
of seeing her fortune increased to half a million at her
father's death. These considerations naturally gave
Villefort a feeling of such complete felicity that his mind
was fairly dazzled in its contemplation.
At the door he met the commissary of police, who was waiting
for him. The sight of this officer recalled Villefort from
the third heaven to earth; he composed his face, as we have
before described, and said, "I have read the letter, sir,
and you have acted rightly in arresting this man; now inform
me what you have discovered concerning him and the
"We know nothing as yet of the conspiracy, monsieur; all the
papers found have been sealed up and placed on your desk.
The prisoner himself is named Edmond Dantes, mate on board
the three-master the Pharaon, trading in cotton with
Alexandria and Smyrna, and belonging to Morrel & Son, of
"Before he entered the merchant service, had he ever served
in the marines?"
"Oh, no, monsieur, he is very young."
"Nineteen or twenty at the most."
At this moment, and as Villefort had arrived at the corner
of the Rue des Conseils, a man, who seemed to have been
waiting for him, approached; it was M. Morrel.
"Ah, M. de Villefort," cried he, "I am delighted to see you.
Some of your people have committed the strangest mistake --
they have just arrested Edmond Dantes, mate of my vessel."
"I know it, monsieur," replied Villefort, "and I am now
going to examine him."
"Oh," said Morrel, carried away by his friendship, "you do
not know him, and I do. He is the most estimable, the most
trustworthy creature in the world, and I will venture to
say, there is not a better seaman in all the merchant
service. Oh, M. de Villefort, I beseech your indulgence for
Villefort, as we have seen, belonged to the aristocratic
party at Marseilles, Morrel to the plebeian; the first was a
royalist, the other suspected of Bonapartism. Villefort
looked disdainfully at Morrel, and replied, --
"You are aware, monsieur, that a man may be estimable and
trustworthy in private life, and the best seaman in the
merchant service, and yet be, politically speaking, a great
criminal. Is it not true?"
The magistrate laid emphasis on these words, as if he wished
to apply them to the owner himself, while his eyes seemed to
plunge into the heart of one who, interceding for another,
had himself need of indulgence. Morrel reddened, for his own
conscience was not quite clear on politics; besides, what
Dantes had told him of his interview with the grand-marshal,
and what the emperor had said to him, embarrassed him. He
replied, however, --
"I entreat you, M. de Villefort, be, as you always are, kind
and equitable, and give him back to us soon." This give us
sounded revolutionary in the deputy's ears.
"Ah, ah," murmured he, "is Dantes then a member of some
Carbonari society, that his protector thus employs the
collective form? He was, if I recollect, arrested in a
tavern, in company with a great many others." Then he added,
"Monsieur, you may rest assured I shall perform my duty
impartially, and that if he be innocent you shall not have
appealed to me in vain; should he, however, be guilty, in
this present epoch, impunity would furnish a dangerous
example, and I must do my duty."
As he had now arrived at the door of his own house, which
adjoined the Palais de Justice, he entered, after having,
coldly saluted the shipowner, who stood, as if petrified, on
the spot where Villefort had left him. The ante-chamber was
full of police agents and gendarmes, in the midst of whom,
carefully watched, but calm and smiling, stood the prisoner.
Villefort traversed the ante-chamber, cast a side glance at
Dantes, and taking a packet which a gendarme offered him,
disappeared, saying, "Bring in the prisoner."
Rapid as had been Villefort's glance, it had served to give
him an idea of the man he was about to interrogate. He had
recognized intelligence in the high forehead, courage in the
dark eye and bent brow, and frankness in the thick lips that
showed a set of pearly teeth. Villefort's first impression
was favorable; but he had been so often warned to mistrust
first impulses, that he applied the maxim to the impression,
forgetting the difference between the two words. He stifled,
therefore, the feelings of compassion that were rising,
composed his features, and sat down, grim and sombre, at his
desk. An instant after Dantes entered. He was pale, but calm
and collected, and saluting his judge with easy politeness,
looked round for a seat, as if he had been in M. Morrel's
salon. It was then that he encountered for the first time
Villefort's look, -- that look peculiar to the magistrate,
who, while seeming to read the thoughts of others, betrays
nothing of his own.
