Part 7 out of 31
"Ah, sir," said Caderousse with a sigh, "it is easy to
perceive I am not a rich man; but in this world a man does
not thrive the better for being honest." The abbe fixed on
him a searching, penetrating glance.
"Yes, honest -- I can certainly say that much for myself,"
continued the inn-keeper, fairly sustaining the scrutiny of
the abbe's gaze; "I can boast with truth of being an honest
man; and," continued he significantly, with a hand on his
breast and shaking his head, "that is more than every one
can say nowadays."
"So much the better for you, if what you assert be true,"
said the abbe; "for I am firmly persuaded that, sooner or
later, the good will be rewarded, and the wicked punished."
"Such words as those belong to your profession," answered
Caderousse, "and you do well to repeat them; but," added he,
with a bitter expression of countenance, "one is free to
believe them or not, as one pleases."
"You are wrong to speak thus," said the abbe; "and perhaps I
may, in my own person, be able to prove to you how
completely you are in error."
"What mean you?" inquired Caderousse with a look of
"In the first place, I must be satisfied that you are the
person I am in search of."
"What proofs do you require?"
"Did you, in the year 1814 or 1815, know anything of a young
sailor named Dantes?"
"Dantes? Did I know poor dear Edmond? Why, Edmond Dantes and
myself were intimate friends!" exclaimed Caderousse, whose
countenance flushed darkly as he caught the penetrating gaze
of the abbe fixed on him, while the clear, calm eye of the
questioner seemed to dilate with feverish scrutiny.
"You remind me," said the priest, "that the young man
concerning whom I asked you was said to bear the name of
"Said to bear the name!" repeated Caderousse, becoming
excited and eager. "Why, he was so called as truly as I
myself bore the appellation of Gaspard Caderousse; but tell
me, I pray, what has become of poor Edmond? Did you know
him? Is he alive and at liberty? Is he prosperous and
"He died a more wretched, hopeless, heart-broken prisoner
than the felons who pay the penalty of their crimes at the
galleys of Toulon."
A deadly pallor followed the flush on the countenance of
Caderousse, who turned away, and the priest saw him wiping
the tears from his eyes with the corner of the red
handkerchief twisted round his head.
"Poor fellow, poor fellow!" murmured Caderousse. "Well,
there, sir, is another proof that good people are never
rewarded on this earth, and that none but the wicked
prosper. Ah," continued Caderousse, speaking in the highly
colored language of the south, "the world grows worse and
worse. Why does not God, if he really hates the wicked, as
he is said to do, send down brimstone and fire, and consume
"You speak as though you had loved this young Dantes,"
observed the abbe, without taking any notice of his
"And so I did," replied Caderousse; "though once, I confess,
I envied him his good fortune. But I swear to you, sir, I
swear to you, by everything a man holds dear, I have, since
then, deeply and sincerely lamented his unhappy fate." There
was a brief silence, during which the fixed, searching eye
of the abbe was employed in scrutinizing the agitated
features of the inn-keeper.
"You knew the poor lad, then?" continued Caderousse.
"I was called to see him on his dying bed, that I might
administer to him the consolations of religion."
"And of what did he die?" asked Caderousse in a choking
"Of what, think you, do young and strong men die in prison,
when they have scarcely numbered their thirtieth year,
unless it be of imprisonment?" Caderousse wiped away the
large beads of perspiration that gathered on his brow.
"But the strangest part of the story is," resumed the abbe,
"that Dantes, even in his dying moments, swore by his
crucified Redeemer, that he was utterly ignorant of the
cause of his detention."
"And so he was," murmured Caderousse. "How should he have
been otherwise? Ah, sir, the poor fellow told you the
"And for that reason, he besought me to try and clear up a
mystery he had never been able to penetrate, and to clear
his memory should any foul spot or stain have fallen on it."
And here the look of the abbe, becoming more and more fixed,
seemed to rest with ill-concealed satisfaction on the gloomy
depression which was rapidly spreading over the countenance
"A rich Englishman," continued the abbe, "who had been his
companion in misfortune, but had been released from prison
during the second restoration, was possessed of a diamond of
immense value; this jewel he bestowed on Dantes upon himself
quitting the prison, as a mark of his gratitude for the
kindness and brotherly care with which Dantes had nursed him
in a severe illness he underwent during his confinement.
Instead of employing this diamond in attempting to bribe his
jailers, who might only have taken it and then betrayed him
to the governor, Dantes carefully preserved it, that in the
event of his getting out of prison he might have wherewithal
to live, for the sale of such a diamond would have quite
sufficed to make his fortune."
"Then, I suppose," asked Caderousse, with eager, glowing
looks, "that it was a stone of immense value?"
"Why, everything is relative," answered the abbe. "To one in
Edmond's position the diamond certainly was of great value.
It was estimated at fifty thousand francs."
"Bless me!" exclaimed Caderousse, "fifty thousand francs!
Surely the diamond was as large as a nut to be worth all
"No," replied the abbe, "it was not of such a size as that;
but you shall judge for yourself. I have it with me."
The sharp gaze of Caderousse was instantly directed towards
the priest's garments, as though hoping to discover the
location of the treasure. Calmly drawing forth from his
pocket a small box covered with black shagreen, the abbe
opened it, and displayed to the dazzled eyes of Caderousse
the sparkling jewel it contained, set in a ring of admirable
workmanship. "And that diamond," cried Caderousse, almost
breathless with eager admiration, "you say, is worth fifty
"It is, without the setting, which is also valuable,"
replied the abbe, as he closed the box, and returned it to
his pocket, while its brilliant hues seemed still to dance
before the eyes of the fascinated inn-keeper.
"But how comes the diamond in your possession, sir? Did
Edmond make you his heir?"
"No, merely his testamentary executor. `I once possessed
four dear and faithful friends, besides the maiden to whom I
was betrothed' he said; `and I feel convinced they have all
unfeignedly grieved over my loss. The name of one of the
four friends is Caderousse.'" The inn-keeper shivered.
"`Another of the number,'" continued the abbe, without
seeming to notice the emotion of Caderousse, "`is called
Danglars; and the third, in spite of being my rival,
entertained a very sincere affection for me.'" A fiendish
smile played over the features of Caderousse, who was about
to break in upon the abbe's speech, when the latter, waving
his hand, said, "Allow me to finish first, and then if you
have any observations to make, you can do so afterwards.
`The third of my friends, although my rival, was much
attached to me, -- his name was Fernand; that of my
betrothed was' -- Stay, stay," continued the abbe, "I have
forgotten what he called her."
"Mercedes," said Caderousse eagerly.
"True," said the abbe, with a stifled sigh, "Mercedes it
"Go on," urged Caderousse.
"Bring me a carafe of water," said the abbe.
Caderousse quickly performed the stranger's bidding; and
after pouring some into a glass, and slowly swallowing its
contents, the abbe, resuming his usual placidity of manner,
said, as he placed his empty glass on the table, -- "Where
did we leave off?"
"The name of Edmond's betrothed was Mercedes."
"To be sure. `You will go to Marseilles,' said Dantes, --
for you understand, I repeat his words just as he uttered
them. Do you understand?"
"`You will sell this diamond; you will divide the money into
five equal parts, and give an equal portion to these good
friends, the only persons who have loved me upon earth.'"
"But why into five parts?" asked Caderousse; "you only
mentioned four persons."
"Because the fifth is dead, as I hear. The fifth sharer in
Edmond's bequest, was his own father."
"Too true, too true!" ejaculated Caderousse, almost
suffocated by the contending passions which assailed him,
"the poor old man did die."
"I learned so much at Marseilles," replied the abbe, making
a strong effort to appear indifferent; "but from the length
of time that has elapsed since the death of the elder
Dantes, I was unable to obtain any particulars of his end.
Can you enlighten me on that point?"
"I do not know who could if I could not," said Caderousse.
"Why, I lived almost on the same floor with the poor old
man. Ah, yes, about a year after the disappearance of his
son the poor old man died."
"Of what did he die?"
"Why, the doctors called his complaint gastro-enteritis, I
believe; his acquaintances say he died of grief; but I, who
saw him in his dying moments, I say he died of" --
"Of what?" asked the priest, anxiously and eagerly.
"Why, of downright starvation."
"Starvation!" exclaimed the abbe, springing from his seat.
"Why, the vilest animals are not suffered to die by such a
death as that. The very dogs that wander houseless and
homeless in the streets find some pitying hand to cast them
a mouthful of bread; and that a man, a Christian, should be
allowed to perish of hunger in the midst of other men who
call themselves Christians, is too horrible for belief. Oh,
it is impossible -- utterly impossible!"
"What I have said, I have said," answered Caderousse.
"And you are a fool for having said anything about it," said
a voice from the top of the stairs. "Why should you meddle
with what does not concern you?"
