Part 25 out of 31
"Florentin here!" cried he, starting up; "is my mother ill?"
And he hastened to the door. Monte Cristo watched and saw
him approach the valet, who drew a small sealed parcel from
his pocket, containing a newspaper and a letter. "From whom
is this?" said he eagerly. "From M. Beauchamp," replied
"Did he send you?"
"Yes, sir; he sent for me to his house, gave me money for my
journey, procured a horse, and made me promise not to stop
till I had reached you, I have come in fifteen hours."
Albert opened the letter with fear, uttered a shriek on
reading the first line, and seized the paper. His sight was
dimmed, his legs sank under him, and he would have fallen
had not Florentin supported him.
"Poor young man," said Monte Cristo in a low voice; "it is
then true that the sin of the father shall fall on the
children to the third and fourth generation." Meanwhile
Albert had revived, and, continuing to read, he threw back
his head, saying, "Florentin, is your horse fit to return
"It is a poor lame post-horse."
"In what state was the house when you left?"
"All was quiet, but on returning from M. Beauchamp's, I
found madame in tears: she had sent for me to know when you
would return. I told her my orders from M. Beauchamp; she
first extended her arms to prevent me, but after a moment's
reflection, `Yes, go, Florentin,' said she, `and may he come
"Yes, my mother," said Albert, "I will return, and woe to
the infamous wretch! But first of all I must get there."
He went back to the room where he had left Monte Cristo.
Five minutes had sufficed to make a complete transformation
in his appearance. His voice had become rough and hoarse;
his face was furrowed with wrinkles; his eyes burned under
the blue-veined lids, and he tottered like a drunken man.
"Count," said he, "I thank you for your hospitality, which I
would gladly have enjoyed longer; but I must return to
"What has happened?"
"A great misfortune, more important to me than life. Don't
question me, I beg of you, but lend me a horse."
"My stables are at your command, viscount; but you will kill
yourself by riding on horseback. Take a post-chaise or a
"No, it would delay me, and I need the fatigue you warn me
of; it will do me good." Albert reeled as if he had been
shot, and fell on a chair near the door. Monte Cristo did
not see this second manifestation of physical exhaustion; he
was at the window, calling, "Ali, a horse for M. de Morcerf
-- quick! he is in a hurry!" These words restored Albert; he
darted from the room, followed by the count. "Thank you!"
cried he, throwing himself on his horse. "Return as soon as
you can, Florentin. Must I use any password to procure a
"Only dismount; another will be immediately saddled." Albert
hesitated a moment. "You may think my departure strange and
foolish," said the young man; "you do not know how a
paragraph in a newspaper may exasperate one. Read that,"
said he, "when I am gone, that you may not be witness of my
While the count picked up the paper he put spurs to his
horse, which leaped in astonishment at such an unusual
stimulus, and shot away with the rapidity of an arrow. The
count watched him with a feeling of compassion, and when he
had completely disappeared, read as follows: --
"The French officer in the service of Ali Pasha of Yanina
alluded to three weeks since in the Impartial, who not only
surrendered the castle of Yanina, but sold his benefactor to
the Turks, styled himself truly at that time Fernand, as our
esteemed contemporary states; but he has since added to his
Christian name a title of nobility and a family name. He now
calls himself the Count of Morcerf, and ranks among the
Thus the terrible secret, which Beauchamp had so generously
destroyed, appeared again like an armed phantom; and another
paper, deriving its information from some malicious source,
had published two days after Albert's departure for Normandy
the few lines which had rendered the unfortunate young man
At eight o'clock in the morning Albert had arrived at
Beauchamp's door. The valet de chambre had received orders
to usher him in at once. Beauchamp was in his bath. "Here I
am," said Albert.
"Well, my poor friend," replied Beauchamp, "I expected you."
"I need not say I think you are too faithful and too kind to
have spoken of that painful circumstance. Your having sent
for me is another proof of your affection. So, without
losing time, tell me, have you the slightest idea whence
this terrible blow proceeds?"
"I think I have some clew."
"But first tell me all the particulars of this shameful
plot." Beauchamp proceeded to relate to the young man, who
was overwhelmed with shame and grief, the following facts.
Two days previously, the article had appeared in another
paper besides the Impartial, and, what was more serious, one
that was well known as a government paper. Beauchamp was
breakfasting when he read the paragraph. He sent immediately
for a cabriolet, and hastened to the publisher's office.
Although professing diametrically opposite principles from
those of the editor of the other paper, Beauchamp -- as it
sometimes, we may say often, happens -- was his intimate
friend. The editor was reading, with apparent delight, a
leading article in the same paper on beet-sugar, probably a
composition of his own.
"Ah, pardieu," said Beauchamp, "with the paper in your hand,
my friend, I need not tell you the cause of my visit."
"Are you interested in the sugar question?" asked the editor
of the ministerial paper.
"No," replied Beauchamp, "I have not considered the
question; a totally different subject interests me."
"What is it?"
"The article relative to Morcerf."
"Indeed? Is it not a curious affair?"
"So curious, that I think you are running a great risk of a
prosecution for defamation of character."
"Not at all; we have received with the information all the
requisite proofs, and we are quite sure M. de Morcerf will
not raise his voice against us; besides, it is rendering a
service to one's country to denounce these wretched
criminals who are unworthy of the honor bestowed on them."
Beauchamp was thunderstruck. "Who, then, has so correctly
informed you?" asked he; "for my paper, which gave the first
information on the subject, has been obliged to stop for
want of proof; and yet we are more interested than you in
exposing M. de Morcerf, as he is a peer of France, and we
are of the opposition."
"Oh, that is very simple; we have not sought to scandalize.
This news was brought to us. A man arrived yesterday from
Yanina, bringing a formidable array of documents; and when
we hesitated to publish the accusatory article, he told us
it should be inserted in some other paper."
Beauchamp understood that nothing remained but to submit,
and left the office to despatch a courier to Morcerf. But he
had been unable to send to Albert the following particulars,
as the events had transpired after the messenger's
departure; namely, that the same day a great agitation was
manifest in the House of Peers among the usually calm
members of that dignified assembly. Every one had arrived
almost before the usual hour, and was conversing on the
melancholy event which was to attract the attention of the
public towards one of their most illustrious colleagues.
Some were perusing the article, others making comments and
recalling circumstances which substantiated the charges
still more. The Count of Morcerf was no favorite with his
colleagues. Like all upstarts, he had had recourse to a
great deal of haughtiness to maintain his position. The true
nobility laughed at him, the talented repelled him, and the
honorable instinctively despised him. He was, in fact, in
the unhappy position of the victim marked for sacrifice; the
finger of God once pointed at him, every one was prepared to
raise the hue and cry.
The Count of Morcerf alone was ignorant of the news. He did
not take in the paper containing the defamatory article, and
had passed the morning in writing letters and in trying a
horse. He arrived at his usual hour, with a proud look and
insolent demeanor; he alighted, passed through the
corridors, and entered the house without observing the
hesitation of the door-keepers or the coolness of his
colleagues. Business had already been going on for half an
hour when he entered. Every one held the accusing paper,
but, as usual, no one liked to take upon himself the
responsibility of the attack. At length an honorable peer,
Morcerf's acknowledged enemy, ascended the tribune with that
solemnity which announced that the expected moment had
arrived. There was an impressive silence; Morcerf alone knew
not why such profound attention was given to an orator who
was not always listened to with so much complacency. The
count did not notice the introduction, in which the speaker
announced that his communication would be of that vital
importance that it demanded the undivided attention of the
House; but at the mention of Yanina and Colonel Fernand, he
turned so frightfully pale that every member shuddered and
fixed his eyes upon him. Moral wounds have this peculiarity,
-- they may be hidden, but they never close; always painful,
always ready to bleed when touched, they remain fresh and
open in the heart.
The article having been read during the painful hush that
followed, a universal shudder pervaded the assembly, and
immediately the closest attention was given to the orator as
he resumed his remarks. He stated his scruples and the
difficulties of the case; it was the honor of M. de Morcerf,
and that of the whole House, he proposed to defend, by
provoking a debate on personal questions, which are always
such painful themes of discussion. He concluded by calling
for an investigation, which might dispose of the calumnious
report before it had time to spread, and restore M. de
Morcerf to the position he had long held in public opinion.
Morcerf was so completely overwhelmed by this great and
unexpected calamity that he could scarcely stammer a few
words as he looked around on the assembly. This timidity,
which might proceed from the astonishment of innocence as
well as the shame of guilt, conciliated some in his favor;
for men who are truly generous are always ready to
compassionate when the misfortune of their enemy surpasses
the limits of their hatred.
The president put it to the vote, and it was decided that
the investigation should take place. The count was asked
what time he required to prepare his defence. Morcerf's
courage had revived when he found himself alive after this
horrible blow. "My lords," answered he, "it is not by time I
could repel the attack made on me by enemies unknown to me,
and, doubtless, hidden in obscurity; it is immediately, and
by a thunderbolt, that I must repel the flash of lightning
which, for a moment, startled me. Oh, that I could, instead
of taking up this defence, shed my last drop of blood to
prove to my noble colleagues that I am their equal in
worth." These words made a favorable impression on behalf of
the accused. "I demand, then, that the examination shall
take place as soon as possible, and I will furnish the house
with all necessary information."
"What day do you fix?" asked the president.
"To-day I am at your service," replied the count. The
president rang the bell. "Does the House approve that the
examination should take place to-day?"
"Yes," was the unanimous answer.
