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The Count of Monte Cristo

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Chapter 76. Progress of Cavalcanti the Younger


Meanwhile M. Cavalcanti the elder had returned to his service, not in the army of his majesty the Emperor of Austria, but at the gaming-table of the baths of Lucca, of which he was one of the most assiduous courtiers. He had spent every farthing that had been allowed for his journey as a reward for the majestic and solemn manner in which he had maintained his assumed character of father.

M. Andrea at his departure inherited all the papers which proved that he had indeed the honor of being the son of the Marquis Bartolomeo and the Marchioness Oliva Corsinari. He was now fairly launched in that Parisian society which gives such ready access to foreigners, and treats them, not as they really are, but as they wish to be considered. Besides, what is required of a young man in Paris? To speak its language tolerably, to make a good appearance, to be a good gamester, and to pay in cash. They are certainly less particular with a foreigner than with a Frenchman. Andrea had, then, in a fortnight, attained a very fair position. He was called count, he was said to possess 50,000 livres per annum; and his father’s immense riches, buried in the quarries of Saravezza, were a constant theme. A learned man, before whom the last circumstance was mentioned as a fact, declared he had seen the quarries in question, which gave great weight to assertions hitherto somewhat doubtful, but which now assumed the garb of reality.

Such was the state of society in Paris at the period we bring before our readers, when Monte Cristo went one evening to pay M. Danglars a visit. M. Danglars was out, but the count was asked to go and see the baroness, and he accepted the invitation. It was never without a nervous shudder, since the dinner at Auteuil, and the events which followed it, that Madame Danglars heard Monte Cristo’s name announced. If he did not come, the painful sensation became most intense; if, on the contrary, he appeared, his noble countenance, his brilliant eyes, his amiability, his polite attention even towards Madame Danglars, soon dispelled every impression of fear. It appeared impossible to the baroness that a man of such delightfully pleasing manners should entertain evil designs against her; besides, the most corrupt minds only suspect evil when it would answer some interested end—useless injury is repugnant to every mind.

When Monte Cristo entered the boudoir, to which we have already once introduced our readers, and where the baroness was examining some drawings, which her daughter passed to her after having looked at them with M. Cavalcanti, his presence soon produced its usual effect, and it was with smiles that the baroness received the count, although she had been a little disconcerted at the announcement of his name. The latter took in the whole scene at a glance.

The baroness was partially reclining on a sofa, Eugénie sat near her, and Cavalcanti was standing. Cavalcanti, dressed in black, like one of Goethe’s heroes, with varnished shoes and white silk open-worked stockings, passed a white and tolerably nice-looking hand through his light hair, and so displayed a sparkling diamond, that in spite of Monte Cristo’s advice the vain young man had been unable to resist putting on his little finger. This movement was accompanied by killing glances at Mademoiselle Danglars, and by sighs launched in the same direction.

Mademoiselle Danglars was still the same—cold, beautiful, and satirical. Not one of these glances, nor one sigh, was lost on her; they might have been said to fall on the shield of Minerva, which some philosophers assert protected sometimes the breast of Sappho. Eugénie bowed coldly to the count, and availed herself of the first moment when the conversation became earnest to escape to her study, whence very soon two cheerful and noisy voices being heard in connection with occasional notes of the piano assured Monte Cristo that Mademoiselle Danglars preferred to his society and to that of M. Cavalcanti the company of Mademoiselle Louise d’Armilly, her singing teacher.

It was then, especially while conversing with Madame Danglars, and apparently absorbed by the charm of the conversation, that the count noticed M. Andrea Cavalcanti’s solicitude, his manner of listening to the music at the door he dared not pass, and of manifesting his admiration.

The banker soon returned. His first look was certainly directed towards Monte Cristo, but the second was for Andrea. As for his wife, he bowed to her, as some husbands do to their wives, but in a way that bachelors will never comprehend, until a very extensive code is published on conjugal life.

“Have not the ladies invited you to join them at the piano?” said Danglars to Andrea.

