Part 20 out of 31
"Immediately on the arrival of M. and Madame de
"Bring him to see me. Although you say I do not like him, I
assure you I shall be happy to see him."
"I will obey your orders, my lord."
"Until Saturday, when I may expect you, may I not?"
"Yes, I promised you." The Count watched Albert, waving his
hand to him. When he had mounted his phaeton, Monte Cristo
turned, and seeing Bertuccio, "What news?" said he. "She
went to the Palais," replied the steward.
"Did she stay long there?"
"An hour and a half."
"Did she return home?"
"Well, my dear Bertuccio," said the count, "I now advise you
to go in quest of the little estate I spoke to you of in
Normandy." Bertuccio bowed, and as his wishes were in
perfect harmony with the order he had received, he started
the same evening.
M. de Villefort kept the promise he had made to Madame
Danglars, to endeavor to find out how the Count of Monte
Cristo had discovered the history of the house at Auteuil.
He wrote the same day for the required information to M. de
Boville, who, from having been an inspector of prisons, was
promoted to a high office in the police; and the latter
begged for two days time to ascertain exactly who would be
most likely to give him full particulars. At the end of the
second day M. de Villefort received the following note: --
"The person called the Count of Monte Cristo is an intimate
acquaintance of Lord Wilmore, a rich foreigner, who is
sometimes seen in Paris and who is there at this moment; he
is also known to the Abbe Busoni, a Sicilian priest, of high
repute in the East, where he has done much good."
M. de Villefort replied by ordering the strictest inquiries
to be made respecting these two persons; his orders were
executed, and the following evening he received these
"The abbe, who was in Paris only for a month, inhabited a
small two-storied house behind Saint-Sulpice; there were two
rooms on each floor and he was the only tenant. The two
lower rooms consisted of a dining-room, with a table,
chairs, and side-board of walnut, -- and a wainscoted
parlor, without ornaments, carpet, or timepiece. It was
evident that the abbe limited himself to objects of strict
necessity. He preferred to use the sitting-room upstairs,
which was more library than parlor, and was furnished with
theological books and parchments, in which he delighted to
bury himself for months at a time, according to his valet de
chambre. His valet looked at the visitors through a sort of
wicket; and if their faces were unknown to him or displeased
him, he replied that the abbe was not in Paris, an answer
which satisfied most persons, because the abbe was known to
be a great traveller. Besides, whether at home or not,
whether in Paris or Cairo, the abbe always left something to
give away, which the valet distributed through this wicket
in his master's name. The other room near the library was a
bedroom. A bed without curtains, four arm-chairs, and a
couch, covered with yellow Utrecht velvet, composed, with a
prie-Dieu, all its furniture. Lord Wilmore resided in Rue
Fontaine-Saint-George. He was one of those English tourists
who consume a large fortune in travelling. He hired the
apartment in which he lived furnished, passed only a few
hours in the day there, and rarely slept there. One of his
peculiarities was never to speak a word of French, which he
however wrote with great facility."
The day after this important information had been given to
the king's attorney, a man alighted from a carriage at the
corner of the Rue Ferou, and rapping at an olive-green door,
asked if the Abbe Busoni were within. "No, he went out early
this morning," replied the valet.
"I might not always be content with that answer," replied
the visitor, "for I come from one to whom everyone must be
at home. But have the kindness to give the Abbe Busoni" --
"I told you he was not at home," repeated the valet. "Then
on his return give him that card and this sealed paper. Will
he be at home at eight o'clock this evening?"
"Doubtless, unless he is at work, which is the same as if he
"I will come again at that time," replied the visitor, who
At the appointed hour the same man returned in the same
carriage, which, instead of stopping this time at the end of
the Rue Ferou, drove up to the green door. He knocked, and
it opened immediately to admit him. From the signs of
respect the valet paid him, he saw that his note had
produced a good effect. "Is the abbe at home?" asked he.
"Yes; he is at work in his library, but he expects you,
sir," replied the valet. The stranger ascended a rough
staircase, and before a table, illumined by a lamp whose
light was concentrated by a large shade while the rest of
the apartment was in partial darkness, he perceived the abbe
in a monk's dress, with a cowl on his head such as was used
by learned men of the Middle Ages. "Have I the honor of
addressing the Abbe Busoni?" asked the visitor.
"Yes, sir," replied the abbe; "and you are the person whom
M. de Boville, formerly an inspector of prisons, sends to me
from the prefect of police?"
"One of the agents appointed to secure the safety of Paris?"
"Yes, sir" replied the stranger with a slight hesitation,
The abbe replaced the large spectacles, which covered not
only his eyes but his temples, and sitting down motioned to
his visitor to do the same. "I am at your service, sir,"
said the abbe, with a marked Italian accent.
"The mission with which I am charged, sir," replied the
visitor, speaking with hesitation, "is a confidential one on
the part of him who fulfils it, and him by whom he is
employed." The abbe bowed. "Your probity," replied the
stranger, "is so well known to the prefect that he wishes as
a magistrate to ascertain from you some particulars
connected with the public safety, to ascertain which I am
deputed to see you. It is hoped that no ties of friendship
or humane consideration will induce you to conceal the
"Provided, sir, the particulars you wish for do not
interfere with my scruples or my conscience. I am a priest,
sir, and the secrets of confession, for instance, must
remain between me and God, and not between me and human
"Do not alarm yourself, monsieur, we will duly respect your
At this moment the abbe pressed down his side of the shade
and so raised it on the other, throwing a bright light on
the stranger's face, while his own remained obscured.
"Excuse me, abbe," said the envoy of the prefect of the
police, "but the light tries my eyes very much." The abbe
lowered the shade. "Now, sir, I am listening -- go on."
"I will come at once to the point. Do you know the Count of
"You mean Monsieur Zaccone, I presume?"
"Zaccone? -- is not his name Monte Cristo?"
"Monte Cristo is the name of an estate, or, rather, of a
rock, and not a family name."
"Well, be it so -- let us not dispute about words; and since
M. de Monte Cristo and M. Zaccone are the same" --
"Absolutely the same."
"Let us speak of M. Zaccone."
"I asked you if you knew him?"
"Who is he?"
"The son of a rich shipbuilder in Malta."
"I know that is the report; but, as you are aware, the
police does not content itself with vague reports."
"However," replied the abbe, with an affable smile, "when
that report is in accordance with the truth, everybody must
believe it, the police as well as all the rest."
"Are you sure of what you assert?"
"What do you mean by that question?"
"Understand, sir, I do not in the least suspect your
veracity; I ask if you are certain of it?"
"I knew his father, M. Zaccone."
"And when a child I often played with the son in the
"But whence does he derive the title of count?"
"You are aware that may be bought."
"And his immense riches, whence does he procure them?"
"They may not be so very great."
"How much do you suppose he possesses?"
"From one hundred and fifty to two hundred thousand livres
"That is reasonable," said the visitor; "I have heard he had
three or four millions."
"Two hundred thousand per annum would make four millions of
"But I was told he had four millions per annum?"
"That is not probable."
"Do you know this Island of Monte Cristo?"
"Certainly, every one who has come from Palermo, Naples, or
Rome to France by sea must know it, since he has passed
close to it and must have seen it."
"I am told it is a delightful place?"
"It is a rock."
"And why has the count bought a rock?"
"For the sake of being a count. In Italy one must have
territorial possessions to be a count."
"You have, doubtless, heard the adventures of M. Zaccone's
"No, the son's."
"I know nothing certain; at that period of his life, I lost
sight of my young comrade."
"Was he in the wars?"
"I think he entered the service."
"In what branch?"
"In the navy."
"Are you not his confessor?"
"No, sir; I believe he is a Lutheran."
"I say, I believe such is the case, I do not affirm it;
besides, liberty of conscience is established in France."
"Doubtless, and we are not now inquiring into his creed, but
his actions; in the name of the prefect of police, I ask you
what you know of him.
"He passes for a very charitable man. Our holy father, the
pope, has made him a knight of Jesus Christ for the services
he rendered to the Christians in the East; he has five or
six rings as testimonials from Eastern monarchs of his
"Does he wear them?"
"No, but he is proud of them; he is better pleased with
rewards given to the benefactors of man than to his
"He is a Quaker then?"