The two men turned quickly, and saw the sickly countenance
of La Carconte peering between the baluster rails; attracted
by the sound of voices, she had feebly dragged herself down
the stairs, and, seated on the lower step, head on knees,
she had listened to the foregoing conversation. "Mind your
own business, wife," replied Caderousse sharply. "This
gentleman asks me for information, which common politeness
will not permit me to refuse."
"Politeness, you simpleton!" retorted La Carconte. "What
have you to do with politeness, I should like to know?
Better study a little common prudence. How do you know the
motives that person may have for trying to extract all he
can from you?"
"I pledge you my word, madam," said the abbe, "that my
intentions are good; and that you husband can incur no risk,
provided he answers me candidly."
"Ah, that's all very fine," retorted the woman. "Nothing is
easier than to begin with fair promises and assurances of
nothing to fear; but when poor, silly folks, like my husband
there, have been persuaded to tell all they know, the
promises and assurances of safety are quickly forgotten; and
at some moment when nobody is expecting it, behold trouble
and misery, and all sorts of persecutions, are heaped on the
unfortunate wretches, who cannot even see whence all their
"Nay, nay, my good woman, make yourself perfectly easy, I
beg of you. Whatever evils may befall you, they will not be
occasioned by my instrumentality, that I solemnly promise
La Carconte muttered a few inarticulate words, then let her
head again drop upon her knees, and went into a fit of ague,
leaving the two speakers to resume the conversation, but
remaining so as to be able to hear every word they uttered.
Again the abbe had been obliged to swallow a draught of
water to calm the emotions that threatened to overpower him.
When he had sufficiently recovered himself, he said, "It
appears, then, that the miserable old man you were telling
me of was forsaken by every one. Surely, had not such been
the case, he would not have perished by so dreadful a
"Why, he was not altogether forsaken," continued Caderousse,
"for Mercedes the Catalan and Monsieur Morrel were very kind
to him; but somehow the poor old man had contracted a
profound hatred for Fernand -- the very person," added
Caderousse with a bitter smile, "that you named just now as
being one of Dantes' faithful and attached friends."
"And was he not so?" asked the abbe.
"Gaspard, Gaspard!" murmured the woman, from her seat on the
stairs, "mind what you are saying!" Caderousse made no reply
to these words, though evidently irritated and annoyed by
the interruption, but, addressing the abbe, said, "Can a man
be faithful to another whose wife he covets and desires for
himself? But Dantes was so honorable and true in his own
nature, that he believed everybody's professions of
friendship. Poor Edmond, he was cruelly deceived; but it was
fortunate that he never knew, or he might have found it more
difficult, when on his deathbed, to pardon his enemies. And,
whatever people may say," continued Caderousse, in his
native language, which was not altogether devoid of rude
poetry, "I cannot help being more frightened at the idea of
the malediction of the dead than the hatred of the living."
"Imbecile!" exclaimed La Carconte.
"Do you, then, know in what manner Fernand injured Dantes?"
inquired the abbe of Caderousse.
"Do I? No one better."
"Speak out then, say what it was!"
"Gaspard!" cried La Carconte, "do as you will; you are
master -- but if you take my advice you'll hold your
"Well, wife," replied Caderousse, "I don't know but what
"So you will say nothing?" asked the abbe.
"Why, what good would it do?" asked Caderousse. "If the poor
lad were living, and came to me and begged that I would
candidly tell which were his true and which his false
friends, why, perhaps, I should not hesitate. But you tell
me he is no more, and therefore can have nothing to do with
hatred or revenge, so let all such feeling be buried with
"You prefer, then," said the abbe, "that I should bestow on
men you say are false and treacherous, the reward intended
for faithful friendship?"
"That is true enough," returned Caderousse. "You say truly,
the gift of poor Edmond was not meant for such traitors as
Fernand and Danglars; besides, what would it be to them? no
more than a drop of water in the ocean."
"Remember," chimed in La Carconte, "those two could crush
you at a single blow!"
"How so?" inquired the abbe. "Are these persons, then, so
rich and powerful?"
"Do you not know their history?"
"I do not. Pray relate it to me!" Caderousse seemed to
reflect for a few moments, then said, "No, truly, it would
take up too much time."
"Well, my good friend," returned the abbe, in a tone that
indicated utter indifference on his part, "you are at
liberty, either to speak or be silent, just as you please;
for my own part, I respect your scruples and admire your
sentiments; so let the matter end. I shall do my duty as
conscientiously as I can, and fulfil my promise to the dying
man. My first business will be to dispose of this diamond."
So saying, the abbe again draw the small box from his
pocket, opened it, and contrived to hold it in such a light,
that a bright flash of brilliant hues passed before the
dazzled gaze of Caderousse.
"Wife, wife!" cried he in a hoarse voice, "come here!"
"Diamond!" exclaimed La Carconte, rising and descending to
the chamber with a tolerably firm step; "what diamond are
you talking about?"
"Why, did you not hear all we said?" inquired Caderousse.
"It is a beautiful diamond left by poor Edmond Dantes, to be
sold, and the money divided between his father, Mercedes,
his betrothed bride, Fernand, Danglars, and myself. The
jewel is worth at least fifty thousand francs."
"Oh, what a magnificent jewel!" cried the astonished woman.
"The fifth part of the profits from this stone belongs to us
then, does it not?" asked Caderousse.
"It does," replied the abbe; "with the addition of an equal
division of that part intended for the elder Dantes, which I
believe myself at liberty to divide equally with the four
"And why among us four?" inquired Caderousse.
"As being the friends Edmond esteemed most faithful and
devoted to him."
"I don't call those friends who betray and ruin you,"
murmured the wife in her turn, in a low, muttering voice.
"Of course not!" rejoined Caderousse quickly; "no more do I,
and that was what I was observing to this gentleman just
now. I said I looked upon it as a sacrilegious profanation
to reward treachery, perhaps crime."
"Remember," answered the abbe calmly, as he replaced the
jewel and its case in the pocket of his cassock, "it is your
fault, not mine, that I do so. You will have the goodness to
furnish me with the address of both Fernand and Danglars, in
order that I may execute Edmond's last wishes." The
agitation of Caderousse became extreme, and large drops of
perspiration rolled from his heated brow. As he saw the abbe
rise from his seat and go towards the door, as though to
ascertain if his horse were sufficiently refreshed to
continue his journey, Caderousse and his wife exchanged
looks of deep meaning.
"There, you see, wife," said the former, "this splendid
diamond might all be ours, if we chose!"
"Do you believe it?"
"Why, surely a man of his holy profession would not deceive
"Well," replied La Carconte, "do as you like. For my part, I
wash my hands of the affair." So saying, she once more
climbed the staircase leading to her chamber, her body
convulsed with chills, and her teeth rattling in her head,
in spite of the intense heat of the weather. Arrived at the
top stair, she turned round, and called out, in a warning
tone, to her husband, "Gaspard, consider well what you are
about to do!"
"I have both reflected and decided," answered he. La
Carconte then entered her chamber, the flooring of which
creaked beneath her heavy, uncertain tread, as she proceeded
towards her arm-chair, into which she fell as though
"Well," asked the abbe, as he returned to the apartment
below, "what have you made up your mind to do?"
"To tell you all I know," was the reply.
"I certainly think you act wisely in so doing," said the
priest. "Not because I have the least desire to learn
anything you may please to conceal from me, but simply that
if, through your assistance, I could distribute the legacy
according to the wishes of the testator, why, so much the
better, that is all."
"I hope it may be so," replied Caderousse, his face flushed
"I am all attention," said the abbe.
"Stop a minute," answered Caderousse; "we might be
interrupted in the most interesting part of my story, which
would be a pity; and it is as well that your visit hither
should be made known only to ourselves." With these words he
went stealthily to the door, which he closed, and, by way of
still greater precaution, bolted and barred it, as he was
accustomed to do at night. During this time the abbe had
chosen his place for listening at his ease. He removed his
seat into a corner of the room, where he himself would be in
deep shadow, while the light would be fully thrown on the
narrator; then, with head bent down and hands clasped, or
rather clinched together, he prepared to give his whole
attention to Caderousse, who seated himself on the little
stool, exactly opposite to him.
"Remember, this is no affair of mine," said the trembling
voice of La Carconte, as though through the flooring of her
chamber she viewed the scene that was enacting below.
"Enough, enough!" replied Caderousse; "say no more about it;
I will take all the consequences upon myself." And he began
"First, sir," said Caderousse, "you must make me a promise."
"What is that?" inquired the abbe.
"Why, if you ever make use of the details I am about to give
you, that you will never let any one know that it was I who
supplied them; for the persons of whom I am about to talk
are rich and powerful, and if they only laid the tips of
their fingers on me, I should break to pieces like glass."