"Who and what are you?" demanded Villefort, turning over a
pile of papers, containing information relative to the
prisoner, that a police agent had given to him on his entry,
and that, already, in an hour's time, had swelled to
voluminous proportions, thanks to the corrupt espionage of
which "the accused" is always made the victim.
"My name is Edmond Dantes," replied the young man calmly; "I
am mate of the Pharaon, belonging to Messrs. Morrel & Son."
"Your age?" continued Villefort.
"Nineteen," returned Dantes.
"What were you doing at the moment you were arrested?"
"I was at the festival of my marriage, monsieur," said the
young man, his voice slightly tremulous, so great was the
contrast between that happy moment and the painful ceremony
he was now undergoing; so great was the contrast between the
sombre aspect of M. de Villefort and the radiant face of
"You were at the festival of your marriage?" said the
deputy, shuddering in spite of himself.
"Yes, monsieur; I am on the point of marrying a young girl I
have been attached to for three years." Villefort, impassive
as he was, was struck with this coincidence; and the
tremulous voice of Dantes, surprised in the midst of his
happiness, struck a sympathetic chord in his own bosom -- he
also was on the point of being married, and he was summoned
from his own happiness to destroy that of another. "This
philosophic reflection," thought he, "will make a great
sensation at M. de Saint-Meran's;" and he arranged mentally,
while Dantes awaited further questions, the antithesis by
which orators often create a reputation for eloquence. When
this speech was arranged, Villefort turned to Dantes.
"Go on, sir," said he.
"What would you have me say?"
"Give all the information in your power."
"Tell me on which point you desire information, and I will
tell all I know; only," added he, with a smile, "I warn you
I know very little."
"Have you served under the usurper?"
"I was about to be mustered into the Royal Marines when he
"It is reported your political opinions are extreme," said
Villefort, who had never heard anything of the kind, but was
not sorry to make this inquiry, as if it were an accusation.
"My political opinions!" replied Dantes. "Alas, sir, I never
had any opinions. I am hardly nineteen; I know nothing; I
have no part to play. If I obtain the situation I desire, I
shall owe it to M. Morrel. Thus all my opinions -- I will
not say public, but private -- are confined to these three
sentiment, -- I love my father, I respect M. Morrel, and I
adore Mercedes. This, sir, is all I can tell you, and you
see how uninteresting it is." As Dantes spoke, Villefort
gazed at his ingenuous and open countenance, and recollected
the words of Renee, who, without knowing who the culprit
was, had besought his indulgence for him. With the deputy's
knowledge of crime and criminals, every word the young man
uttered convinced him more and more of his innocence. This
lad, for he was scarcely a man, -- simple, natural, eloquent
with that eloquence of the heart never found when sought
for; full of affection for everybody, because he was happy,
and because happiness renders even the wicked good --
extended his affection even to his judge, spite of
Villefort's severe look and stern accent. Dantes seemed full
"Pardieu," said Villefort, "he is a noble fellow. I hope I
shall gain Renee's favor easily by obeying the first command
she ever imposed on me. I shall have at least a pressure of
the hand in public, and a sweet kiss in private." Full of
this idea, Villefort's face became so joyous, that when he
turned to Dantes, the latter, who had watched the change on
his physiognomy, was smiling also.
"Sir," said Villefort, "have you any enemies, at least, that
"I have enemies?" replied Dantes; "my position is not
sufficiently elevated for that. As for my disposition, that
is, perhaps, somewhat too hasty; but I have striven to
repress it. I have had ten or twelve sailors under me, and
if you question them, they will tell you that they love and
respect me, not as a father, for I am too young, but as an
"But you may have excited jealousy. You are about to become
captain at nineteen -- an elevated post; you are about to
marry a pretty girl, who loves you; and these two pieces of
good fortune may have excited the envy of some one."