A committee of twelve members was chosen to examine the
proofs brought forward by Morcerf. The investigation would
begin at eight o'clock that evening in the committee-room,
and if postponement were necessary, the proceedings would be
resumed each evening at the same hour. Morcerf asked leave
to retire; he had to collect the documents he had long been
preparing against this storm, which his sagacity had
Albert listened, trembling now with hope, then with anger,
and then again with shame, for from Beauchamp's confidence
he knew his father was guilty, and he asked himself how,
since he was guilty, he could prove his innocence. Beauchamp
hesitated to continue his narrative. "What next?" asked
"What next? My friend, you impose a painful task on me. Must
you know all?"
"Absolutely; and rather from your lips than another's."
"Muster up all your courage, then, for never have you
required it more." Albert passed his hand over his forehead,
as if to try his strength, as a man who is preparing to
defend his life proves his shield and bends his sword. He
thought himself strong enough, for he mistook fever for
energy. "Go on," said he.
"The evening arrived; all Paris was in expectation. Many
said your father had only to show himself to crush the
charge against him; many others said he would not appear;
while some asserted that they had seen him start for
Brussels; and others went to the police-office to inquire if
he had taken out a passport. I used all my influence with
one of the committee, a young peer of my acquaintance, to
get admission to one of the galleries. He called for me at
seven o'clock, and, before any one had arrived, asked one of
the door-keepers to place me in a box. I was concealed by a
column, and might witness the whole of the terrible scene
which was about to take place. At eight o'clock all were in
their places, and M. de Morcerf entered at the last stroke.
He held some papers in his hand; his countenance was calm,
and his step firm, and he was dressed with great care in his
military uniform, which was buttoned completely up to the
chin. His presence produced a good effect. The committee was
made up of Liberals, several of whom came forward to shake
hands with him."
Albert felt his heart bursting at these particulars, but
gratitude mingled with his sorrow: he would gladly have
embraced those who had given his father this proof of esteem
at a moment when his honor was so powerfully attacked. "At
this moment one of the door-keepers brought in a letter for
the president. `You are at liberty to speak, M. de Morcerf,'
said the president, as he unsealed the letter; and the count
began his defence, I assure you, Albert, in a most eloquent
and skilful manner. He produced documents proving that the
Vizier of Yanina had up to the last moment honored him with
his entire confidence, since he had interested him with a
negotiation of life and death with the emperor. He produced
the ring, his mark of authority, with which Ali Pasha
generally sealed his letters, and which the latter had given
him, that he might, on his return at any hour of the day or
night, gain access to the presence, even in the harem.
Unfortunately, the negotiation failed, and when he returned
to defend his benefactor, he was dead. `But,' said the
count, `so great was Ali Pasha's confidence, that on his
death-bed he resigned his favorite mistress and her daughter
to my care.'" Albert started on hearing these words; the
history of Haidee recurred to him, and he remembered what
she had said of that message and the ring, and the manner in
which she had been sold and made a slave. "And what effect
did this discourse produce?" anxiously inquired Albert. "I
acknowledge it affected me, and, indeed, all the committee
also," said Beauchamp.
"Meanwhile, the president carelessly opened the letter which
had been brought to him; but the first lines aroused his
attention; he read them again and again, and fixing his eyes
on M. de Morcerf, `Count,' said he, `you have said that the
Vizier of Yanina confided his wife and daughter to your
care?' -- `Yes, sir,' replied Morcerf; `but in that, like
all the rest, misfortune pursued me. On my return, Vasiliki
and her daughter Haidee had disappeared.' -- `Did you know
them?' -- `My intimacy with the pasha and his unlimited
confidence had gained me an introduction to them, and I had
seen them above twenty times.'
"`Have you any idea what became of them?' -- `Yes, sir; I
heard they had fallen victims to their sorrow, and, perhaps,
to their poverty. I was not rich; my life was in constant
danger; I could not seek them, to my great regret.' The
president frowned imperceptibly. `Gentlemen,' said he, `you
have heard the Comte de Morcerf's defence. Can you, sir,
produce any witnesses to the truth of what you have
asserted?' -- `Alas, no, monsieur,' replied the count; `all
those who surrounded the vizier, or who knew me at his
court, are either dead or gone away, I know not where. I
believe that I alone, of all my countrymen, survived that
dreadful war. I have only the letters of Ali Tepelini, which
I have placed before you; the ring, a token of his
good-will, which is here; and, lastly, the most convincing
proof I can offer, after an anonymous attack, and that is
the absence of any witness against my veracity and the
purity of my military life.' A murmur of approbation ran
through the assembly; and at this moment, Albert, had
nothing more transpired, your father's cause had been
gained. It only remained to put it to the vote, when the
president resumed: `Gentlemen and you, monsieur, -- you will
not be displeased, I presume, to listen to one who calls
himself a very important witness, and who has just presented
himself. He is, doubtless, come to prove the perfect
innocence of our colleague. Here is a letter I have just
received on the subject; shall it be read, or shall it be
passed over? and shall we take no notice of this incident?'
M. de Morcerf turned pale, and clinched his hands on the
papers he held. The committee decided to hear the letter;
the count was thoughtful and silent. The president read: --
"`Mr. President, -- I can furnish the committee of inquiry
into the conduct of the Lieutenant-General the Count of
Morcerf in Epirus and in Macedonia with important
"The president paused, and the count turned pale. The
president looked at his auditors. `Proceed,' was heard on
all sides. The president resumed: --
"`I was on the spot at the death of Ali Pasha. I was present
during his last moments. I know what is become of Vasiliki
and Haidee. I am at the command of the committee, and even
claim the honor of being heard. I shall be in the lobby when
this note is delivered to you.'
"`And who is this witness, or rather this enemy?' asked the
count, in a tone in which there was a visible alteration.
`We shall know, sir,' replied the president. `Is the
committee willing to hear this witness?' -- `Yes, yes,' they
all said at once. The door-keeper was called. `Is there any
one in the lobby?' said the president.
"`Yes, sir.' -- `Who is it?' -- `A woman, accompanied by a
servant.' Every one looked at his neighbor. `Bring her in,'
said the president. Five minutes after the door-keeper again
appeared; all eyes were fixed on the door, and I," said
Beauchamp, "shared the general expectation and anxiety.
Behind the door-keeper walked a woman enveloped in a large
veil, which completely concealed her. It was evident, from
her figure and the perfumes she had about her, that she was
young and fastidious in her tastes, but that was all. The
president requested her to throw aside her veil, and it was
then seen that she was dressed in the Grecian costume, and
was remarkably beautiful."
"Ah," said Albert, "it was she."
"Who told you that?"
"Alas, I guess it. But go on, Beauchamp. You see I am calm
and strong. And yet we must be drawing near the disclosure."
"M. de Morcerf," continued Beauchamp, "looked at this woman
with surprise and terror. Her lips were about to pass his
sentence of life or death. To the committee the adventure
was so extraordinary and curious, that the interest they had
felt for the count's safety became now quite a secondary
matter. The president himself advanced to place a seat for
the young lady; but she declined availing herself of it. As
for the count, he had fallen on his chair; it was evident
that his legs refused to support him.
"`Madame,' said the president, `you have engaged to furnish
the committee with some important particulars respecting the
affair at Yanina, and you have stated that you were an
eyewitness of the event.' -- `I was, indeed,' said the
stranger, with a tone of sweet melancholy, and with the
sonorous voice peculiar to the East.
"`But allow me to say that you must have been very young
then.' -- `I was four years old; but as those events deeply
concerned me, not a single detail has escaped my memory.' --
`In what manner could these events concern you? and who are
you, that they should have made so deep an impression on
you?' -- `On them depended my father's life,' replied she.
`I am Haidee, the daughter of Ali Tepelini, pasha of Yanina,
and of Vasiliki, his beloved wife.'
"The blush of mingled pride and modesty which suddenly
suffused the cheeks of the young woman, the brilliancy of
her eye, and her highly important communication, produced an
indescribable effect on the assembly. As for the count, he
could not have been more overwhelmed if a thunderbolt had
fallen at his feet and opened an immense gulf before him.
`Madame,' replied the president, bowing with profound
respect, `allow me to ask one question; it shall be the
last: Can you prove the authenticity of what you have now
stated?' -- `I can, sir,' said Haidee, drawing from under
her veil a satin satchel highly perfumed; `for here is the
register of my birth, signed by my father and his principal
officers, and that of my baptism, my father having consented
to my being brought up in my mother's faith, -- this latter
has been sealed by the grand primate of Macedonia and
Epirus; and lastly (and perhaps the most important), the
record of the sale of my person and that of my mother to the
Armenian merchant El-Kobbir, by the French officer, who, in
his infamous bargain with the Porte, had reserved as his
part of the booty the wife and daughter of his benefactor,
whom he sold for the sum of four hundred thousand francs.' A
greenish pallor spread over the count's cheeks, and his eyes
became bloodshot at these terrible imputations, which were
listened to by the assembly with ominous silence.
