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The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas [Pere]

Part 6 out of 31

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therefore, he would find it. But, as we have said, it was at
least a league from the Chateau d'If to this island. Often
in prison Faria had said to him, when he saw him idle and
inactive, "Dantes, you must not give way to this
listlessness; you will be drowned if you seek to escape, and
your strength has not been properly exercised and prepared
for exertion." These words rang in Dantes' ears, even
beneath the waves; he hastened to cleave his way through
them to see if he had not lost his strength. He found with
pleasure that his captivity had taken away nothing of his
power, and that he was still master of that element on whose
bosom he had so often sported as a boy.

Fear, that relentless pursuer, clogged Dantes' efforts. He
listened for any sound that might be audible, and every time
that he rose to the top of a wave he scanned the horizon,
and strove to penetrate the darkness. He fancied that every
wave behind him was a pursuing boat, and he redoubled his
exertions, increasing rapidly his distance from the chateau,
but exhausting his strength. He swam on still, and already
the terrible chateau had disappeared in the darkness. He
could not see it, but he felt its presence. An hour passed,
during which Dantes, excited by the feeling of freedom,
continued to cleave the waves. "Let us see," said he, "I
have swum above an hour, but as the wind is against me, that
has retarded my speed; however, if I am not mistaken, I must
be close to Tiboulen. But what if I were mistaken?" A
shudder passed over him. He sought to tread water, in order
to rest himself; but the sea was too violent, and he felt
that he could not make use of this means of recuperation.

"Well," said he, "I will swim on until I am worn out, or the
cramp seizes me, and then I shall sink;" and he struck out
with the energy of despair.

Suddenly the sky seemed to him to become still darker and
more dense, and heavy clouds seemed to sweep down towards
him; at the same time he felt a sharp pain in his knee. He
fancied for a moment that he had been shot, and listened for
the report; but he heard nothing. Then he put out his hand,
and encountered an obstacle and with another stroke knew
that he had gained the shore.

Before him rose a grotesque mass of rocks, that resembled
nothing so much as a vast fire petrified at the moment of
its most fervent combustion. It was the Island of Tiboulen.
Dantes rose, advanced a few steps, and, with a fervent
prayer of gratitude, stretched himself on the granite, which
seemed to him softer than down. Then, in spite of the wind
and rain, he fell into the deep, sweet sleep of utter
exhaustion. At the expiration of an hour Edmond was awakened
by the roar of thunder. The tempest was let loose and
beating the atmosphere with its mighty wings; from time to
time a flash of lightning stretched across the heavens like
a fiery serpent, lighting up the clouds that rolled on in
vast chaotic waves.

Dantes had not been deceived -- he had reached the first of
the two islands, which was, in fact, Tiboulen. He knew that
it was barren and without shelter; but when the sea became
more calm, he resolved to plunge into its waves again, and
swim to Lemaire, equally arid, but larger, and consequently
better adapted for concealment.

An overhanging rock offered him a temporary shelter, and
scarcely had he availed himself of it when the tempest burst
forth in all its fury. Edmond felt the trembling of the rock
beneath which he lay; the waves, dashing themselves against
it, wetted him with their spray. He was safely sheltered,
and yet he felt dizzy in the midst of the warring of the
elements and the dazzling brightness of the lightning. It
seemed to him that the island trembled to its base, and that
it would, like a vessel at anchor, break moorings, and bear
him off into the centre of the storm. He then recollected
that he had not eaten or drunk for four-and-twenty hours. He
extended his hands, and drank greedily of the rainwater that
had lodged in a hollow of the rock.

As he rose, a flash of lightning, that seemed to rive the
remotest heights of heaven, illumined the darkness. By its
light, between the Island of Lemaire and Cape Croiselle, a
quarter of a league distant, Dantes saw a fishing-boat
driven rapidly like a spectre before the power of winds and
waves. A second after, he saw it again, approaching with
frightful rapidity. Dantes cried at the top of his voice to
warn them of their danger, but they saw it themselves.
Another flash showed him four men clinging to the shattered
mast and the rigging, while a fifth clung to the broken

The men he beheld saw him undoubtedly, for their cries were
carried to his ears by the wind. Above the splintered mast a
sail rent to tatters was waving; suddenly the ropes that
still held it gave way, and it disappeared in the darkness
of the night like a vast sea-bird. At the same moment a
violent crash was heard, and cries of distress. Dantes from
his rocky perch saw the shattered vessel, and among the
fragments the floating forms of the hapless sailors. Then
all was dark again.

Dantes ran down the rocks at the risk of being himself
dashed to pieces; he listened, he groped about, but he heard
and saw nothing -- the cries had ceased, and the tempest
continued to rage. By degrees the wind abated, vast gray
clouds rolled towards the west, and the blue firmament
appeared studded with bright stars. Soon a red streak became
visible in the horizon, the waves whitened, a light played
over them, and gilded their foaming crests with gold. It was

Dantes stood mute and motionless before this majestic
spectacle, as if he now beheld it for the first time; and
indeed since his captivity in the Chateau d'If he had
forgotten that such scenes were ever to be witnessed. He
turned towards the fortress, and looked at both sea and
land. The gloomy building rose from the bosom of the ocean
with imposing majesty and seemed to dominate the scene. It
was about five o'clock. The sea continued to get calmer.

"In two or three hours," thought Dantes, "the turnkey will
enter my chamber, find the body of my poor friend, recognize
it, seek for me in vain, and give the alarm. Then the tunnel
will be discovered; the men who cast me into the sea and who
must have heard the cry I uttered, will be questioned. Then
boats filled with armed soldiers will pursue the wretched
fugitive. The cannon will warn every one to refuse shelter
to a man wandering about naked and famished. The police of
Marseilles will be on the alert by land, whilst the governor
pursues me by sea. I am cold, I am hungry. I have lost even
the knife that saved me. O my God, I have suffered enough
surely! Have pity on me, and do for me what I am unable to
do for myself."

As Dantes (his eyes turned in the direction of the Chateau
d'If) uttered this prayer, he saw off the farther point of
the Island of Pomegue a small vessel with lateen sail
skimming the sea like a gull in search of prey; and with his
sailor's eye he knew it to be a Genoese tartan. She was
coming out of Marseilles harbor, and was standing out to sea
rapidly, her sharp prow cleaving through the waves. "Oh,"
cried Edmond, "to think that in half an hour I could join
her, did I not fear being questioned, detected, and conveyed
back to Marseilles! What can I do? What story can I invent?
under pretext of trading along the coast, these men, who are
in reality smugglers, will prefer selling me to doing a good
action. I must wait. But I cannot ---I am starving. In a few
hours my strength will be utterly exhausted; besides,
perhaps I have not been missed at the fortress. I can pass
as one of the sailors wrecked last night. My story will be
accepted, for there is no one left to contradict me."

As he spoke, Dantes looked toward the spot where the
fishing-vessel had been wrecked, and started. The red cap of
one of the sailors hung to a point of the rock and some
timbers that had formed part of the vessel's keel, floated
at the foot of the crag. In an instant Dantes' plan was
formed. He swam to the cap, placed it on his head, seized
one of the timbers, and struck out so as to cut across the
course the vessel was taking.

"I am saved!" murmured he. And this conviction restored his

He soon saw that the vessel, with the wind dead ahead, was
tacking between the Chateau d'If and the tower of Planier.
For an instant he feared lest, instead of keeping in shore,
she should stand out to sea; but he soon saw that she would
pass, like most vessels bound for Italy, between the islands
of Jaros and Calaseraigne. However, the vessel and the
swimmer insensibly neared one another, and in one of its
tacks the tartan bore down within a quarter of a mile of
him. He rose on the waves, making signs of distress; but no
one on board saw him, and the vessel stood on another tack.
Dantes would have shouted, but he knew that the wind would
drown his voice.

It was then he rejoiced at his precaution in taking the
timber, for without it he would have been unable, perhaps,
to reach the vessel -- certainly to return to shore, should
he be unsuccessful in attracting attention.

Dantes, though almost sure as to what course the vessel
would take, had yet watched it anxiously until it tacked and
stood towards him. Then he advanced; but before they could
meet, the vessel again changed her course. By a violent
effort he rose half out of the water, waving his cap, and
uttering a loud shout peculiar to sailers. This time he was
both seen and heard, and the tartan instantly steered
towards him. At the same time, he saw they were about to
lower the boat.

An instant after, the boat, rowed by two men, advanced
rapidly towards him. Dantes let go of the timber, which he
now thought to be useless, and swam vigorously to meet them.
But he had reckoned too much upon his strength, and then he
realized how serviceable the timber had been to him. His
arms became stiff, his legs lost their flexibility, and he
was almost breathless.

He shouted again. The two sailors redoubled their efforts,
and one of them cried in Italian, "Courage!"

The word reached his ear as a wave which he no longer had
the strength to surmount passed over his head. He rose again
to the surface, struggled with the last desperate effort of
a drowning man, uttered a third cry, and felt himself
sinking, as if the fatal cannon shot were again tied to his
feet. The water passed over his head, and the sky turned
gray. A convulsive movement again brought him to the
surface. He felt himself seized by the hair, then he saw and
heard nothing. He had fainted.

When he opened his eyes Dantes found himself on the deck of
the tartan. His first care was to see what course they were
taking. They were rapidly leaving the Chateau d'If behind.
Dantes was so exhausted that the exclamation of joy he
uttered was mistaken for a sigh.

As we have said, he was lying on the deck. A sailor was
rubbing his limbs with a woollen cloth; another, whom he
recognized as the one who had cried out "Courage!" held a
gourd full of rum to his mouth; while the third, an old
sailer, at once the pilot and captain, looked on with that
egotistical pity men feel for a misfortune that they have
escaped yesterday, and which may overtake them to-morrow.

A few drops of the rum restored suspended animation, while
the friction of his limbs restored their elasticity.

"Who are you?" said the pilot in bad French.

"I am," replied Dantes, in bad Italian, "a Maltese sailor.
We were coming from Syracuse laden with grain. The storm of
last night overtook us at Cape Morgion, and we were wrecked
on these rocks."

"Where do you come from?"

"From these rocks that I had the good luck to cling to while
our captain and the rest of the crew were all lost. I saw
your vessel, and fearful of being left to perish on the
desolate island, I swam off on a piece of wreckage to try
and intercept your course. You have saved my life, and I
thank you," continued Dantes. "I was lost when one of your
sailors caught hold of my hair."

"It was I," said a sailor of a frank and manly appearance;
"and it was time, for you were sinking."