"You are right; you know men better than I do, and what you
say may possibly be the case, I confess; but if such persons
are among my acquaintances I prefer not to know it, because
then I should be forced to hate them."
"You are wrong; you should always strive to see clearly
around you. You seem a worthy young man; I will depart from
the strict line of my duty to aid you in discovering the
author of this accusation. Here is the paper; do you know
the writing?" As he spoke, Villefort drew the letter from
his pocket, and presented it to Dantes. Dantes read it. A
cloud passed over his brow as he said, --
"No, monsieur, I do not know the writing, and yet it is
tolerably plain. Whoever did it writes well. I am very
fortunate," added he, looking gratefully at Villefort, "to
be examined by such a man as you; for this envious person is
a real enemy." And by the rapid glance that the young man's
eyes shot forth, Villefort saw how much energy lay hid
beneath this mildness.
"Now," said the deputy, "answer me frankly, not as a
prisoner to a judge, but as one man to another who takes an
interest in him, what truth is there in the accusation
contained in this anonymous letter?" And Villefort threw
disdainfully on his desk the letter Dantes had just given
back to him.
"None at all. I will tell you the real facts. I swear by my
honor as a sailor, by my love for Mercedes, by the life of
my father" --
"Speak, monsieur," said Villefort. Then, internally, "If
Renee could see me, I hope she would be satisfied, and would
no longer call me a decapitator."
"Well, when we quitted Naples, Captain Leclere was attacked
with a brain fever. As we had no doctor on board, and he was
so anxious to arrive at Elba, that he would not touch at any
other port, his disorder rose to such a height, that at the
end of the third day, feeling he was dying, he called me to
him. `My dear Dantes,' said he, `swear to perform what I am
going to tell you, for it is a matter of the deepest
"`I swear, captain,' replied I.
"`Well, as after my death the command devolves on you as
mate, assume the command, and bear up for the Island of
Elba, disembark at Porto-Ferrajo, ask for the grand-marshal,
give him this letter -- perhaps they will give you another
letter, and charge you with a commission. You will
accomplish what I was to have done, and derive all the honor
and profit from it.'
"`I will do it, captain; but perhaps I shall not be admitted
to the grand marshal's presence as easily as you expect?'
"`Here is a ring that will obtain audience of him, and
remove every difficulty,' said the captain. At these words
he gave me a ring. It was time -- two hours after he was
delirious; the next day he died."
"And what did you do then?"
"What I ought to have done, and what every one would have
done in my place. Everywhere the last requests of a dying
man are sacred; but with a sailor the last requests of his
superior are commands. I sailed for the Island of Elba,
where I arrived the next day; I ordered everybody to remain
on board, and went on shore alone. As I had expected, I
found some difficulty in obtaining access to the
grand-marshal; but I sent the ring I had received from the
captain to him, and was instantly admitted. He questioned me
concerning Captain Leclere's death; and, as the latter had
told me, gave me a letter to carry on to a person in Paris.
I undertook it because it was what my captain had bade me
do. I landed here, regulated the affairs of the vessel, and
hastened to visit my affianced bride, whom I found more
lovely than ever. Thanks to M. Morrel, all the forms were
got over; in a word I was, as I told you, at my
marriage-feast; and I should have been married in an hour,
and to-morrow I intended to start for Paris, had I not been
arrested on this charge which you as well as I now see to be
"Ah," said Villefort, "this seems to me the truth. If you
have been culpable, it was imprudence, and this imprudence
was in obedience to the orders of your captain. Give up this
letter you have brought from Elba, and pass your word you
will appear should you be required, and go and rejoin your
"I am free, then, sir?" cried Dantes joyfully.
"Yes; but first give me this letter."
"You have it already, for it was taken from me with some
others which I see in that packet."
"Stop a moment," said the deputy, as Dantes took his hat and
gloves. "To whom is it addressed?"
"To Monsieur Noirtier, Rue Coq-Heron, Paris." Had a
thunderbolt fallen into the room, Villefort could not have
been more stupefied. He sank into his seat, and hastily
turning over the packet, drew forth the fatal letter, at
which he glanced with an expression of terror.