"Haidee, still calm, but with a calmness more dreadful than
the anger of another would have been, handed to the
president the record of her sale, written in Arabic. It had
been supposed some of the papers might be in the Arabian,
Romaic, or Turkish language, and the interpreter of the
House was in attendance. One of the noble peers, who was
familiar with the Arabic language, having studied it during
the famous Egyptian campaign, followed with his eye as the
translator read aloud: --
"`I, El-Kobbir, a slave-merchant, and purveyor of the harem
of his highness, acknowledge having received for
transmission to the sublime emperor, from the French lord,
the Count of Monte Cristo, an emerald valued at eight
hundred thousand francs; as the ransom of a young Christian
slave of eleven years of age, named Haidee, the acknowledged
daughter of the late lord Ali Tepelini, pasha of Yanina, and
of Vasiliki, his favorite; she having been sold to me seven
years previously, with her mother, who had died on arriving
at Constantinople, by a French colonel in the service of the
Vizier Ali Tepelini, named Fernand Mondego. The
above-mentioned purchase was made on his highness's account,
whose mandate I had, for the sum of four hundred thousand
"`Given at Constantinople, by authority of his highness, in
the year 1247 of the Hegira.
"`That this record should have all due authority, it shall
bear the imperial seal, which the vendor is bound to have
affixed to it.'
"Near the merchant's signature there was, indeed, the seal
of the sublime emperor. A dreadful silence followed the
reading of this document; the count could only stare, and
his gaze, fixed as if unconsciously on Haidee, seemed one of
fire and blood. `Madame,' said the president, `may reference
be made to the Count of Monte Cristo, who is now, I believe,
in Paris?' -- `Sir,' replied Haidee, `the Count of Monte
Cristo, my foster-father, has been in Normandy the last
"`Who, then, has counselled you to take this step, one for
which the court is deeply indebted to you, and which is
perfectly natural, considering your birth and your
misfortunes?' -- `Sir,' replied Haidee, `I have been led to
take this step from a feeling of respect and grief. Although
a Christian, may God forgive me, I have always sought to
revenge my illustrious father. Since I set my foot in
France, and knew the traitor lived in Paris, I have watched
carefully. I live retired in the house of my noble
protector, but I do it from choice. I love retirement and
silence, because I can live with my thoughts and
recollections of past days. But the Count of Monte Cristo
surrounds me with every paternal care, and I am ignorant of
nothing which passes in the world. I learn all in the
silence of my apartments, -- for instance, I see all the
newspapers, every periodical, as well as every new piece of
music; and by thus watching the course of the life of
others, I learned what had transpired this morning in the
House of Peers, and what was to take place this evening;
then I wrote.'
"`Then,' remarked the president, `the Count of Monte Cristo
knows nothing of your present proceedings?' -- `He is quite
unaware of them, and I have but one fear, which is that he
should disapprove of what I have done. But it is a glorious
day for me,' continued the young girl, raising her ardent
gaze to heaven, `that on which I find at last an opportunity
of avenging my father!'
"The count had not uttered one word the whole of this time.
His colleagues looked at him, and doubtless pitied his
prospects, blighted under the perfumed breath of a woman.
His misery was depicted in sinister lines on his
countenance. `M. de Morcerf,' said the president, `do you
recognize this lady as the daughter of Ali Tepelini, pasha
of Yanina?' -- `No,' said Morcerf, attempting to rise, `it
is a base plot, contrived by my enemies.' Haidee, whose eyes
had been fixed on the door, as if expecting some one, turned
hastily, and, seeing the count standing, shrieked, `You do
not know me?' said she. `Well, I fortunately recognize you!
You are Fernand Mondego, the French officer who led the
troops of my noble father! It is you who surrendered the
castle of Yanina! It is you who, sent by him to
Constantinople, to treat with the emperor for the life or
death of your benefactor, brought back a false mandate
granting full pardon! It is you who, with that mandate,
obtained the pasha's ring, which gave you authority over
Selim, the fire-keeper! It is you who stabbed Selim. It is
you who sold us, my mother and me, to the merchant,
El-Kobbir! Assassin, assassin, assassin, you have still on
your brow your master's blood! Look, gentlemen, all!'
"These words had been pronounced with such enthusiasm and
evident truth, that every eye was fixed on the count's
forehead, and he himself passed his hand across it, as if he
felt Ali's blood still lingering there. `You positively
recognize M. de Morcerf as the officer, Fernand Mondego?' --
`Indeed I do!' cried Haidee. `Oh, my mother, it was you who
said, "You were free, you had a beloved father, you were
destined to be almost a queen. Look well at that man; it is
he who raised your father's head on the point of a spear; it
is he who sold us; it is he who forsook us! Look well at his
right hand, on which he has a large wound; if you forgot his
features, you would know him by that hand, into which fell,
one by one, the gold pieces of the merchant El-Kobbir!" I
know him! Ah, let him say now if he does not recognize me!'
Each word fell like a dagger on Morcerf, and deprived him of
a portion of his energy; as she uttered the last, he hid his
mutilated hand hastily in his bosom, and fell back on his
seat, overwhelmed by wretchedness and despair. This scene
completely changed the opinion of the assembly respecting
the accused count.
"`Count of Morcerf,' said the president, `do not allow
yourself to be cast down; answer. The justice of the court
is supreme and impartial as that of God; it will not suffer
you to be trampled on by your enemies without giving you an
opportunity of defending yourself. Shall further inquiries
be made? Shall two members of the House be sent to Yanina?
Speak!' Morcerf did not reply. Then all the members looked
at each other with terror. They knew the count's energetic
and violent temper; it must be, indeed, a dreadful blow
which would deprive him of courage to defend himself. They
expected that his stupefied silence would be followed by a
fiery outburst. `Well,' asked the president, `what is your
"`I have no reply to make,' said the count in a low tone.
"`Has the daughter of Ali Tepelini spoken the truth?' said
the president. `Is she, then, the terrible witness to whose
charge you dare not plead "Not guilty"? Have you really
committed the crimes of which you are accused?' The count
looked around him with an expression which might have
softened tigers, but which could not disarm his judges. Then
he raised his eyes towards the ceiling, but withdrew then,
immediately, as if he feared the roof would open and reveal
to his distressed view that second tribunal called heaven,
and that other judge named God. Then, with a hasty movement,
he tore open his coat, which seemed to stifle him, and flew
from the room like a madman; his footstep was heard one
moment in the corridor, then the rattling of his
carriage-wheels as he was driven rapidly away. `Gentlemen,'
said the president, when silence was restored, `is the Count
of Morcerf convicted of felony, treason, and conduct
unbecoming a member of this House?' -- `Yes,' replied all
the members of the committee of inquiry with a unanimous
"Haidee had remained until the close of the meeting. She
heard the count's sentence pronounced without betraying an
expression of joy or pity; then drawing her veil over her
face she bowed majestically to the councillors, and left
with that dignified step which Virgil attributes to his
"Then," continued Beauchamp, "I took advantage of the
silence and the darkness to leave the house without being
seen. The usher who had introduced me was waiting for me at
the door, and he conducted me through the corridors to a
private entrance opening into the Rue de Vaugirard. I left
with mingled feelings of sorrow and delight. Excuse me,
Albert, -- sorrow on your account, and delight with that
noble girl, thus pursuing paternal vengeance. Yes, Albert,
from whatever source the blow may have proceeded -- it may
be from an enemy, but that enemy is only the agent of
providence." Albert held his head between his hands; he
raised his face, red with shame and bathed in tears, and
seizing Beauchamp's arm, "My friend," said he, "my life is
ended. I cannot calmly say with you, `Providence has struck
the blow;' but I must discover who pursues me with this
hatred, and when I have found him I shall kill him, or he
will kill me. I rely on your friendship to assist me,
Beauchamp, if contempt has not banished it from your heart."
"Contempt, my friend? How does this misfortune affect you?
No, happily that unjust prejudice is forgotten which made
the son responsible for the father's actions. Review your
life, Albert; although it is only just beginning, did a
lovely summer's day ever dawn with greater purity than has
marked the commencement of your career? No, Albert, take my
advice. You are young and rich -- leave Paris -- all is soon
forgotten in this great Babylon of excitement and changing
tastes. You will return after three or four years with a
Russian princess for a bride, and no one will think more of
what occurred yesterday than if it had happened sixteen
"Thank you, my dear Beauchamp, thank you for the excellent
feeling which prompts your advice; but it cannot be. I have
told you my wish, or rather my determination. You understand
that, interested as I am in this affair, I cannot see it in
the same light as you do. What appears to you to emanate
from a celestial source, seems to me to proceed from one far
less pure. Providence appears to me to have no share in this
affair; and happily so, for instead of the invisible,
impalpable agent of celestial rewards and punishments, I
shall find one both palpable and visible, on whom I shall
revenge myself, I assure you, for all I have suffered during
the last month. Now, I repeat, Beauchamp, I wish to return
to human and material existence, and if you are still the
friend you profess to be, help me to discover the hand that
struck the blow."
"Be it so," said Beauchamp; "if you must have me descend to
earth, I submit; and if you will seek your enemy, I will
assist you, and I will engage to find him, my honor being
almost as deeply interested as yours."
"Well, then, you understand, Beauchamp, that we begin our
search immediately. Each moment's delay is an eternity for
me. The calumniator is not yet punished, and he may hope
that he will not be; but, on my honor, it he thinks so, he
"Well, listen, Morcerf."
"Ah, Beauchamp, I see you know something already; you will
restore me to life."
"I do not say there is any truth in what I am going to tell
you, but it is, at least, a ray of light in a dark night; by
following it we may, perhaps, discover something more
"Tell me; satisfy my impatience."
"Well, I will tell you what I did not like to mention on my
return from Yanina."
"I went, of course, to the chief banker of the town to make
inquiries. At the first word, before I had even mentioned
your father's name" --
"`Ah,' said he. `I guess what brings you here.'
"`How, and why?'