"Yes," returned Dantes, holding out his hand, "I thank you

"I almost hesitated, though," replied the sailor; "you
looked more like a brigand than an honest man, with your
beard six inches, and your hair a foot long." Dantes
recollected that his hair and beard had not been cut all the
time he was at the Chateau d'If.

"Yes," said he, "I made a vow, to our Lady of the Grotto not
to cut my hair or beard for ten years if I were saved in a
moment of danger; but to-day the vow expires."

"Now what are we to do with you?" said the captain.

"Alas, anything you please. My captain is dead; I have
barely escaped; but I am a good sailor. Leave me at the
first port you make; I shall be sure to find employment."

"Do you know the Mediterranean?"

"I have sailed over it since my childhood."

"You know the best harbors?"

"There are few ports that I could not enter or leave with a
bandage over my eyes."

"I say, captain," said the sailor who had cried "Courage!"
to Dantes, "if what he says is true, what hinders his
staying with us?"

"If he says true," said the captain doubtingly. "But in his
present condition he will promise anything, and take his
chance of keeping it afterwards."

"I will do more than I promise," said Dantes.

"We shall see," returned the other, smiling.

"Where are you going?" asked Dantes.

"To Leghorn."

"Then why, instead of tacking so frequently, do you not sail
nearer the wind?"

"Because we should run straight on to the Island of Rion."

"You shall pass it by twenty fathoms."

"Take the helm, and let us see what you know." The young man
took the helm, felt to see if the vessel answered the rudder
promptly and seeing that, without being a first-rate sailer,
she yet was tolerably obedient, --

"To the sheets," said he. The four seamen, who composed the
crew, obeyed, while the pilot looked on. "Haul taut." --
They obeyed.

"Belay." This order was also executed; and the vessel
passed, as Dantes had predicted, twenty fathoms to windward.

"Bravo!" said the captain.

"Bravo!" repeated the sailors. And they all looked with
astonishment at this man whose eye now disclosed an
intelligence and his body a vigor they had not thought him
capable of showing.

"You see," said Dantes, quitting the helm, "I shall be of
some use to you, at least during the voyage. If you do not
want me at Leghorn, you can leave me there, and I will pay
you out of the first wages I get, for my food and the
clothes you lend me."

"Ah," said the captain, "we can agree very well, if you are

"Give me what you give the others, and it will be all
right," returned Dantes.

"That's not fair," said the seaman who had saved Dantes;
"for you know more than we do."

"What is that to you, Jacopo?" returned the Captain. "Every
one is free to ask what he pleases."

"That's true," replied Jacopo; "I only make a remark."

"Well, you would do much better to find him a jacket and a
pair of trousers, if you have them."

"No," said Jacopo; "but I have a shirt and a pair of

"That is all I want," interrupted Dantes. Jacopo dived into
the hold and soon returned with what Edmond wanted.

"Now, then, do you wish for anything else?" said the patron.

"A piece of bread and another glass of the capital rum I
tasted, for I have not eaten or drunk for a long time." He
had not tasted food for forty hours. A piece of bread was
brought, and Jacopo offered him the gourd.

"Larboard your helm," cried the captain to the steersman.
Dantes glanced that way as he lifted the gourd to his mouth;
then paused with hand in mid-air.

"Hollo! what's the matter at the Chateau d'If?" said the

A small white cloud, which had attracted Dantes' attention,
crowned the summit of the bastion of the Chateau d'If. At
the same moment the faint report of a gun was heard. The
sailors looked at one another.

"What is this?" asked the captain.

"A prisoner has escaped from the Chateau d'If, and they are
firing the alarm gun," replied Dantes. The captain glanced
at him, but he had lifted the rum to his lips and was
drinking it with so much composure, that suspicions, if the
captain had any, died away.

"At any rate," murmured he, "if it be, so much the better,
for I have made a rare acquisition." Under pretence of being
fatigued, Dantes asked to take the helm; the steersman, glad
to be relieved, looked at the captain, and the latter by a
sign indicated that he might abandon it to his new comrade.
Dantes could thus keep his eyes on Marseilles.

"What is the day of the month?" asked he of Jacopo, who sat
down beside him.

"The 28th of February."

"In what year?"

"In what year -- you ask me in what year?"

"Yes," replied the young man, "I ask you in what year!"

"You have forgotten then?"

"I got such a fright last night," replied Dantes, smiling,
"that I have almost lost my memory. I ask you what year is

"The year 1829," returned Jacopo. It was fourteen years day
for day since Dantes' arrest. He was nineteen when he
entered the Chateau d'If; he was thirty-three when he
escaped. A sorrowful smile passed over his face; he asked
himself what had become of Mercedes, who must believe him
dead. Then his eyes lighted up with hatred as he thought of
the three men who had caused him so long and wretched a
captivity. He renewed against Danglars, Fernand, and
Villefort the oath of implacable vengeance he had made in
his dungeon. This oath was no longer a vain menace; for the
fastest sailer in the Mediterranean would have been unable
to overtake the little tartan, that with every stitch of
canvas set was flying before the wind to Leghorn.

Chapter 22
The Smugglers.

Dantes had not been a day on board before he had a very
clear idea of the men with whom his lot had been cast.
Without having been in the school of the Abbe Faria, the
worthy master of The Young Amelia (the name of the Genoese
tartan) knew a smattering of all the tongues spoken on the
shores of that large lake called the Mediterranean, from the
Arabic to the Provencal, and this, while it spared him
interpreters, persons always troublesome and frequently
indiscreet, gave him great facilities of communication,
either with the vessels he met at sea, with the small boats
sailing along the coast, or with the people without name,
country, or occupation, who are always seen on the quays of
seaports, and who live by hidden and mysterious means which
we must suppose to be a direct gift of providence, as they
have no visible means of support. It is fair to assume that
Dantes was on board a smuggler.

At first the captain had received Dantes on board with a
certain degree of distrust. He was very well known to the
customs officers of the coast; and as there was between
these worthies and himself a perpetual battle of wits, he
had at first thought that Dantes might be an emissary of
these industrious guardians of rights and duties, who
perhaps employed this ingenious means of learning some of
the secrets of his trade. But the skilful manner in which
Dantes had handled the lugger had entirely reassured him;
and then, when he saw the light plume of smoke floating
above the bastion of the Chateau d'If, and heard the distant
report, he was instantly struck with the idea that he had on
board his vessel one whose coming and going, like that of
kings, was accompanied with salutes of artillery. This made
him less uneasy, it must be owned, than if the new-comer had
proved to be a customs officer; but this supposition also
disappeared like the first, when he beheld the perfect
tranquillity of his recruit.

Edmond thus had the advantage of knowing what the owner was,
without the owner knowing who he was; and however the old
sailor and his crew tried to "pump" him, they extracted
nothing more from him; he gave accurate descriptions of
Naples and Malta, which he knew as well as Marseilles, and
held stoutly to his first story. Thus the Genoese, subtle as
he was, was duped by Edmond, in whose favor his mild
demeanor, his nautical skill, and his admirable
dissimulation, pleaded. Moreover, it is possible that the
Genoese was one of those shrewd persons who know nothing but
what they should know, and believe nothing but what they
should believe.

In this state of mutual understanding, they reached Leghorn.
Here Edmond was to undergo another trial; he was to find out
whether he could recognize himself, as he had not seen his
own face for fourteen years. He had preserved a tolerably
good remembrance of what the youth had been, and was now to
find out what the man had become. His comrades believed that
his vow was fulfilled. As he had twenty times touched at
Leghorn, he remembered a barber in St. Ferdinand Street; he
went there to have his beard and hair cut. The barber gazed
in amazement at this man with the long, thick and black hair
and beard, which gave his head the appearance of one of
Titian's portraits. At this period it was not the fashion to
wear so large a beard and hair so long; now a barber would
only be surprised if a man gifted with such advantages
should consent voluntarily to deprive himself of them. The
Leghorn barber said nothing and went to work.

When the operation was concluded, and Edmond felt that his
chin was completely smooth, and his hair reduced to its
usual length, he asked for a hand-glass. He was now, as we
have said, three-and-thirty years of age, and his fourteen
years' imprisonment had produced a great transformation in
his appearance. Dantes had entered the Chateau d'If with the
round, open, smiling face of a young and happy man, with
whom the early paths of life have been smooth, and who
anticipates a future corresponding with his past. This was
now all changed. The oval face was lengthened, his smiling
mouth had assumed the firm and marked lines which betoken
resolution; his eyebrows were arched beneath a brow furrowed
with thought; his eyes were full of melancholy, and from
their depths occasionally sparkled gloomy fires of
misanthropy and hatred; his complexion, so long kept from
the sun, had now that pale color which produces, when the
features are encircled with black hair, the aristocratic
beauty of the man of the north; the profound learning he had
acquired had besides diffused over his features a refined
intellectual expression; and he had also acquired, being
naturally of a goodly stature, that vigor which a frame
possesses which has so long concentrated all its force
within itself.

To the elegance of a nervous and slight form had succeeded
the solidity of a rounded and muscular figure. As to his
voice, prayers, sobs, and imprecations had changed it so
that at times it was of a singularly penetrating sweetness,
and at others rough and almost hoarse. Moreover, from being
so long in twilight or darkness, his eyes had acquired the
faculty of distinguishing objects in the night, common to
the hyena and the wolf. Edmond smiled when he beheld
himself: it was impossible that his best friend -- if,
indeed, he had any friend left -- could recognize him; he
could not recognize himself.

The master of The Young Amelia, who was very desirous of
retaining amongst his crew a man of Edmond's value, had
offered to advance him funds out of his future profits,
which Edmond had accepted. His next care on leaving the
barber's who had achieved his first metamorphosis was to
enter a shop and buy a complete sailor's suit -- a garb, as
we all know, very simple, and consisting of white trousers,
a striped shirt, and a cap. It was in this costume, and
bringing back to Jacopo the shirt and trousers he had lent
him, that Edmond reappeared before the captain of the
lugger, who had made him tell his story over and over again
before he could believe him, or recognize in the neat and
trim sailor the man with thick and matted beard, hair
tangled with seaweed, and body soaking in seabrine, whom he
had picked up naked and nearly drowned. Attracted by his
prepossessing appearance, he renewed his offers of an
engagement to Dantes; but Dantes, who had his own projects,
would not agree for a longer time than three months.