“Alas, no, sir,” replied Andrea with a sigh, still more remarkable than the former ones. Danglars immediately advanced towards the door and opened it.

The two young ladies were seen seated on the same chair, at the piano, accompanying themselves, each with one hand, a fancy to which they had accustomed themselves, and performed admirably. Mademoiselle d’Armilly, whom they then perceived through the open doorway, formed with Eugénie one of the tableaux vivants of which the Germans are so fond. She was somewhat beautiful, and exquisitely formed—a little fairy-like figure, with large curls falling on her neck, which was rather too long, as Perugino sometimes makes his Virgins, and her eyes dull from fatigue. She was said to have a weak chest, and like Antonia in the Cremona Violin, she would die one day while singing.

Monte Cristo cast one rapid and curious glance round this sanctum; it was the first time he had ever seen Mademoiselle d’Armilly, of whom he had heard much.

“Well,” said the banker to his daughter, “are we then all to be excluded?”

He then led the young man into the study, and either by chance or manœuvre the door was partially closed after Andrea, so that from the place where they sat neither the Count nor the baroness could see anything; but as the banker had accompanied Andrea, Madame Danglars appeared to take no notice of it.

The count soon heard Andrea’s voice, singing a Corsican song, accompanied by the piano. While the count smiled at hearing this song, which made him lose sight of Andrea in the recollection of Benedetto, Madame Danglars was boasting to Monte Cristo of her husband’s strength of mind, who that very morning had lost three or four hundred thousand francs by a failure at Milan. The praise was well deserved, for had not the count heard it from the baroness, or by one of those means by which he knew everything, the baron’s countenance would not have led him to suspect it.

“Hem,” thought Monte Cristo, “he begins to conceal his losses; a month since he boasted of them.”

Then aloud,—“Oh, madame, M. Danglars is so skilful, he will soon regain at the Bourse what he loses elsewhere.”

“I see that you participate in a prevalent error,” said Madame Danglars.

“What is it?” said Monte Cristo.

“That M. Danglars speculates, whereas he never does.”

“Truly, madame, I recollect M. Debray told me——apropos, what has become of him? I have seen nothing of him the last three or four days.”

“Nor I,” said Madame Danglars; “but you began a sentence, sir, and did not finish.”

“Which?”

“M. Debray had told you——”

“Ah, yes; he told me it was you who sacrificed to the demon of speculation.”

“I was once very fond of it, but I do not indulge now.”

“Then you are wrong, madame. Fortune is precarious; and if I were a woman and fate had made me a banker’s wife, whatever might be my confidence in my husband’s good fortune, still in speculation you know there is great risk. Well, I would secure for myself a fortune independent of him, even if I acquired it by placing my interests in hands unknown to him.” Madame Danglars blushed, in spite of all her efforts.

“Stay,” said Monte Cristo, as though he had not observed her confusion, “I have heard of a lucky hit that was made yesterday on the Neapolitan bonds.”

“I have none—nor have I ever possessed any; but really we have talked long enough of money, count, we are like two stockbrokers; have you heard how fate is persecuting the poor Villeforts?”

“What has happened?” said the count, simulating total ignorance.

“You know the Marquis of Saint-Méran died a few days after he had set out on his journey to Paris, and the marchioness a few days after her arrival?”

“Yes,” said Monte Cristo, “I have heard that; but, as Claudius said to Hamlet, ‘it is a law of nature; their fathers died before them, and they mourned their loss; they will die before their children, who will, in their turn, grieve for them.’”

“But that is not all.”

“Not all!”

“No; they were going to marry their daughter——”

“To M. Franz d’Épinay. Is it broken off?”

“Yesterday morning, it appears, Franz declined the honor.”

“Indeed? And is the reason known?”

“No.”

“How extraordinary! And how does M. de Villefort bear it?”

“As usual. Like a philosopher.”

Danglars returned at this moment alone.

“Well,” said the baroness, “do you leave M. Cavalcanti with your daughter?”