"Make yourself easy, my friend," replied the abbe. "I am a
priest, and confessions die in my breast. Recollect, our
only desire is to carry out, in a fitting manner, the last
wishes of our friend. Speak, then, without reserve, as
without hatred; tell the truth, the whole truth; I do not
know, never may know, the persons of whom you are about to
speak; besides, I am an Italian, and not a Frenchman, and
belong to God, and not to man, and I shall shortly retire to
my convent, which I have only quitted to fulfil the last
wishes of a dying man." This positive assurance seemed to
give Caderousse a little courage.
"Well, then, under these circumstances," said Caderousse, "I
will, I even believe I ought to undeceive you as to the
friendship which poor Edmond thought so sincere and
"Begin with his father, if you please." said the abbe;
"Edmond talked to me a great deal about the old man for whom
he had the deepest love."
"The history is a sad one, sir," said Caderousse, shaking
his head; "perhaps you know all the earlier part of it?"
"Yes." answered the abbe; "Edmond related to me everything
until the moment when he was arrested in a small cabaret
close to Marseilles."
"At La Reserve! Oh, yes; I can see it all before me this
"Was it not his betrothal feast?"
"It was and the feast that began so gayly had a very
sorrowful ending; a police commissary, followed by four
soldiers, entered, and Dantes was arrested."
"Yes, and up to this point I know all," said the priest.
"Dantes himself only knew that which personally concerned
him, for he never beheld again the five persons I have named
to you, or heard mention of any one of them."
"Well, when Dantes was arrested, Monsieur Morrel hastened to
obtain the particulars, and they were very sad. The old man
returned alone to his home, folded up his wedding suit with
tears in his eyes, and paced up and down his chamber the
whole day, and would not go to bed at all, for I was
underneath him and heard him walking the whole night; and
for myself, I assure you I could not sleep either, for the
grief of the poor father gave me great uneasiness, and every
step he took went to my heart as really as if his foot had
pressed against my breast. The next day Mercedes came to
implore the protection of M. de Villefort; she did not
obtain it, however, and went to visit the old man; when she
saw him so miserable and heart-broken, having passed a
sleepless night, and not touched food since the previous
day, she wished him to go with her that she might take care
of him; but the old man would not consent. `No,' was the old
man's reply, `I will not leave this house, for my poor dear
boy loves me better than anything in the world; and if he
gets out of prison he will come and see me the first thing,
and what would he think if I did not wait here for him?' I
heard all this from the window, for I was anxious that
Mercedes should persuade the old man to accompany her, for
his footsteps over my head night and day did not leave me a
"But did you not go up-stairs and try to console the poor
old man?" asked the abbe.
"Ah, sir," replied Caderousse, "we cannot console those who
will not be consoled, and he was one of these; besides, I
know not why, but he seemed to dislike seeing me. One night,
however, I heard his sobs, and I could not resist my desire
to go up to him, but when I reached his door he was no
longer weeping but praying. I cannot now repeat to you, sir,
all the eloquent words and imploring language he made use
of; it was more than piety, it was more than grief, and I,
who am no canter, and hate the Jesuits, said then to myself,
`It is really well, and I am very glad that I have not any
children; for if I were a father and felt such excessive
grief as the old man does, and did not find in my memory or
heart all he is now saying, I should throw myself into the
sea at once, for I could not bear it.'"
"Poor father!" murmured the priest.
"From day to day he lived on alone, and more and more
solitary. M. Morrel and Mercedes came to see him, but his
door was closed; and, although I was certain he was at home,
he would not make any answer. One day, when, contrary to his
custom, he had admitted Mercedes, and the poor girl, in
spite of her own grief and despair, endeavored to console
him, he said to her, -- `Be assured, my dear daughter, he is
dead; and instead of expecting him, it is he who is awaiting
us; I am quite happy, for I am the oldest, and of course
shall see him first.' However well disposed a person may be,
why you see we leave off after a time seeing persons who are
in sorrow, they make one melancholy; and so at last old
Dantes was left all to himself, and I only saw from time to
time strangers go up to him and come down again with some
bundle they tried to hide; but I guessed what these bundles
were, and that he sold by degrees what he had to pay for his
subsistence. At length the poor old fellow reached the end
of all he had; he owed three quarters' rent, and they
threatened to turn him out; he begged for another week,
which was granted to him. I know this, because the landlord
came into my apartment when he left his. For the first three
days I heard him walking about as usual, but, on the fourth
I heard nothing. I then resolved to go up to him at all
risks. The door was closed, but I looked through the
keyhole, and saw him so pale and haggard, that believing him
very ill, I went and told M. Morrel and then ran on to
Mercedes. They both came immediately, M. Morrel bringing a
doctor, and the doctor said it was inflammation of the
bowels, and ordered him a limited diet. I was there, too,
and I never shall forget the old man's smile at this
prescription. From that time he received all who came; he
had an excuse for not eating any more; the doctor had put
him on a diet." The abbe uttered a kind of groan. "The story
interests you, does it not, sir?" inquired Caderousse.
"Yes," replied the abbe, "it is very affecting."
"Mercedes came again, and she found him so altered that she
was even more anxious than before to have him taken to her
own home. This was M. Morrel's wish also, who would fain
have conveyed the old man against his consent; but the old
man resisted, and cried so that they were actually
frightened. Mercedes remained, therefore, by his bedside,
and M. Morrel went away, making a sign to the Catalan that
he had left his purse on the chimney-piece. But availing
himself of the doctor's order, the old man would not take
any sustenance; at length (after nine days of despair and
fasting), the old man died, cursing those who had caused his
misery, and saying to Mercedes, `If you ever see my Edmond
again, tell him I die blessing him.'" The abbe rose from his
chair, made two turns round the chamber, and pressed his
trembling hand against his parched throat. "And you believe
he died" --
"Of hunger, sir, of hunger," said Caderousse. "I am as
certain of it as that we two are Christians."
The abbe, with a shaking hand, seized a glass of water that
was standing by him half-full, swallowed it at one gulp, and
then resumed his seat, with red eyes and pale cheeks. "This
was, indeed, a horrid event." said he in a hoarse voice.
"The more so, sir, as it was men's and not God's doing."
"Tell me of those men," said the abbe, "and remember too,"
he added in an almost menacing tone, "you have promised to
tell me everything. Tell me, therefore, who are these men
who killed the son with despair, and the father with
"Two men jealous of him, sir; one from love, and the other
from ambition, -- Fernand and Danglars."
"How was this jealousy manifested? Speak on."
"They denounced Edmond as a Bonapartist agent."
"Which of the two denounced him? Which was the real
"Both, sir; one with a letter, and the other put it in the
"And where was this letter written?"
"At La Reserve, the day before the betrothal feast."
"'Twas so, then -- 'twas so, then," murmured the abbe. "Oh,
Faria, Faria, how well did you judge men and things!"
"What did you please to say, sir?" asked Caderousse.
"Nothing, nothing," replied the priest; "go on."
"It was Danglars who wrote the denunciation with his left
hand, that his writing might not be recognized, and Fernand
who put it in the post."
"But," exclaimed the abbe suddenly, "you were there
"I!" said Caderousse, astonished; "who told you I was
The abbe saw he had overshot the mark, and he added quickly,
-- "No one; but in order to have known everything so well,
you must have been an eye-witness."
"True, true!" said Caderousse in a choking voice, "I was
"And did you not remonstrate against such infamy?" asked the
abbe; "if not, you were an accomplice."
"Sir," replied Caderousse, "they had made me drink to such
an excess that I nearly lost all perception. I had only an
indistinct understanding of what was passing around me. I
said all that a man in such a state could say; but they both
assured me that it was a jest they were carrying on, and
"Next day -- next day, sir, you must have seen plain enough
what they had been doing, yet you said nothing, though you
were present when Dantes was arrested."
"Yes, sir, I was there, and very anxious to speak; but
Danglars restrained me. `If he should really be guilty,'
said he, `and did really put in to the Island of Elba; if he
is really charged with a letter for the Bonapartist
committee at Paris, and if they find this letter upon him,
those who have supported him will pass for his accomplices.'
I confess I had my fears, in the state in which politics
then were, and I held my tongue. It was cowardly, I confess,
but it was not criminal."
"I understand -- you allowed matters to take their course,
that was all."
"Yes, sir," answered Caderousse; "and remorse preys on me
night and day. I often ask pardon of God, I swear to you,
because this action, the only one with which I have
seriously to reproach myself in all my life, is no doubt the
cause of my abject condition. I am expiating a moment of
selfishness, and so I always say to La Carconte, when she
complains, `Hold your tongue, woman; it is the will of
God.'" And Caderousse bowed his head with every sign of real
"Well, sir," said the abbe, "you have spoken unreservedly;
and thus to accuse yourself is to deserve pardon."
"Unfortunately, Edmond is dead, and has not pardoned me."
"He did not know," said the abbe.
"But he knows it all now," interrupted Caderousse; "they say
the dead know everything." There was a brief silence; the
abbe rose and paced up and down pensively, and then resumed
his seat. "You have two or three times mentioned a M.
Morrel," he said; "who was he?"
"The owner of the Pharaon and patron of Dantes."