"M. Noirtier, Rue Coq-Heron, No. 13," murmured he, growing
"Yes," said Dantes; "do you know him?"
"No," replied Villefort; "a faithful servant of the king
does not know conspirators."
"It is a conspiracy, then?" asked Dantes, who after
believing himself free, now began to feel a tenfold alarm.
"I have, however, already told you, sir, I was entirely
ignorant of the contents of the letter."
"Yes; but you knew the name of the person to whom it was
addressed," said Villefort.
"I was forced to read the address to know to whom to give
"Have you shown this letter to any one?" asked Villefort,
becoming still more pale.
"To no one, on my honor."
"Everybody is ignorant that you are the bearer of a letter
from the Island of Elba, and addressed to M. Noirtier?"
"Everybody, except the person who gave it to me."
"And that was too much, far too much," murmured Villefort.
Villefort's brow darkened more and more, his white lips and
clinched teeth filled Dantes with apprehension. After
reading the letter, Villefort covered his face with his
"Oh," said Dantes timidly, "what is the matter?" Villefort
made no answer, but raised his head at the expiration of a
few seconds, and again perused the letter.
"And you say that you are ignorant of the contents of this
"I give you my word of honor, sir," said Dantes; "but what
is the matter? You are ill -- shall I ring for assistance?
-- shall I call?"
"No," said Villefort, rising hastily; "stay where you are.
It is for me to give orders here, and not you."
"Monsieur," replied Dantes proudly, "it was only to summon
assistance for you."
"I want none; it was a temporary indisposition. Attend to
yourself; answer me." Dantes waited, expecting a question,
but in vain. Villefort fell back on his chair, passed his
hand over his brow, moist with perspiration, and, for the
third time, read the letter.
"Oh, if he knows the contents of this!" murmured he, "and
that Noirtier is the father of Villefort, I am lost!" And he
fixed his eyes upon Edmond as if he would have penetrated
"Oh, it is impossible to doubt it," cried he, suddenly.
"In heaven's name!" cried the unhappy young man, "if you
doubt me, question me; I will answer you." Villefort made a
violent effort, and in a tone he strove to render firm, --
"Sir," said he, "I am no longer able, as I had hoped, to
restore you immediately to liberty; before doing so, I must
consult the trial justice; what my own feeling is you
"Oh, monsieur," cried Dantes, "you have been rather a friend
than a judge."
"Well, I must detain you some time longer, but I will strive
to make it as short as possible. The principal charge
against you is this letter, and you see" -- Villefort
approached the fire, cast it in, and waited until it was
"You see, I destroy it?"
"Oh," exclaimed Dantes, "you are goodness itself."
"Listen," continued Villefort; "you can now have confidence
in me after what I have done."
"Oh, command, and I will obey."
"Listen; this is not a command, but advice I give you."
"Speak, and I will follow your advice."
"I shall detain you until this evening in the Palais de
Justice. Should any one else interrogate you, say to him
what you have said to me, but do not breathe a word of this
"I promise." It was Villefort who seemed to entreat, and the
prisoner who reassured him.
"You see," continued he, glancing toward the grate, where
fragments of burnt paper fluttered in the flames, "the
letter is destroyed; you and I alone know of its existence;
should you, therefore, be questioned, deny all knowledge of
it -- deny it boldly, and you are saved."
"Be satisfied; I will deny it."
"It was the only letter you had?"
"I swear it."
Villefort rang. A police agent entered. Villefort whispered
some words in his ear, to which the officer replied by a
motion of his head.
"Follow him," said Villefort to Dantes. Dantes saluted
Villefort and retired. Hardly had the door closed when
Villefort threw himself half-fainting into a chair.
"Alas, alas," murmured he, "if the procureur himself had
been at Marseilles I should have been ruined. This accursed
letter would have destroyed all my hopes. Oh, my father,
must your past career always interfere with my successes?"