"`Because a fortnight since I was questioned on the same
"`By whom?' -- `By a Paris banker, my correspondent.'
"`Whose name is' --
"He!" cried Albert; "yes, it is indeed he who has so long
pursued my father with jealous hatred. He, the man who would
be popular, cannot forgive the Count of Morcerf for being
created a peer; and this marriage broken off without a
reason being assigned -- yes, it is all from the same
"Make inquiries, Albert, but do not be angry without reason;
make inquiries, and if it be true" --
"Oh, yes, if it be true," cried the young man, "he shall pay
me all I have suffered."
"Beware, Morcerf, he is already an old man."
"I will respect his age as he has respected the honor of my
family; if my father had offended him, why did he not attack
him personally? Oh, no, he was afraid to encounter him face
"I do not condemn you, Albert; I only restrain you. Act
"Oh, do not fear; besides, you will accompany me. Beauchamp,
solemn transactions should be sanctioned by a witness.
Before this day closes, if M. Danglars is guilty, he shall
cease to live, or I shall die. Pardieu, Beauchamp, mine
shall be a splendid funeral!"
"When such resolutions are made, Albert, they should be
promptly executed. Do you wish to go to M. Danglars? Let us
go immediately." They sent for a cabriolet. On entering the
banker's mansion, they perceived the phaeton and servant of
M. Andrea Cavalcanti. "Ah, parbleu, that's good," said
Albert, with a gloomy tone. "If M. Danglars will not fight
with me, I will kill his son-in-law; Cavalcanti will
certainly fight." The servant announced the young man; but
the banker, recollecting what had transpired the day before,
did not wish him admitted. It was, however, too late; Albert
had followed the footman, and, hearing the order given,
forced the door open, and followed by Beauchamp found
himself in the banker's study. "Sir," cried the latter, "am
I no longer at liberty to receive whom I choose in my house?
You appear to forget yourself sadly."
"No, sir," said Albert, coldly; "there are circumstances in
which one cannot, except through cowardice, -- I offer you
that refuge, -- refuse to admit certain persons at least."
"What is your errand, then, with me, sir?"
"I mean," said Albert, drawing near, and without apparently
noticing Cavalcanti, who stood with his back towards the
fireplace -- "I mean to propose a meeting in some retired
corner where no one will interrupt us for ten minutes; that
will be sufficient -- where two men having met, one of them
will remain on the ground." Danglars turned pale; Cavalcanti
moved a step forward, and Albert turned towards him. "And
you, too," said he, "come, if you like, monsieur; you have a
claim, being almost one of the family, and I will give as
many rendezvous of that kind as I can find persons willing
to accept them." Cavalcanti looked at Danglars with a
stupefied air, and the latter, making an effort, arose and
stepped between the two young men. Albert's attack on Andrea
had placed him on a different footing, and he hoped this
visit had another cause than that he had at first supposed.
"Indeed, sir," said he to Albert, "if you are come to
quarrel with this gentleman because I have preferred him to
you, I shall resign the case to the king's attorney."
"You mistake, sir," said Morcerf with a gloomy smile; "I am
not referring in the least to matrimony, and I only
addressed myself to M. Cavalcanti because he appeared
disposed to interfere between us. In one respect you are
right, for I am ready to quarrel with every one to-day; but
you have the first claim, M. Danglars."
"Sir," replied Danglars, pale with anger and fear, "I warn
you, when I have the misfortune to meet with a mad dog, I
kill it; and far from thinking myself guilty of a crime, I
believe I do society a kindness. Now, if you are mad and try
to bite me, I will kill you without pity. Is it my fault
that your father has dishonored himself?"
"Yes, miserable wretch!" cried Morcerf, "it is your fault."
Danglars retreated a few steps. "My fault?" said he; "you
must be mad! What do I know of the Grecian affair? Have I
travelled in that country? Did I advise your father to sell
the castle of Yanina -- to betray" --
"Silence!" said Albert, with a thundering voice. "No; it is
not you who have directly made this exposure and brought
this sorrow on us, but you hypocritically provoked it."
"Yes; you! How came it known?"
"I suppose you read it in the paper in the account from
"Who wrote to Yanina?"
"Yes. Who wrote for particulars concerning my father?"
"I imagine any one may write to Yanina."
"But one person only wrote!"
"Yes; and that was you!"
"I, doubtless, wrote. It appears to me that when about to
marry your daughter to a young man, it is right to make some
inquiries respecting his family; it is not only a right, but
"You wrote, sir, knowing what answer you would receive."
"I, indeed? I assure you," cried Danglars, with a confidence
and security proceeding less from fear than from the
interest he really felt for the young man, "I solemnly
declare to you, that I should never have thought of writing
to Yanina, did I know anything of Ali Pasha's misfortunes."
"Who, then, urged you to write? Tell me."
"Pardieu, it was the most simple thing in the world. I was
speaking of your father's past history. I said the origin of
his fortune remained obscure. The person to whom I addressed
my scruples asked me where your father had acquired his
property? I answered, `In Greece.' -- `Then,' said he,
`write to Yanina.'"
"And who thus advised you?"
"No other than your friend, Monte Cristo."
"The Count of Monte Cristo told you to write to Yanina?"
"Yes; and I wrote, and will show you my correspondence, if
you like." Albert and Beauchamp looked at each other. "Sir,"
said Beauchamp, who had not yet spoken, "you appear to
accuse the count, who is absent from Paris at this moment,
and cannot justify himself."
"I accuse no one, sir," said Danglars; "I relate, and I will
repeat before the count what I have said to you."
"Does the count know what answer you received?"
"Yes; I showed it to him."
"Did he know my father's Christian name was Fernand, and his
family name Mondego?"
"Yes, I had told him that long since, and I did only what
any other would have done in my circumstances, and perhaps
less. When, the day after the arrival of this answer, your
father came by the advice of Monte Cristo to ask my
daughter's hand for you, I decidedly refused him, but
without any explanation or exposure. In short, why should I
have any more to do with the affair? How did the honor or
disgrace of M. de Morcerf affect me? It neither increased
nor decreased my income."
Albert felt the blood mounting to his brow; there was no
doubt upon the subject. Danglars defended himself with the
baseness, but at the same time with the assurance, of a man
who speaks the truth, at least in part, if not wholly -- not
for conscience' sake, but through fear. Besides, what was
Morcerf seeking? It was not whether Danglars or Monte Cristo
was more or less guilty; it was a man who would answer for
the offence, whether trifling or serious; it was a man who
would fight, and it was evident Danglars would not fight.
And, in addition to this, everything forgotten or
unperceived before presented itself now to his recollection.
Monte Cristo knew everything, as he had bought the daughter
of Ali Pasha; and, knowing everything, he had advised
Danglars to write to Yanina. The answer known, he had
yielded to Albert's wish to be introduced to Haidee, and
allowed the conversation to turn on the death of Ali, and
had not opposed Haidee's recital (but having, doubtless,
warned the young girl, in the few Romaic words he spoke to
her, not to implicate Morcerf's father). Besides, had he not
begged of Morcerf not to mention his father's name before
Haidee? Lastly, he had taken Albert to Normandy when he knew
the final blow was near. There could be no doubt that all
had been calculated and previously arranged; Monte Cristo
then was in league with his father's enemies. Albert took
Beauchamp aside, and communicated these ideas to him.
"You are right," said the latter; "M. Danglars has only been
a secondary agent in this sad affair, and it is of M. de
Monte Cristo that you must demand an explanation." Albert
turned. "Sir," said he to Danglars, "understand that I do
not take a final leave of you; I must ascertain if your
insinuations are just, and am going now to inquire of the
Count of Monte Cristo." He bowed to the banker, and went out
with Beauchamp, without appearing to notice Cavalcanti.
Danglars accompanied him to the door, where he again assured
Albert that no motive of personal hatred had influenced him
against the Count of Morcerf.
At the banker's door Beauchamp stopped Morcerf. "Listen,"
said he; "just now I told you it was of M. de Monte Cristo
you must demand an explanation."
"Yes; and we are going to his house."
"Reflect, Morcerf, one moment before you go."
"On what shall I reflect?"
"On the importance of the step you are taking."
"Is it more serious than going to M. Danglars?"
"Yes; M. Danglars is a money-lover, and those who love
money, you know, think too much of what they risk to be
easily induced to fight a duel. The other is, on the
contrary, to all appearance a true nobleman; but do you not
fear to find him a bully?"
"I only fear one thing; namely, to find a man who will not
"Do not be alarmed," said Beauchamp; "he will meet you. My
only fear is that he will be too strong for you."
"My friend," said Morcerf, with a sweet smile, "that is what
I wish. The happiest thing that could occur to me, would be
to die in my father's stead; that would save us all."
"Your mother would die of grief."
"My poor mother!" said Albert, passing his hand across his
eyes, "I know she would; but better so than die of shame."
"Are you quite decided, Albert?"
"Yes; let us go."
"But do you think we shall find the count at home?"
"He intended returning some hours after me, and doubtless he
is now at home." They ordered the driver to take them to No.
30 Champs-Elysees. Beauchamp wished to go in alone, but
Albert observed that as this was an unusual circumstance he
might be allowed to deviate from the usual etiquette in
affairs of honor. The cause which the young man espoused was
one so sacred that Beauchamp had only to comply with all his
wishes; he yielded and contented himself with following
Morcerf. Albert sprang from the porter's lodge to the steps.
He was received by Baptistin. The count had, indeed, just
arrived, but he was in his bath, and had forbidden that any
one should be admitted. "But after his bath?" asked Morcerf.