"And what part did he play in this sad drama?" inquired the
"The part of an honest man, full of courage and real regard.
Twenty times he interceded for Edmond. When the emperor
returned, he wrote, implored, threatened, and so
energetically, that on the second restoration he was
persecuted as a Bonapartist. Ten times, as I told you, he
came to see Dantes' father, and offered to receive him in
his own house; and the night or two before his death, as I
have already said, he left his purse on the mantelpiece,
with which they paid the old man's debts, and buried him
decently; and so Edmond's father died, as he had lived,
without doing harm to any one. I have the purse still by me
-- a large one, made of red silk."
"And," asked the abbe, "is M. Morrel still alive?"
"Yes," replied Caderousse.
"In that case," replied the abbe, "he should be rich,
Caderousse smiled bitterly. "Yes, happy as myself," said he.
"What! M. Morrel unhappy?" exclaimed the abbe.
"He is reduced almost to the last extremity -- nay, he is
almost at the point of dishonor."
"Yes," continued Caderousse, "so it is; after five and
twenty years of labor, after having acquired a most
honorable name in the trade of Marseilles, M. Morrel is
utterly ruined; he has lost five ships in two years, has
suffered by the bankruptcy of three large houses, and his
only hope now is in that very Pharaon which poor Dantes
commanded, and which is expected from the Indies with a
cargo of cochineal and indigo. If this ship founders, like
the others, he is a ruined man."
"And has the unfortunate man wife or children?" inquired the
"Yes, he has a wife, who through everything has behaved like
an angel; he has a daughter, who was about to marry the man
she loved, but whose family now will not allow him to wed
the daughter of a ruined man; he has, besides, a son, a
lieutenant in the army; and, as you may suppose, all this,
instead of lessening, only augments his sorrows. If he were
alone in the world he would blow out his brains, and there
would be an end."
"Horrible!" ejaculated the priest.
"And it is thus heaven recompenses virtue, sir," added
Caderousse. "You see, I, who never did a bad action but that
I have told you of -- am in destitution, with my poor wife
dying of fever before my very eyes, and I unable to do
anything in the world for her; I shall die of hunger, as old
Dantes did, while Fernand and Danglars are rolling in
"How is that?"
"Because their deeds have brought them good fortune, while
honest men have been reduced to misery."
"What has become of Danglars, the instigator, and therefore
the most guilty?"
"What has become of him? Why, he left Marseilles, and was
taken, on the recommendation of M. Morrel, who did not know
his crime, as cashier into a Spanish bank. During the war
with Spain he was employed in the commissariat of the French
army, and made a fortune; then with that money he speculated
in the funds, and trebled or quadrupled his capital; and,
having first married his banker's daughter, who left him a
widower, he has married a second time, a widow, a Madame de
Nargonne, daughter of M. de Servieux, the king's
chamberlain, who is in high favor at court. He is a
millionaire, and they have made him a baron, and now he is
the Baron Danglars, with a fine residence in the Rue de
Mont-Blanc, with ten horses in his stables, six footmen in
his ante-chamber, and I know not how many millions in his
"Ah!" said the abbe, in a peculiar tone, "he is happy."
"Happy? Who can answer for that? Happiness or unhappiness is
the secret known but to one's self and the walls -- walls
have ears but no tongue; but if a large fortune produces
happiness, Danglars is happy."
"Fernand? Why, much the same story."
"But how could a poor Catalan fisher-boy, without education
or resources, make a fortune? I confess this staggers me."
"And it has staggered everybody. There must have been in his
life some strange secret that no one knows."
"But, then, by what visible steps has he attained this high
fortune or high position?"
"Both, sir -- he has both fortune and position -- both."
"This must be impossible!"
"It would seem so; but listen, and you will understand. Some
days before the return of the emperor, Fernand was drafted.
The Bourbons left him quietly enough at the Catalans, but
Napoleon returned, a special levy was made, and Fernand was
compelled to join. I went too; but as I was older than
Fernand, and had just married my poor wife, I was only sent
to the coast. Fernand was enrolled in the active troop, went
to the frontier with his regiment, and was at the battle of
Ligny. The night after that battle he was sentry at the door
of a general who carried on a secret correspondence with the
enemy. That same night the general was to go over to the
English. He proposed to Fernand to accompany him; Fernand
agreed to do so, deserted his post, and followed the
general. Fernand would have been court-martialed if Napoleon
had remained on the throne, but his action was rewarded by
the Bourbons. He returned to France with the epaulet of
sub-lieutenant, and as the protection of the general, who is
in the highest favor, was accorded to him, he was a captain
in 1823, during the Spanish war -- that is to say, at the
time when Danglars made his early speculations. Fernand was
a Spaniard, and being sent to Spain to ascertain the feeling
of his fellow-countrymen, found Danglars there, got on very
intimate terms with him, won over the support of the
royalists at the capital and in the provinces, received
promises and made pledges on his own part, guided his
regiment by paths known to himself alone through the
mountain gorges which were held by the royalists, and, in
fact, rendered such services in this brief campaign that,
after the taking of Trocadero, he was made colonel, and
received the title of count and the cross of an officer of
the Legion of Honor."
"Destiny! destiny!" murmured the abbe.
"Yes, but listen: this was not all. The war with Spain being
ended, Fernand's career was checked by the long peace which
seemed likely to endure throughout Europe. Greece only had
risen against Turkey, and had begun her war of independence;
all eyes were turned towards Athens -- it was the fashion to
pity and support the Greeks. The French government, without
protecting them openly, as you know, gave countenance to
volunteer assistance. Fernand sought and obtained leave to
go and serve in Greece, still having his name kept on the
army roll. Some time after, it was stated that the Comte de
Morcerf (this was the name he bore) had entered the service
of Ali Pasha with the rank of instructor-general. Ali Pasha
was killed, as you know, but before he died he recompensed
the services of Fernand by leaving him a considerable sum,
with which he returned to France, when he was gazetted
"So that now?" -- inquired the abbe.
"So that now," continued Caderousse, "he owns a magnificent
house -- No. 27, Rue du Helder, Paris." The abbe opened his
mouth, hesitated for a moment, then, making an effort at
self-control, he said, "And Mercedes -- they tell me that
she has disappeared?"
"Disappeared," said Caderousse, "yes, as the sun disappears,
to rise the next day with still more splendor."
"Has she made a fortune also?" inquired the abbe, with an
"Mercedes is at this moment one of the greatest ladies in
Paris," replied Caderousse.
"Go on," said the abbe; "it seems as if I were listening to
the story of a dream. But I have seen things so
extraordinary, that what you tell me seems less astonishing
than it otherwise might."
"Mercedes was at first in the deepest despair at the blow
which deprived her of Edmond. I have told you of her
attempts to propitiate M. de Villefort, her devotion to the
elder Dantes. In the midst of her despair, a new affliction
overtook her. This was the departure of Fernand -- of
Fernand, whose crime she did not know, and whom she regarded
as her brother. Fernand went, and Mercedes remained alone.
Three months passed and still she wept -- no news of Edmond,
no news of Fernand, no companionship save that of an old man
who was dying with despair. One evening, after a day of
accustomed vigil at the angle of two roads leading to
Marseilles from the Catalans, she returned to her home more
depressed than ever. Suddenly she heard a step she knew,
turned anxiously around, the door opened, and Fernand,
dressed in the uniform of a sub-lieutenant, stood before
her. It was not the one she wished for most, but it seemed
as if a part of her past life had returned to her. Mercedes
seized Fernand's hands with a transport which he took for
love, but which was only joy at being no longer alone in the
world, and seeing at last a friend, after long hours of
solitary sorrow. And then, it must be confessed, Fernand had
never been hated -- he was only not precisely loved. Another
possessed all Mercedes' heart; that other was absent, had
disappeared, perhaps was dead. At this last thought Mercedes
burst into a flood of tears, and wrung her hands in agony;
but the thought, which she had always repelled before when
it was suggested to her by another, came now in full force
upon her mind; and then, too, old Dantes incessantly said to
her, `Our Edmond is dead; if he were not, he would return to
us.' The old man died, as I have told you; had he lived,
Mercedes, perchance, had not become the wife of another, for
he would have been there to reproach her infidelity. Fernand
saw this, and when he learned of the old man's death he
returned. He was now a lieutenant. At his first coming he
had not said a word of love to Mercedes; at the second he
reminded her that he loved her. Mercedes begged for six
months more in which to await and mourn for Edmond."
"So that," said the abbe, with a bitter smile, "that makes
eighteen months in all. What more could the most devoted
lover desire?" Then he murmured the words of the English
poet, "`Frailty, thy name is woman.'"
"Six months afterwards," continued Caderousse, "the marriage
took place in the church of Accoules."