The Young Amelia had a very active crew, very obedient to
their captain, who lost as little time as possible. He had
scarcely been a week at Leghorn before the hold of his
vessel was filled with printed muslins, contraband cottons,
English powder, and tobacco on which the excise had
forgotten to put its mark. The master was to get all this
out of Leghorn free of duties, and land it on the shores of
Corsica, where certain speculators undertook to forward the
cargo to France. They sailed; Edmond was again cleaving the
azure sea which had been the first horizon of his youth, and
which he had so often dreamed of in prison. He left Gorgone
on his right and La Pianosa on his left, and went towards
the country of Paoli and Napoleon. The next morning going on
deck, as he always did at an early hour, the patron found
Dantes leaning against the bulwarks gazing with intense
earnestness at a pile of granite rocks, which the rising sun
tinged with rosy light. It was the Island of Monte Cristo.
The Young Amelia left it three-quarters of a league to the
larboard, and kept on for Corsica.

Dantes thought, as they passed so closely to the island
whose name was so interesting to him, that he had only to
leap into the sea and in half an hour be at the promised
land. But then what could he do without instruments to
discover his treasure, without arms to defend himself?
Besides, what would the sailors say? What would the patron
think? He must wait.

Fortunately, Dantes had learned how to wait; he had waited
fourteen years for his liberty, and now he was free he could
wait at least six months or a year for wealth. Would he not
have accepted liberty without riches if it had been offered
to him? Besides, were not those riches chimerical? --
offspring of the brain of the poor Abbe Faria, had they not
died with him? It is true, the letter of the Cardinal Spada
was singularly circumstantial, and Dantes repeated it to
himself, from one end to the other, for he had not forgotten
a word.

Evening came, and Edmond saw the island tinged with the
shades of twilight, and then disappear in the darkness from
all eyes but his own, for he, with vision accustomed to the
gloom of a prison, continued to behold it last of all, for
he remained alone upon deck. The next morn broke off the
coast of Aleria; all day they coasted, and in the evening
saw fires lighted on land; the position of these was no
doubt a signal for landing, for a ship's lantern was hung up
at the mast-head instead of the streamer, and they came to
within a gunshot of the shore. Dantes noticed that the
captain of The Young Amelia had, as he neared the land,
mounted two small culverins, which, without making much
noise, can throw a four ounce ball a thousand paces or so.

But on this occasion the precaution was superfluous, and
everything proceeded with the utmost smoothness and
politeness. Four shallops came off with very little noise
alongside the lugger, which, no doubt, in acknowledgement of
the compliment, lowered her own shallop into the sea, and
the five boats worked so well that by two o'clock in the
morning all the cargo was out of The Young Amelia and on
terra firma. The same night, such a man of regularity was
the patron of The Young Amelia, the profits were divided,
and each man had a hundred Tuscan livres, or about eighty
francs. But the voyage was not ended. They turned the
bowsprit towards Sardinia, where they intended to take in a
cargo, which was to replace what had been discharged. The
second operation was as successful as the first, The Young
Amelia was in luck. This new cargo was destined for the
coast of the Duchy of Lucca, and consisted almost entirely
of Havana cigars, sherry, and Malaga wines.

There they had a bit of a skirmish in getting rid of the
duties; the excise was, in truth, the everlasting enemy of
the patron of The Young Amelia. A customs officer was laid
low, and two sailors wounded; Dantes was one of the latter,
a ball having touched him in the left shoulder. Dantes was
almost glad of this affray, and almost pleased at being
wounded, for they were rude lessons which taught him with
what eye he could view danger, and with what endurance he
could bear suffering. He had contemplated danger with a
smile, and when wounded had exclaimed with the great
philosopher, "Pain, thou art not an evil." He had, moreover,
looked upon the customs officer wounded to death, and,
whether from heat of blood produced by the encounter, or the
chill of human sentiment, this sight had made but slight
impression upon him. Dantes was on the way he desired to
follow, and was moving towards the end he wished to achieve;
his heart was in a fair way of petrifying in his bosom.
Jacopo, seeing him fall, had believed him killed, and
rushing towards him raised him up, and then attended to him
with all the kindness of a devoted comrade.

This world was not then so good as Doctor Pangloss believed
it, neither was it so wicked as Dantes thought it, since
this man, who had nothing to expect from his comrade but the
inheritance of his share of the prize-money, manifested so
much sorrow when he saw him fall. Fortunately, as we have
said, Edmond was only wounded, and with certain herbs
gathered at certain seasons, and sold to the smugglers by
the old Sardinian women, the wound soon closed. Edmond then
resolved to try Jacopo, and offered him in return for his
attention a share of his prize-money, but Jacopo refused it

As a result of the sympathetic devotion which Jacopo had
from the first bestowed on Edmond, the latter was moved to a
certain degree of affection. But this sufficed for Jacopo,
who instinctively felt that Edmond had a right to
superiority of position -- a superiority which Edmond had
concealed from all others. And from this time the kindness
which Edmond showed him was enough for the brave seaman.

Then in the long days on board ship, when the vessel,
gliding on with security over the azure sea, required no
care but the hand of the helmsman, thanks to the favorable
winds that swelled her sails, Edmond, with a chart in his
hand, became the instructor of Jacopo, as the poor Abbe
Faria had been his tutor. He pointed out to him the bearings
of the coast, explained to him the variations of the
compass, and taught him to read in that vast book opened
over our heads which they call heaven, and where God writes
in azure with letters of diamonds. And when Jacopo inquired
of him, "What is the use of teaching all these things to a
poor sailor like me?" Edmond replied, "Who knows? You may
one day be the captain of a vessel. Your fellow-countryman,
Bonaparte, became emperor." We had forgotten to say that
Jacopo was a Corsican.

Two months and a half elapsed in these trips, and Edmond had
become as skilful a coaster as he had been a hardy seaman;
he had formed an acquaintance with all the smugglers on the
coast, and learned all the Masonic signs by which these half
pirates recognize each other. He had passed and re-passed
his Island of Monte Cristo twenty times, but not once had he
found an opportunity of landing there. He then formed a
resolution. As soon as his engagement with the patron of The
Young Amelia ended, he would hire a small vessel on his own
account -- for in his several voyages he had amassed a
hundred piastres -- and under some pretext land at the
Island of Monte Cristo. Then he would be free to make his
researches, not perhaps entirely at liberty, for he would be
doubtless watched by those who accompanied him. But in this
world we must risk something. Prison had made Edmond
prudent, and he was desirous of running no risk whatever.
But in vain did he rack his imagination; fertile as it was,
he could not devise any plan for reaching the island without

Dantes was tossed about on these doubts and wishes, when the
patron, who had great confidence in him, and was very
desirous of retaining him in his service, took him by the
arm one evening and led him to a tavern on the Via del'
Oglio, where the leading smugglers of Leghorn used to
congregate and discuss affairs connected with their trade.
Already Dantes had visited this maritime Bourse two or three
times, and seeing all these hardy free-traders, who supplied
the whole coast for nearly two hundred leagues in extent, he
had asked himself what power might not that man attain who
should give the impulse of his will to all these contrary
and diverging minds. This time it was a great matter that
was under discussion, connected with a vessel laden with
Turkey carpets, stuffs of the Levant, and cashmeres. It was
necessary to find some neutral ground on which an exchange
could be made, and then to try and land these goods on the
coast of France. If the venture was successful the profit
would be enormous, there would be a gain of fifty or sixty
piastres each for the crew.

The patron of The Young Amelia proposed as a place of
landing the Island of Monte Cristo, which being completely
deserted, and having neither soldiers nor revenue officers,
seemed to have been placed in the midst of the ocean since
the time of the heathen Olympus by Mercury, the god of
merchants and robbers, classes of mankind which we in modern
times have separated if not made distinct, but which
antiquity appears to have included in the same category. At
the mention of Monte Cristo Dantes started with joy; he rose
to conceal his emotion, and took a turn around the smoky
tavern, where all the languages of the known world were
jumbled in a lingua franca. When he again joined the two
persons who had been discussing the matter, it had been
decided that they should touch at Monte Cristo and set out
on the following night. Edmond, being consulted, was of
opinion that the island afforded every possible security,
and that great enterprises to be well done should be done
quickly. Nothing then was altered in the plan, and orders
were given to get under weigh next night, and, wind and
weather permitting, to make the neutral island by the
following day.

Chapter 23
The Island of Monte Cristo.

Thus, at length, by one of the unexpected strokes of fortune
which sometimes befall those who have for a long time been
the victims of an evil destiny, Dantes was about to secure
the opportunity he wished for, by simple and natural means,
and land on the island without incurring any suspicion. One
night more and he would be on his way.

The night was one of feverish distraction, and in its
progress visions good and evil passed through Dantes' mind.
If he closed his eyes, he saw Cardinal Spada's letter
written on the wall in characters of flame -- if he slept
for a moment the wildest dreams haunted his brain. He
ascended into grottos paved with emeralds, with panels of
rubies, and the roof glowing with diamond stalactites.
Pearls fell drop by drop, as subterranean waters filter in
their caves. Edmond, amazed, wonderstruck, filled his
pockets with the radiant gems and then returned to daylight,
when be discovered that his prizes had all changed into
common pebbles. He then endeavored to re-enter the
marvellous grottos, but they had suddenly receded, and now
the path became a labyrinth, and then the entrance vanished,
and in vain did he tax his memory for the magic and
mysterious word which opened the splendid caverns of Ali
Baba to the Arabian fisherman. All was useless, the treasure
disappeared, and had again reverted to the genii from whom
for a moment he had hoped to carry it off. The day came at
length, and was almost as feverish as the night had been,
but it brought reason to the aid of imagination, and Dantes
was then enabled to arrange a plan which had hitherto been
vague and unsettled in his brain. Night came, and with it
the preparation for departure, and these preparations served
to conceal Dantes' agitation. He had by degrees assumed such
authority over his companions that he was almost like a
commander on board; and as his orders were always clear,
distinct, and easy of execution, his comrades obeyed him
with celerity and pleasure.

The old patron did not interfere, for he too had recognized
the superiority of Dantes over the crew and himself. He saw
in the young man his natural successor, and regretted that
he had not a daughter, that he might have bound Edmond to
him by a more secure alliance. At seven o'clock in the
evening all was ready, and at ten minutes past seven they
doubled the lighthouse just as the beacon was kindled. The
sea was calm, and, with a fresh breeze from the south-east,
they sailed beneath a bright blue sky, in which God also
lighted up in turn his beacon lights, each of which is a
world. Dantes told them that all hands might turn in, and he
would take the helm. When the Maltese (for so they called
Dantes) had said this, it was sufficient, and all went to
their bunks contentedly. This frequently happened. Dantes,
cast from solitude into the world, frequently experienced an
imperious desire for solitude; and what solitude is more
complete, or more poetical, than that of a ship floating in
isolation on the sea during the obscurity of the night, in
the silence of immensity, and under the eye of heaven?