"My master will go to dinner."
"And after dinner?"
"He will sleep an hour."
"He is going to the opera."
"Are you sure of it?" asked Albert.
"Quite, sir; my master has ordered his horses at eight
"Very good," replied Albert; "that is all I wished to know."
Then, turning towards Beauchamp, "If you have anything to
attend to, Beauchamp, do it directly; if you have any
appointment for this evening, defer it till tomorrow. I
depend on you to accompany me to the opera; and if you can,
bring Chateau-Renaud with you."
Beauchamp availed himself of Albert's permission, and left
him, promising to call for him at a quarter before eight. On
his return home, Albert expressed his wish to Franz Debray,
and Morrel, to see them at the opera that evening. Then he
went to see his mother, who since the events of the day
before had refused to see any one, and had kept her room. He
found her in bed, overwhelmed with grief at this public
humiliation. The sight of Albert produced the effect which
might naturally be expected on Mercedes; she pressed her
son's hand and sobbed aloud, but her tears relieved her.
Albert stood one moment speechless by the side of his
mother's bed. It was evident from his pale face and knit
brows that his resolution to revenge himself was growing
weaker. "My dear mother," said he, "do you know if M. de
Morcerf has any enemy?" Mercedes started; she noticed that
the young man did not say "my father." "My son," she said,
"persons in the count's situation have many secret enemies.
Those who are known are not the most dangerous."
"I know it, and appeal to your penetration. You are of so
superior a mind, nothing escapes you."
"Why do you say so?"
"Because, for instance, you noticed on the evening of the
ball we gave, that M. de Monte Cristo would eat nothing in
our house." Mercedes raised herself on her feverish arm. "M.
de Monte Cristo!" she exclaimed; "and how is he connected
with the question you asked me?"
"You know, mother, M. de Monte Cristo is almost an Oriental,
and it is customary with the Orientals to secure full
liberty for revenge by not eating or drinking in the houses
of their enemies."
"Do you say M. de Monte Cristo is our enemy?" replied
Mercedes, becoming paler than the sheet which covered her.
"Who told you so? Why, you are mad, Albert! M. de Monte
Cristo has only shown us kindness. M. de Monte Cristo saved
your life; you yourself presented him to us. Oh, I entreat
you, my son, if you had entertained such an idea, dispel it;
and my counsel to you -- nay, my prayer -- is to retain his
"Mother," replied the young man, "you have especial reasons
for telling me to conciliate that man."
"I?" said Mercedes, blushing as rapidly as she had turned
pale, and again becoming paler than ever.
"Yes, doubtless; and is it not that he may never do us any
harm?" Mercedes shuddered, and, fixing on her son a
scrutinizing gaze, "You speak strangely," said she to
Albert, "and you appear to have some singular prejudices.
What has the count done? Three days since you were with him
in Normandy; only three days since we looked on him as our
An ironical smile passed over Albert's lips. Mercedes saw it
and with the double instinct of woman and mother guessed
all; but as she was prudent and strong-minded she concealed
both her sorrows and her fears. Albert was silent; an
instant after, the countess resumed: "You came to inquire
after my health; I will candidly acknowledge that I am not
well. You should install yourself here, and cheer my
solitude. I do not wish to be left alone."
"Mother," said the young man, "you know how gladly I would
obey your wish, but an urgent and important affair obliges
me to leave you for the whole evening."
"Well," replied Mercedes, sighing, "go, Albert; I will not
make you a slave to your filial piety." Albert pretended he
did not hear, bowed to his mother, and quitted her. Scarcely
had he shut her door, when Mercedes called a confidential
servant, and ordered him to follow Albert wherever he should
go that evening, and to come and tell her immediately what
he observed. Then she rang for her lady's maid, and, weak as
she was, she dressed, in order to be ready for whatever
might happen. The footman's mission was an easy one. Albert
went to his room, and dressed with unusual care. At ten
minutes to eight Beauchamp arrived; he had seen
Chateau-Renaud, who had promised to be in the orchestra
before the curtain was raised. Both got into Albert's coupe;
and, as the young man had no reason to conceal where he was
going, he called aloud, "To the opera." In his impatience he
arrived before the beginning of the performance.
Chateau-Renaud was at his post; apprised by Beauchamp of the
circumstances, he required no explanation from Albert. The
conduct of the son in seeking to avenge his father was so
natural that Chateau-Renaud did not seek to dissuade him,
and was content with renewing his assurances of devotion.
Debray was not yet come, but Albert knew that he seldom lost
a scene at the opera. Albert wandered about the theatre
until the curtain was drawn up. He hoped to meet with M. de
Monte Cristo either in the lobby or on the stairs. The bell
summoned him to his seat, and he entered the orchestra with
Chateau-Renaud and Beauchamp. But his eyes scarcely quitted
the box between the columns, which remained obstinately
closed during the whole of the first act. At last, as Albert
was looking at his watch for about the hundredth time, at
the beginning of the second act the door opened, and Monte
Cristo entered, dressed in black, and, leaning over the
front of the box, looked around the pit. Morrel followed
him, and looked also for his sister and brother in-law; he
soon discovered them in another box, and kissed his hand to
The count, in his survey of the pit, encountered a pale face
and threatening eyes, which evidently sought to gain his
attention. He recognized Albert, but thought it better not
to notice him, as he looked so angry and discomposed.
Without communicating his thoughts to his companion, he sat
down, drew out his opera-glass, and looked another way.
Although apparently not noticing Albert, he did not,
however, lose sight of him, and when the curtain fell at the
end of the second act, he saw him leave the orchestra with
his two friends. Then his head was seen passing at the back
of the boxes, and the count knew that the approaching storm
was intended to fall on him. He was at the moment conversing
cheerfully with Morrel, but he was well prepared for what
might happen. The door opened, and Monte Cristo, turning
round, saw Albert, pale and trembling, followed by Beauchamp
"Well," cried he, with that benevolent politeness which
distinguished his salutation from the common civilities of
the world, "my cavalier has attained his object.
Good-evening, M. de Morcerf." The countenance of this man,
who possessed such extraordinary control over his feelings,
expressed the most perfect cordiality. Morrel only then
recollected the letter he had received from the viscount, in
which, without assigning any reason, he begged him to go to
the opera, but he understood that something terrible was
"We are not come here, sir, to exchange hypocritical
expressions of politeness, or false professions of
friendship," said Albert, "but to demand an explanation."
The young man's trembling voice was scarcely audible. "An
explanation at the opera?" said the count, with that calm
tone and penetrating eye which characterize the man who
knows his cause is good. "Little acquainted as I am with the
habits of Parisians, I should not have thought this the
place for such a demand."
"Still, if people will shut themselves up," said Albert,
"and cannot be seen because they are bathing, dining, or
asleep, we must avail ourselves of the opportunity whenever
they are to be seen."
"I am not difficult of access, sir; for yesterday, if my
memory does not deceive me, you were at my house."
"Yesterday I was at your house, sir," said the young man;
"because then I knew not who you were." In pronouncing these
words Albert had raised his voice so as to be heard by those
in the adjoining boxes and in the lobby. Thus the attention
of many was attracted by this altercation. "Where are you
come from, sir? You do not appear to be in the possession of
"Provided I understand your perfidy, sir, and succeed in
making you understand that I will be revenged, I shall be
reasonable enough," said Albert furiously.
"I do not understand you, sir," replied Monte Cristo; "and
if I did, your tone is too high. I am at home here, and I
alone have a right to raise my voice above another's. Leave
the box, sir!" Monte Cristo pointed towards the door with
the most commanding dignity. "Ah, I shall know how to make
you leave your home!" replied Albert, clasping in his
convulsed grasp the glove, which Monte Cristo did not lose
"Well, well," said Monte Cristo quietly, "I see you wish to
quarrel with me; but I would give you one piece of advice,
which you will do well to keep in mind. It is in poor taste
to make a display of a challenge. Display is not becoming to
every one, M. de Morcerf."
At this name a murmur of astonishment passed around the
group of spectators of this scene. They had talked of no one
but Morcerf the whole day. Albert understood the allusion in
a moment, and was about to throw his glove at the count,
when Morrel seized his hand, while Beauchamp and
Chateau-Renaud, fearing the scene would surpass the limits
of a challenge, held him back. But Monte Cristo, without
rising, and leaning forward in his chair, merely stretched
out his arm and, taking the damp, crushed glove from the
clinched hand of the young man, "Sir," said he in a solemn
tone, "I consider your glove thrown, and will return it to
you wrapped around a bullet. Now leave me or I will summon
my servants to throw you out at the door."
Wild, almost unconscious, and with eyes inflamed, Albert
stepped back, and Morrel closed the door. Monte Cristo took
up his glass again as if nothing had happened; his face was
like marble, and his heart was like bronze. Morrel
whispered, "What have you done to him?"
"I? Nothing -- at least personally," said Monte Cristo.
"But there must be some cause for this strange scene."
"The Count of Morcerf's adventure exasperates the young
"Have you anything to do with it?"
"It was through Haidee that the Chamber was informed of his
"Indeed?" said Morrel. "I had been told, but would not
credit it, that the Grecian slave I have seen with you here
in this very box was the daughter of Ali Pasha."
"It is true, nevertheless."
"Then," said Morrel, "I understand it all, and this scene
"Yes. Albert wrote to request me to come to the opera,
doubtless that I might be a witness to the insult he meant
to offer you."
"Probably," said Monte Cristo with his imperturbable
"But what shall you do with him?"