"The very church in which she was to have married Edmond,"
murmured the priest; "there was only a change of
"Well, Mercedes was married," proceeded Caderousse; "but
although in the eyes of the world she appeared calm, she
nearly fainted as she passed La Reserve, where, eighteen
months before, the betrothal had been celebrated with him
whom she might have known she still loved had she looked to
the bottom of her heart. Fernand, more happy, but not more
at his ease -- for I saw at this time he was in constant
dread of Edmond's return -- Fernand was very anxious to get
his wife away, and to depart himself. There were too many
unpleasant possibilities associated with the Catalans, and
eight days after the wedding they left Marseilles."
"Did you ever see Mercedes again?" inquired the priest.
"Yes, during the Spanish war, at Perpignan, where Fernand
had left her; she was attending to the education of her
son." The abbe started. "Her son?" said he.
"Yes," replied Caderousse, "little Albert."
"But, then, to be able to instruct her child," continued the
abbe, "she must have received an education herself. I
understood from Edmond that she was the daughter of a simple
fisherman, beautiful but uneducated."
"Oh," replied Caderousse, "did he know so little of his
lovely betrothed? Mercedes might have been a queen, sir, if
the crown were to be placed on the heads of the loveliest
and most intelligent. Fernand's fortune was already waxing
great, and she developed with his growing fortune. She
learned drawing, music -- everything. Besides, I believe,
between ourselves, she did this in order to distract her
mind, that she might forget; and she only filled her head in
order to alleviate the weight on her heart. But now her
position in life is assured," continued Caderousse; "no
doubt fortune and honors have comforted her; she is rich, a
countess, and yet" -- Caderousse paused.
"And yet what?" asked the abbe.
"Yet, I am sure, she is not happy," said Caderousse.
"What makes you believe this?"
"Why, when I found myself utterly destitute, I thought my
old friends would, perhaps, assist me. So I went to
Danglars, who would not even receive me. I called on
Fernand, who sent me a hundred francs by his
"Then you did not see either of them?"
"No, but Madame de Morcerf saw me."
"How was that?"
"As I went away a purse fell at my feet -- it contained five
and twenty louis; I raised my head quickly, and saw
Mercedes, who at once shut the blind."
"And M. de Villefort?" asked the abbe.
"Oh, he never was a friend of mine, I did not know him, and
I had nothing to ask of him."
"Do you not know what became of him, and the share he had in
"No; I only know that some time after Edmond's arrest, he
married Mademoiselle de Saint-Meran, and soon after left
Marseilles; no doubt he has been as lucky as the rest; no
doubt he is as rich as Danglars, as high in station as
Fernand. I only, as you see, have remained poor, wretched,
"You are mistaken, my friend," replied the abbe; "God may
seem sometimes to forget for a time, while his justice
reposes, but there always comes a moment when he remembers
-- and behold -- a proof!" As he spoke, the abbe took the
diamond from his pocket, and giving it to Caderousse, said,
-- "Here, my friend, take this diamond, it is yours."
"What, for me only?" cried Caderousse, "ah, sir, do not jest
"This diamond was to have been shared among his friends.
Edmond had one friend only, and thus it cannot be divided.
Take the diamond, then, and sell it; it is worth fifty
thousand francs, and I repeat my wish that this sum may
suffice to release you from your wretchedness."
"Oh, sir," said Caderousse, putting out one hand timidly,
and with the other wiping away the perspiration which
bedewed his brow, -- "Oh, sir, do not make a jest of the
happiness or despair of a man."
"I know what happiness and what despair are, and I never
make a jest of such feelings. Take it, then, but in exchange
Caderousse, who touched the diamond, withdrew his hand. The
abbe smiled. "In exchange," he continued, "give me the red
silk purse that M. Morrel left on old Dantes' chimney-piece,
and which you tell me is still in your hands." Caderousse,
more and more astonished, went toward a large oaken
cupboard, opened it, and gave the abbe a long purse of faded
red silk, round which were two copper runners that had once
been gilt. The abbe took it, and in return gave Caderousse
"Oh, you are a man of God, sir," cried Caderousse; "for no
one knew that Edmond had given you this diamond, and you
might have kept it."
"Which," said the abbe to himself, "you would have done."
The abbe rose, took his hat and gloves. "Well," he said,
"all you have told me is perfectly true, then, and I may
believe it in every particular."
"See, sir," replied Caderousse, "in this corner is a
crucifix in holy wood -- here on this shelf is my wife's
testament; open this book, and I will swear upon it with my
hand on the crucifix. I will swear to you by my soul's
salvation, my faith as a Christian, I have told everything
to you as it occurred, and as the recording angel will tell
it to the ear of God at the day of the last judgment!"
"'Tis well," said the abbe, convinced by his manner and tone
that Caderousse spoke the truth. "'Tis well, and may this
money profit you! Adieu; I go far from men who thus so
bitterly injure each other." The abbe with difficulty got
away from the enthusiastic thanks of Caderousse, opened the
door himself, got out and mounted his horse, once more
saluted the innkeeper, who kept uttering his loud farewells,
and then returned by the road he had travelled in coming.
When Caderousse turned around, he saw behind him La
Carconte, paler and trembling more than ever. "Is, then, all
that I have heard really true?" she inquired.
"What? That he has given the diamond to us only?" inquired
Caderousse, half bewildered with joy; "yes, nothing more
true! See, here it is." The woman gazed at it a moment, and
then said, in a gloomy voice, "Suppose it's false?"
Caderousse started and turned pale. "False!" he muttered.
"False! Why should that man give me a false diamond?"
"To get your secret without paying for it, you blockhead!"
Caderousse remained for a moment aghast under the weight of
such an idea. "Oh!" he said, taking up his hat, which he
placed on the red handkerchief tied round his head, "we will
soon find out."
"In what way?"
"Why, the fair is on at Beaucaire, there are always
jewellers from Paris there, and I will show it to them. Look
after the house, wife, and I shall be back in two hours,"
and Caderousse left the house in haste, and ran rapidly in
the direction opposite to that which the priest had taken.
"Fifty thousand francs!" muttered La Carconte when left
alone; "it is a large sum of money, but it is not a
The Prison Register.
The day after that in which the scene we have just described
had taken place on the road between Bellegarde and
Beaucaire, a man of about thirty or two and thirty, dressed
in a bright blue frock coat, nankeen trousers, and a white
waistcoat, having the appearance and accent of an
Englishman, presented himself before the mayor of
Marseilles. "Sir," said he, "I am chief clerk of the house
of Thomson & French, of Rome. We are, and have been these
ten years, connected with the house of Morrel & Son, of
Marseilles. We have a hundred thousand francs or thereabouts
loaned on their securities, and we are a little uneasy at
reports that have reached us that the firm is on the brink
of ruin. I have come, therefore, express from Rome, to ask
you for information."
"Sir," replied the mayor. "I know very well that during the
last four or five years misfortune has seemed to pursue M.
Morrel. He has lost four or five vessels, and suffered by
three or four bankruptcies; but it is not for me, although I
am a creditor myself to the amount of ten thousand francs,
to give any information as to the state of his finances. Ask
of me, as mayor, what is my opinion of M. Morrel, and I
shall say that he is a man honorable to the last degree, and
who has up to this time fulfilled every engagement with
scrupulous punctuality. This is all I can say, sir; if you
wish to learn more, address yourself to M. de Boville, the
inspector of prisons, No. 15, Rue de Nouailles; he has, I
believe, two hundred thousand francs in Morrel's hands, and
if there be any grounds for apprehension, as this is a
greater amount than mine, you will most probably find him
better informed than myself."
The Englishman seemed to appreciate this extreme delicacy,
made his bow and went away, proceeding with a characteristic
British stride towards the street mentioned. M. de Boville
was in his private room, and the Englishman, on perceiving
him, made a gesture of surprise, which seemed to indicate
that it was not the first time he had been in his presence.
As to M. de Boville, he was in such a state of despair, that
it was evident all the faculties of his mind, absorbed in
the thought which occupied him at the moment, did not allow
either his memory or his imagination to stray to the past.
The Englishman, with the coolness of his nation, addressed
him in terms nearly similar to those with which he had
accosted the mayor of Marseilles. "Oh, sir," exclaimed M. de
Boville, "your fears are unfortunately but too well founded,
and you see before you a man in despair. I had two hundred
thousand francs placed in the hands of Morrel & Son; these
two hundred thousand francs were the dowry of my daughter,
who was to be married in a fortnight, and these two hundred
thousand francs were payable, half on the 15th of this
month, and the other half on the 15th of next month. I had
informed M. Morrel of my desire to have these payments
punctually, and he has been here within the last half-hour
to tell me that if his ship, the Pharaon, did not come into
port on the 15th, he would be wholly unable to make this
"But," said the Englishman, "this looks very much like a
suspension of payment."
"It looks more like bankruptcy!" exclaimed M. de Boville
The Englishman appeared to reflect a moment, and then said,
-- "From which it would appear, sir, that this credit
inspires you with considerable apprehension?"
"To tell you the truth, I consider it lost."