Now this solitude was peopled with his thoughts, the night
lighted up by his illusions, and the silence animated by his
anticipations. When the patron awoke, the vessel was
hurrying on with every sail set, and every sail full with
the breeze. They were making nearly ten knots an hour. The
Island of Monte Cristo loomed large in the horizon. Edmond
resigned the lugger to the master's care, and went and lay
down in his hammock; but, in spite of a sleepless night, he
could not close his eyes for a moment. Two hours afterwards
he came on deck, as the boat was about to double the Island
of Elba. They were just abreast of Mareciana, and beyond the
flat but verdant Island of La Pianosa. The peak of Monte
Cristo reddened by the burning sun, was seen against the
azure sky. Dantes ordered the helmsman to put down his helm,
in order to leave La Pianosa to starboard, as he knew that
he should shorten his course by two or three knots. About
five o'clock in the evening the island was distinct, and
everything on it was plainly perceptible, owing to that
clearness of the atmosphere peculiar to the light which the
rays of the sun cast at its setting.

Edmond gazed very earnestly at the mass of rocks which gave
out all the variety of twilight colors, from the brightest
pink to the deepest blue; and from time to time his cheeks
flushed, his brow darkened, and a mist passed over his eyes.
Never did gamester, whose whole fortune is staked on one
cast of the die, experience the anguish which Edmond felt in
his paroxysms of hope. Night came, and at ten o'clock they
anchored. The Young Amelia was first at the rendezvous. In
spite of his usual command over himself, Dantes could not
restrain his impetuosity. He was the first to jump on shore;
and had he dared, he would, like Lucius Brutus, have "kissed
his mother earth." It was dark, but at eleven o'clock the
moon rose in the midst of the ocean, whose every wave she
silvered, and then, "ascending high," played in floods of
pale light on the rocky hills of this second Pelion.

The island was familiar to the crew of The Young Amelia, --
it was one of her regular haunts. As to Dantes, he had
passed it on his voyage to and from the Levant, but never
touched at it. He questioned Jacopo. "Where shall we pass
the night?" he inquired.

"Why, on board the tartan," replied the sailor.

"Should we not do better in the grottos?"

"What grottos?"

"Why, the grottos -- caves of the island."

"I do not know of any grottos," replied Jacopo. The cold
sweat sprang forth on Dantes' brow.

"What, are there no grottos at Monte Cristo?" he asked.


For a moment Dantes was speechless; then he remembered that
these caves might have been filled up by some accident, or
even stopped up, for the sake of greater security, by
Cardinal Spada. The point was, then, to discover the hidden
entrance. It was useless to search at night, and Dantes
therefore delayed all investigation until the morning.
Besides, a signal made half a league out at sea, and to
which The Young Amelia replied by a similar signal,
indicated that the moment for business had come. The boat
that now arrived, assured by the answering signal that all
was well, soon came in sight, white and silent as a phantom,
and cast anchor within a cable's length of shore.

Then the landing began. Dantes reflected, as he worked, on
the shout of joy which, with a single word, he could evoke
from all these men, if he gave utterance to the one
unchanging thought that pervaded his heart; but, far from
disclosing this precious secret, he almost feared that he
had already said too much, and by his restlessness and
continual questions, his minute observations and evident
pre-occupation, aroused suspicions. Fortunately, as regarded
this circumstance at least, his painful past gave to his
countenance an indelible sadness, and the glimmerings of
gayety seen beneath this cloud were indeed but transitory.

No one had the slightest suspicion; and when next day,
taking a fowling-piece, powder, and shot, Dantes declared
his intention to go and kill some of the wild goats that
were seen springing from rock to rock, his wish was
construed into a love of sport, or a desire for solitude.
However, Jacopo insisted on following him, and Dantes did
not oppose this, fearing if he did so that he might incur
distrust. Scarcely, however, had they gone a quarter of a
league when, having killed a kid, he begged Jacopo to take
it to his comrades, and request them to cook it, and when
ready to let him know by firing a gun. This and some dried
fruits and a flask of Monte Pulciano, was the bill of fare.
Dantes went on, looking from time to time behind and around
about him. Having reached the summit of a rock, he saw, a
thousand feet beneath him, his companions, whom Jacopo had
rejoined, and who were all busy preparing the repast which
Edmond's skill as a marksman had augmented with a capital

Edmond looked at them for a moment with the sad and gentle
smile of a man superior to his fellows. "In two hours'
time," said he, "these persons will depart richer by fifty
piastres each, to go and risk their lives again by
endeavoring to gain fifty more; then they will return with a
fortune of six hundred francs, and waste this treasure in
some city with the pride of sultans and the insolence of
nabobs. At this moment hope makes me despise their riches,
which seem to me contemptible. Yet perchance to-morrow
deception will so act on me, that I shall, on compulsion,
consider such a contemptible possession as the utmost
happiness. Oh, no!" exclaimed Edmond, "that will not be. The
wise, unerring Faria could not be mistaken in this one
thing. Besides, it were better to die than to continue to
lead this low and wretched life." Thus Dantes, who but three
months before had no desire but liberty had now not liberty
enough, and panted for wealth. The cause was not in Dantes,
but in providence, who, while limiting the power of man, has
filled him with boundless desires.

Meanwhile, by a cleft between two walls of rock, following a
path worn by a torrent, and which, in all human probability,
human foot had never before trod, Dantes approached the spot
where he supposed the grottos must have existed. Keeping
along the shore, and examining the smallest object with
serious attention, he thought he could trace, on certain
rocks, marks made by the hand of man.

Time, which encrusts all physical substances with its mossy
mantle, as it invests all things of the mind with
forgetfulness, seemed to have respected these signs, which
apparently had been made with some degree of regularity, and
probably with a definite purpose. Occasionally the marks
were hidden under tufts of myrtle, which spread into large
bushes laden with blossoms, or beneath parasitical lichen.
So Edmond had to separate the branches or brush away the
moss to know where the guide-marks were. The sight of marks
renewed Edmond fondest hopes. Might it not have been the
cardinal himself who had first traced them, in order that
they might serve as a guide for his nephew in the event of a
catastrophe, which he could not foresee would have been so
complete. This solitary place was precisely suited to the
requirements of a man desirous of burying treasure. Only,
might not these betraying marks have attracted other eyes
than those for whom they were made? and had the dark and
wondrous island indeed faithfully guarded its precious

It seemed, however, to Edmond, who was hidden from his
comrades by the inequalities of the ground, that at sixty
paces from the harbor the marks ceased; nor did they
terminate at any grotto. A large round rock, placed solidly
on its base, was the only spot to which they seemed to lead.
Edmond concluded that perhaps instead of having reached the
end of the route he had only explored its beginning, and he
therefore turned round and retraced his steps.

Meanwhile his comrades had prepared the repast, had got some
water from a spring, spread out the fruit and bread, and
cooked the kid. Just at the moment when they were taking the
dainty animal from the spit, they saw Edmond springing with
the boldness of a chamois from rock to rock, and they fired
the signal agreed upon. The sportsman instantly changed his
direction, and ran quickly towards them. But even while they
watched his daring progress, Edmond's foot slipped, and they
saw him stagger on the edge of a rock and disappear. They
all rushed towards him, for all loved Edmond in spite of his
superiority; yet Jacopo reached him first.

He found Edmond lying prone, bleeding, and almost senseless.
He had rolled down a declivity of twelve or fifteen feet.
They poured a little rum down his throat, and this remedy
which had before been so beneficial to him, produced the
same effect as formerly. Edmond opened his eyes, complained
of great pain in his knee, a feeling of heaviness in his
head, and severe pains in his loins. They wished to carry
him to the shore; but when they touched him, although under
Jacopo's directions, he declared, with heavy groans, that he
could not bear to be moved.

It may be supposed that Dantes did not now think of his
dinner, but he insisted that his comrades, who had not his
reasons for fasting, should have their meal. As for himself,
he declared that he had only need of a little rest, and that
when they returned he should be easier. The sailors did not
require much urging. They were hungry, and the smell of the
roasted kid was very savory, and your tars are not very
ceremonious. An hour afterwards they returned. All that
Edmond had been able to do was to drag himself about a dozen
paces forward to lean against a moss-grown rock.

But, instead of growing easier, Dantes' pains appeared to
increase in violence. The old patron, who was obliged to
sail in the morning in order to land his cargo on the
frontiers of Piedmont and France, between Nice and Frejus,
urged Dantes to try and rise. Edmond made great exertions in
order to comply; but at each effort he fell back, moaning
and turning pale.

"He has broken his ribs," said the commander, in a low
voice. "No matter; he is an excellent fellow, and we must
not leave him. We will try and carry him on board the
tartan." Dantes declared, however, that he would rather die
where he was than undergo the agony which the slightest
movement cost him. "Well," said the patron, "let what may
happen, it shall never be said that we deserted a good
comrade like you. We will not go till evening." This very
much astonished the sailors, although, not one opposed it.
The patron was so strict that this was the first time they
had ever seen him give up an enterprise, or even delay in
its execution. Dantes would not allow that any such
infraction of regular and proper rules should be made in his
favor. "No, no," he said to the patron, "I was awkward, and
it is just that I pay the penalty of my clumsiness. Leave me
a small supply of biscuit, a gun, powder, and balls, to kill
the kids or defend myself at need, and a pickaxe, that I may
build a shelter if you delay in coming back for me."

"But you'll die of hunger," said the patron.

"I would rather do so," was Edmond reply, "than suffer the
inexpressible agonies which the slightest movement causes
me." The patron turned towards his vessel, which was rolling
on the swell in the little harbor, and, with sails partly
set, would be ready for sea when her toilet should be

"What are we to do, Maltese?" asked the captain. "We cannot
leave you here so, and yet we cannot stay."

"Go, go!" exclaimed Dantes.

"We shall be absent at least a week," said the patron, "and
then we must run out of our course to come here and take you
up again."

"Why," said Dantes, "if in two or three days you hail any
fishing-boat, desire them to come here to me. I will pay
twenty-five piastres for my passage back to Leghorn. If you
do not come across one, return for me." The patron shook his

"Listen, Captain Baldi; there's one way of settling this,"
said Jacopo. "Do you go, and I will stay and take care of
the wounded man."