"What shall I do with Albert? As certainly, Maximilian, as I
now press your hand, I shall kill him before ten o'clock
to-morrow morning." Morrel, in his turn, took Monte Cristo's
hand in both of his, and he shuddered to feel how cold and
steady it was.
"Ah, Count," said he, "his father loves him so much!"
"Do not speak to me of that," said Monte Cristo, with the
first movement of anger he had betrayed; "I will make him
suffer." Morrel, amazed, let fall Monte Cristo's hand.
"Count, count!" said he.
"Dear Maximilian," interrupted the count, "listen how
adorably Duprez is singing that line, --
`O Mathilde! idole de mon ame!'
"I was the first to discover Duprez at Naples, and the first
to applaud him. Bravo, bravo!" Morrel saw it was useless to
say more, and refrained. The curtain, which had risen at the
close of the scene with Albert, again fell, and a rap was
heard at the door.
"Come in," said Monte Cristo with a voice that betrayed not
the least emotion; and immediately Beauchamp appeared.
"Good-evening, M. Beauchamp," said Monte Cristo, as if this
was the first time he had seen the journalist that evening;
Beauchamp bowed, and, sitting down, "Sir," said he, "I just
now accompanied M. de Morcerf, as you saw."
"And that means," replied Monte Cristo, laughing, "that you
had, probably, just dined together. I am happy to see, M.
Beauchamp, that you are more sober than he was."
"Sir," said M. Beauchamp, "Albert was wrong, I acknowledge,
to betray so much anger, and I come, on my own account, to
apologize for him. And having done so, entirely on my own
account, be it understood, I would add that I believe you
too gentlemanly to refuse giving him some explanation
concerning your connection with Yanina. Then I will add two
words about the young Greek girl." Monte Cristo motioned him
to be silent. "Come," said he, laughing, "there are all my
hopes about to be destroyed."
"How so?" asked Beauchamp.
"Doubtless you wish to make me appear a very eccentric
character. I am, in your opinion, a Lara, a Manfred, a Lord
Ruthven; then, just as I am arriving at the climax, you
defeat your own end, and seek to make an ordinary man of me.
You bring me down to your own level, and demand
explanations! Indeed, M. Beauchamp, it is quite laughable."
"Yet," replied Beauchamp haughtily, "there are occasions
when probity commands" --
"M. Beauchamp," interposed this strange man, "the Count of
Monte Cristo bows to none but the Count of Monte Cristo
himself. Say no more, I entreat you. I do what I please, M.
Beauchamp, and it is always well done."
"Sir," replied the young man, "honest men are not to be paid
with such coin. I require honorable guaranties."
"I am, sir, a living guaranty," replied Monte Cristo,
motionless, but with a threatening look; "we have both blood
in our veins which we wish to shed -- that is our mutual
guaranty. Tell the viscount so, and that to-morrow, before
ten o'clock, I shall see what color his is."
"Then I have only to make arrangements for the duel," said
"It is quite immaterial to me," said Monte Cristo, "and it
was very unnecessary to disturb me at the opera for such a
trifle. In France people fight with the sword or pistol, in
the colonies with the carbine, in Arabia with the dagger.
Tell your client that, although I am the insulted party, in
order to carry out my eccentricity, I leave him the choice
of arms, and will accept without discussion, without
dispute, anything, even combat by drawing lots, which is
always stupid, but with me different from other people, as I
am sure to gain."
"Sure to gain!" repeated Beauchamp, looking with amazement
at the count.
"Certainly," said Monte Cristo, slightly shrugging his
shoulders; "otherwise I would not fight with M. de Morcerf.
I shall kill him -- I cannot help it. Only by a single line
this evening at my house let me know the arms and the hour;
I do not like to be kept waiting."
"Pistols, then, at eight o'clock, in the Bois de Vincennes,"
said Beauchamp, quite disconcerted, not knowing if he was
dealing with an arrogant braggadocio or a supernatural
"Very well, sir," said Monte Cristo. "Now all that is
settled, do let me see the performance, and tell your friend
Albert not to come any more this evening; he will hurt
himself with all his ill-chosen barbarisms: let him go home
and go to sleep." Beauchamp left the box, perfectly amazed.
"Now," said Monte Cristo, turning towards Morrel, "I may
depend upon you, may I not?"
"Certainly," said Morrel, "I am at your service, count;
"It is desirable I should know the real cause."
"That is to say, you would rather not?"
"The young man himself is acting blindfolded, and knows not
the true cause, which is known only to God and to me; but I
give you my word, Morrel, that God, who does know it, will
be on our side."
"Enough," said Morrel; "who is your second witness?"
"I know no one in Paris, Morrel, on whom I could confer that
honor besides you and your brother Emmanuel. Do you think
Emmanuel would oblige me?"
"I will answer for him, count."
"Well? that is all I require. To-morrow morning, at seven
o'clock, you will be with me, will you not?"
"Hush, the curtain is rising. Listen! I never lose a note of
this opera if I can avoid it; the music of William Tell is
A Nocturnal Interview.
Monte Cristo waited, according to his usual custom, until
Duprez had sung his famous "Suivez-moi;" then he rose and
went out. Morrel took leave of him at the door, renewing his
promise to be with him the next morning at seven o'clock,
and to bring Emmanuel. Then he stepped into his coupe, calm
and smiling, and was at home in five minutes. No one who
knew the count could mistake his expression when, on
entering, he said, "Ali, bring me my pistols with the ivory
Ali brought the box to his master, who examined the weapons
with a solicitude very natural to a man who is about to
intrust his life to a little powder and shot. These were
pistols of an especial pattern, which Monte Cristo had had
made for target practice in his own room. A cap was
sufficient to drive out the bullet, and from the adjoining
room no one would have suspected that the count was, as
sportsmen would say, keeping his hand in. He was just taking
one up and looking for the point to aim at on a little iron
plate which served him as a target, when his study door
opened, and Baptistin entered. Before he had spoken a word,
the count saw in the next room a veiled woman, who had
followed closely after Baptistin, and now, seeing the count
with a pistol in his hand and swords on the table, rushed
in. Baptistin looked at his master, who made a sign to him,
and he went out, closing the door after him. "Who are you,
madame?" said the count to the veiled woman.
The stranger cast one look around her, to be certain that
they were quite alone; then bending as if she would have
knelt, and joining her hands, she said with an accent of
despair, "Edmond, you will not kill my son?" The count
retreated a step, uttered a slight exclamation, and let fall
the pistol he held. "What name did you pronounce then,
Madame de Morcerf?" said he. "Yours!" cried she, throwing
back her veil, -- "yours, which I alone, perhaps, have not
forgotten. Edmond, it is not Madame de Morcerf who is come
to you, it is Mercedes."
"Mercedes is dead, madame," said Monte Cristo; "I know no
one now of that name."
"Mercedes lives, sir, and she remembers, for she alone
recognized you when she saw you, and even before she saw
you, by your voice, Edmond, -- by the simple sound of your
voice; and from that moment she has followed your steps,
watched you, feared you, and she needs not to inquire what
hand has dealt the blow which now strikes M. de Morcerf."
"Fernand, do you mean?" replied Monte Cristo, with bitter
irony; "since we are recalling names, let us remember them
all." Monte Cristo had pronounced the name of Fernand with
such an expression of hatred that Mercedes felt a thrill of
horror run through every vein. "You see, Edmond, I am not
mistaken, and have cause to say, `Spare my son!'"
"And who told you, madame, that I have any hostile
intentions against your son?"
"No one, in truth; but a mother has twofold sight. I guessed
all; I followed him this evening to the opera, and,
concealed in a parquet box, have seen all."
"If you have seen all, madame, you know that the son of
Fernand has publicly insulted me," said Monte Cristo with
"Oh, for pity's sake!"
"You have seen that he would have thrown his glove in my
face if Morrel, one of my friends, had not stopped him."
"Listen to me, my son has also guessed who you are, -- he
attributes his father's misfortunes to you."
"Madame, you are mistaken, they are not misfortunes, -- it
is a punishment. It is not I who strike M. de Morcerf; it is
providence which punishes him."
"And why do you represent providence?" cried Mercedes. "Why
do you remember when it forgets? What are Yanina and its
vizier to you, Edmond? What injury his Fernand Mondego done
you in betraying Ali Tepelini?"
"Ah, madame," replied Monte Cristo, "all this is an affair
between the French captain and the daughter of Vasiliki. It
does not concern me, you are right; and if I have sworn to
revenge myself, it is not on the French captain, or the
Count of Morcerf, but on the fisherman Fernand, the husband
of Mercedes the Catalane."
"Ah, sir!" cried the countess, "how terrible a vengeance for
a fault which fatality made me commit! -- for I am the only
culprit, Edmond, and if you owe revenge to any one, it is to
me, who had not fortitude to bear your absence and my
"But," exclaimed Monte Cristo, "why was I absent? And why
were you alone?"
"Because you had been arrested, Edmond, and were a
"And why was I arrested? Why was I a prisoner?"