"Exactly, he is a Quaker, with the exception of the peculiar
"Has he any friends?"
"Yes, every one who knows him is his friend."
"But has he any enemies?"
"What is his name?"
"Where is he?"
"He is in Paris just now."
"Can he give me any particulars?"
"Important ones; he was in India with Zaccone."
"Do you know his abode?"
"It's somewhere in the Chaussee d'Antin; but I know neither
the street nor the number."
"Are you at variance with the Englishman?"
"I love Zaccone, and he hates him; we are consequently not
"Do you think the Count of Monte Cristo had ever been in
France before he made this visit to Paris?"
"To that question I can answer positively; no, sir, he had
not, because he applied to me six months ago for the
particulars he required, and as I did not know when I might
again come to Paris, I recommended M. Cavalcanti to him."
"No, Bartolomeo, his father."
"Now, sir, I have but one question more to ask, and I charge
you, in the name of honor, of humanity, and of religion, to
answer me candidly."
"What is it, sir?"
"Do you know with what design M. de Monte Cristo purchased a
house at Auteuil?"
"Certainly, for he told me."
"What is it, sir?"
"To make a lunatic asylum of it, similar to that founded by
the Count of Pisani at Palermo. Do you know about that
"I have heard of it."
"It is a magnificent charity." Having said this, the abbe
bowed to imply he wished to pursue his studies. The visitor
either understood the abbe's meaning, or had no more
questions to ask; he arose, and the abbe accompanied him to
the door. "You are a great almsgiver," said the visitor,
"and although you are said to be rich, I will venture to
offer you something for your poor people; will you accept my
"I thank you, sir; I am only jealous in one thing, and that
is that the relief I give should be entirely from my own
"My resolution, sir, is unchangeable, but you have only to
search for yourself and you will find, alas, but too many
objects upon whom to exercise your benevolence." The abbe
once more bowed as he opened the door, the stranger bowed
and took his leave, and the carriage conveyed him straight
to the house of M. de Villefort. An hour afterwards the
carriage was again ordered, and this time it went to the Rue
Fontaine-Saint-George, and stopped at No. 5, where Lord
Wilmore lived. The stranger had written to Lord Wilmore,
requesting an interview, which the latter had fixed for ten
o'clock. As the envoy of the prefect of police arrived ten
minutes before ten, he was told that Lord Wilmore, who was
precision and punctuality personified, was not yet come in,
but that he would be sure to return as the clock struck.
The visitor was introduced into the drawing-room, which was
like all other furnished drawing-rooms. A mantle-piece, with
two modern Sevres vases, a timepiece representing Cupid with
his bent bow, a mirror with an engraving on each side -- one
representing Homer carrying his guide, the other, Belisarius
begging -- a grayish paper; red and black tapestry -- such
was the appearance of Lord Wilmore's drawing-room. It was
illuminated by lamps with ground-glass shades which gave
only a feeble light, as if out of consideration for the
envoy's weak sight. After ten minutes' expectation the clock
struck ten; at the fifth stroke the door opened and Lord
Wilmore appeared. He was rather above the middle height,
with thin reddish whiskers, light complexion and light hair,
turning rather gray. He was dressed with all the English
peculiarity, namely, in a blue coat, with gilt buttons and
high collar, in the fashion of 1811, a white kerseymere
waistcoat, and nankeen pantaloons, three inches too short,
but which were prevented by straps from slipping up to the
knee. His first remark on entering was, -- "You know, sir, I
do not speak French?"
"I know you do not like to converse in our language,"
replied the envoy. "But you may use it," replied Lord
Wilmore; "I understand it."
"And I," replied the visitor, changing his idiom, "know
enough of English to keep up the conversation. Do not put
yourself to the slightest inconvenience."
"Aw?" said Lord Wilmore, with that tone which is only known
to natives of Great Britain.
The envoy presented his letter of introduction, which the
latter read with English coolness, and having finished, --
"I understand," said he, "perfectly."
Then began the questions, which were similar to those which
had been addressed to the Abbe Busoni. But as Lord Wilmore,
in the character of the count's enemy, was less restrained
in his answers, they were more numerous; he described the
youth of Monte Cristo, who he said, at ten years of age,
entered the service of one of the petty sovereigns of India
who make war on the English. It was there Wilmore had first
met him and fought against him; and in that war Zaccone had
been taken prisoner, sent to England, and consigned to the
hulks, whence he had escaped by swimming. Then began his
travels, his duels, his caprices; then the insurrection in
Greece broke out, and he had served in the Grecian ranks.
While in that service he had discovered a silver mine in the
mountains of Thessaly, but he had been careful to conceal it
from every one. After the battle of Navarino, when the Greek
government was consolidated, he asked of King Otho a mining
grant for that district, which was given him. Hence that
immense fortune, which, in Lord Wilmore's opinion, possibly
amounted to one or two millions per annum, -- a precarious
fortune, which might be momentarily lost by the failure of
"But," asked the visitor, "do you know why he came to
"He is speculating in railways," said Lord Wilmore, "and as
he is an expert chemist and physicist, he has invented a new
system of telegraphy, which he is seeking to bring to
"How much does he spend yearly?" asked the prefect.
"Not more than five or six hundred thousand francs," said
Lord Wilmore; "he is a miser." Hatred evidently inspired the
Englishman, who, knowing no other reproach to bring on the
count, accused him of avarice. "Do you know his house at
"What do you know respecting it?"
"Do you wish to know why he bought it?"
"The count is a speculator, who will certainly ruin himself
in experiments. He supposes there is in the neighborhood of
the house he has bought a mineral spring equal to those at
Bagneres, Luchon, and Cauterets. He is going to turn his
house into a Badhaus, as the Germans term it. He has already
dug up all the garden two or three times to find the famous
spring, and, being unsuccessful, he will soon purchase all
the contiguous houses. Now, as I dislike him, and hope his
railway, his electric telegraph, or his search for baths,
will ruin him, I am watching for his discomfiture, which
must soon take place."
"What was the cause of your quarrel?"
"When he was in England he seduced the wife of one of my
"Why do you not seek revenge?"
"I have already fought three duels with him," said the
Englishman, "the first with the pistol, the second with the
sword, and the third with the sabre."
"And what was the result of those duels?"
"The first time, he broke my arm; the second, he wounded me
in the breast; and the third time, made this large wound."
The Englishman turned down his shirt-collar, and showed a
scar, whose redness proved it to be a recent one. "So that,
you see, there is a deadly feud between us."
"But," said the envoy, "you do not go about it in the right
way to kill him, if I understand you correctly."
"Aw?" said the Englishman, "I practice shooting every day,
and every other day Grisier comes to my house."
This was all the visitor wished to ascertain, or, rather,
all the Englishman appeared to know. The agent arose, and
having bowed to Lord Wilmore, who returned his salutation
with the stiff politeness of the English, he retired. Lord
Wilmore, having heard the door close after him, returned to
his bedroom, where with one hand he pulled off his light
hair, his red whiskers, his false jaw, and his wound, to
resume the black hair, dark complexion, and pearly teeth of
the Count of Monte Cristo. It was M. de Villefort, and not
the prefect, who returned to the house of M. de Villefort.
The procureur felt more at ease, although he had learned
nothing really satisfactory, and, for the first time since
the dinner-party at Auteuil, he slept soundly.
It was in the warmest days of July, when in due course of
time the Saturday arrived upon which the ball was to take
place at M. de Morcerf's. It was ten o'clock at night; the
branches of the great trees in the garden of the count's
house stood out boldly against the azure canopy of heaven,
which was studded with golden stars, but where the last
fleeting clouds of a vanishing storm yet lingered. From the
apartments on the ground-floor might be heard the sound of
music, with the whirl of the waltz and galop, while
brilliant streams of light shone through the openings of the
Venetian blinds. At this moment the garden was only occupied
by about ten servants, who had just received orders from
their mistress to prepare the supper, the serenity of the
weather continuing to increase. Until now, it had been
undecided whether the supper should take place in the
dining-room, or under a long tent erected on the lawn, but
the beautiful blue sky, studded with stars, had settled the
question in favor of the lawn. The gardens were illuminated
with colored lanterns, according to the Italian custom, and,
as is usual in countries where the luxuries of the table --
the rarest of all luxuries in their complete form -- are
well understood, the supper-table was loaded with wax-lights
At the time the Countess of Morcerf returned to the rooms,
after giving her orders, many guests were arriving, more
attracted by the charming hospitality of the countess than
by the distinguished position of the count; for, owing to
the good taste of Mercedes, one was sure of finding some
devices at her entertainment worthy of describing, or even
copying in case of need. Madame Danglars, in whom the events
we have related had caused deep anxiety, had hesitated about
going to Madame de Morcerf's, when during the morning her
carriage happened to meet that of Villefort. The latter made
a sign, and when the carriages had drawn close together,
said, -- "You are going to Madame de Morcerf's, are you
"No," replied Madame Danglars, "I am too ill."