“And Mademoiselle d’Armilly,” said the banker; “do you consider her no one?” Then, turning to Monte Cristo, he said, “Prince Cavalcanti is a charming young man, is he not? But is he really a prince?”

“I will not answer for it,” said Monte Cristo. “His father was introduced to me as a marquis, so he ought to be a count; but I do not think he has much claim to that title.”

“Why?” said the banker. “If he is a prince, he is wrong not to maintain his rank; I do not like anyone to deny his origin.”

“Oh, you are a thorough democrat,” said Monte Cristo, smiling.

“But do you see to what you are exposing yourself?” said the baroness. “If, perchance, M. de Morcerf came, he would find M. Cavalcanti in that room, where he, the betrothed of Eugénie, has never been admitted.”

“You may well say, perchance,” replied the banker; “for he comes so seldom, it would seem only chance that brings him.”

“But should he come and find that young man with your daughter, he might be displeased.”

“He? You are mistaken. M. Albert would not do us the honor to be jealous; he does not like Eugénie sufficiently. Besides, I care not for his displeasure.”

“Still, situated as we are——”

“Yes, do you know how we are situated? At his mother’s ball he danced once with Eugénie, and M. Cavalcanti three times, and he took no notice of it.”

The valet announced the Vicomte Albert de Morcerf. The baroness rose hastily, and was going into the study, when Danglars stopped her.

“Let her alone,” said he.

She looked at him in amazement. Monte Cristo appeared to be unconscious of what passed. Albert entered, looking very handsome and in high spirits. He bowed politely to the baroness, familiarly to Danglars, and affectionately to Monte Cristo. Then turning to the baroness: “May I ask how Mademoiselle Danglars is?” said he.

“She is quite well,” replied Danglars quickly; “she is at the piano with M. Cavalcanti.”

Albert retained his calm and indifferent manner; he might feel perhaps annoyed, but he knew Monte Cristo’s eye was on him. “M. Cavalcanti has a fine tenor voice,” said he, “and Mademoiselle Eugénie a splendid soprano, and then she plays the piano like Thalberg. The concert must be a delightful one.”

“They suit each other remarkably well,” said Danglars. Albert appeared not to notice this remark, which was, however, so rude that Madame Danglars blushed.

“I, too,” said the young man, “am a musician—at least, my masters used to tell me so; but it is strange that my voice never would suit any other, and a soprano less than any.”

Danglars smiled, and seemed to say, “It is of no consequence.” Then, hoping doubtless to effect his purpose, he said,—“The prince and my daughter were universally admired yesterday. You were not of the party, M. de Morcerf?”

“What prince?” asked Albert.

“Prince Cavalcanti,” said Danglars, who persisted in giving the young man that title.

“Pardon me,” said Albert, “I was not aware that he was a prince. And Prince Cavalcanti sang with Mademoiselle Eugénie yesterday? It must have been charming, indeed. I regret not having heard them. But I was unable to accept your invitation, having promised to accompany my mother to a German concert given by the Baroness of Château-Renaud.”

This was followed by rather an awkward silence.

“May I also be allowed,” said Morcerf, “to pay my respects to Mademoiselle Danglars?”

“Wait a moment,” said the banker, stopping the young man; “do you hear that delightful cavatina? Ta, ta, ta, ti, ta, ti, ta, ta; it is charming, let them finish—one moment. Bravo, bravi, brava!” The banker was enthusiastic in his applause.

“Indeed,” said Albert, “it is exquisite; it is impossible to understand the music of his country better than Prince Cavalcanti does. You said prince, did you not? But he can easily become one, if he is not already; it is no uncommon thing in Italy. But to return to the charming musicians—you should give us a treat, Danglars, without telling them there is a stranger. Ask them to sing one more song; it is so delightful to hear music in the distance, when the musicians are unrestrained by observation.”

Danglars was quite annoyed by the young man’s indifference. He took Monte Cristo aside.