"I do not know," said Mercedes. "You do not, madame; at
least, I hope not. But I will tell you. I was arrested and
became a prisoner because, under the arbor of La Reserve,
the day before I was to marry you, a man named Danglars
wrote this letter, which the fisherman Fernand himself
posted." Monte Cristo went to a secretary, opened a drawer
by a spring, from which he took a paper which had lost its
original color, and the ink of which had become of a rusty
hue -- this he placed in the hands of Mercedes. It was
Danglars' letter to the king's attorney, which the Count of
Monte Cristo, disguised as a clerk from the house of Thomson
& French, had taken from the file against Edmond Dantes, on
the day he had paid the two hundred thousand francs to M. de
Boville. Mercedes read with terror the following lines: --
"The king's attorney is informed by a friend to the throne
and religion that one Edmond Dantes, second in command on
board the Pharaon, this day arrived from Smyrna, after
having touched at Naples and Porto-Ferrajo, is the bearer of
a letter from Murat to the usurper, and 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 possession of either father
or son, then it will assuredly be discovered in the cabin
belonging to the said Dantes on board the Pharaon."
"How dreadful!" said Mercedes, passing her hand across her
brow, moist with perspiration; "and that letter" --
"I bought it for two hundred thousand francs, madame," said
Monte Cristo; "but that is a trifle, since it enables me to
justify myself to you."
"And the result of that letter" --
"You well know, madame, was my arrest; but you do not know
how long that arrest lasted. You do not know that I remained
for fourteen years within a quarter of a league of you, in a
dungeon in the Chateau d'If. You do not know that every day
of those fourteen years I renewed the vow of vengeance which
I had made the first day; and yet I was not aware that you
had married Fernand, my calumniator, and that my father had
died of hunger!"
"Can it be?" cried Mercedes, shuddering.
"That is what I heard on leaving my prison fourteen years
after I had entered it; and that is why, on account of the
living Mercedes and my deceased father, I have sworn to
revenge myself on Fernand, and -- I have revenged myself."
"And you are sure the unhappy Fernand did that?"
"I am satisfied, madame, that he did what I have told you;
besides, that is not much more odious than that a Frenchman
by adoption should pass over to the English; that a Spaniard
by birth should have fought against the Spaniards; that a
stipendiary of Ali should have betrayed and murdered Ali.
Compared with such things, what is the letter you have just
read? -- a lover's deception, which the woman who has
married that man ought certainly to forgive; but not so the
lover who was to have married her. Well, the French did not
avenge themselves on the traitor, the Spaniards did not
shoot the traitor, Ali in his tomb left the traitor
unpunished; but I, betrayed, sacrificed, buried, have risen
from my tomb, by the grace of God, to punish that man. He
sends me for that purpose, and here I am." The poor woman's
head and arms fell; her legs bent under her, and she fell on
her knees. "Forgive, Edmond, forgive for my sake, who love
The dignity of the wife checked the fervor of the lover and
the mother. Her forehead almost touched the carpet, when the
count sprang forward and raised her. Then seated on a chair,
she looked at the manly countenance of Monte Cristo, on
which grief and hatred still impressed a threatening
expression. "Not crush that accursed race?" murmured he;
"abandon my purpose at the moment of its accomplishment?
Impossible, madame, impossible!"
"Edmond," said the poor mother, who tried every means, "when
I call you Edmond, why do you not call me Mercedes?"
"Mercedes!" repeated Monte Cristo; "Mercedes! Well yes, you
are right; that name has still its charms, and this is the
first time for a long period that I have pronounced it so
distinctly. Oh, Mercedes, I have uttered your name with the
sigh of melancholy, with the groan of sorrow, with the last
effort of despair; I have uttered it when frozen with cold,
crouched on the straw in my dungeon; I have uttered it,
consumed with heat, rolling on the stone floor of my prison.
Mercedes, I must revenge myself, for I suffered fourteen
years, -- fourteen years I wept, I cursed; now I tell you,
Mercedes, I must revenge myself."
The count, fearing to yield to the entreaties of her he had
so ardently loved, called his sufferings to the assistance
of his hatred. "Revenge yourself, then, Edmond," cried the
poor mother; "but let your vengeance fall on the culprits,
-- on him, on me, but not on my son!"
"It is written in the good book," said Monte Cristo, "that
the sins of the fathers shall fall upon their children to
the third and fourth generation. Since God himself dictated
those words to his prophet, why should I seek to make myself
better than God?"
"Edmond," continued Mercedes, with her arms extended towards
the count, "since I first knew you, I have adored your name,
have respected your memory. Edmond, my friend, do not compel
me to tarnish that noble and pure image reflected
incessantly on the mirror of my heart. Edmond, if you knew
all the prayers I have addressed to God for you while I
thought you were living and since I have thought you must be
dead! Yes, dead, alas! I imagined your dead body buried at
the foot of some gloomy tower, or cast to the bottom of a
pit by hateful jailers, and I wept! What could I do for you,
Edmond, besides pray and weep? Listen; for ten years I
dreamed each night the same dream. I had been told that you
had endeavored to escape; that you had taken the place of
another prisoner; that you had slipped into the winding
sheet of a dead body; that you had been thrown alive from
the top of the Chateau d'If, and that the cry you uttered as
you dashed upon the rocks first revealed to your jailers
that they were your murderers. Well, Edmond, I swear to you,
by the head of that son for whom I entreat your pity, --
Edmond, for ten years I saw every night every detail of that
frightful tragedy, and for ten years I heard every night the
cry which awoke me, shuddering and cold. And I, too, Edmond
-- oh! believe me -- guilty as I was -- oh, yes, I, too,
have suffered much!"
"Have you known what it is to have your father starve to
death in your absence?" cried Monte Cristo, thrusting his
hands into his hair; "have you seen the woman you loved
giving her hand to your rival, while you were perishing at
the bottom of a dungeon?"
"No," interrupted Mercedes, "but I have seen him whom I
loved on the point of murdering my son." Mercedes uttered
these words with such deep anguish, with an accent of such
intense despair, that Monte Cristo could not restrain a sob.
The lion was daunted; the avenger was conquered. "What do
you ask of me?" said he, -- "your son's life? Well, he shall
live!" Mercedes uttered a cry which made the tears start
from Monte Cristo's eyes; but these tears disappeared almost
instantaneously, for, doubtless, God had sent some angel to
collect them -- far more precious were they in his eyes than
the richest pearls of Guzerat and Ophir.
"Oh," said she, seizing the count's hand and raising it to
her lips; "oh, thank you, thank you, Edmond! Now you are
exactly what I dreamt you were, -- the man I always loved.
Oh, now I may say so!"
"So much the better," replied Monte Cristo; "as that poor
Edmond will not have long to be loved by you. Death is about
to return to the tomb, the phantom to retire in darkness."
"What do you say, Edmond?"
"I say, since you command me, Mercedes, I must die."
"Die? and why so? Who talks of dying? Whence have you these
ideas of death?"
"You do not suppose that, publicly outraged in the face of a
whole theatre, in the presence of your friends and those of
your son -- challenged by a boy who will glory in my
forgiveness as if it were a victory -- you do not suppose
that I can for one moment wish to live. What I most loved
after you, Mercedes, was myself, my dignity, and that
strength which rendered me superior to other men; that
strength was my life. With one word you have crushed it, and
"But the duel will not take place, Edmond, since you
"It will take place," said Monte Cristo, in a most solemn
tone; "but instead of your son's blood to stain the ground,
mine will flow." Mercedes shrieked, and sprang towards Monte
Cristo, but, suddenly stopping, "Edmond," said she, "there
is a God above us, since you live and since I have seen you
again; I trust to him from my heart. While waiting his
assistance I trust to your word; you have said that my son
should live, have you not?"
"Yes, madame, he shall live," said Monte Cristo, surprised
that without more emotion Mercedes had accepted the heroic
sacrifice he made for her. Mercedes extended her hand to the
"Edmond," said she, and her eyes were wet with tears while
looking at him to whom she spoke, "how noble it is of you,
how great the action you have just performed, how sublime to
have taken pity on a poor woman who appealed to you with
every chance against her, Alas, I am grown old with grief
more than with years, and cannot now remind my Edmond by a
smile, or by a look, of that Mercedes whom he once spent so
many hours in contemplating. Ah, believe me, Edmond, as I
told you, I too have suffered much; I repeat, it is
melancholy to pass one's life without having one joy to
recall, without preserving a single hope; but that proves
that all is not yet over. No, it is not finished; I feel it
by what remains in my heart. Oh, I repeat it, Edmond; what
you have just done is beautiful -- it is grand; it is
"Do you say so now, Mercedes? -- then what would you say if
you knew the extent of the sacrifice I make to you? Suppose
that the Supreme Being, after having created the world and
fertilized chaos, had paused in the work to spare an angel
the tears that might one day flow for mortal sins from her
immortal eyes; suppose that when everything was in readiness
and the moment had come for God to look upon his work and
see that it was good -- suppose he had snuffed out the sun
and tossed the world back into eternal night -- then -- even
then, Mercedes, you could not imagine what I lose in
sacrificing my life at this moment." Mercedes looked at the
count in a way which expressed at the same time her
astonishment, her admiration, and her gratitude. Monte
Cristo pressed his forehead on his burning hands, as if his
brain could no longer bear alone the weight of its thoughts.
"Edmond," said Mercedes, "I have but one word more to say to
you." The count smiled bitterly. "Edmond," continued she,
"you will see that if my face is pale, if my eyes are dull,
if my beauty is gone; if Mercedes, in short, no longer
resembles her former self in her features, you will see that
her heart is still the same. Adieu, then, Edmond; I have
nothing more to ask of heaven -- I have seen you again, and
have found you as noble and as great as formerly you were.
Adieu, Edmond, adieu, and thank you."