"Well, then, I will buy it of you!"
"But at a tremendous discount, of course?"
"No, for two hundred thousand francs. Our house," added the
Englishman with a laugh, "does not do things in that way."
"And you will pay" --
"Ready money." And the Englishman drew from his pocket a
bundle of bank-notes, which might have been twice the sum M.
de Boville feared to lose. A ray of joy passed across M. de
Boville's countenance, yet he made an effort at
self-control, and said, -- "Sir, I ought to tell you that,
in all probability, you will not realize six per cent of
"That's no affair of mine," replied the Englishman, "that is
the affair of the house of Thomson & French, in whose name I
act. They have, perhaps, some motive to serve in hastening
the ruin of a rival firm. But all I know, sir, is, that I am
ready to hand you over this sum in exchange for your
assignment of the debt. I only ask a brokerage."
"Of course, that is perfectly just," cried M. de Boville.
"The commission is usually one and a half; will you have two
-- three -- five per cent, or even more? Whatever you say."
"Sir," replied the Englishman, laughing, "I am like my
house, and do not do such things -- no, the commission I ask
is quite different."
"Name it, sir, I beg."
"You are the inspector of prisons?"
"I have been so these fourteen years."
"You keep the registers of entries and departures?"
"To these registers there are added notes relative to the
"There are special reports on every prisoner."
"Well, sir, I was educated at home by a poor devil of an
abbe, who disappeared suddenly. I have since learned that he
was confined in the Chateau d'If, and I should like to learn
some particulars of his death."
"What was his name?"
"The Abbe Faria."
"Oh, I recollect him perfectly," cried M. de Boville; "he
"So they said."
"Oh, he was, decidedly."
"Very possibly; but what sort of madness was it?"
"He pretended to know of an immense treasure, and offered
vast sums to the government if they would liberate him."
"Poor devil! -- and he is dead?"
"Yes, sir, five or six months ago -- last February."
"You have a good memory, sir, to recollect dates so well."
"I recollect this, because the poor devil's death was
accompanied by a singular incident."
"May I ask what that was?" said the Englishman with an
expression of curiosity, which a close observer would have
been astonished at discovering in his phlegmatic
"Oh dear, yes, sir; the abbe's dungeon was forty or fifty
feet distant from that of one of Bonaparte's emissaries, --
one of those who had contributed the most to the return of
the usurper in 1815, -- a very resolute and very dangerous
"Indeed!" said the Englishman.
"Yes," replied M. de Boville; "I myself had occasion to see
this man in 1816 or 1817, and we could only go into his
dungeon with a file of soldiers. That man made a deep
impression on me; I shall never forget his countenance!" The
Englishman smiled imperceptibly.
"And you say, sir," he interposed, "that the two dungeons"
"Were separated by a distance of fifty feet; but it appears
that this Edmond Dantes" --
"This dangerous man's name was" --
"Edmond Dantes. It appears, sir, that this Edmond Dantes had
procured tools, or made them, for they found a tunnel
through which the prisoners held communication with one
"This tunnel was dug, no doubt, with an intention of
"No doubt; but unfortunately for the prisoners, the Abbe
Faria had an attack of catalepsy, and died."
"That must have cut short the projects of escape."
"For the dead man, yes," replied M. de Boville, "but not for
the survivor; on the contrary, this Dantes saw a means of
accelerating his escape. He, no doubt, thought that
prisoners who died in the Chateau d'If were interred in an
ordinary burial-ground, and he conveyed the dead man into
his own cell, took his place in the sack in which they had
sewed up the corpse, and awaited the moment of interment."
"It was a bold step, and one that showed some courage,"
remarked the Englishman.
"As I have already told you, sir, he was a very dangerous
man; and, fortunately, by his own act disembarrassed the
government of the fears it had on his account."
"How was that?"
"How? Do you not comprehend?"
"The Chateau d'If has no cemetery, and they simply throw the
dead into the sea, after fastening a thirty-six pound
cannon-ball to their feet."
"Well," observed the Englishman as if he were slow of
"Well, they fastened a thirty-six pound ball to his feet,
and threw him into the sea."
"Really!" exclaimed the Englishman.
"Yes, sir," continued the inspector of prisons. "You may
imagine the amazement of the fugitive when he found himself
flung headlong over the rocks! I should like to have seen
his face at that moment."
"That would have been difficult."
"No matter," replied De Boville, in supreme good-humor at
the certainty of recovering his two hundred thousand francs,
-- "no matter, I can fancy it." And he shouted with
"So can I," said the Englishman, and he laughed too; but he
laughed as the English do, "at the end of his teeth."
"And so," continued the Englishman who first gained his
composure, "he was drowned?"
"So that the governor got rid of the dangerous and the crazy
prisoner at the same time?"
"But some official document was drawn up as to this affair,
I suppose?" inquired the Englishman.
"Yes, yes, the mortuary deposition. You understand, Dantes'
relations, if he had any, might have some interest in
knowing if he were dead or alive."
"So that now, if there were anything to inherit from him,
they may do so with easy conscience. He is dead, and no
mistake about it."
"Oh, yes; and they may have the fact attested whenever they
"So be it," said the Englishman. "But to return to these
"True, this story has diverted our attention from them.
"Excuse you for what? For the story? By no means; it really
seems to me very curious."
"Yes, indeed. So, sir, you wish to see all relating to the
poor abbe, who really was gentleness itself."
"Yes, you will much oblige me."
"Go into my study here, and I will show it to you." And they
both entered M. de Boville's study. Everything was here
arranged in perfect order; each register had its number,
each file of papers its place. The inspector begged the
Englishman to seat himself in an arm-chair, and placed
before him the register and documents relative to the
Chateau d'If, giving him all the time he desired for the
examination, while De Boville seated himself in a corner,
and began to read his newspaper. The Englishman easily found
the entries relative to the Abbe Faria; but it seemed that
the history which the inspector had related interested him
greatly, for after having perused the first documents he
turned over the leaves until he reached the deposition
respecting Edmond Dantes. There he found everything arranged
in due order, -- the accusation, examination, Morrel's
petition, M. de Villefort's marginal notes. He folded up the
accusation quietly, and put it as quietly in his pocket;
read the examination, and saw that the name of Noirtier was
not mentioned in it; perused, too, the application dated
10th April, 1815, in which Morrel, by the deputy procureur's
advice, exaggerated with the best intentions (for Napoleon
was then on the throne) the services Dantes had rendered to
the imperial cause -- services which Villefort's
certificates rendered indispensable. Then he saw through the
whole thing. This petition to Napoleon, kept back by
Villefort, had become, under the second restoration, a
terrible weapon against him in the hands of the king's
attorney. He was no longer astonished when he searched on to
find in the register this note, placed in a bracket against
his name: --
An inveterate Bonapartist; took an active part in the return
from the Island of Elba.
To be kept in strict solitary confinement, and to be closely
watched and guarded.
Beneath these lines was written in another hand: "See note
above -- nothing can be done." He compared the writing in
the bracket with the writing of the certificate placed
beneath Morrel's petition, and discovered that the note in
the bracket was the same writing as the certificate -- that
is to say, was in Villefort's handwriting. As to the note
which accompanied this, the Englishman understood that it
might have been added by some inspector who had taken a
momentary interest in Dantes' situation, but who had, from
the remarks we have quoted, found it impossible to give any
effect to the interest he had felt.
As we have said, the inspector, from discretion, and that he
might not disturb the Abbe Faria's pupil in his researches,
had seated himself in a corner, and was reading Le Drapeau
Blanc. He did not see the Englishman fold up and place in
his pocket the accusation written by Danglars under the
arbor of La Reserve, and which had the postmark,
"Marseilles, 27th Feb., delivery 6 o'clock, P.M." But it
must be said that if he had seen it, he attached so little
importance to this scrap of paper, and so much importance to
his two hundred thousand francs, that he would not have
opposed whatever the Englishman might do, however irregular
it might be.
"Thanks," said the latter, closing the register with a slam,
"I have all I want; now it is for me to perform my promise.
Give me a simple assignment of your debt; acknowledge
therein the receipt of the cash, and I will hand you over
the money." He rose, gave his seat to M. de Boville, who
took it without ceremony, and quickly drew up the required
assignment, while the Englishman counted out the bank-notes
on the other side of the desk.
The House of Morrel & Son.
Any one who had quitted Marseilles a few years previously,
well acquainted with the interior of Morrel's warehouse, and
had returned at this date, would have found a great change.