Suddenly a light passed over his face, a smile played round
his set mouth, and his haggard eyes were fixed in thought.
"This will do," said he, "and from this letter, which might
have ruined me, I will make my fortune. Now to the work I
have in hand." And after having assured himself that the
prisoner was gone, the deputy procureur hastened to the
house of his betrothed.
The Chateau D'If.
The commissary of police, as he traversed the ante-chamber,
made a sign to two gendarmes, who placed themselves one on
Dantes' right and the other on his left. A door that
communicated with the Palais de Justice was opened, and they
went through a long range of gloomy corridors, whose
appearance might have made even the boldest shudder. The
Palais de Justice communicated with the prison, -- a sombre
edifice, that from its grated windows looks on the
clock-tower of the Accoules. After numberless windings,
Dantes saw a door with an iron wicket. The commissary took
up an iron mallet and knocked thrice, every blow seeming to
Dantes as if struck on his heart. The door opened, the two
gendarmes gently pushed him forward, and the door closed
with a loud sound behind him. The air he inhaled was no
longer pure, but thick and mephitic, -- he was in prison. He
was conducted to a tolerably neat chamber, but grated and
barred, and its appearance, therefore, did not greatly alarm
him; besides, the words of Villefort, who seemed to interest
himself so much, resounded still in his ears like a promise
of freedom. It was four o'clock when Dantes was placed in
this chamber. It was, as we have said, the 1st of March, and
the prisoner was soon buried in darkness. The obscurity
augmented the acuteness of his hearing; at the slightest
sound he rose and hastened to the door, convinced they were
about to liberate him, but the sound died away, and Dantes
sank again into his seat. At last, about ten o'clock, and
just as Dantes began to despair, steps were heard in the
corridor, a key turned in the lock, the bolts creaked, the
massy oaken door flew open, and a flood of light from two
torches pervaded the apartment. By the torchlight Dantes saw
the glittering sabres and carbines of four gendarmes. He had
advanced at first, but stopped at the sight of this display
"Are you come to fetch me?" asked he.
"Yes," replied a gendarme.
"By the orders of the deputy procureur?"
"I believe so." The conviction that they came from M. de
Villefort relieved all Dantes' apprehensions; he advanced
calmly, and placed himself in the centre of the escort. A
carriage waited at the door, the coachman was on the box,
and a police officer sat beside him.
"Is this carriage for me?" said Dantes.
"It is for you," replied a gendarme.
Dantes was about to speak; but feeling himself urged
forward, and having neither the power nor the intention to
resist, he mounted the steps, and was in an instant seated
inside between two gendarmes; the two others took their
places opposite, and the carriage rolled heavily over the
The prisoner glanced at the windows -- they were grated; he
had changed his prison for another that was conveying him he
knew not whither. Through the grating, however, Dantes saw
they were passing through the Rue Caisserie, and by the Rue
Saint-Laurent and the Rue Taramis, to the port. Soon he saw
the lights of La Consigne.
The carriage stopped, the officer descended, approached the
guardhouse, a dozen soldiers came out and formed themselves
in order; Dantes saw the reflection of their muskets by the
light of the lamps on the quay.
"Can all this force be summoned on my account?" thought he.
The officer opened the door, which was locked, and, without
speaking a word, answered Dantes' question; for he saw
between the ranks of the soldiers a passage formed from the
carriage to the port. The two gendarmes who were opposite to
him descended first, then he was ordered to alight and the
gendarmes on each side of him followed his example. They
advanced towards a boat, which a custom-house officer held
by a chain, near the quay.
The soldiers looked at Dantes with an air of stupid
curiosity. In an instant he was placed in the stern-sheets
of the boat, between the gendarmes, while the officer
stationed himself at the bow; a shove sent the boat adrift,
and four sturdy oarsmen impelled it rapidly towards the
Pilon. At a shout from the boat, the chain that closes the
mouth of the port was lowered and in a second they were, as
Dantes knew, in the Frioul and outside the inner harbor.