“What do you think of our lover?” said he.

“He appears cool. But, then your word is given.”

“Yes, doubtless I have promised to give my daughter to a man who loves her, but not to one who does not. See him there, cold as marble and proud like his father. If he were rich, if he had Cavalcanti’s fortune, that might be pardoned. Ma foi, I haven’t consulted my daughter; but if she has good taste——”

“Oh,” said Monte Cristo, “my fondness may blind me, but I assure you I consider Morcerf a charming young man who will render your daughter happy and will sooner or later attain a certain amount of distinction, and his father’s position is good.”

“Hem,” said Danglars.

“Why do you doubt?”

“The past—that obscurity on the past.”

“But that does not affect the son.”

“Very true.”

“Now, I beg of you, don’t go off your head. It’s a month now that you have been thinking of this marriage, and you must see that it throws some responsibility on me, for it was at my house you met this young Cavalcanti, whom I do not really know at all.”

“But I do.”

“Have you made inquiry?”

“Is there any need of that! Does not his appearance speak for him? And he is very rich.”

“I am not so sure of that.”

“And yet you said he had money.”

“Fifty thousand livres—a mere trifle.”

“He is well educated.”

“Hem,” said Monte Cristo in his turn.

“He is a musician.”

“So are all Italians.”

“Come, count, you do not do that young man justice.”

“Well, I acknowledge it annoys me, knowing your connection with the Morcerf family, to see him throw himself in the way.” Danglars burst out laughing.

“What a Puritan you are!” said he; “that happens every day.”

“But you cannot break it off in this way; the Morcerfs are depending on this union.”

“Indeed.”

“Positively.”

“Then let them explain themselves; you should give the father a hint, you are so intimate with the family.”

“I?—where the devil did you find out that?”

“At their ball; it was apparent enough. Why, did not the countess, the proud Mercédès, the disdainful Catalane, who will scarcely open her lips to her oldest acquaintances, take your arm, lead you into the garden, into the private walks, and remain there for half an hour?”

“Ah, baron, baron,” said Albert, “you are not listening—what barbarism in a megalomaniac like you!”

“Oh, don’t worry about me, Sir Mocker,” said Danglars; then turning to Monte Cristo he said:

“But will you undertake to speak to the father?”

“Willingly, if you wish it.”

“But let it be done explicitly and positively. If he demands my daughter let him fix the day—declare his conditions; in short, let us either understand each other, or quarrel. You understand—no more delay.”

“Yes, sir, I will give my attention to the subject.”

“I do not say that I await with pleasure his decision, but I do await it. A banker must, you know, be a slave to his promise.” And Danglars sighed as M. Cavalcanti had done half an hour before.

“Bravi! bravo! brava!” cried Morcerf, parodying the banker, as the selection came to an end. Danglars began to look suspiciously at Morcerf, when someone came and whispered a few words to him.

“I shall soon return,” said the banker to Monte Cristo; “wait for me. I shall, perhaps, have something to say to you.” And he went out.

The baroness took advantage of her husband’s absence to push open the door of her daughter’s study, and M. Andrea, who was sitting before the piano with Mademoiselle Eugénie, started up like a jack-in-the-box. Albert bowed with a smile to Mademoiselle Danglars, who did not appear in the least disturbed, and returned his bow with her usual coolness. Cavalcanti was evidently embarrassed; he bowed to Morcerf, who replied with the most impertinent look possible. Then Albert launched out in praise of Mademoiselle Danglars’ voice, and on his regret, after what he had just heard, that he had been unable to be present the previous evening.

Cavalcanti, being left alone, turned to Monte Cristo.

“Come,” said Madame Danglars, “leave music and compliments, and let us go and take tea.”

“Come, Louise,” said Mademoiselle Danglars to her friend.

They passed into the next drawing-room, where tea was prepared. Just as they were beginning, in the English fashion, to leave the spoons in their cups, the door again opened and Danglars entered, visibly agitated. Monte Cristo observed it particularly, and by a look asked the banker for an explanation.