"You are wrong," replied Villefort, significantly; "it is
important that you should be seen there."
"Do you think so?" asked the baroness.
"In that case I will go." And the two carriages passed on
towards their different destinations. Madame Danglars
therefore came, not only beautiful in person, but radiant
with splendor; she entered by one door at the time when
Mercedes appeared at the door. The countess took Albert to
meet Madame Danglars. He approached, paid her some well
merited compliments on her toilet, and offered his arm to
conduct her to a seat. Albert looked around him. "You are
looking for my daughter?" said the baroness, smiling.
"I confess it," replied Albert. "Could you have been so
cruel as not to bring her?"
"Calm yourself. She has met Mademoiselle de Villefort, and
has taken her arm; see, they are following us, both in white
dresses, one with a bouquet of camellias, the other with one
of myosotis. But tell me" --
"Well, what do you wish to know?"
"Will not the Count of Monte Cristo be here to-night?"
"Seventeen!" replied Albert.
"What do you mean?"
"I only mean that the count seems the rage," replied the
viscount, smiling, "and that you are the seventeenth person
that has asked me the same question. The count is in
fashion; I congratulate him upon it."
"And have you replied to every one as you have to me?"
"Ah, to be sure, I have not answered you; be satisfied, we
shall have this `lion;' we are among the privileged ones."
"Were you at the opera yesterday?"
"He was there."
"Ah, indeed? And did the eccentric person commit any new
"Can he be seen without doing so? Elssler was dancing in the
`Diable Boiteux;' the Greek princess was in ecstasies. After
the cachucha he placed a magnificent ring on the stem of a
bouquet, and threw it to the charming danseuse, who, in the
third act, to do honor to the gift, reappeared with it on
her finger. And the Greek princess, -- will she be here?"
"No, you will be deprived of that pleasure; her position in
the count's establishment is not sufficiently understood."
"Wait; leave me here, and go and speak to Madame de
Villefort, who is trying to attract your attention."
Albert bowed to Madame Danglars, and advanced towards Madame
de Villefort, whose lips opened as he approached. "I wager
anything," said Albert, interrupting her, "that I know what
you were about to say."
"Well, what is it?"
"If I guess rightly, will you confess it?"
"On your honor?"
"On my honor."
"You were going to ask me if the Count of Monte Cristo had
arrived, or was expected."
"Not at all. It is not of him that I am now thinking. I was
going to ask you if you had received any news of Monsieur
"Yes, -- yesterday."
"What did he tell you?"
"That he was leaving at the same time as his letter."
"Well, now then, the count?"
"The count will come, of that you may be satisfied."
"You know that he has another name besides Monte Cristo?"
"No, I did not know it."
"Monte Cristo is the name of an island, and he has a family name."
"I never heard it."
"Well, then, I am better informed than you; his name is Zaccone."
"It is possible."
"He is a Maltese."
"That is also possible.
"The son of a shipowner."
"Really, you should relate all this aloud, you would have
the greatest success."
"He served in India, discovered a mine in Thessaly, and
comes to Paris to establish a mineral water-cure at
"Well, I'm sure," said Morcerf, "this is indeed news! Am I
allowed to repeat it?"
"Yes, but cautiously, tell one thing at a time, and do not
say I told you."
"Because it is a secret just discovered."
"Then the news originated" --
"At the prefect's last night. Paris, you can understand, is
astonished at the sight of such unusual splendor, and the
police have made inquiries."
"Well, well! Nothing more is wanting than to arrest the
count as a vagabond, on the pretext of his being too rich."
"Indeed, that doubtless would have happened if his
credentials had not been so favorable."
"Poor count! And is he aware of the danger he has been in?"
"I think not."
"Then it will be but charitable to inform him. When he
arrives, I will not fail to do so."
Just then, a handsome young man, with bright eyes, black
hair, and glossy mustache, respectfully bowed to Madame de
Villefort. Albert extended his hand. "Madame," said Albert,
"allow me to present to you M. Maximilian Morrel, captain of
Spahis, one of our best, and, above all, of our bravest
"I have already had the pleasure of meeting this gentleman
at Auteuil, at the house of the Count of Monte Cristo,"
replied Madame de Villefort, turning away with marked
coldness of manner. This answer, and especially the tone in
which it was uttered, chilled the heart of poor Morrel. But
a recompense was in store for him; turning around, he saw
near the door a beautiful fair face, whose large blue eyes
were, without any marked expression, fixed upon him, while
the bouquet of myosotis was gently raised to her lips.
The salutation was so well understood that Morrel, with the
same expression in his eyes, placed his handkerchief to his
mouth; and these two living statues, whose hearts beat so
violently under their marble aspect, separated from each
other by the whole length of the room, forgot themselves for
a moment, or rather forgot the world in their mutual
contemplation. They might have remained much longer lost in
one another, without any one noticing their abstraction. The
Count of Monte Cristo had just entered.
We have already said that there was something in the count
which attracted universal attention wherever he appeared. It
was not the coat, unexceptional in its cut, though simple
and unornamented; it was not the plain white waistcoat; it
was not the trousers, that displayed the foot so perfectly
formed -- it was none of these things that attracted the
attention, -- it was his pale complexion, his waving black
hair, his calm and serene expression, his dark and
melancholy eye, his mouth, chiselled with such marvellous
delicacy, which so easily expressed such high disdain, --
these were what fixed the attention of all upon him. Many
men might have been handsomer, but certainly there could be
none whose appearance was more significant, if the
expression may be used. Everything about the count seemed to
have its meaning, for the constant habit of thought which he
had acquired had given an ease and vigor to the expression
of his face, and even to the most trifling gesture, scarcely
to be understood. Yet the Parisian world is so strange, that
even all this might not have won attention had there not
been connected with it a mysterious story gilded by an
Meanwhile he advanced through the assemblage of guests under
a battery of curious glances towards Madame de Morcerf, who,
standing before a mantle-piece ornamented with flowers, had
seen his entrance in a looking-glass placed opposite the
door, and was prepared to receive him. She turned towards
him with a serene smile just at the moment he was bowing to
her. No doubt she fancied the count would speak to her,
while on his side the count thought she was about to address
him; but both remained silent, and after a mere bow, Monte
Cristo directed his steps to Albert, who received him
cordially. "Have you seen my mother?" asked Albert.
"I have just had the pleasure," replied the count; "but I
have not seen your father."
"See, he is down there, talking politics with that little
group of great geniuses."
"Indeed?" said Monte Cristo; "and so those gentlemen down
there are men of great talent. I should not have guessed it.
And for what kind of talent are they celebrated? You know
there are different sorts."
"That tall, harsh-looking man is very learned, he
discovered, in the neighborhood of Rome, a kind of lizard
with a vertebra more than lizards usually have, and he
immediately laid his discovery before the Institute. The
thing was discussed for a long time, but finally decided in
his favor. I can assure you the vertebra made a great noise
in the learned world, and the gentleman, who was only a
knight of the Legion of Honor, was made an officer."
"Come," said Monte Cristo, "this cross seems to me to be
wisely awarded. I suppose, had he found another additional
vertebra, they would have made him a commander."
"Very likely," said Albert.
"And who can that person be who has taken it into his head
to wrap himself up in a blue coat embroidered with green?"
"Oh, that coat is not his own idea; it is the Republic's,
which deputed David* to devise a uniform for the
* Louis David, a famous French painter.
"Indeed?" said Monte Cristo; "so this gentleman is an
"Within the last week he has been made one of the learned
"And what is his especial talent?"