"And give up your share of the venture," said Edmond, "to
remain with me?"

"Yes," said Jacopo, "and without any hesitation."

"You are a good fellow and a kind-hearted messmate," replied
Edmond, "and heaven will recompense you for your generous
intentions; but I do not wish any one to stay with me. A day
or two of rest will set me up, and I hope I shall find among
the rocks certain herbs most excellent for bruises."

A peculiar smile passed over Dantes' lips; he squeezed
Jacopo's hand warmly, but nothing could shake his
determination to remain -- and remain alone. The smugglers
left with Edmond what he had requested and set sail, but not
without turning about several times, and each time making
signs of a cordial farewell, to which Edmond replied with
his hand only, as if he could not move the rest of his body.
Then, when they had disappeared, he said with a smile, --
"'Tis strange that it should be among such men that we find
proofs of friendship and devotion." Then he dragged himself
cautiously to the top of a rock, from which he had a full
view of the sea, and thence he saw the tartan complete her
preparations for sailing, weigh anchor, and, balancing
herself as gracefully as a water-fowl ere it takes to the
wing, set sail. At the end of an hour she was completely out
of sight; at least, it was impossible for the wounded man to
see her any longer from the spot where he was. Then Dantes
rose more agile and light than the kid among the myrtles and
shrubs of these wild rocks, took his gun in one hand, his
pickaxe in the other, and hastened towards the rock on which
the marks he had noted terminated. "And now," he exclaimed,
remembering the tale of the Arabian fisherman, which Faria
had related to him, "now, open sesame!"

Chapter 24
The Secret Cave.

The sun had nearly reached the meridian, and his scorching
rays fell full on the rocks, which seemed themselves
sensible of the heat. Thousands of grasshoppers, hidden in
the bushes, chirped with a monotonous and dull note; the
leaves of the myrtle and olive trees waved and rustled in
the wind. At every step that Edmond took he disturbed the
lizards glittering with the hues of the emerald; afar off he
saw the wild goats bounding from crag to crag. In a word,
the island was inhabited, yet Edmond felt himself alone,
guided by the hand of God. He felt an indescribable
sensation somewhat akin to dread -- that dread of the
daylight which even in the desert makes us fear we are
watched and observed. This feeling was so strong that at the
moment when Edmond was about to begin his labor, he stopped,
laid down his pickaxe, seized his gun, mounted to the summit
of the highest rock, and from thence gazed round in every

But it was not upon Corsica, the very houses of which he
could distinguish; or on Sardinia; or on the Island of Elba,
with its historical associations; or upon the almost
imperceptible line that to the experienced eye of a sailor
alone revealed the coast of Genoa the proud, and Leghorn the
commercial, that he gazed. It was at the brigantine that had
left in the morning, and the tartan that had just set sail,
that Edmond fixed his eyes. The first was just disappearing
in the straits of Bonifacio; the other, following an
opposite direction, was about to round the Island of
Corsica. This sight reassured him. He then looked at the
objects near him. He saw that he was on the highest point of
the island, -- a statue on this vast pedestal of granite,
nothing human appearing in sight, while the blue ocean beat
against the base of the island, and covered it with a fringe
of foam. Then he descended with cautious and slow step, for
he dreaded lest an accident similar to that he had so
adroitly feigned should happen in reality.

Dantes, as we have said, had traced the marks along the
rocks, and he had noticed that they led to a small creek.
which was hidden like the bath of some ancient nymph. This
creek was sufficiently wide at its mouth, and deep in the
centre, to admit of the entrance of a small vessel of the
lugger class, which would be perfectly concealed from

Then following the clew that, in the hands of the Abbe
Faria, had been so skilfully used to guide him through the
Daedalian labyrinth of probabilities, he thought that the
Cardinal Spada, anxious not to be watched, had entered the
creek, concealed his little barque, followed the line marked
by the notches in the rock, and at the end of it had buried
his treasure. It was this idea that had brought Dantes back
to the circular rock. One thing only perplexed Edmond, and
destroyed his theory. How could this rock, which weighed
several tons, have been lifted to this spot, without the aid
of many men? Suddenly an idea flashed across his mind.
Instead of raising it, thought he, they have lowered it. And
he sprang from the rock in order to inspect the base on
which it had formerly stood. He soon perceived that a slope
had been formed, and the rock had slid along this until it
stopped at the spot it now occupied. A large stone had
served as a wedge; flints and pebbles had been inserted
around it, so as to conceal the orifice; this species of
masonry had been covered with earth, and grass and weeds had
grown there, moss had clung to the stones, myrtle-bushes had
taken root, and the old rock seemed fixed to the earth.

Dantes dug away the earth carefully, and detected, or
fancied he detected, the ingenious artifice. He attacked
this wall, cemented by the hand of time, with his pickaxe.
After ten minutes' labor the wall gave way, and a hole large
enough to insert the arm was opened. Dantes went and cut the
strongest olive-tree he could find, stripped off its
branches, inserted it in the hole, and used it as a lever.
But the rock was too heavy, and too firmly wedged, to be
moved by any one man, were he Hercules himself. Dantes saw
that he must attack the wedge. But how? He cast his eyes
around, and saw the horn full of powder which his friend
Jacopo had left him. He smiled; the infernal invention would
serve him for this purpose. With the aid of his pickaxe,
Dantes, after the manner of a labor-saving pioneer, dug a
mine between the upper rock and the one that supported it,
filled it with powder, then made a match by rolling his
handkerchief in saltpetre. He lighted it and retired. The
explosion soon followed; the upper rock was lifted from its
base by the terrific force of the powder; the lower one flew
into pieces; thousands of insects escaped from the aperture
Dantes had previously formed, and a huge snake, like the
guardian demon of the treasure, rolled himself along in
darkening coils, and disappeared.

Dantes approached the upper rock, which now, without any
support, leaned towards the sea. The intrepid
treasure-seeker walked round it, and, selecting the spot
from whence it appeared most susceptible to attack, placed
his lever in one of the crevices, and strained every nerve
to move the mass. The rock, already shaken by the explosion,
tottered on its base. Dantes redoubled his efforts; he
seemed like one of the ancient Titans, who uprooted the
mountains to hurl against the father of the gods. The rock
yielded, rolled over, bounded from point to point, and
finally disappeared in the ocean.

On the spot it had occupied was a circular space, exposing
an iron ring let into a square flag-stone. Dantes uttered a
cry of joy and surprise; never had a first attempt been
crowned with more perfect success. He would fain have
continued, but his knees trembled, and his heart beat so
violently, and his sight became so dim, that he was forced
to pause. This feeling lasted but for a moment. Edmond
inserted his lever in the ring and exerted all his strength;
the flag-stone yielded, and disclosed steps that descended
until they were lost in the obscurity of a subterraneous
grotto. Any one else would have rushed on with a cry of joy.
Dantes turned pale, hesitated, and reflected. "Come," said
he to himself, "be a man. I am accustomed to adversity. I
must not be cast down by the discovery that I have been
deceived. What, then, would be the use of all I have
suffered? The heart breaks when, after having been elated by
flattering hopes, it sees all its illusions destroyed. Faria
has dreamed this; the Cardinal Spada buried no treasure
here; perhaps he never came here, or if he did, Caesar
Borgia, the intrepid adventurer, the stealthy and
indefatigable plunderer, has followed him, discovered his
traces, pursued them as I have done, raised the stone, and
descending before me, has left me nothing." He remained
motionless and pensive, his eyes fixed on the gloomy
aperture that was open at his feet.

"Now that I expect nothing, now that I no longer entertain
the slightest hopes, the end of this adventure becomes
simply a matter of curiosity." And he remained again
motionless and thoughtful.

"Yes, yes; this is an adventure worthy a place in the varied
career of that royal bandit. This fabulous event formed but
a link in a long chain of marvels. Yes, Borgia has been
here, a torch in one hand, a sword in the other, and within
twenty paces, at the foot of this rock, perhaps two guards
kept watch on land and sea, while their master descended, as
I am about to descend, dispelling the darkness before his
awe-inspiring progress."

"But what was the fate of the guards who thus possessed his
secret?" asked Dantes of himself.

"The fate," replied he, smiling, "of those who buried

"Yet, had he come," thought Dantes, "he would have found the
treasure, and Borgia, he who compared Italy to an artichoke,
which he could devour leaf by leaf, knew too well the value
of time to waste it in replacing this rock. I will go down."

Then he descended, a smile on his lips, and murmuring that
last word of human philosophy, "Perhaps!" But instead of the
darkness, and the thick and mephitic atmosphere he had
expected to find, Dantes saw a dim and bluish light, which,
as well as the air, entered, not merely by the aperture he
had just formed, but by the interstices and crevices of the
rock which were visible from without, and through which he
could distinguish the blue sky and the waving branches of
the evergreen oaks, and the tendrils of the creepers that
grew from the rocks. After having stood a few minutes in the
cavern, the atmosphere of which was rather warm than damp,
Dantes' eye, habituated as it was to darkness, could pierce
even to the remotest angles of the cavern, which was of
granite that sparkled like diamonds. "Alas," said Edmond,
smiling, "these are the treasures the cardinal has left; and
the good abbe, seeing in a dream these glittering walls, has
indulged in fallacious hopes."

But he called to mind the words of the will, which he knew
by heart. "In the farthest angle of the second opening,"
said the cardinal's will. He had only found the first
grotto; he had now to seek the second. Dantes continued his
search. He reflected that this second grotto must penetrate
deeper into the island; he examined the stones, and sounded
one part of the wall where he fancied the opening existed,
masked for precaution's sake. The pickaxe struck for a
moment with a dull sound that drew out of Dantes' forehead
large drops of perspiration. At last it seemed to him that
one part of the wall gave forth a more hollow and deeper
echo; he eagerly advanced, and with the quickness of
perception that no one but a prisoner possesses, saw that
there, in all probability, the opening must be.