Instead of that air of life, of comfort, and of happiness
that permeates a flourishing and prosperous business
establishment -- instead of merry faces at the windows, busy
clerks hurrying to and fro in the long corridors -- instead
of the court filled with bales of goods, re-echoing with the
cries and the jokes of porters, one would have immediately
perceived all aspect of sadness and gloom. Out of all the
numerous clerks that used to fill the deserted corridor and
the empty office, but two remained. One was a young man of
three or four and twenty, who was in love with M. Morrel's
daughter, and had remained with him in spite of the efforts
of his friends to induce him to withdraw; the other was an
old one-eyed cashier, called "Cocles," or "Cock-eye," a
nickname given him by the young men who used to throng this
vast now almost deserted bee-hive, and which had so
completely replaced his real name that he would not, in all
probability, have replied to any one who addressed him by
Cocles remained in M. Morrel's service, and a most singular
change had taken place in his position; he had at the same
time risen to the rank of cashier, and sunk to the rank of a
servant. He was, however, the same Cocles, good, patient,
devoted, but inflexible on the subject of arithmetic, the
only point on which he would have stood firm against the
world, even against M. Morrel; and strong in the
multiplication-table, which he had at his fingers' ends, no
matter what scheme or what trap was laid to catch him. In
the midst of the disasters that befell the house, Cocles was
the only one unmoved. But this did not arise from a want of
affection; on the contrary, from a firm conviction. Like the
rats that one by one forsake the doomed ship even before the
vessel weighs anchor, so all the numerous clerks had by
degrees deserted the office and the warehouse. Cocles had
seen them go without thinking of inquiring the cause of
their departure. Everything was as we have said, a question
of arithmetic to Cocles, and during twenty years he had
always seen all payments made with such exactitude, that it
seemed as impossible to him that the house should stop
payment, as it would to a miller that the river that had so
long turned his mill should cease to flow.
Nothing had as yet occurred to shake Cocles' belief; the
last month's payment had been made with the most scrupulous
exactitude; Cocles had detected an overbalance of fourteen
sous in his cash, and the same evening he had brought them
to M. Morrel, who, with a melancholy smile, threw them into
an almost empty drawer, saying: --
"Thanks, Cocles; you are the pearl of cashiers."
Cocles went away perfectly happy, for this eulogium of M.
Morrel, himself the pearl of the honest men of Marseilles,
flattered him more than a present of fifty crowns. But since
the end of the month M. Morrel had passed many an anxious
hour. In order to meet the payments then due; he had
collected all his resources, and, fearing lest the report of
his distress should get bruited abroad at Marseilles when he
was known to be reduced to such an extremity, he went to the
Beaucaire fair to sell his wife's and daughter's jewels and
a portion of his plate. By this means the end of the month
was passed, but his resources were now exhausted. Credit,
owing to the reports afloat, was no longer to be had; and to
meet the one hundred thousand francs due on the 10th of the
present month, and the one hundred thousand francs due on
the 15th of the next month to M. de Boville, M. Morrel had,
in reality, no hope but the return of the Pharaon, of whose
departure he had learnt from a vessel which had weighed
anchor at the same time, and which had already arrived in
harbor. But this vessel which, like the Pharaon, came from
Calcutta, had been in for a fortnight, while no intelligence
had been received of the Pharaon.
Such was the state of affairs when, the day after his
interview with M. de Boville, the confidential clerk of the
house of Thomson & French of Rome, presented himself at M.
Morrel's. Emmanuel received him; this young man was alarmed
by the appearance of every new face, for every new face
might be that of a new creditor, come in anxiety to question
the head of the house. The young man, wishing to spare his
employer the pain of this interview, questioned the
new-comer; but the stranger declared that he had nothing to
say to M. Emmanuel, and that his business was with M. Morrel
in person. Emmanuel sighed, and summoned Cocles. Cocles
appeared, and the young man bade him conduct the stranger to
M. Morrel's apartment. Cocles went first, and the stranger
followed him. On the staircase they met a beautiful girl of
sixteen or seventeen, who looked with anxiety at the
"M. Morrel is in his room, is he not, Mademoiselle Julie?"
said the cashier.
"Yes; I think so, at least," said the young girl
hesitatingly. "Go and see, Cocles, and if my father is
there, announce this gentleman."
"It will be useless to announce me, mademoiselle," returned
the Englishman. "M. Morrel does not know my name; this
worthy gentleman has only to announce the confidential clerk
of the house of Thomson & French of Rome, with whom your
father does business."
The young girl turned pale and continued to descend, while
the stranger and Cocles continued to mount the staircase.
She entered the office where Emmanuel was, while Cocles, by
the aid of a key he possessed, opened a door in the corner
of a landing-place on the second staircase, conducted the
stranger into an ante-chamber, opened a second door, which
he closed behind him, and after having left the clerk of the
house of Thomson & French alone, returned and signed to him
that he could enter. The Englishman entered, and found
Morrel seated at a table, turning over the formidable
columns of his ledger, which contained the list of his
liabilities. At the sight of the stranger, M. Morrel closed
the ledger, arose, and offered a seat to the stranger; and
when he had seen him seated, resumed his own chair. Fourteen
years had changed the worthy merchant, who, in his
thirty-sixth year at the opening of this history, was now in
his fiftieth; his hair had turned white, time and sorrow had
ploughed deep furrows on his brow, and his look, once so
firm and penetrating, was now irresolute and wandering, as
if he feared being forced to fix his attention on some
particular thought or person. The Englishman looked at him
with an air of curiosity, evidently mingled with interest.
"Monsieur," said Morrel, whose uneasiness was increased by
this examination, "you wish to speak to me?"
"Yes, monsieur; you are aware from whom I come?"
"The house of Thomson & French; at least, so my cashier
"He has told you rightly. The house of Thomson & French had
300,000 or 400,000 francs to pay this month in France; and,
knowing your strict punctuality, have collected all the
bills bearing your signature, and charged me as they became
due to present them, and to employ the money otherwise."
Morrel sighed deeply, and passed his hand over his forehead,
which was covered with perspiration.
"So then, sir," said Morrel, "you hold bills of mine?"
"Yes, and for a considerable sum."
"What is the amount?" asked Morrel with a voice he strove to
"Here is," said the Englishman, taking a quantity of papers
from his pocket, "an assignment of 200,000 francs to our
house by M. de Boville, the inspector of prisons, to whom
they are due. You acknowledge, of course, that you owe this
sum to him?"
"Yes; he placed the money in my hands at four and a half per
cent nearly five years ago."
"When are you to pay?"
"Half the 15th of this month, half the 15th of next."
"Just so; and now here are 32,500 francs payable shortly;
they are all signed by you, and assigned to our house by the
"I recognize them," said Morrel, whose face was suffused, as
he thought that, for the first time in his life, he would be
unable to honor his own signature. "Is this all?"
"No, I have for the end of the month these bills which have
been assigned to us by the house of Pascal, and the house of
Wild & Turner of Marseilles, amounting to nearly 55,000
francs; in all, 287,500 francs." It is impossible to
describe what Morrel suffered during this enumeration. "Two
hundred and eighty-seven thousand five hundred francs,"
"Yes, sir," replied the Englishman. "I will not," continued
he, after a moment's silence, "conceal from you, that while
your probity and exactitude up to this moment are
universally acknowledged, yet the report is current in
Marseilles that you are not able to meet your liabilities."
At this almost brutal speech Morrel turned deathly pale.
"Sir," said he, "up to this time -- and it is now more than
four-and-twenty years since I received the direction of this
house from my father, who had himself conducted it for five
and thirty years -- never has anything bearing the signature
of Morrel & Son been dishonored."
"I know that," replied the Englishman. "But as a man of
honor should answer another, tell me fairly, shall you pay
these with the same punctuality?" Morrel shuddered, and
looked at the man, who spoke with more assurance than he had
hitherto shown. "To questions frankly put," said he, "a
straightforward answer should be given. Yes, I shall pay,
if, as I hope, my vessel arrives safely; for its arrival
will again procure me the credit which the numerous
accidents, of which I have been the victim, have deprived
me; but if the Pharaon should be lost, and this last
resource be gone" -- the poor man's eyes filled with tears.
"Well," said the other, "if this last resource fail you?"
"Well," returned Morrel, "it is a cruel thing to be forced
to say, but, already used to misfortune, I must habituate
myself to shame. I fear I shall be forced to suspend
"Have you no friends who could assist you?" Morrel smiled
mournfully. "In business, sir," said he, "one has no
friends, only correspondents."
"It is true," murmured the Englishman; "then you have but
"So that if this fail" --
"I am ruined, -- completely ruined!"
"As I was on my way here, a vessel was coming into port."
"I know it, sir; a young man, who still adheres to my fallen
fortunes, passes a part of his time in a belvidere at the
top of the house, in hopes of being the first to announce
good news to me; he has informed me of the arrival of this
"And it is not yours?"
"No, she is a Bordeaux vessel, La Gironde; she comes from
India also; but she is not mine."
"Perhaps she has spoken the Pharaon, and brings you some
tidings of her?"
"Shall I tell you plainly one thing, sir? I dread almost as
much to receive any tidings of my vessel as to remain in
doubt. Uncertainty is still hope." Then in a low voice
Morrel added, -- "This delay is not natural. The Pharaon
left Calcutta the 5th February; she ought to have been here
a month ago."