"His talent? I believe he thrusts pins through the heads of
rabbits, he makes fowls eat madder, and punches the spinal
marrow out of dogs with whalebone."
"And he is made a member of the Academy of Sciences for
"No; of the French Academy."
"But what has the French Academy to do with all this?"
"I was going to tell you. It seems" --
"That his experiments have very considerably advanced the
cause of science, doubtless?"
"No; that his style of writing is very good."
"This must be very flattering to the feelings of the rabbits
into whose heads he has thrust pins, to the fowls whose
bones he has dyed red, and to the dogs whose spinal marrow
he has punched out?"
"And the other one?" demanded the count.
"Yes, the third."
"The one in the dark blue coat?"
"He is a colleague of the count, and one of the most active
opponents to the idea of providing the Chamber of Peers with
a uniform. He was very successful upon that question. He
stood badly with the Liberal papers, but his noble
opposition to the wishes of the court is now getting him
into favor with the journalists. They talk of making him an
"And what are his claims to the peerage?"
"He has composed two or three comic operas, written four or
five articles in the Siecle, and voted five or six years on
the ministerial side."
"Bravo, Viscount," said Monte Cristo, smiling; "you are a
delightful cicerone. And now you will do me a favor, will
"What is it?"
"Do not introduce me to any of these gentlemen; and should
they wish it, you will warn me." Just then the count felt
his arm pressed. He turned round; it was Danglars.
"Ah, is it you, baron?" said he.
"Why do you call me baron?" said Danglars; "you know that I
care nothing for my title. I am not like you, viscount; you
like your title, do you not?"
"Certainly," replied Albert, "seeing that without my title I
should be nothing; while you, sacrificing the baron, would
still remain the millionaire."
"Which seems to me the finest title under the royalty of
July," replied Danglars.
"Unfortunately," said Monte Cristo, "one's title to a
millionaire does not last for life, like that of baron, peer
of France, or Academician; for example, the millionaires
Franck & Poulmann, of Frankfort, who have just become
"Indeed?" said Danglars, becoming pale.
"Yes; I received the news this evening by a courier. I had
about a million in their hands, but, warned in time, I
withdrew it a month ago."
"Ah, mon Dieu," exclaimed Danglars, "they have drawn on me
for 200,000 francs!"
"Well, you can throw out the draft; their signature is worth
five per cent."
"Yes, but it is too late," said Danglars, "I have honored
"Then," said Monte Cristo, "here are 200,000 francs gone
"Hush, do not mention these things," said Danglars; then,
approaching Monte Cristo, he added, "especially before young
M. Cavalcanti;" after which he smiled, and turned towards
the young man in question. Albert had left the count to
speak to his mother, Danglars to converse with young
Cavalcanti; Monte Cristo was for an instant alone. Meanwhile
the heat became excessive. The footmen were hastening
through the rooms with waiters loaded with ices. Monte
Cristo wiped the perspiration from his forehead, but drew
back when the waiter was presented to him; he took no
refreshment. Madame de Morcerf did not lose sight of Monte
Cristo; she saw that he took nothing, and even noticed his
gesture of refusal.
"Albert," she asked, "did you notice that?"
"That the count has never been willing to partake of food
under the roof of M. de Morcerf."
"Yes; but then he breakfasted with me -- indeed, he made his
first appearance in the world on that occasion."
"But your house is not M. de Morcerf's," murmured Mercedes;
"and since he has been here I have watched him."
"Well, he has taken nothing yet."
"The count is very temperate." Mercedes smiled sadly.
"Approach him," said she, "and when the next waiter passes,
insist upon his taking something."
"But why, mother?"
"Just to please me, Albert," said Mercedes. Albert kissed
his mother's hand, and drew near the count. Another salver
passed, loaded like the preceding ones; she saw Albert
attempt to persuade the count, but he obstinately refused.
Albert rejoined his mother; she was very pale.
"Well," said she, "you see he refuses?"
"Yes; but why need this annoy you?"
"You know, Albert, women are singular creatures. I should
like to have seen the count take something in my house, if
only an ice. Perhaps he cannot reconcile himself to the
French style of living, and might prefer something else."
"Oh, no; I have seen him eat of everything in Italy; no
doubt he does not feel inclined this evening."
"And besides," said the countess, "accustomed as he is to
burning climates, possibly he does not feel the heat as we
"I do not think that, for he has complained of feeling
almost suffocated, and asked why the Venetian blinds were
not opened as well as the windows."
"In a word," said Mercedes, "it was a way of assuring me
that his abstinence was intended." And she left the room. A
minute afterwards the blinds were thrown open, and through
the jessamine and clematis that overhung the window one
could see the garden ornamented with lanterns, and the
supper laid under the tent. Dancers, players, talkers, all
uttered an exclamation of joy -- every one inhaled with
delight the breeze that floated in. At the same time
Mercedes reappeared, paler than before, but with that
imperturbable expression of countenance which she sometimes
wore. She went straight to the group of which her husband
formed the centre. "Do not detain those gentlemen here,
count," she said; "they would prefer, I should think, to
breathe in the garden rather than suffocate here, since they
are not playing."
"Ah," said a gallant old general, who, in 1809, had sung
"Partant pour la Syrie," -- "we will not go alone to the
"Then," said Mercedes, "I will lead the way." Turning
towards Monte Cristo, she added, "count, will you oblige me
with your arm?" The count almost staggered at these simple
words; then he fixed his eyes on Mercedes. It was only a
momentary glance, but it seemed to the countess to have
lasted for a century, so much was expressed in that one
look. He offered his arm to the countess; she took it, or
rather just touched it with her little hand, and they
together descended the steps, lined with rhododendrons and
camellias. Behind them, by another outlet, a group of about
twenty persons rushed into the garden with loud exclamations
Bread and Salt.
Madame de Morcerf entered an archway of trees with her
companion. It led through a grove of lindens to a
"It was too warm in the room, was it not, count?" she asked.
"Yes, madame; and it was an excellent idea of yours to open
the doors and the blinds." As he ceased speaking, the count
felt the hand of Mercedes tremble. "But you," he said, "with
that light dress, and without anything to cover you but that
gauze scarf, perhaps you feel cold?"
"Do you know where I am leading you?" said the countess,
without replying to the question.
"No, madame," replied Monte Cristo; "but you see I make no
"We are going to the greenhouse that you see at the other
end of the grove."
The count looked at Mercedes as if to interrogate her, but
she continued to walk on in silence, and he refrained from
speaking. They reached the building, ornamented with
magnificent fruits, which ripen at the beginning of July in
the artificial temperature which takes the place of the sun,
so frequently absent in our climate. The countess left the
arm of Monte Cristo, and gathered a bunch of Muscatel
grapes. "See, count," she said, with a smile so sad in its
expression that one could almost detect the tears on her
eyelids -- "see, our French grapes are not to be compared, I
know, with yours of Sicily and Cyprus, but you will make
allowance for our northern sun." The count bowed, but
stepped back. "Do you refuse?" said Mercedes, in a tremulous
voice. "Pray excuse me, madame," replied Monte Cristo, "but
I never eat Muscatel grapes."
Mercedes let them fall, and sighed. A magnificent peach was
hanging against an adjoining wall, ripened by the same
artificial heat. Mercedes drew near, and plucked the fruit.
"Take this peach, then," she said. The count again refused.
"What, again?" she exclaimed, in so plaintive an accent that
it seemed to stifle a sob; "really, you pain me."
A long silence followed; the peach, like the grapes, fell to
the ground. "Count," added Mercedes with a supplicating
glance, "there is a beautiful Arabian custom, which makes
eternal friends of those who have together eaten bread and
salt under the same roof."
"I know it, madame," replied the count; "but we are in
France, and not in Arabia, and in France eternal friendships
are as rare as the custom of dividing bread and salt with
"But," said the countess, breathlessly, with her eyes fixed
on Monte Cristo, whose arm she convulsively pressed with
both hands, "we are friends, are we not?"
The count became pale as death, the blood rushed to his
heart, and then again rising, dyed his cheeks with crimson;
his eyes swam like those of a man suddenly dazzled.