However, he, like Caesar Borgia, knew the value of time;
and, in order to avoid fruitless toil, he sounded all the
other walls with his pickaxe, struck the earth with the butt
of his gun, and finding nothing that appeared suspicious,
returned to that part of the wall whence issued the
consoling sound he had before heard. He again struck it, and
with greater force. Then a singular thing occurred. As he
struck the wall, pieces of stucco similar to that used in
the ground work of arabesques broke off, and fell to the
ground in flakes, exposing a large white stone. The aperture
of the rock had been closed with stones, then this stucco
had been applied, and painted to imitate granite. Dantes
struck with the sharp end of his pickaxe, which entered
someway between the interstices. It was there he must dig.
But by some strange play of emotion, in proportion as the
proofs that Faria, had not been deceived became stronger, so
did his heart give way, and a feeling of discouragement
stole over him. This last proof, instead of giving him fresh
strength, deprived him of it; the pickaxe descended, or
rather fell; he placed it on the ground, passed his hand
over his brow, and remounted the stairs, alleging to
himself, as an excuse, a desire to be assured that no one
was watching him, but in reality because he felt that he was
about to faint. The island was deserted, and the sun seemed
to cover it with its fiery glance; afar off, a few small
fishing boats studded the bosom of the blue ocean.

Dantes had tasted nothing, but he thought not of hunger at
such a moment; he hastily swallowed a few drops of rum, and
again entered the cavern. The pickaxe that had seemed so
heavy, was now like a feather in his grasp; he seized it,
and attacked the wall. After several blows he perceived that
the stones were not cemented, but had been merely placed one
upon the other, and covered with stucco; he inserted the
point of his pickaxe, and using the handle as a lever, with
joy soon saw the stone turn as if on hinges, and fall at his
feet. He had nothing more to do now, but with the iron tooth
of the pickaxe to draw the stones towards him one by one.
The aperture was already sufficiently large for him to
enter, but by waiting, he could still cling to hope, and
retard the certainty of deception. At last, after renewed
hesitation, Dantes entered the second grotto. The second
grotto was lower and more gloomy than the first; the air
that could only enter by the newly formed opening had the
mephitic smell Dantes was surprised not to find in the outer
cavern. He waited in order to allow pure air to displace the
foul atmosphere, and then went on. At the left of the
opening was a dark and deep angle. But to Dantes' eye there
was no darkness. He glanced around this second grotto; it
was, like the first, empty.

The treasure, if it existed, was buried in this corner. The
time had at length arrived; two feet of earth removed, and
Dantes' fate would be decided. He advanced towards the
angle, and summoning all his resolution, attacked the ground
with the pickaxe. At the fifth or sixth blow the pickaxe
struck against an iron substance. Never did funeral knell,
never did alarm-bell, produce a greater effect on the
hearer. Had Dantes found nothing he could not have become
more ghastly pale. He again struck his pickaxe into the
earth, and encountered the same resistance, but not the same
sound. "It is a casket of wood bound with iron," thought he.
At this moment a shadow passed rapidly before the opening;
Dantes seized his gun, sprang through the opening, and
mounted the stair. A wild goat had passed before the mouth
of the cave, and was feeding at a little distance. This
would have been a favorable occasion to secure his dinner;
but Dantes feared lest the report of his gun should attract

He thought a moment, cut a branch of a resinous tree,
lighted it at the fire at which the smugglers had prepared
their breakfast, and descended with this torch. He wished to
see everything. He approached the hole he had dug, and now,
with the aid of the torch, saw that his pickaxe had in
reality struck against iron and wood. He planted his torch
in the ground and resumed his labor. In an instant a space
three feet long by two feet broad was cleared, and Dantes
could see an oaken coffer, bound with cut steel; in the
middle of the lid he saw engraved on a silver plate, which
was still untarnished, the arms of the Spada family -- viz.,
a sword, pale, on an oval shield, like all the Italian
armorial bearings, and surmounted by a cardinal's hat;
Dantes easily recognized them, Faria had so often drawn them
for him. There was no longer any doubt: the treasure was
there -- no one would have been at such pains to conceal an
empty casket. In an instant he had cleared every obstacle
away, and he saw successively the lock, placed between two
padlocks, and the two handles at each end, all carved as
things were carved at that epoch, when art rendered the
commonest metals precious. Dantes seized the handles, and
strove to lift the coffer; it was impossible. He sought to
open it; lock and padlock were fastened; these faithful
guardians seemed unwilling to surrender their trust. Dantes
inserted the sharp end of the pickaxe between the coffer and
the lid, and pressing with all his force on the handle,
burst open the fastenings. The hinges yielded in their turn
and fell, still holding in their grasp fragments of the
wood, and the chest was open.

Edmond was seized with vertigo; he cocked his gun and laid
it beside him. He then closed his eyes as children do in
order that they may see in the resplendent night of their
own imagination more stars than are visible in the
firmament; then he re-opened them, and stood motionless with
amazement. Three compartments divided the coffer. In the
first, blazed piles of golden coin; in the second, were
ranged bars of unpolished gold, which possessed nothing
attractive save their value; in the third, Edmond grasped
handfuls of diamonds, pearls, and rubies, which, as they
fell on one another, sounded like hail against glass. After
having touched, felt, examined these treasures, Edmond
rushed through the caverns like a man seized with frenzy; he
leaped on a rock, from whence he could behold the sea. He
was alone -- alone with these countless, these unheard-of
treasures! was he awake, or was it but a dream?

He would fain have gazed upon his gold, and yet he had not
strength enough; for an instant he leaned his head in his
hands as if to prevent his senses from leaving him, and then
rushed madly about the rocks of Monte Cristo, terrifying the
wild goats and scaring the sea-fowls with his wild cries and
gestures; then he returned, and, still unable to believe the
evidence of his senses, rushed into the grotto, and found
himself before this mine of gold and jewels. This time he
fell on his knees, and, clasping his hands convulsively,
uttered a prayer intelligible to God alone. He soon became
calmer and more happy, for only now did he begin to realize
his felicity. He then set himself to work to count his
fortune. There were a thousand ingots of gold, each weighing
from two to three pounds; then he piled up twenty-five
thousand crowns, each worth about eighty francs of our
money, and bearing the effigies of Alexander VI. and his
predecessors; and he saw that the complement was not half
empty. And he measured ten double handfuls of pearls,
diamonds, and other gems, many of which, mounted by the most
famous workmen, were valuable beyond their intrinsic worth.
Dantes saw the light gradually disappear, and fearing to be
surprised in the cavern, left it, his gun in his hand. A
piece of biscuit and a small quantity of rum formed his
supper, and he snatched a few hours' sleep, lying over the
mouth of the cave.

It was a night of joy and terror, such as this man of
stupendous emotions had already experienced twice or thrice
in his lifetime.

Chapter 25
The Unknown.

Day, for which Dantes had so eagerly and impatiently waited
with open eyes, again dawned. With the first light Dantes
resumed his search. Again he climbed the rocky height he had
ascended the previous evening, and strained his view to
catch every peculiarity of the landscape; but it wore the
same wild, barren aspect when seen by the rays of the
morning sun which it had done when surveyed by the fading
glimmer of eve. Descending into the grotto, he lifted the
stone, filled his pockets with gems, put the box together as
well and securely as he could, sprinkled fresh sand over the
spot from which it had been taken, and then carefully trod
down the earth to give it everywhere a uniform appearance;
then, quitting the grotto, he replaced the stone, heaping on
it broken masses of rocks and rough fragments of crumbling
granite, filling the interstices with earth, into which he
deftly inserted rapidly growing plants, such as the wild
myrtle and flowering thorn, then carefully watering these
new plantations, he scrupulously effaced every trace of
footsteps, leaving the approach to the cavern as
savage-looking and untrodden as he had found it. This done,
he impatiently awaited the return of his companions. To wait
at Monte Cristo for the purpose of watching like a dragon
over the almost incalculable riches that had thus fallen into
his possession satisfied not the cravings of his heart,
which yearned to return to dwell among mankind, and to
assume the rank, power, and influence which are always
accorded to wealth -- that first and greatest of all the
forces within the grasp of man.

On the sixth day, the smugglers returned. From a distance
Dantes recognized the rig and handling of The Young Amelia,
and dragging himself with affected difficulty towards the
landing-place, he met his companions with an assurance that,
although considerably better than when they quitted him, he
still suffered acutely from his late accident. He then
inquired how they had fared in their trip. To this question
the smugglers replied that, although successful in landing
their cargo in safety, they had scarcely done so when they
received intelligence that a guard-ship had just quitted the
port of Toulon and was crowding all sail towards them. This
obliged them to make all the speed they could to evade the
enemy, when they could but lament the absence of Dantes,
whose superior skill in the management of a vessel would
have availed them so materially. In fact, the pursuing
vessel had almost overtaken them when, fortunately, night
came on, and enabled them to double the Cape of Corsica, and
so elude all further pursuit. Upon the whole, however, the
trip had been sufficiently successful to satisfy all
concerned; while the crew, and particularly Jacopo,
expressed great regrets that Dantes had not been an equal
sharer with themselves in the profits, which amounted to no
less a sum than fifty piastres each.

Edmond preserved the most admirable self-command, not
suffering the faintest indication of a smile to escape him
at the enumeration of all the benefits he would have reaped
had he been able to quit the island; but as The Young Amelia
had merely come to Monte Cristo to fetch him away, he
embarked that same evening, and proceeded with the captain
to Leghorn. Arrived at Leghorn, he repaired to the house of
a Jew, a dealer in precious stones, to whom he disposed of
four of his smallest diamonds for five thousand francs each.
Dantes half feared that such valuable jewels in the hands of
a poor sailor like himself might excite suspicion; but the
cunning purchaser asked no troublesome questions concerning
a bargain by which he gained a round profit of at least
eighty per cent.

The following day Dantes presented Jacopo with an entirely
new vessel, accompanying the gift by a donation of one
hundred piastres, that he might provide himself with a
suitable crew and other requisites for his outfit, upon
condition that he would go at once to Marseilles for the
purpose of inquiring after an old man named Louis Dantes,
residing in the Allees de Meillan, and also a young woman
called Mercedes, an inhabitant of the Catalan village.
Jacopo could scarcely believe his senses at receiving this
magnificent present, which Dantes hastened to account for by
saying that he had merely been a sailor from whim and a
desire to spite his family, who did not allow him as much
money as he liked to spend; but that on his arrival at
Leghorn he had come into possession of a large fortune, left
him by an uncle, whose sole heir he was. The superior
education of Dantes gave an air of such extreme probability
to this statement that it never once occurred to Jacopo to
doubt its accuracy. The term for which Edmond had engaged to
serve on board The Young Amelia having expired, Dantes took
leave of the captain, who at first tried all his powers of
persuasion to induce him to remain as one of the crew, but
having been told the history of the legacy, he ceased to
importune him further. The following morning Jacopo set sail
for Marseilles, with directions from Dantes to join him at
the Island of Monte Cristo.