“I have just received my courier from Greece,” said Danglars.

“Ah, yes,” said the count; “that was the reason of your running away from us.”

“Yes.”

“How is King Otho getting on?” asked Albert in the most sprightly tone.

Danglars cast another suspicious look towards him without answering, and Monte Cristo turned away to conceal the expression of pity which passed over his features, but which was gone in a moment.

“We shall go together, shall we not?” said Albert to the count.

“If you like,” replied the latter.

Albert could not understand the banker’s look, and turning to Monte Cristo, who understood it perfectly,—“Did you see,” said he, “how he looked at me?”

“Yes,” said the count; “but did you think there was anything particular in his look?”

“Indeed, I did; and what does he mean by his news from Greece?”

“How can I tell you?”

“Because I imagine you have correspondents in that country.”

Monte Cristo smiled significantly.

“Stop,” said Albert, “here he comes. I shall compliment Mademoiselle Danglars on her cameo, while the father talks to you.”

“If you compliment her at all, let it be on her voice, at least,” said Monte Cristo.

“No, everyone would do that.”

“My dear viscount, you are dreadfully impertinent.”

Albert advanced towards Eugénie, smiling.

Meanwhile, Danglars, stooping to Monte Cristo’s ear, “Your advice was excellent,” said he; “there is a whole history connected with the names Fernand and Yanina.”

“Indeed?” said Monte Cristo.

“Yes, I will tell you all; but take away the young man; I cannot endure his presence.”

“He is going with me. Shall I send the father to you?”

“Immediately.”

“Very well.” The count made a sign to Albert and they bowed to the ladies, and took their leave, Albert perfectly indifferent to Mademoiselle Danglars’ contempt, Monte Cristo reiterating his advice to Madame Danglars on the prudence a banker’s wife should exercise in providing for the future.

M. Cavalcanti remained master of the field.


Chapter 77. Haydée


Scarcely had the count’s horses cleared the angle of the boulevard, when Albert, turning towards the count, burst into a loud fit of laughter—much too loud in fact not to give the idea of its being rather forced and unnatural.

“Well,” said he, “I will ask you the same question which Charles IX. put to Catherine de’ Medici, after the massacre of Saint Bartholomew: ‘How have I played my little part?’”

“To what do you allude?” asked Monte Cristo.

“To the installation of my rival at M. Danglars’.”

“What rival?”

“Ma foi! what rival? Why, your protégé, M. Andrea Cavalcanti!”

“Ah, no joking, viscount, if you please; I do not patronize M. Andrea—at least, not as concerns M. Danglars.”

“And you would be to blame for not assisting him, if the young man really needed your help in that quarter, but, happily for me, he can dispense with it.”

“What, do you think he is paying his addresses?”

“I am certain of it; his languishing looks and modulated tones when addressing Mademoiselle Danglars fully proclaim his intentions. He aspires to the hand of the proud Eugénie.”

“What does that signify, so long as they favor your suit?”

“But it is not the case, my dear count: on the contrary. I am repulsed on all sides.”

“What!”

“It is so indeed; Mademoiselle Eugénie scarcely answers me, and Mademoiselle d’Armilly, her confidant, does not speak to me at all.”

“But the father has the greatest regard possible for you,” said Monte Cristo.

“He? Oh, no, he has plunged a thousand daggers into my heart, tragedy-weapons, I own, which instead of wounding sheathe their points in their own handles, but daggers which he nevertheless believed to be real and deadly.”

“Jealousy indicates affection.”

“True; but I am not jealous.”

“He is.”

“Of whom?—of Debray?”

“No, of you.”

“Of me? I will engage to say that before a week is past the door will be closed against me.”

“You are mistaken, my dear viscount.”

“Prove it to me.”

“Do you wish me to do so?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I am charged with the commission of endeavoring to induce the Comte de Morcerf to make some definite arrangement with the baron.”

“By whom are you charged?”

“By the baron himself.”