The prisoner's first feeling was of joy at again breathing
the pure air -- for air is freedom; but he soon sighed, for
he passed before La Reserve, where he had that morning been
so happy, and now through the open windows came the laughter
and revelry of a ball. Dantes folded his hands, raised his
eyes to heaven, and prayed fervently.
The boat continued her voyage. They had passed the Tete de
Morte, were now off the Anse du Pharo, and about to double
the battery. This manoeuvre was incomprehensible to Dantes.
"Whither are you taking me?" asked he.
"You will soon know."
"But still" --
"We are forbidden to give you any explanation." Dantes,
trained in discipline, knew that nothing would be more
absurd than to question subordinates, who were forbidden to
reply; and so he remained silent.
The most vague and wild thoughts passed through his mind.
The boat they were in could not make a long voyage; there
was no vessel at anchor outside the harbor; he thought,
perhaps, they were going to leave him on some distant point.
He was not bound, nor had they made any attempt to handcuff
him; this seemed a good augury. Besides, had not the deputy,
who had been so kind to him, told him that provided he did
not pronounce the dreaded name of Noirtier, he had nothing
to apprehend? Had not Villefort in his presence destroyed
the fatal letter, the only proof against him?
He waited silently, striving to pierce through the darkness.
They had left the Ile Ratonneau, where the lighthouse stood,
on the right, and were now opposite the Point des Catalans.
It seemed to the prisoner that he could distinguish a
feminine form on the beach, for it was there Mercedes dwelt.
How was it that a presentiment did not warn Mercedes that
her lover was within three hundred yards of her?
One light alone was visible; and Dantes saw that it came
from Mercedes' chamber. Mercedes was the only one awake in
the whole settlement. A loud cry could be heard by her. But
pride restrained him and he did not utter it. What would his
guards think if they heard him shout like a madman?
He remained silent, his eyes fixed upon the light; the boat
went on, but the prisoner thought only of Mercedes. An
intervening elevation of land hid the light. Dantes turned
and perceived that they had got out to sea. While he had
been absorbed in thought, they had shipped their oars and
hoisted sail; the boat was now moving with the wind.
In spite of his repugnance to address the guards, Dantes
turned to the nearest gendarme, and taking his hand, --
"Comrade," said he, "I adjure you, as a Christian and a
soldier, to tell me where we are going. I am Captain Dantes,
a loyal Frenchman, thought accused of treason; tell me where
you are conducting me, and I promise you on my honor I will
submit to my fate."
The gendarme looked irresolutely at his companion, who
returned for answer a sign that said, "I see no great harm
in telling him now," and the gendarme replied, --
"You are a native of Marseilles, and a sailor, and yet you
do not know where you are going?"
"On my honor, I have no idea."
"Have you no idea whatever?"
"None at all."
"That is impossible."
"I swear to you it is true. Tell me, I entreat."
"But my orders."
"Your orders do not forbid your telling me what I must know
in ten minutes, in half an hour, or an hour. You see I
cannot escape, even if I intended."
"Unless you are blind, or have never been outside the
harbor, you must know."
"I do not."
"Look round you then." Dantes rose and looked forward, when
he saw rise within a hundred yards of him the black and
frowning rock on which stands the Chateau d'If. This gloomy
fortress, which has for more than three hundred years
furnished food for so many wild legends, seemed to Dantes
like a scaffold to a malefactor.
"The Chateau d'If?" cried he, "what are we going there for?"
The gendarme smiled.
"I am not going there to be imprisoned," said Dantes; "it is
only used for political prisoners. I have committed no
crime. Are there any magistrates or judges at the Chateau
"There are only," said the gendarme, "a governor, a
garrison, turnkeys, and good thick walls. Come, come, do not
look so astonished, or you will make me think you are
laughing at me in return for my good nature." Dantes pressed
the gendarme's hand as though he would crush it.
"You think, then," said he, "that I am taken to the Chateau
d'If to be imprisoned there?"
"It is probable; but there is no occasion to squeeze so
"Without any inquiry, without any formality?"