"What is that?" said the Englishman. "What is the meaning of
"Oh, oh!" cried Morrel, turning pale, "what is it?" A loud
noise was heard on the stairs of people moving hastily, and
half-stifled sobs. Morrel rose and advanced to the door; but
his strength failed him and he sank into a chair. The two
men remained opposite one another, Morrel trembling in every
limb, the stranger gazing at him with an air of profound
pity. The noise had ceased; but it seemed that Morrel
expected something -- something had occasioned the noise,
and something must follow. The stranger fancied he heard
footsteps on the stairs; and that the footsteps, which were
those of several persons, stopped at the door. A key was
inserted in the lock of the first door, and the creaking of
hinges was audible.
"There are only two persons who have the key to that door,"
murmured Morrel, "Cocles and Julie." At this instant the
second door opened, and the young girl, her eyes bathed with
tears, appeared. Morrel rose tremblingly, supporting himself
by the arm of the chair. He would have spoken, but his voice
failed him. "Oh, father!" said she, clasping her hands,
"forgive your child for being the bearer of evil tidings."
Morrel again changed color. Julie threw herself into his
"Oh, father, father!" murmured she, "courage!"
"The Pharaon has gone down, then?" said Morrel in a hoarse
voice. The young girl did not speak; but she made an
affirmative sign with her head as she lay on her father's
"And the crew?" asked Morrel.
"Saved," said the girl; "saved by the crew of the vessel
that has just entered the harbor." Morrel raised his two
hands to heaven with an expression of resignation and
sublime gratitude. "Thanks, my God," said he, "at least thou
strikest but me alone." A tear moistened the eye of the
"Come in, come in," said Morrel, "for I presume you are all
at the door."
Scarcely had he uttered those words than Madame Morrel
entered weeping bitterly. Emmanuel followed her, and in the
antechamber were visible the rough faces of seven or eight
half-naked sailors. At the sight of these men the Englishman
started and advanced a step; then restrained himself, and
retired into the farthest and most obscure corner of the
apartment. Madame Morrel sat down by her husband and took
one of his hands in hers, Julie still lay with her head on
his shoulder, Emmanuel stood in the centre of the chamber
and seemed to form the link between Morrel's family and the
sailors at the door.
"How did this happen?" said Morrel.
"Draw nearer, Penelon," said the young man, "and tell us all
An old seaman, bronzed by the tropical sun, advanced,
twirling the remains of a tarpaulin between his hands.
"Good-day, M. Morrel," said he, as if he had just quitted
Marseilles the previous evening, and had just returned from
Aix or Toulon.
"Good-day, Penelon," returned Morrel, who could not refrain
from smiling through his tears, "where is the captain?"
"The captain, M. Morrel, -- he has stayed behind sick at
Palma; but please God, it won't be much, and you will see
him in a few days all alive and hearty."
"Well, now tell your story, Penelon."
Penelon rolled his quid in his cheek, placed his hand before
his mouth, turned his head, and sent a long jet of
tobacco-juice into the antechamber, advanced his foot,
balanced himself, and began, -- "You see, M. Morrel," said
he, "we were somewhere between Cape Blanc and Cape Boyador,
sailing with a fair breeze, south-south-west after a week's
calm, when Captain Gaumard comes up to me -- I was at the
helm I should tell you -- and says, `Penelon, what do you
think of those clouds coming up over there?' I was just then
looking at them myself. `What do I think, captain? Why I
think that they are rising faster than they have any
business to do, and that they would not be so black if they
didn't mean mischief.' -- `That's my opinion too,' said the
captain, `and I'll take precautions accordingly. We are
carrying too much canvas. Avast, there, all hands! Take in
the studding-sl's and stow the flying jib.' It was time; the
squall was on us, and the vessel began to heel. `Ah,' said
the captain, `we have still too much canvas set; all hands
lower the mains'l!' Five minutes after, it was down; and we
sailed under mizzen-tops'ls and to'gall'nt sails. `Well,
Penelon,' said the captain, `what makes you shake your
head?' `Why,' I says, `I still think you've got too much
on.' `I think you're right,' answered he, `we shall have a
gale.' `A gale? More than that, we shall have a tempest, or
I don't know what's what.' You could see the wind coming
like the dust at Montredon; luckily the captain understood
his business. `Take in two reefs in the tops'ls,' cried the
captain; `let go the bowlin's, haul the brace, lower the
to'gall'nt sails, haul out the reef-tackles on the yards.'"
"That was not enough for those latitudes," said the
Englishman; "I should have taken four reefs in the topsails
and furled the spanker."
His firm, sonorous, and unexpected voice made every one
start. Penelon put his hand over his eyes, and then stared
at the man who thus criticized the manoeuvres of his
captain. "We did better than that, sir," said the old sailor
respectfully; "we put the helm up to run before the tempest;
ten minutes after we struck our tops'ls and scudded under
"The vessel was very old to risk that," said the Englishman.
"Eh, it was that that did the business; after pitching
heavily for twelve hours we sprung a leak. `Penelon,' said
the captain, `I think we are sinking, give me the helm, and
go down into the hold.' I gave him the helm, and descended;
there was already three feet of water. `All hands to the
pumps!' I shouted; but it was too late, and it seemed the
more we pumped the more came in. `Ah,' said I, after four
hours' work, `since we are sinking, let us sink; we can die
but once.' `That's the example you set, Penelon,' cries the
captain; `very well, wait a minute.' He went into his cabin
and came back with a brace of pistols. `I will blow the
brains out of the first man who leaves the pump,' said he."
"Well done!" said the Englishman.
"There's nothing gives you so much courage as good reasons,"
continued the sailor; "and during that time the wind had
abated, and the sea gone down, but the water kept rising;
not much, only two inches an hour, but still it rose. Two
inches an hour does not seem much, but in twelve hours that
makes two feet, and three we had before, that makes five.
`Come,' said the captain, `we have done all in our power,
and M. Morrel will have nothing to reproach us with, we have
tried to save the ship, let us now save ourselves. To the
boats, my lads, as quick as you can.' Now," continued
Penelon, "you see, M. Morrel, a sailor is attached to his
ship, but still more to his life, so we did not wait to be
told twice; the more so, that the ship was sinking under us,
and seemed to say, `Get along -- save yourselves.' We soon
launched the boat, and all eight of us got into it. The
captain descended last, or rather, he did not descend, he
would not quit the vessel; so I took him round the waist,
and threw him into the boat, and then I jumped after him. It
was time, for just as I jumped the deck burst with a noise
like the broadside of a man-of-war. Ten minutes after she
pitched forward, then the other way, spun round and round,
and then good-by to the Pharaon. As for us, we were three
days without anything to eat or drink, so that we began to
think of drawing lots who should feed the rest, when we saw
La Gironde; we made signals of distress, she perceived us,
made for us, and took us all on board. There now, M. Morrel,
that's the whole truth, on the honor of a sailor; is not it
true, you fellows there?" A general murmur of approbation
showed that the narrator had faithfully detailed their
misfortunes and sufferings.
"Well, well," said M. Morrel, "I know there was no one in
fault but destiny. It was the will of God that this should
happen, blessed be his name. What wages are due to you?"
"Oh, don't let us talk of that, M. Morrel."
"Yes, but we will talk of it."
"Well, then, three months," said Penelon.
"Cocles, pay two hundred francs to each of these good
fellows," said Morrel. "At another time," added be, "I
should have said, Give them, besides, two hundred francs
over as a present; but times are changed, and the little
money that remains to me is not my own."
Penelon turned to his companions, and exchanged a few words
"As for that, M. Morrel," said he, again turning his quid,
"as for that" --
"As for what?"
"Well, we all say that fifty francs will be enough for us at
present, and that we will wait for the rest."
"Thanks, my friends, thanks!" cried Morrel gratefully; "take
it -- take it; and if you can find another employer, enter
his service; you are free to do so." These last words
produced a prodigious effect on the seaman. Penelon nearly
swallowed his quid; fortunately he recovered. "What, M.
Morrel!" said he in a low voice, "you send us away; you are
then angry with us!"
"No, no," said M. Morrel, "I am not angry, quite the
contrary, and I do not send you away; but I have no more
ships, and therefore I do not want any sailors."
"No more ships!" returned Penelon; "well, then, you'll build
some; we'll wait for you."
"I have no money to build ships with, Penelon," said the
poor owner mournfully, "so I cannot accept your kind offer."
"No more money? Then you must not pay us; we can scud, like
the Pharaon, under bare poles."
"Enough, enough!" cried Morrel, almost overpowered; "leave
me, I pray you; we shall meet again in a happier time.
Emmanuel, go with them, and see that my orders are
"At least, we shall see each other again, M. Morrel?" asked
"Yes; I hope so, at least. Now go." He made a sign to
Cocles, who went first; the seamen followed him and Emmanuel
brought up the rear. "Now," said the owner to his wife and