“Oh,” said Albert with all the cajolery of which he was capable. “You surely will not do that, my dear count?”

“Certainly I shall, Albert, as I have promised to do it.”

“Well,” said Albert, with a sigh, “it seems you are determined to marry me.”

“I am determined to try and be on good terms with everybody, at all events,” said Monte Cristo. “But apropos of Debray, how is it that I have not seen him lately at the baron’s house?”

“There has been a misunderstanding.”

“What, with the baroness?”

“No, with the baron.”

“Has he perceived anything?”

“Ah, that is a good joke!”

“Do you think he suspects?” said Monte Cristo with charming artlessness.

“Where have you come from, my dear count?” said Albert.

“From Congo, if you will.”

“It must be farther off than even that.”

“But what do I know of your Parisian husbands?”

“Oh, my dear count, husbands are pretty much the same everywhere; an individual husband of any country is a pretty fair specimen of the whole race.”

“But then, what can have led to the quarrel between Danglars and Debray? They seemed to understand each other so well,” said Monte Cristo with renewed energy.

“Ah, now you are trying to penetrate into the mysteries of Isis, in which I am not initiated. When M. Andrea Cavalcanti has become one of the family, you can ask him that question.”

The carriage stopped.

“Here we are,” said Monte Cristo; “it is only half-past ten o’clock, come in.”

“Certainly, I will.”

“My carriage shall take you back.”

“No, thank you; I gave orders for my coupé to follow me.”

“There it is, then,” said Monte Cristo, as he stepped out of the carriage. They both went into the house; the drawing-room was lighted up—they went in there. “You will make tea for us, Baptistin,” said the count. Baptistin left the room without waiting to answer, and in two seconds reappeared, bringing on a tray, all that his master had ordered, ready prepared, and appearing to have sprung from the ground, like the repasts which we read of in fairy tales.

“Really, my dear count,” said Morcerf, “what I admire in you is, not so much your riches, for perhaps there are people even wealthier than yourself, nor is it only your wit, for Beaumarchais might have possessed as much,—but it is your manner of being served, without any questions, in a moment, in a second; it is as if they guessed what you wanted by your manner of ringing, and made a point of keeping everything you can possibly desire in constant readiness.”

“What you say is perhaps true; they know my habits. For instance, you shall see; how do you wish to occupy yourself during tea-time?”

“Ma foi, I should like to smoke.”

Monte Cristo took the gong and struck it once. In about the space of a second a private door opened, and Ali appeared, bringing two chibouques filled with excellent latakia.

“It is quite wonderful,” said Albert.

“Oh no, it is as simple as possible,” replied Monte Cristo. “Ali knows I generally smoke while I am taking my tea or coffee; he has heard that I ordered tea, and he also knows that I brought you home with me; when I summoned him he naturally guessed the reason of my doing so, and as he comes from a country where hospitality is especially manifested through the medium of smoking, he naturally concludes that we shall smoke in company, and therefore brings two chibouques instead of one—and now the mystery is solved.”

“Certainly you give a most commonplace air to your explanation, but it is not the less true that you——Ah, but what do I hear?” and Morcerf inclined his head towards the door, through which sounds seemed to issue resembling those of a guitar.

“Ma foi, my dear viscount, you are fated to hear music this evening; you have only escaped from Mademoiselle Danglars’ piano, to be attacked by Haydée’s guzla.”

“Haydée—what an adorable name! Are there, then, really women who bear the name of Haydée anywhere but in Byron’s poems?”

“Certainly there are. Haydée is a very uncommon name in France, but is common enough in Albania and Epirus; it is as if you said, for example, Chastity, Modesty, Innocence,—it is a kind of baptismal name, as you Parisians call it.”

“Oh, that is charming,” said Albert, “how I should like to hear my countrywomen called Mademoiselle Goodness, Mademoiselle Silence, Mademoiselle Christian Charity! Only think, then, if Mademoiselle Danglars, instead of being called Claire-Marie-Eugénie, had been named Mademoiselle Chastity-Modesty-Innocence Danglars; what a fine effect that would have produced on the announcement of her marriage!”