"All the formalities have been gone through; the inquiry is
"And so, in spite of M. de Villefort's promises?"
"I do not know what M. de Villefort promised you," said the
gendarme, "but I know we are taking you to the Chateau d'If.
But what are you doing? Help, comrades, help!"
By a rapid movement, which the gendarme's practiced eye had
perceived, Dantes sprang forward to precipitate himself into
the sea; but four vigorous arms seized him as his feet
quitted the bottom of the boat. He fell back cursing with
"Good!" said the gendarme, placing his knee on his chest;
"believe soft-spoken gentlemen again! Harkye, my friend, I
have disobeyed my first order, but I will not disobey the
second; and if you move, I will blow your brains out." And
he levelled his carbine at Dantes, who felt the muzzle
against his temple.
For a moment the idea of struggling crossed his mind, and of
so ending the unexpected evil that had overtaken him. But he
bethought him of M. de Villefort's promise; and, besides,
death in a boat from the hand of a gendarme seemed too
terrible. He remained motionless, but gnashing his teeth and
wringing his hands with fury.
At this moment the boat came to a landing with a violent
shock. One of the sailors leaped on shore, a cord creaked as
it ran through a pulley, and Dantes guessed they were at the
end of the voyage, and that they were mooring the boat.
His guards, taking him by the arms and coat-collar, forced
him to rise, and dragged him towards the steps that lead to
the gate of the fortress, while the police officer carrying
a musket with fixed bayonet followed behind.
Dantes made no resistance; he was like a man in a dream: he
saw soldiers drawn up on the embankment; he knew vaguely
that he was ascending a flight of steps; he was conscious
that he passed through a door, and that the door closed
behind him; but all this indistinctly as through a mist. He
did not even see the ocean, that terrible barrier against
freedom, which the prisoners look upon with utter despair.
They halted for a minute, during which he strove to collect
his thoughts. He looked around; he was in a court surrounded
by high walls; he heard the measured tread of sentinels, and
as they passed before the light he saw the barrels of their
They waited upwards of ten minutes. Certain Dantes could not
escape, the gendarmes released him. They seemed awaiting
orders. The orders came.
"Where is the prisoner?" said a voice.
"Here," replied the gendarmes.
"Let him follow me; I will take him to his cell."
"Go!" said the gendarmes, thrusting Dantes forward.
The prisoner followed his guide, who led him into a room
almost under ground, whose bare and reeking walls seemed as
though impregnated with tears; a lamp placed on a stool
illumined the apartment faintly, and showed Dantes the
features of his conductor, an under-jailer, ill-clothed, and
of sullen appearance.
"Here is your chamber for to-night," said he. "It is late,
and the governor is asleep. To-morrow, perhaps, he may
change you. In the meantime there is bread, water, and fresh
straw; and that is all a prisoner can wish for. Goodnight."
And before Dantes could open his mouth -- before he had
noticed where the jailer placed his bread or the water --
before he had glanced towards the corner where the straw
was, the jailer disappeared, taking with him the lamp and
closing the door, leaving stamped upon the prisoner's mind
the dim reflection of the dripping walls of his dungeon.
Dantes was alone in darkness and in silence -- cold as the
shadows that he felt breathe on his burning forehead. With
the first dawn of day the jailer returned, with orders to
leave Dantes where he was. He found the prisoner in the same
position, as if fixed there, his eyes swollen with weeping.
He had passed the night standing, and without sleep. The
jailer advanced; Dantes appeared not to perceive him. He
touched him on the shoulder. Edmond started.
"Have you not slept?" said the jailer.
"I do not know," replied Dantes. The jailer stared.
"Are you hungry?" continued he.
"I do not know."
"Do you wish for anything?"
"I wish to see the governor." The jailer shrugged his
shoulders and left the chamber.
Dantes followed him with his eyes, and stretched forth his
hands towards the open door; but the door closed. All his
emotion then burst forth; he cast himself on the ground,
weeping bitterly, and asking himself what crime he had
committed that he was thus punished.