But the count did not answer. Mercedes opened the door of
the study and had disappeared before he had recovered from
the painful and profound revery into which his thwarted
vengeance had plunged him. The clock of the Invalides struck
one when the carriage which conveyed Madame de Morcerf away
rolled on the pavement of the Champs-Elysees, and made Monte
Cristo raise his head. "What a fool I was," said he, "not to
tear my heart out on the day when I resolved to avenge
After Mercedes had left Monte Cristo, he fell into profound
gloom. Around him and within him the flight of thought
seemed to have stopped; his energetic mind slumbered, as the
body does after extreme fatigue. "What?" said he to himself,
while the lamp and the wax lights were nearly burnt out, and
the servants were waiting impatiently in the anteroom;
"what? this edifice which I have been so long preparing,
which I have reared with so much care and toil, is to be
crushed by a single touch, a word, a breath! Yes, this self,
of whom I thought so much, of whom I was so proud, who had
appeared so worthless in the dungeons of the Chateau d'If,
and whom I had succeeded in making so great, will be but a
lump of clay to-morrow. Alas, it is not the death of the
body I regret; for is not the destruction of the vital
principle, the repose to which everything is tending, to
which every unhappy being aspires, -- is not this the repose
of matter after which I so long sighed, and which I was
seeking to attain by the painful process of starvation when
Faria appeared in my dungeon? What is death for me? One step
farther into rest, -- two, perhaps, into silence.
"No, it is not existence, then, that I regret, but the ruin
of projects so slowly carried out, so laboriously framed.
Providence is now opposed to them, when I most thought it
would be propitious. It is not God's will that they should
be accomplished. This burden, almost as heavy as a world,
which I had raised, and I had thought to bear to the end,
was too great for my strength, and I was compelled to lay it
down in the middle of my career. Oh, shall I then, again
become a fatalist, whom fourteen years of despair and ten of
hope had rendered a believer in providence? And all this --
all this, because my heart, which I thought dead, was only
sleeping; because it has awakened and has begun to beat
again, because I have yielded to the pain of the emotion
excited in my breast by a woman's voice. Yet," continued the
count, becoming each moment more absorbed in the
anticipation of the dreadful sacrifice for the morrow, which
Mercedes had accepted, "yet, it is impossible that so
noble-minded a woman should thus through selfishness consent
to my death when I am in the prime of life and strength; it
is impossible that she can carry to such a point maternal
love, or rather delirium. There are virtues which become
crimes by exaggeration. No, she must have conceived some
pathetic scene; she will come and throw herself between us;
and what would be sublime here will there appear
ridiculous." The blush of pride mounted to the count's
forehead as this thought passed through his mind.
"Ridiculous?" repeated he; "and the ridicule will fall on
me. I ridiculous? No, I would rather die."
By thus exaggerating to his own mind the anticipated
ill-fortune of the next day, to which he had condemned
himself by promising Mercedes to spare her son, the count at
last exclaimed, "Folly, folly, folly! -- to carry generosity
so far as to put myself up as a mark for that young man to
aim at. He will never believe that my death was suicide; and
yet it is important for the honor of my memory, -- and this
surely is not vanity, but a justifiable pride, -- it is
important the world should know that I have consented, by my
free will, to stop my arm, already raised to strike, and
that with the arm which has been so powerful against others
I have struck myself. It must be; it shall be."
Seizing a pen, he drew a paper from a secret drawer in his
desk, and wrote at the bottom of the document (which was no
other than his will, made since his arrival in Paris) a sort
of codicil, clearly explaining the nature of his death. "I
do this, O my God," said he, with his eyes raised to heaven,
"as much for thy honor as for mine. I have during ten years
considered myself the agent of thy vengeance, and other
wretches, like Morcerf, Danglars, Villefort, even Morcerf
himself, must not imagine that chance has freed them from
their enemy. Let them know, on the contrary, that their
punishment, which had been decreed by providence, is only
delayed by my present determination, and although they
escape it in this world, it awaits them in another, and that
they are only exchanging time for eternity."
While he was thus agitated by gloomy uncertainties, --
wretched waking dreams of grief, -- the first rays of
morning pierced his windows, and shone upon the pale blue
paper on which he had just inscribed his justification of
providence. It was just five o'clock in the morning when a
slight noise like a stifled sigh reached his ear. He turned
his head, looked around him, and saw no one; but the sound
was repeated distinctly enough to convince him of its
He arose, and quietly opening the door of the drawing-room,
saw Haidee, who had fallen on a chair, with her arms hanging
down and her beautiful head thrown back. She had been
standing at the door, to prevent his going out without
seeing her, until sleep, which the young cannot resist, had
overpowered her frame, wearied as she was with watching. The
noise of the door did not awaken her, and Monte Cristo gazed
at her with affectionate regret. "She remembered that she
had a son," said he; "and I forgot I had a daughter." Then,
shaking his head sorrowfully, "Poor Haidee," said he; "she
wished to see me, to speak to me; she has feared or guessed
something. Oh, I cannot go without taking leave of her; I
cannot die without confiding her to some one." He quietly
regained his seat, and wrote under the other lines: --
"I bequeath to Maximilian Morrel, captain of Spahis, -- and
son of my former patron, Pierre Morrel, shipowner at
Marseilles, -- the sum of twenty millions, a part of which
may be offered to his sister Julia and brother-in-law
Emmanuel, if he does not fear this increase of fortune may
mar their happiness. These twenty millions are concealed in
my grotto at Monte Cristo, of which Bertuccio knows the
secret. If his heart is free, and he will marry Haidee, the
daughter of Ali Pasha of Yanina, whom I have brought up with
the love of a father, and who has shown the love and
tenderness of a daughter for me, he will thus accomplish my
last wish. This will has already constituted Haidee heiress
of the rest of my fortune, consisting of lands, funds in
England, Austria, and Holland, furniture in my different
palaces and houses, and which without the twenty millions
and the legacies to my servants, may still amount to sixty
He was finishing the last line when a cry behind him made
him start, and the pen fell from his hand. "Haidee," said
he, "did you read it?"
"Oh, my lord," said she, "why are you writing thus at such
an hour? Why are you bequeathing all your fortune to me? Are
you going to leave me?"
"I am going on a journey, dear child," said Monte Cristo,
with an expression of infinite tenderness and melancholy;
"and if any misfortune should happen to me"
The count stopped. "Well?" asked the young girl, with an
authoritative tone the count had never observed before, and
which startled him. "Well, if any misfortune happen to me,"
replied Monte Cristo, "I wish my daughter to be happy."
Haidee smiled sorrowfully, and shook her head. "Do you think
of dying, my lord?" said she.
"The wise man, my child, has said, `It is good to think of
"Well, if you die," said she, "bequeath your fortune to
others, for if you die I shall require nothing;" and, taking
the paper, she tore it in four pieces, and threw it into the
middle of the room. Then, the effort having exhausted her
strength, she fell not asleep this time, but fainting on the
floor. The count leaned over her and raised her in his arms;
and seeing that sweet pale face, those lovely eyes closed,
that beautiful form motionless and to all appearance
lifeless, the idea occurred to him for the first time, that
perhaps she loved him otherwise than as a daughter loves a
"Alas," murmured he, with intense suffering, "I might, then,
have been happy yet." Then he carried Haidee to her room,
resigned her to the care of her attendants, and returning to
his study, which he shut quickly this time, he again copied
the destroyed will. As he was finishing, the sound of a
cabriolet entering the yard was heard. Monte Cristo
approached the window, and saw Maximilian and Emmanuel
alight. "Good," said he; "it was time," -- and he sealed his
will with three seals. A moment afterwards he heard a noise
in the drawing-room, and went to open the door himself.
Morrel was there; he had come twenty minutes before the time
appointed. "I am perhaps come too soon, count," said he,
"but I frankly acknowledge that I have not closed my eyes
all night, nor has any one in my house. I need to see you
strong in your courageous assurance, to recover myself."
Monte Cristo could not resist this proof of affection; he
not only extended his hand to the young man, but flew to him
with open arms. "Morrel," said he, "it is a happy day for
me, to feel that I am beloved by such a man as you.
Good-morning, Emmanuel; you will come with me then,
"Did you doubt it?" said the young captain.
"But if I were wrong" --
"I watched you during the whole scene of that challenge
yesterday; I have been thinking of your firmness all night,
and I said to myself that justice must be on your side, or
man's countenance is no longer to be relied on."
"But, Morrel, Albert is your friend?"
"Simply an acquaintance, sir."
"You met on the same day you first saw me?"
"Yes, that is true; but I should not have recollected it if
you had not reminded me."
"Thank you, Morrel." Then ringing the bell once, "Look."
said he to Ali, who came immediately, "take that to my
solicitor. It is my will, Morrel. When I am dead, you will
go and examine it."
"What?" said Morrel, "you dead?"
"Yes; must I not be prepared for everything, dear friend?
But what did you do yesterday after you left me?"
"I went to Tortoni's, where, as I expected, I found
Beauchamp and Chateau-Renaud. I own I was seeking them."
"Why, when all was arranged?"
"Listen, count; the affair is serious and unavoidable."
"Did you doubt it!"
"No; the offence was public, and every one is already
talking of it."
"Well, I hoped to get an exchange of arms, -- to substitute
the sword for the pistol; the pistol is blind."
"Have you succeeded?" asked Monte Cristo quickly, with an
imperceptible gleam of hope.
"No; for your skill with the sword is so well known."
"Ah? -- who has betrayed me?"
"The skilful swordsman whom you have conquered."
"And you failed?"
"They positively refused."
"Morrel," said the count, "have you ever seen me fire a