"Certainly, we are friends," he replied; "why should we not
be?" The answer was so little like the one Mercedes desired,
that she turned away to give vent to a sigh, which sounded
more like a groan. "Thank you," she said. And they walked on
again. They went the whole length of the garden without
uttering a word. "Sir," suddenly exclaimed the countess,
after their walk had continued ten minutes in silence, "is
it true that you have seen so much, travelled so far, and
suffered so deeply?"
"I have suffered deeply, madame," answered Monte Cristo.
"But now you are happy?"
"Doubtless," replied the count, "since no one hears me
"And your present happiness, has it softened your heart?"
"My present happiness equals my past misery," said the
"Are you not married?" asked the countess. "I married?"
exclaimed Monte Cristo, shuddering; "who could have told you
"No one told me you were, but you have frequently been seen
at the opera with a young and lovely woman."
"She is a slave whom I bought at Constantinople, madame, the
daughter of a prince. I have adopted her as my daughter,
having no one else to love in the world."
"You live alone, then?"
"You have no sister -- no son -- no father?"
"I have no one."
"How can you exist thus without any one to attach you to
"It is not my fault, madame. At Malta, I loved a young girl,
was on the point of marrying her, when war came and carried
me away. I thought she loved me well enough to wait for me,
and even to remain faithful to my memory. When I returned
she was married. This is the history of most men who have
passed twenty years of age. Perhaps my heart was weaker than
the hearts of most men, and I suffered more than they would
have done in my place; that is all." The countess stopped
for a moment, as if gasping for breath. "Yes," she said,
"and you have still preserved this love in your heart -- one
can only love once -- and did you ever see her again?"
"I never returned to the country where she lived."
"She is, then, now at Malta?"
"I think so."
"And have you forgiven her for all she has made you suffer?"
"Her, -- yes."
"But only her; do you then still hate those who separated
"I hate them? Not at all; why should I?" The countess placed
herself before Monte Cristo, still holding in her hand a
portion of the perfumed grapes. "Take some," she said.
"Madame, I never eat Muscatel grapes," replied Monte Cristo,
as if the subject had not been mentioned before. The
countess dashed the grapes into the nearest thicket, with a
gesture of despair. "Inflexible man!" she murmured. Monte
Cristo remained as unmoved as if the reproach had not been
addressed to him. Albert at this moment ran in. "Oh,
mother," he exclaimed, "such a misfortune his happened!"
"What? What has happened?" asked the countess, as though
awakening from a sleep to the realities of life; "did you
say a misfortune? Indeed, I should expect misfortunes."
"M. de Villefort is here."
"He comes to fetch his wife and daughter."
"Because Madame de Saint-Meran is just arrived in Paris,
bringing the news of M. de Saint-Meran's death, which took
place on the first stage after he left Marseilles. Madame de
Villefort, who was in very good spirits, would neither
believe nor think of the misfortune, but Mademoiselle
Valentine, at the first words, guessed the whole truth,
notwithstanding all the precautions of her father; the blow
struck her like a thunderbolt, and she fell senseless."
"And how was M. de Saint-Meran related to Mademoiselle de
Villefort?" said the count.
"He was her grandfather on the mother's side. He was coming
here to hasten her marriage with Franz."
"So Franz must wait. Why was not M. de Saint-Meran also
grandfather to Mademoiselle Danglars?"
"Albert, Albert," said Madame de Morcerf, in a tone of mild
reproof, "what are you saying? Ah, count, he esteems you so
highly, tell him that he has spoken amiss." And she took two
or three steps forward. Monte Cristo watched her with an air
so thoughtful, and so full of affectionate admiration, that
she turned back and grasped his hand; at the same time she
seized that of her son, and joined them together.
"We are friends; are we not?" she asked.
"Oh, madame, I do not presume to call myself your friend,
but at all times I am your most respectful servant." The
countess left with an indescribable pang in her heart, and
before she had taken ten steps the count saw her raise her
handkerchief to her eyes. "Do not my mother and you agree?"
asked Albert, astonished.
"On the contrary," replied the count, "did you not hear her
declare that we were friends?" They re-entered the
drawing-room, which Valentine and Madame de Villefort had
just quitted. It is perhaps needless to add that Morrel
departed almost at the same time.
Madame de Saint-Meran.
A gloomy scene had indeed just passed at the house of M. de
Villefort. After the ladies had departed for the ball,
whither all the entreaties of Madame de Villefort had failed
in persuading him to accompany them, the procureur had shut
himself up in his study, according to his custom, with a
heap of papers calculated to alarm any one else, but which
generally scarcely satisfied his inordinate desires. But
this time the papers were a mere matter of form. Villefort
had secluded himself, not to study, but to reflect; and with
the door locked and orders given that he should not be
disturbed excepting for important business, he sat down in
his arm-chair and began to ponder over the events, the
remembrance of which had during the last eight days filled
his mind with so many gloomy thoughts and bitter
recollections. Then, instead of plunging into the mass of
documents piled before him, he opened the drawer of his
desk, touched a spring, and drew out a parcel of cherished
memoranda, amongst which he had carefully arranged, in
characters only known to himself, the names of all those
who, either in his political career, in money matters, at
the bar, or in his mysterious love affairs, had become his
Their number was formidable, now that he had begun to fear,
and yet these names, powerful though they were, had often
caused him to smile with the same kind of satisfaction
experienced by a traveller who from the summit of a mountain
beholds at his feet the craggy eminences, the almost
impassable paths, and the fearful chasms, through which he
has so perilously climbed. When he had run over all these
names in his memory, again read and studied them, commenting
meanwhile upon his lists, he shook his head.
"No," he murmured, "none of my enemies would have waited so
patiently and laboriously for so long a space of time, that
they might now come and crush me with this secret.
Sometimes, as Hamlet says --
`Foul deeds will rise,
Tho' all the earth o'erwhelm them to men's eyes;'
but, like a phosphoric light, they rise but to mislead. The
story has been told by the Corsican to some priest, who in
his turn has repeated it. M. de Monte Cristo may have heard
it, and to enlighten himself -- but why should he wish to
enlighten himself upon the subject?" asked Villefort, after
a moment's reflection, "what interest can this M. de Monte
Cristo or M. Zaccone, -- son of a shipowner of Malta,
discoverer of a mine in Thessaly, now visiting Paris for the
first time, -- what interest, I say, can he take in
discovering a gloomy, mysterious, and useless fact like
this? However, among all the incoherent details given to me
by the Abbe Busoni and by Lord Wilmore, by that friend and
that enemy, one thing appears certain and clear in my
opinion -- that in no period, in no case, in no
circumstance, could there have been any contact between him
But Villefort uttered words which even he himself did not
believe. He dreaded not so much the revelation, for he could
reply to or deny its truth; -- he cared little for that
mene, tekel, upharsin, which appeared suddenly in letters of
blood upon the wall; -- but what he was really anxious for
was to discover whose hand had traced them. While he was
endeavoring to calm his fears, -- and instead of dwelling
upon the political future that had so often been the subject
of his ambitious dreams, was imagining a future limited to
the enjoyments of home, in fear of awakening the enemy that
had so long slept, -- the noise of a carriage sounded in the
yard, then he heard the steps of an aged person ascending
the stairs, followed by tears and lamentations, such as
servants always give vent to when they wish to appear
interested in their master's grief. He drew back the bolt of
his door, and almost directly an old lady entered,
unannounced, carrying her shawl on her arm, and her bonnet
in her hand. The white hair was thrown back from her yellow
forehead, and her eyes, already sunken by the furrows of
age, now almost disappeared beneath the eyelids swollen with
grief. "Oh, sir," she said; "oh, sir, what a misfortune! I
shall die of it; oh, yes, I shall certainly die of it!"
And then, falling upon the chair nearest the door, she burst
into a paroxysm of sobs. The servants, standing in the
doorway, not daring to approach nearer, were looking at
Noirtier's old servant, who had heard the noise from his
master's room, and run there also, remaining behind the
others. Villefort rose, and ran towards his mother-in-law,
for it was she.
"Why, what can have happened?" he exclaimed, "what has thus
disturbed you? Is M. de Saint-Meran with you?"
"M. de Saint-Meran is dead," answered the old marchioness,
without preface and without expression; she appeared to be
stupefied. Villefort drew back, and clasping his hands
together, exclaimed -- "Dead! -- so suddenly?"