Having seen Jacopo fairly out of the harbor, Dantes
proceeded to make his final adieus on board The Young
Amelia, distributing so liberal a gratuity among her crew as
to secure for him the good wishes of all, and expressions of
cordial interest in all that concerned him. To the captain
he promised to write when he had made up his mind as to his
future plans. Then Dantes departed for Genoa. At the moment
of his arrival a small yacht was under trial in the bay;
this yacht had been built by order of an Englishman, who,
having heard that the Genoese excelled all other builders
along the shores of the Mediterranean in the construction of
fast-sailing vessels, was desirous of possessing a specimen
of their skill; the price agreed upon between the Englishman
and the Genoese builder was forty thousand francs. Dantes,
struck with the beauty and capability of the little vessel,
applied to its owner to transfer it to him, offering sixty
thousand francs, upon condition that he should be allowed to
take immediate possession. The proposal was too advantageous
to be refused, the more so as the person for whom the yacht
was intended had gone upon a tour through Switzerland, and
was not expected back in less than three weeks or a month,
by which time the builder reckoned upon being able to
complete another. A bargain was therefore struck. Dantes led
the owner of the yacht to the dwelling of a Jew; retired
with the latter for a few minutes to a small back parlor,
and upon their return the Jew counted out to the shipbuilder
the sum of sixty thousand francs in bright gold pieces.

The delighted builder then offered his services in providing
a suitable crew for the little vessel, but this Dantes
declined with many thanks, saying he was accustomed to
cruise about quite alone, and his principal pleasure
consisted in managing his yacht himself; the only thing the
builder could oblige him in would be to contrive a sort of
secret closet in the cabin at his bed's head, the closet to
contain three divisions, so constructed as to be concealed
from all but himself. The builder cheerfully undertook the
commission, and promised to have these secret places
completed by the next day, Dantes furnishing the dimensions
and plan in accordance with which they were to be

The following day Dantes sailed with his yacht from Genoa,
under the inspection of an immense crowd drawn together by
curiosity to see the rich Spanish nobleman who preferred
managing his own yacht. But their wonder was soon changed to
admiration at seeing the perfect skill with which Dantes
handled the helm. The boat, indeed, seemed to be animated
with almost human intelligence, so promptly did it obey the
slightest touch; and Dantes required but a short trial of
his beautiful craft to acknowledge that the Genoese had not
without reason attained their high reputation in the art of
shipbuilding. The spectators followed the little vessel with
their eyes as long as it remained visible; they then turned
their conjectures upon her probable destination. Some
insisted she was making for Corsica, others the Island of
Elba; bets were offered to any amount that she was bound for
Spain; while Africa was positively reported by many persons
as her intended course; but no one thought of Monte Cristo.
Yet thither it was that Dantes guided his vessel, and at
Monte Cristo he arrived at the close of the second day; his
boat had proved herself a first-class sailer, and had come
the distance from Genoa in thirty-five hours. Dantes had
carefully noted the general appearance of the shore, and,
instead of landing at the usual place, he dropped anchor in
the little creek. The island was utterly deserted, and bore
no evidence of having been visited since he went away; his
treasure was just as he had left it. Early on the following
morning he commenced the removal of his riches, and ere
nightfall the whole of his immense wealth was safely
deposited in the compartments of the secret locker.

A week passed by. Dantes employed it in manoeuvring his
yacht round the island, studying it as a skilful horseman
would the animal he destined for some important service,
till at the end of that time he was perfectly conversant
with its good and bad qualities. The former Dantes proposed
to augment, the latter to remedy.

Upon the eighth day he discerned a small vessel under full
sail approaching Monte Cristo. As it drew near, he
recognized it as the boat he had given to Jacopo. He
immediately signalled it. His signal was returned, and in
two hours afterwards the newcomer lay at anchor beside the
yacht. A mournful answer awaited each of Edmond's eager
inquiries as to the information Jacopo had obtained. Old
Dantes was dead, and Mercedes had disappeared. Dantes
listened to these melancholy tidings with outward calmness;
but, leaping lightly ashore, he signified his desire to be
quite alone. In a couple of hours he returned. Two of the
men from Jacopo's boat came on board the yacht to assist in
navigating it, and he gave orders that she should be steered
direct to Marseilles. For his father's death he was in some
manner prepared; but he knew not how to account for the
mysterious disappearance of Mercedes.

Without divulging his secret, Dantes could not give
sufficiently clear instructions to an agent. There were,
besides, other particulars he was desirous of ascertaining,
and those were of a nature he alone could investigate in a
manner satisfactory to himself. His looking-glass had
assured him, during his stay at Leghorn, that he ran no risk
of recognition; moreover, he had now the means of adopting
any disguise he thought proper. One fine morning, then, his
yacht, followed by the little fishing-boat, boldly entered
the port of Marseilles, and anchored exactly opposite the
spot from whence, on the never-to-be-forgotten night of his
departure for the Chateau d'If, he had been put on board the
boat destined to convey him thither. Still Dantes could not
view without a shudder the approach of a gendarme who
accompanied the officers deputed to demand his bill of
health ere the yacht was permitted to hold communication
with the shore; but with that perfect self-possession he had
acquired during his acquaintance with Faria, Dantes coolly
presented an English passport he had obtained from Leghorn,
and as this gave him a standing which a French passport
would not have afforded, he was informed that there existed
no obstacle to his immediate debarkation.

The first person to attract the attention of Dantes, as he
landed on the Canebiere, was one of the crew belonging to
the Pharaon. Edmond welcomed the meeting with this fellow --
who had been one of his own sailors -- as a sure means of
testing the extent of the change which time had worked in
his own appearance. Going straight towards him, he
propounded a variety of questions on different subjects,
carefully watching the man's countenance as he did so; but
not a word or look implied that he had the slightest idea of
ever having seen before the person with whom he was then
conversing. Giving the sailor a piece of money in return for
his civility, Dantes proceeded onwards; but ere he had gone
many steps he heard the man loudly calling him to stop.
Dantes instantly turned to meet him. "I beg your pardon,
sir," said the honest fellow, in almost breathless haste,
"but I believe you made a mistake; you intended to give me a
two-franc piece, and see, you gave me a double Napoleon."

"Thank you, my good friend. I see that I have made a
trifling mistake, as you say; but by way of rewarding your
honesty I give you another double Napoleon, that you may
drink to my health, and be able to ask your messmates to
join you."

So extreme was the surprise of the sailor, that he was
unable even to thank Edmond, whose receding figure he
continued to gaze after in speechless astonishment. "Some
nabob from India," was his comment.

Dantes, meanwhile, went on his way. Each step he trod
oppressed his heart with fresh emotion; his first and most
indelible recollections were there; not a tree, not a
street, that he passed but seemed filled with dear and
cherished memories. And thus he proceeded onwards till he
arrived at the end of the Rue de Noailles, from whence a
full view of the Allees de Meillan was obtained. At this
spot, so pregnant with fond and filial remembrances, his
heart beat almost to bursting, his knees tottered under him,
a mist floated over his sight, and had he not clung for
support to one of the trees, he would inevitably have fallen
to the ground and been crushed beneath the many vehicles
continually passing there. Recovering himself, however, he
wiped the perspiration from his brows, and stopped not again
till he found himself at the door of the house in which his
father had lived.

The nasturtiums and other plants, which his father had
delighted to train before his window, had all disappeared
from the upper part of the house. Leaning against the tree,
he gazed thoughtfully for a time at the upper stories of the
shabby little house. Then he advanced to the door, and asked
whether there were any rooms to be let. Though answered in
the negative, he begged so earnestly to be permitted to
visit those on the fifth floor, that, in despite of the
oft-repeated assurance of the concierge that they were
occupied, Dantes succeeded in inducing the man to go up to
the tenants, and ask permission for a gentleman to be
allowed to look at them.

The tenants of the humble lodging were a young couple who
had been scarcely married a week; and seeing them, Dantes
sighed heavily. Nothing in the two small chambers forming
the apartments remained as it had been in the time of the
elder Dantes; the very paper was different, while the
articles of antiquated furniture with which the rooms had
been filled in Edmond's time had all disappeared; the four
walls alone remained as he had left them. The bed belonging
to the present occupants was placed as the former owner of
the chamber had been accustomed to have his; and, in spite
of his efforts to prevent it, the eyes of Edmond were
suffused in tears as he reflected that on that spot the old
man had breathed his last, vainly calling for his son. The
young couple gazed with astonishment at the sight of their
visitor's emotion, and wondered to see the large tears
silently chasing each other down his otherwise stern and
immovable features; but they felt the sacredness of his
grief, and kindly refrained from questioning him as to its
cause, while, with instinctive delicacy, they left him to
indulge his sorrow alone. When he withdrew from the scene of
his painful recollections, they both accompanied him
downstairs, reiterating their hope that he would come again
whenever he pleased, and assuring him that their poor
dwelling would ever be open to him. As Edmond passed the
door on the fourth floor, he paused to inquire whether
Caderousse the tailor still dwelt there; but he received,
for reply, that the person in question had got into
difficulties, and at the present time kept a small inn on
the route from Bellegarde to Beaucaire.

Having obtained the address of the person to whom the house
in the Allees de Meillan belonged, Dantes next proceeded
thither, and, under the name of Lord Wilmore (the name and
title inscribed on his passport), purchased the small
dwelling for the sum of twenty-five thousand francs, at
least ten thousand more than it was worth; but had its owner
asked half a million, it would unhesitatingly have been
given. The very same day the occupants of the apartments on
the fifth floor of the house, now become the property of
Dantes, were duly informed by the notary who had arranged
the necessary transfer of deeds, etc., that the new landlord
gave them their choice of any of the rooms in the house,
without the least augmentation of rent, upon condition of
their giving instant possession of the two small chambers
they at present inhabited.

This strange event aroused great wonder and curiosity in the
neighborhood of the Allees de Meillan, and a multitude of
theories were afloat, none of which was anywhere near the
truth. But what raised public astonishment to a climax, and
set all conjecture at defiance, was the knowledge that the
same stranger who had in the morning visited the Allees de
Meillan had been seen in the evening walking in the little
village of the Catalans, and afterwards observed to enter a
poor fisherman's hut, and to pass more than an hour in
inquiring after persons who had either been dead or gone
away for more than fifteen or sixteen years. But on the
following day the family from whom all these particulars had
been asked received a handsome present, consisting of an
entirely new fishing-boat, with two seines and a tender. The
delighted recipients of these munificent gifts would gladly
have poured out their thanks to their generous benefactor,
but they had seen him, upon quitting the hut, merely give
some orders to a sailor, and then springing lightly on
horseback, leave Marseilles by the Porte d'Aix.