The day passed thus; he scarcely tasted food, but walked
round and round the cell like a wild beast in its cage. One
thought in particular tormented him: namely, that during his
journey hither he had sat so still, whereas he might, a
dozen times, have plunged into the sea, and, thanks to his
powers of swimming, for which he was famous, have gained the
shore, concealed himself until the arrival of a Genoese or
Spanish vessel, escaped to Spain or Italy, where Mercedes
and his father could have joined him. He had no fears as to
how he should live -- good seamen are welcome everywhere. He
spoke Italian like a Tuscan, and Spanish like a Castilian;
he would have been free, and happy with Mercedes and his
father, whereas he was now confined in the Chateau d'If,
that impregnable fortress, ignorant of the future destiny of
his father and Mercedes; and all this because he had trusted
to Villefort's promise. The thought was maddening, and
Dantes threw himself furiously down on his straw. The next
morning at the same hour, the jailer came again.
"Well," said the jailer, "are you more reasonable to-day?"
Dantes made no reply.
"Come, cheer up; is there anything that I can do for you?"
"I wish to see the governor."
"I have already told you it was impossible."
"Because it is against prison rules, and prisoners must not
even ask for it."
"What is allowed, then?"
"Better fare, if you pay for it, books, and leave to walk
"I do not want books, I am satisfied with my food, and do
not care to walk about; but I wish to see the governor."
"If you worry me by repeating the same thing, I will not
bring you any more to eat."
"Well, then," said Edmond, "if you do not, I shall die of
hunger -- that is all."
The jailer saw by his tone he would be happy to die; and as
every prisoner is worth ten sous a day to his jailer, he
replied in a more subdued tone.
"What you ask is impossible; but if you are very well
behaved you will be allowed to walk about, and some day you
will meet the governor, and if he chooses to reply, that is
"But," asked Dantes, "how long shall I have to wait?"
"Ah, a month -- six months -- a year."
"It is too long a time. I wish to see him at once."
"Ah," said the jailer, "do not always brood over what is
impossible, or you will be mad in a fortnight."
"You think so?"
"Yes; we have an instance here; it was by always offering a
million of francs to the governor for his liberty that an
abbe became mad, who was in this chamber before you."
"How long has he left it?"
"Was he liberated, then?"
"No; he was put in a dungeon."
"Listen!" said Dantes. "I am not an abbe, I am not mad;
perhaps I shall be, but at present, unfortunately, I am not.
I will make you another offer."
"What is that?"
"I do not offer you a million, because I have it not; but I
will give you a hundred crowns if, the first time you go to
Marseilles, you will seek out a young girl named Mercedes,
at the Catalans, and give her two lines from me."
"If I took them, and were detected, I should lose my place,
which is worth two thousand francs a year; so that I should
be a great fool to run such a risk for three hundred."
"Well," said Dantes, "mark this; if you refuse at least to
tell Mercedes I am here, I will some day hide myself behind
the door, and when you enter I will dash out your brains
with this stool."
"Threats!" cried the jailer, retreating and putting himself
on the defensive; "you are certainly going mad. The abbe
began like you, and in three days you will be like him, mad
enough to tie up; but, fortunately, there are dungeons
here." Dantes whirled the stool round his head.
"All right, all right," said the jailer; "all right, since
you will have it so. I will send word to the governor."
"Very well," returned Dantes, dropping the stool and sitting
on it as if he were in reality mad. The jailer went out, and
returned in an instant with a corporal and four soldiers.
"By the governor's orders," said he, "conduct the prisoner
to the tier beneath."
"To the dungeon, then," said the corporal.
"Yes; we must put the madman with the madmen." The soldiers
seized Dantes, who followed passively.
He descended fifteen steps, and the door of a dungeon was
opened, and he was thrust in. The door closed, and Dantes
advanced with outstretched hands until he touched the wall;
he then sat down in the corner until his eyes became
accustomed to the darkness. The jailer was right; Dantes
wanted but little of being utterly mad.
The Evening of the Betrothal.