"A week ago," continued Madame de Saint-Meran, "we went out
together in the carriage after dinner. M. de Saint-Meran had
been unwell for some days; still, the idea of seeing our
dear Valentine again inspired him with courage, and
notwithstanding his illness he would leave. At six leagues
from Marseilles, after having eaten some of the lozenges he
is accustomed to take, he fell into such a deep sleep, that
it appeared to me unnatural; still I hesitated to wake him,
although I fancied that his face was flushed, and that the
veins of his temples throbbed more violently than usual.
However, as it became dark, and I could no longer see, I
fell asleep; I was soon aroused by a piercing shriek, as
from a person suffering in his dreams, and he suddenly threw
his head back violently. I called the valet, I stopped the
postilion, I spoke to M. de Saint-Meran, I applied my
smelling-salts; but all was over, and I arrived at Aix by
the side of a corpse." Villefort stood with his mouth half
open, quite stupefied.
"Of course you sent for a doctor?"
"Immediately; but, as I have told you, it was too late."
"Yes; but then he could tell of what complaint the poor
marquis had died."
"Oh, yes, sir, he told me; it appears to have been an
"And what did you do then?"
"M. de Saint-Meran had always expressed a desire, in case
his death happened during his absence from Paris, that his
body might be brought to the family vault. I had him put
into a leaden coffin, and I am preceding him by a few days."
"Oh, my poor mother," said Villefort, "to have such duties
to perform at your age after such a blow!"
"God has supported me through all; and then, my dear
marquis, he would certainly have done everything for me that
I performed for him. It is true that since I left him, I
seem to have lost my senses. I cannot cry; at my age they
say that we have no more tears, -- still I think that when
one is in trouble one should have the power of weeping.
Where is Valentine, sir? It is on her account I am here; I
wish to see Valentine." Villefort thought it would be
terrible to reply that Valentine was at a ball; so he only
said that she had gone out with her step-mother, and that
she should be fetched. "This instant, sir -- this instant, I
beseech you!" said the old lady. Villefort placed the arm of
Madame de Saint-Meran within his own, and conducted her to
his apartment. "Rest yourself, mother," he said.
The marchioness raised her head at this word, and beholding
the man who so forcibly reminded her of her deeply-regretted
child, who still lived for her in Valentine, she felt
touched at the name of mother, and bursting into tears, she
fell on her knees before an arm-chair, where she buried her
venerable head. Villefort left her to the care of the women,
while old Barrois ran, half-scared, to his master; for
nothing frightens old people so much as when death relaxes
its vigilance over them for a moment in order to strike some
other old person. Then, while Madame de Saint-Meran remained
on her knees, praying fervently, Villefort sent for a cab,
and went himself to fetch his wife and daughter from Madame
de Morcerf's. He was so pale when he appeared at the door of
the ball-room, that Valentine ran to him, saying --
"Oh, father, some misfortune has happened!"
"Your grandmamma has just arrived, Valentine," said M. de
"And grandpapa?" inquired the young girl, trembling with
apprehension. M. de Villefort only replied by offering his
arm to his daughter. It was just in time, for Valentine's
head swam, and she staggered; Madame de Villefort instantly
hastened to her assistance, and aided her husband in
dragging her to the carriage, saying -- "What a singular
event! Who could have thought it? Ah, yes, it is indeed
strange!" And the wretched family departed, leaving a cloud
of sadness hanging over the rest of the evening. At the foot
of the stairs, Valentine found Barrois awaiting her.
"M. Noirtier wishes to see you to-night, he said, in an
"Tell him I will come when I leave my dear grandmamma," she
replied, feeling, with true delicacy, that the person to
whom she could be of the most service just then was Madame
de Saint-Meran. Valentine found her grandmother in bed;
silent caresses, heartwrung sobs, broken sighs, burning
tears, were all that passed in this sad interview, while
Madame de Villefort, leaning on her husband's arm,
maintained all outward forms of respect, at least towards
the poor widow. She soon whispered to her husband, "I think
it would be better for me to retire, with your permission,
for the sight of me appears still to afflict your
mother-in-law." Madame de Saint-Meran heard her. "Yes, yes,"
she said softly to Valentine, "let her leave; but do you
stay." Madame de Villefort left, and Valentine remained
alone beside the bed, for the procureur, overcome with
astonishment at the unexpected death, had followed his wife.
Meanwhile, Barrois had returned for the first time to old
Noirtier, who having heard the noise in the house, had, as
we have said, sent his old servant to inquire the cause; on
his return, his quick intelligent eye interrogated the
messenger. "Alas, sir," exclaimed Barrois, "a great
misfortune has happened. Madame de Saint-Meran has arrived,
and her husband is dead!"
M. de Saint-Meran and Noirtier had never been on strict
terms of friendship; still, the death of one old man always
considerably affects another. Noirtier let his head fall
upon his chest, apparently overwhelmed and thoughtful; then
he closed one eye, in token of inquiry. "Mademoiselle
Valentine?" Noirtier nodded his head. "She is at the ball,
as you know, since she came to say good-by to you in full
dress." Noirtier again closed his left eye. "Do you wish to
see her?" Noirtier again made an affirmative sign. "Well,
they have gone to fetch her, no doubt, from Madame de
Morcerf's; I will await her return, and beg her to come up
here. Is that what you wish for?"
"Yes," replied the invalid.
Barrois, therefore, as we have seen, watched for Valentine,
and informed her of her grandfather's wish. Consequently,
Valentine came up to Noirtier, on leaving Madame de
Saint-Meran, who in the midst of her grief had at last
yielded to fatigue and fallen into a feverish sleep. Within
reach of her hand they placed a small table upon which stood
a bottle of orangeade, her usual beverage, and a glass.
Then, as we have said, the young girl left the bedside to
see M. Noirtier. Valentine kissed the old man, who looked at
her with such tenderness that her eyes again filled with
tears, whose sources he thought must be exhausted. The old
gentleman continued to dwell upon her with the same
expression. "Yes, yes," said Valentine, "you mean that I
have yet a kind grandfather left, do you not." The old man
intimated that such was his meaning. "Ah, yes, happily I
have," replied Valentine. "Without that, what would become
It was one o'clock in the morning. Barrois, who wished to go
to bed himself, observed that after such sad events every
one stood in need of rest. Noirtier would not say that the
only rest he needed was to see his child, but wished her
good-night, for grief and fatigue had made her appear quite
ill. The next morning she found her grandmother in bed; the
fever had not abated, on the contrary her eyes glistened and
she appeared to be suffering from violent nervous
irritability. "Oh, dear grandmamma, are you worse?"
exclaimed Valentine, perceiving all these signs of
"No, my child, no," said Madame de Saint-Meran; "but I was
impatiently waiting for your arrival, that I might send for
"My father?" inquired Valentine, uneasily.
"Yes, I wish to speak to him." Valentine durst not oppose
her grandmother's wish, the cause of which she did not know,
and an instant afterwards Villefort entered. "Sir," said
Madame de Saint-Meran, without using any circumlocution, and
as if fearing she had no time to lose, "you wrote to me
concerning the marriage of this child?"
"Yes, madame," replied Villefort, "it is not only projected
"Your intended son-in-law is named M. Franz d'Epinay?"
"Is he not the son of General d'Epinay who was on our side,
and who was assassinated some days before the usurper
returned from the Island of Elba?"
"Does he not dislike the idea of marrying the granddaughter
of a Jacobin?"
"Our civil dissensions are now happily extinguished,
mother," said Villefort; "M. d'Epinay was quite a child when
his father died, he knows very little of M. Noirtier, and
will meet him, if not with pleasure, at least with
"Is it a suitable match?"
"In every respect."
"And the young man?"
"Is regarded with universal esteem."
"You approve of him?"
"He is one of the most well-bred young men I know." During
the whole of this conversation Valentine had remained
silent. "Well, sir," said Madame de Saint-Meran, after a few
minutes' reflection, "I must hasten the marriage, for I have
but a short time to live."
"You, madame?" "You, dear mamma?" exclaimed M. de Villefort
and Valentine at the same time.
"I know what I am saying," continued the marchioness; "I
must hurry you, so that, as she has no mother, she may at
least have a grandmother to bless her marriage. I am all
that is left to her belonging to my poor Renee, whom you
have so soon forgotten, sir."