Chapter 26
The Pont du Gard Inn.

Such of my readers as have made a pedestrian excursion to
the south of France may perchance have noticed, about midway
between the town of Beaucaire and the village of Bellegarde,
-- a little nearer to the former than to the latter, -- a
small roadside inn, from the front of which hung, creaking
and flapping in the wind, a sheet of tin covered with a
grotesque representation of the Pont du Gard. This modern
place of entertainment stood on the left-hand side of the
post road, and backed upon the Rhone. It also boasted of
what in Languedoc is styled a garden, consisting of a small
plot of ground, on the side opposite to the main entrance
reserved for the reception of guests. A few dingy olives and
stunted fig-trees struggled hard for existence, but their
withered dusty foliage abundantly proved how unequal was the
conflict. Between these sickly shrubs grew a scanty supply
of garlic, tomatoes, and eschalots; while, lone and
solitary, like a forgotten sentinel, a tall pine raised its
melancholy head in one of the corners of this unattractive
spot, and displayed its flexible stem and fan-shaped summit
dried and cracked by the fierce heat of the sub-tropical

In the surrounding plain, which more resembled a dusty lake
than solid ground, were scattered a few miserable stalks of
wheat, the effect, no doubt, of a curious desire on the part
of the agriculturists of the country to see whether such a
thing as the raising of grain in those parched regions was
practicable. Each stalk served as a perch for a grasshopper,
which regaled the passers by through this Egyptian scene
with its strident, monotonous note.

For about seven or eight years the little tavern had been
kept by a man and his wife, with two servants, -- a
chambermaid named Trinette, and a hostler called Pecaud.
This small staff was quite equal to all the requirements,
for a canal between Beaucaire and Aiguemortes had
revolutionized transportation by substituting boats for the
cart and the stagecoach. And, as though to add to the daily
misery which this prosperous canal inflicted on the
unfortunate inn-keeper, whose utter ruin it was fast
accomplishing, it was situated between the Rhone from which
it had its source and the post-road it had depleted, not a
hundred steps from the inn, of which we have given a brief
but faithful description.

The inn-keeper himself was a man of from forty to fifty-five
years of age, tall, strong, and bony, a perfect specimen of
the natives of those southern latitudes; he had dark,
sparkling, and deep-set eyes, hooked nose, and teeth white
as those of a carnivorous animal; his hair, like his beard,
which he wore under his chin, was thick and curly, and in
spite of his age but slightly interspersed with a few
silvery threads. His naturally dark complexion had assumed a
still further shade of brown from the habit the unfortunate
man had acquired of stationing himself from morning till eve
at the threshold of his door, on the lookout for guests who
seldom came, yet there he stood, day after day, exposed to
the meridional rays of a burning sun, with no other
protection for his head than a red handkerchief twisted
around it, after the manner of the Spanish muleteers. This
man was our old acquaintance, Gaspard Caderousse. His wife,
on the contrary, whose maiden name had been Madeleine
Radelle, was pale, meagre, and sickly-looking. Born in the
neighborhood of Arles, she had shared in the beauty for
which its women are proverbial; but that beauty had
gradually withered beneath the devastating influence of the
slow fever so prevalent among dwellers by the ponds of
Aiguemortes and the marshes of Camargue. She remained nearly
always in her second-floor chamber, shivering in her chair,
or stretched languid and feeble on her bed, while her
husband kept his daily watch at the door -- a duty he
performed with so much the greater willingness, as it saved
him the necessity of listening to the endless plaints and
murmurs of his helpmate, who never saw him without breaking
out into bitter invectives against fate; to all of which her
husband would calmly return an unvarying reply, in these
philosophic words: --

"Hush, La Carconte. It is God's pleasure that things should
be so."

The sobriquet of La Carconte had been bestowed on Madeleine
Radelle from the fact that she had been born in a village,
so called, situated between Salon and Lambesc; and as a
custom existed among the inhabitants of that part of France
where Caderousse lived of styling every person by some
particular and distinctive appellation, her husband had
bestowed on her the name of La Carconte in place of her
sweet and euphonious name of Madeleine, which, in all
probability, his rude gutteral language would not have
enabled him to pronounce. Still, let it not be supposed that
amid this affected resignation to the will of Providence,
the unfortunate inn-keeper did not writhe under the double
misery of seeing the hateful canal carry off his customers
and his profits, and the daily infliction of his peevish
partner's murmurs and lamentations.

Like other dwellers in the south, he was a man of sober
habits and moderate desires, but fond of external show,
vain, and addicted to display. During the days of his
prosperity, not a festivity took place without himself and
wife being among the spectators. He dressed in the
picturesque costume worn upon grand occasions by the
inhabitants of the south of France, bearing equal
resemblance to the style adopted both by the Catalans and
Andalusians; while La Carconte displayed the charming
fashion prevalent among the women of Arles, a mode of attire
borrowed equally from Greece and Arabia. But, by degrees,
watch-chains, necklaces, parti-colored scarfs, embroidered
bodices, velvet vests, elegantly worked stockings, striped
gaiters, and silver buckles for the shoes, all disappeared;
and Gaspard Caderousse, unable to appear abroad in his
pristine splendor, had given up any further participation in
the pomps and vanities, both for himself and wife, although
a bitter feeling of envious discontent filled his mind as
the sound of mirth and merry music from the joyous revellers
reached even the miserable hostelry to which he still clung,
more for the shelter than the profit it afforded.

Caderousse, then, was, as usual, at his place of observation
before the door, his eyes glancing listlessly from a piece
of closely shaven grass -- on which some fowls were
industriously, though fruitlessly, endeavoring to turn up
some grain or insect suited to their palate -- to the
deserted road, which led away to the north and south, when
he was aroused by the shrill voice of his wife, and
grumbling to himself as he went, he mounted to her chamber,
first taking care, however, to set the entrance door wide
open, as an invitation to any chance traveller who might be

At the moment Caderousse quitted his sentry-like watch
before the door, the road on which he so eagerly strained
his sight was void and lonely as a desert at mid-day. There
it lay stretching out into one interminable line of dust and
sand, with its sides bordered by tall, meagre trees,
altogether presenting so uninviting an appearance, that no
one in his senses could have imagined that any traveller, at
liberty to regulate his hours for journeying, would choose
to expose himself in such a formidable Sahara. Nevertheless,
had Caderousse but retained his post a few minutes longer,
he might have caught a dim outline of something approaching
from the direction of Bellegarde; as the moving object drew
nearer, he would easily have perceived that it consisted of
a man and horse, between whom the kindest and most amiable
understanding appeared to exist. The horse was of Hungarian
breed, and ambled along at an easy pace. His rider was a
priest, dressed in black, and wearing a three-cornered hat;
and, spite of the ardent rays of a noonday sun, the pair
came on with a fair degree of rapidity.

Having arrived before the Pont du Gard, the horse stopped,
but whether for his own pleasure or that of his rider would
have been difficult to say. However that might have been,
the priest, dismounting, led his steed by the bridle in
search of some place to which he could secure him. Availing
himself of a handle that projected from a half-fallen door,
he tied the animal safely and having drawn a red cotton
handkerchief, from his pocket, wiped away the perspiration
that streamed from his brow, then, advancing to the door,
struck thrice with the end of his iron-shod stick. At this
unusual sound, a huge black dog came rushing to meet the
daring assailant of his ordinarily tranquil abode, snarling
and displaying his sharp white teeth with a determined
hostility that abundantly proved how little he was
accustomed to society. At that moment a heavy footstep was
heard descending the wooden staircase that led from the
upper floor, and, with many bows and courteous smiles, mine
host of the Pont du Gard besought his guest to enter.

"You are welcome, sir, most welcome!" repeated the
astonished Caderousse. "Now, then, Margotin," cried he,
speaking to the dog, "will you be quiet? Pray don't heed
him, sir! -- he only barks, he never bites. I make no doubt
a glass of good wine would be acceptable this dreadfully hot
day." Then perceiving for the first time the garb of the
traveller he had to entertain, Caderousse hastily exclaimed:
"A thousand pardons! I really did not observe whom I had the
honor to receive under my poor roof. What would the abbe
please to have? What refreshment can I offer? All I have is
at his service."

The priest gazed on the person addressing him with a long
and searching gaze -- there even seemed a disposition on his
part to court a similar scrutiny on the part of the
inn-keeper; then, observing in the countenance of the latter
no other expression than extreme surprise at his own want of
attention to an inquiry so courteously worded, he deemed it
as well to terminate this dumb show, and therefore said,
speaking with a strong Italian accent, "You are, I presume,
M. Caderousse?"

"Yes, sir," answered the host, even more surprised at the
question than he had been by the silence which had preceded
it; "I am Gaspard Caderousse, at your service."

"Gaspard Caderousse," rejoined the priest. "Yes, --
Christian and surname are the same. You formerly lived, I
believe in the Allees de Meillan, on the fourth floor?"

"I did."

"And you followed the business of a tailor?"

"True, I was a tailor, till the trade fell off. It is so hot
at Marseilles, that really I believe that the respectable
inhabitants will in time go without any clothing whatever.
But talking of heat, is there nothing I can offer you by way
of refreshment?"

"Yes; let me have a bottle of your best wine, and then, with
your permission, we will resume our conversation from where
we left off."

"As you please, sir," said Caderousse, who, anxious not to
lose the present opportunity of finding a customer for one
of the few bottles of Cahors still remaining in his
possession, hastily raised a trap-door in the floor of the
apartment they were in, which served both as parlor and
kitchen. Upon issuing forth from his subterranean retreat at
the expiration of five minutes, he found the abbe seated
upon a wooden stool, leaning his elbow on a table, while
Margotin, whose animosity seemed appeased by the unusual
command of the traveller for refreshments, had crept up to
him, and had established himself very comfortably between
his knees, his long, skinny neck resting on his lap, while
his dim eye was fixed earnestly on the traveller's face.

"Are you quite alone?" inquired the guest, as Caderousse
placed before him the bottle of wine and a glass.

"Quite, quite alone," replied the man -- "or, at least,
practically so, for my poor wife, who is the only person in
the house besides myself, is laid up with illness, and
unable to render me the least assistance, poor thing!"

"You are married, then?" said the priest, with a show of
interest, glancing round as he spoke at the scanty
furnishings of the apartment.

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