"Ah, madame," said Villefort, "you forget that I was obliged
to give a mother to my child."
"A stepmother is never a mother, sir. But this is not to the
purpose, -- our business concerns Valentine, let us leave
the dead in peace."
All this was said with such exceeding rapidity, that there
was something in the conversation that seemed like the
beginning of delirium.
"It shall be as you wish, madame," said Villefort; "more
especially since your wishes coincide with mine, and as soon
as M. d'Epinay arrives in Paris" --
"My dear grandmother," interrupted Valentine, "consider
decorum -- the recent death. You would not have me marry
under such sad auspices?"
"My child," exclaimed the old lady sharply, "let us hear
none of the conventional objections that deter weak minds
from preparing for the future. I also was married at the
death-bed of my mother, and certainly I have not been less
happy on that account."
"Still that idea of death, madame," said Villefort.
"Still? -- Always! I tell you I am going to die -- do you
understand? Well, before dying, I wish to see my son-in-law.
I wish to tell him to make my child happy; I wish to read in
his eyes whether he intends to obey me; -- in fact, I will
know him -- I will!" continued the old lady, with a fearful
expression, "that I may rise from the depths of my grave to
find him, if he should not fulfil his duty!"
"Madame," said Villefort, "you must lay aside these exalted
ideas, which almost assume the appearance of madness. The
dead, once buried in their graves, rise no more."
"And I tell you, sir, that you are mistaken. This night I
have had a fearful sleep. It seemed as though my soul were
already hovering over my body, my eyes, which I tried to
open, closed against my will, and what will appear
impossible above all to you, sir, I saw, with my eyes shut,
in the spot where you are now standing, issuing from that
corner where there is a door leading into Madame Villefort's
dressing-room -- I saw, I tell you, silently enter, a white
figure." Valentine screamed. "It was the fever that
disturbed you, madame," said Villefort.
"Doubt, if you please, but I am sure of what I say. I saw a
white figure, and as if to prevent my discrediting the
testimony of only one of my senses, I heard my glass removed
-- the same which is there now on the table."
"Oh, dear mother, it was a dream."
"So little was it a dream, that I stretched my hand towards
the bell; but when I did so, the shade disappeared; my maid
then entered with a light."
"But she saw no one?"
"Phantoms are visible to those only who ought to see them.
It was the soul of my husband! -- Well, if my husband's soul
can come to me, why should not my soul reappear to guard my
granddaughter? the tie is even more direct, it seems to me."
"Oh, madame," said Villefort, deeply affected, in spite of
himself, "do not yield to those gloomy thoughts; you will
long live with us, happy, loved, and honored, and we will
make you forget" --
"Never, never, never," said the marchioness. "When does M.
"We expect him every moment."
"It is well. As soon as he arrives inform me. We must be
expeditious. And then I also wish to see a notary, that I
may be assured that all our property returns to Valentine."
"Ah, grandmamma," murmured Valentine, pressing her lips on
the burning brow, "do you wish to kill me? Oh, how feverish
you are; we must not send for a notary, but for a doctor."
"A doctor?" said she, shrugging her shoulders, "I am not
ill; I am thirsty -- that is all."
"What are you drinking, dear grandmamma?"
"The same as usual, my dear, my glass is there on the table
-- give it to me, Valentine." Valentine poured the orangeade
into a glass and gave it to her grandmother with a certain
degree of dread, for it was the same glass she fancied that
had been touched by the spectre. The marchioness drained the
glass at a single draught, and then turned on her pillow,
repeating, -- "The notary, the notary!"
M. de Villefort left the room, and Valentine seated herself
at the bedside of her grandmother. The poor child appeared
herself to require the doctor she had recommended to her
aged relative. A bright spot burned in either cheek, her
respiration was short and difficult, and her pulse beat with
feverish excitement. She was thinking of the despair of
Maximilian, when he should be informed that Madame de
Saint-Meran, instead of being an ally, was unconsciously
acting as his enemy. More than once she thought of revealing
all to her grandmother, and she would not have hesitated a
moment, if Maximilian Morrel had been named Albert de
Morcerf or Raoul de Chateau-Renaud; but Morrel was of
plebeian extraction, and Valentine knew how the haughty
Marquise de Saint-Meran despised all who were not noble. Her
secret had each time been repressed when she was about to
reveal it, by the sad conviction that it would be useless to
do so; for, were it once discovered by her father and
mother, all would be lost. Two hours passed thus; Madame de
Saint-Meran was in a feverish sleep, and the notary had
arrived. Though his coming was announced in a very low tone,
Madame de Saint-Meran arose from her pillow. "The notary!"
she exclaimed, "let him come in."
The notary, who was at the door, immediately entered. "Go,
Valentine," said Madame de Saint-Meran, "and leave me with
"But, grandmamma" --
"Leave me -- go!" The young girl kissed her grandmother, and
left with her handkerchief to her eyes; at the door she
found the valet de chambre, who told her that the doctor was
waiting in the dining-room. Valentine instantly ran down.
The doctor was a friend of the family, and at the same time
one of the cleverest men of the day, and very fond of
Valentine, whose birth he had witnessed. He had himself a
daughter about her age, but whose life was one continued
source of anxiety and fear to him from her mother having
"Oh," said Valentine, "we have been waiting for you with
such impatience, dear M. d'Avrigny. But, first of all, how
are Madeleine and Antoinette?" Madeleine was the daughter of
M. d'Avrigny, and Antoinette his niece. M. d'Avrigny smiled
sadly. "Antoinette is very well," he said, "and Madeleine
tolerably so. But you sent for me, my dear child. It is not
your father or Madame de Villefort who is ill. As for you,
although we doctors cannot divest our patients of nerves, I
fancy you have no further need of me than to recommend you
not to allow your imagination to take too wide a field."
Valentine colored. M. d'Avrigny carried the science of
divination almost to a miraculous extent, for he was one of
the physicians who always work upon the body through the
mind. "No," she replied, "it is for my poor grandmother. You
know the calamity that has happened to us, do you not?"
"I know nothing." said M. d'Avrigny.
"Alas," said Valentine, restraining her tears, "my
grandfather is dead."
"M. de Saint-Meran?"
"From an apoplectic stroke."
"An apoplectic stroke?" repeated the doctor.
"Yes, and my poor grandmother fancies that her husband, whom
she never left, has called her, and that she must go and
join him. Oh, M. d'Avrigny, I beseech you, do something for
"Where is she?"
"In her room with the notary."
"And M. Noirtier?"
"Just as he was, his mind perfectly clear, but the same
incapability of moving or speaking."
"And the same love for you -- eh, my dear child?"
"Yes," said Valentine, "he was very fond of me."
"Who does not love you?" Valentine smiled sadly. "What are
your grandmother's symptoms?"
"An extreme nervous excitement and a strangely agitated
sleep; she fancied this morning in her sleep that her soul
was hovering above her body, which she at the same time
watched. It must have been delirium; she fancies, too, that
she saw a phantom enter her chamber and even heard the noise
it made on touching her glass."
"It is singular," said the doctor; "I was not aware that
Madame de Saint-Meran was subject to such hallucinations."
"It is the first time I ever saw her in this condition,"
said Valentine; "and this morning she frightened me so that
I thought her mad; and my father, who you know is a
strong-minded man, himself appeared deeply impressed."
"We will go and see," said the doctor; "what you tell me
seems very strange." The notary here descended, and
Valentine was informed that her grandmother was alone. "Go
upstairs," she said to the doctor.
"Oh, I dare not -- she forbade my sending for you; and, as
you say, I am myself agitated, feverish and out of sorts. I
will go and take a turn in the garden to recover myself."
The doctor pressed Valentine's hand, and while he visited
her grandmother, she descended the steps. We need not say
which portion of the garden was her favorite walk. After
remaining for a short time in the parterre surrounding the
house, and gathering a rose to place in her waist or hair,
she turned into the dark avenue which led to the bench; then
from the bench she went to the gate. As usual, Valentine
strolled for a short time among her flowers, but without
gathering them. The mourning in her heart forbade her
assuming this simple ornament, though she had not yet had
time to put on the outward semblance of woe. She then turned
towards the avenue. As she advanced she fancied she heard a
voice speaking her name. She stopped astonished, then the
voice reached her ear more distinctly, and she recognized it
to be that of Maximilian.
It was, indeed, Maximilian Morrel, who had passed a wretched
existence since the previous day. With the instinct peculiar
to lovers he had anticipated after the return of Madame de
Saint-Meran and the death of the marquis, that something
would occur at M. de Villefort's in connection with his
attachment for Valentine. His presentiments were realized,
as we shall see, and his uneasy forebodings had goaded him
pale and trembling to the gate under the chestnut-trees.
Valentine was ignorant of the cause of this sorrow and
anxiety, and as it was not his accustomed hour for visiting
her, she had gone to the spot simply by accident or perhaps
through sympathy. Morrel called her, and she ran to the
gate. "You here at this hour?" said she. "Yes, my poor
girl," replied Morrel; "I come to bring and to hear bad
"This is, indeed, a house of mourning," said Valentine;
"speak, Maximilian, although the cup of sorrow seems already
"Dear Valentine," said Morrel, endeavoring to conceal his
own emotion, "listen, I entreat you; what I am about to say
is very serious. When are you to be married?"
"I will tell you all," said Valentine; "from you I have
nothing to conceal. This morning the subject was introduced,
and my dear grandmother, on whom I depended as my only
support, not only declared herself favorable to it, but is
so anxious for it, that they only await the arrival of M.
d'Epinay, and the following day the contract will be
signed." A deep sigh escaped the young man, who gazed long
and mournfully at her he loved. "Alas," replied he, "it is
dreadful thus to hear my condemnation from your own lips.
The sentence is passed, and, in a few hours, will be
executed; it must be so, and I will not endeavor to prevent
it. But, since you say nothing remains but for M. d'Epinay
to arrive that the contract may be signed, and the following
day you will be his, to-morrow you will be engaged to M.
d'Epinay, for he came this morning to Paris." Valentine
uttered a cry.
"I was at the house of Monte Cristo an hour since," said
Morrel; "we were speaking, he of the sorrow your family had
experienced, and I of your grief, when a carriage rolled
into the court-yard. Never, till then, had I placed any
confidence in presentiments, but now I cannot help believing
them, Valentine. At the sound of that carriage I shuddered;
soon I heard steps on the staircase, which terrified me as
much as the footsteps of the commander did Don Juan. The
door at last opened; Albert de Morcerf entered first, and I
began to hope my fears were vain, when, after him, another
young man advanced, and the count exclaimed -- `Ah, here is
the Baron Franz d'Epinay!' I summoned all my strength and
courage to my support. Perhaps I turned pale and trembled,
but certainly I smiled; and five minutes after I left,
without having heard one word that had passed."
"Poor Maximilian!" murmured Valentine.
"Valentine, the time has arrived when you must answer me.
And remember my life depends on your answer. What do you
intend doing?" Valentine held down her head; she was
"Listen," said Morrel; "it is not the first time you have
contemplated our present position, which is a serious and
urgent one; I do not think it is a moment to give way to
useless sorrow; leave that for those who like to suffer at
their leisure and indulge their grief in secret. There are
such in the world, and God will doubtless reward them in
heaven for their resignation on earth, but those who mean to
contend must not lose one precious moment, but must return
immediately the blow which fortune strikes. Do you intend to
struggle against our ill-fortune? Tell me, Valentine for it
is that I came to know."
Valentine trembled, and looked at him with amazement. The
idea of resisting her father, her grandmother, and all the
family, had never occurred to her. "What do you say,
Maximilian?" asked Valentine. "What do you mean by a
struggle? Oh, it would be a sacrilege. What? I resist my
father's order, and my dying grandmother's wish?
Impossible!" Morrel started. "You are too noble not to
understand me, and you understand me so well that you
already yield, dear Maximilian. No, no; I shall need all my
strength to struggle with myself and support my grief in
secret, as you say. But to grieve my father -- to disturb my
grandmother's last moments -- never!"
"You are right," said Morrel, calmly.
"In what a tone you speak!" cried Valentine.
"I speak as one who admires you, mademoiselle."
"Mademoiselle," cried Valentine; "mademoiselle! Oh, selfish
man, -- he sees me in despair, and pretends he cannot
"You mistake -- I understand you perfectly. You will not
oppose M. Villefort, you will not displease the marchioness,
and to-morrow you will sign the contract which will bind you
to your husband."
"But, mon Dieu, tell me, how can I do otherwise?"
"Do not appeal to me, mademoiselle; I shall be a bad judge
in such a case; my selfishness will blind me," replied
Morrel, whose low voice and clinched hands announced his
"What would you have proposed, Maximilian, had you found me
willing to accede?"
"It is not for me to say."
"You are wrong; you must advise me what to do."
"Do you seriously ask my advice, Valentine?"
"Certainly, dear Maximilian, for if it is good, I will
follow it; you know my devotion to you."
"Valentine," said Morrel pushing aside a loose plank, "give
me your hand in token of forgiveness of my anger; my senses
are confused, and during the last hour the most extravagant
thoughts have passed through my brain. Oh, if you refuse my
"What do you advise?" said Valentine, raising her eyes to
heaven and sighing. "I am free," replied Maximilian, "and
rich enough to support you. I swear to make you my lawful
wife before my lips even shall have approached your
"You make me tremble!" said the young girl.
"Follow me," said Morrel; "I will take you to my sister, who
is worthy also to be yours. We will embark for Algiers, for
England, for America, or, if your prefer it, retire to the
country and only return to Paris when our friends have
reconciled your family." Valentine shook her head. "I feared
it, Maximilian," said she; "it is the counsel of a madman,
and I should be more mad than you, did I not stop you at
once with the word `Impossible, impossible!'"
"You will then submit to what fate decrees for you without
even attempting to contend with it?" said Morrel
sorrowfully. "Yes, -- if I die!"
"Well, Valentine," resumed Maximilian, "I can only say again
that you are right. Truly, it is I who am mad, and you prove
to me that passion blinds the most well-meaning. I
appreciate your calm reasoning. It is then understood that
to-morrow you will be irrevocably promised to M. Franz
d'Epinay, not only by that theatrical formality invented to
heighten the effect of a comedy called the signature of the
contract, but your own will?"
"Again you drive me to despair, Maximilian," said Valentine,
"again you plunge the dagger into the wound! What would you
do, tell me, if your sister listened to such a proposition?"
"Mademoiselle," replied Morrel with a bitter smile, "I am
selfish -- you have already said so -- and as a selfish man
I think not of what others would do in my situation, but of
what I intend doing myself. I think only that I have known
you not a whole year. From the day I first saw you, all my
hopes of happiness have been in securing your affection. One
day you acknowledged that you loved me, and since that day
my hope of future happiness has rested on obtaining you, for
to gain you would be life to me. Now, I think no more; I say
only that fortune has turned against me -- I had thought to
gain heaven, and now I have lost it. It is an every-day
occurrence for a gambler to lose not only what he possesses
but also what he has not." Morrel pronounced these words
with perfect calmness; Valentine looked at him a moment with
her large, scrutinizing eyes, endeavoring not to let Morrel
discover the grief which struggled in her heart. "But, in a
word, what are you going to do?" asked she.
"I am going to have the honor of taking my leave of you,
mademoiselle, solemnly assuring you that I wish your life
may be so calm, so happy, and so fully occupied, that there
may be no place for me even in your memory."
"Oh!" murmured Valentine.
"Adieu, Valentine, adieu!" said Morrel, bowing.
"Where are you going?" cried the young girl, extending her
hand through the opening, and seizing Maximilian by his
coat, for she understood from her own agitated feelings that
her lover's calmness could not be real; "where are you
"I am going, that I may not bring fresh trouble into your
family: and to set an example which every honest and devoted
man, situated as I am, may follow."
"Before you leave me, tell me what you are going to do,
Maximilian." The young man smiled sorrowfully. "Speak,
speak!" said Valentine; "I entreat you."
"Has your resolution changed, Valentine?"
"It cannot change, unhappy man; you know it must not!" cried
the young girl. "Then adieu, Valentine!" Valentine shook the
gate with a strength of which she could not have been
supposed to be possessed, as Morrel was going away, and