“Hush,” said the count, “do not joke in so loud a tone; Haydée may hear you, perhaps.”

“And you think she would be angry?”

“No, certainly not,” said the count with a haughty expression.

“She is very amiable, then, is she not?” said Albert.

“It is not to be called amiability, it is her duty; a slave does not dictate to a master.”

“Come; you are joking yourself now. Are there any more slaves to be had who bear this beautiful name?”

“Undoubtedly.”

“Really, count, you do nothing, and have nothing like other people. The slave of the Count of Monte Cristo! Why, it is a rank of itself in France, and from the way in which you lavish money, it is a place that must be worth a hundred thousand francs a year.”

“A hundred thousand francs! The poor girl originally possessed much more than that; she was born to treasures in comparison with which those recorded in the Thousand and One Nights would seem but poverty.”

“She must be a princess then.”

“You are right; and she is one of the greatest in her country too.”

“I thought so. But how did it happen that such a great princess became a slave?”

“How was it that Dionysius the Tyrant became a schoolmaster? The fortune of war, my dear viscount,—the caprice of fortune; that is the way in which these things are to be accounted for.”

“And is her name a secret?”

“As regards the generality of mankind it is; but not for you, my dear viscount, who are one of my most intimate friends, and on whose silence I feel I may rely, if I consider it necessary to enjoin it—may I not do so?”

“Certainly; on my word of honor.”

“You know the history of the Pasha of Yanina, do you not?”

“Of Ali Tepelini?[13] Oh, yes; it was in his service that my father made his fortune.”

“True, I had forgotten that.”

“Well, what is Haydée to Ali Tepelini?”

“Merely his daughter.”

“What? the daughter of Ali Pasha?”

“Of Ali Pasha and the beautiful Vasiliki.”

“And your slave?”

“Ma foi, yes.”

“But how did she become so?”

“Why, simply from the circumstance of my having bought her one day, as I was passing through the market at Constantinople.”

“Wonderful! Really, my dear count, you seem to throw a sort of magic influence over all in which you are concerned; when I listen to you, existence no longer seems reality, but a waking dream. Now, I am perhaps going to make an imprudent and thoughtless request, but——”

“Say on.”

“But, since you go out with Haydée, and sometimes even take her to the Opera——”

“Well?”

“I think I may venture to ask you this favor.”

“You may venture to ask me anything.”

“Well then, my dear count, present me to your princess.”

“I will do so; but on two conditions.”

“I accept them at once.”

“The first is, that you will never tell anyone that I have granted the interview.”

“Very well,” said Albert, extending his hand; “I swear I will not.”

“The second is, that you will not tell her that your father ever served hers.”

“I give you my oath that I will not.”

“Enough, viscount; you will remember those two vows, will you not? But I know you to be a man of honor.”

The count again struck the gong. Ali reappeared. “Tell Haydée,” said he, “that I will take coffee with her, and give her to understand that I desire permission to present one of my friends to her.”

Ali bowed and left the room.

“Now, understand me,” said the count, “no direct questions, my dear Morcerf; if you wish to know anything, tell me, and I will ask her.”

“Agreed.”

Ali reappeared for the third time, and drew back the tapestried hanging which concealed the door, to signify to his master and Albert that they were at liberty to pass on.

“Let us go in,” said Monte Cristo.

Albert passed his hand through his hair, and curled his moustache, then, having satisfied himself as to his personal appearance, followed the count into the room, the latter having previously resumed his hat and gloves. Ali was stationed as a kind of advanced guard, and the door was kept by the three French attendants, commanded by Myrtho.

Haydée was awaiting her visitors in the first room of her apartments, which was the drawing-room. Her large eyes were dilated with surprise and expectation, for it was the first time that any man, except Monte Cristo, had been accorded an entrance into her presence. She was sitting on a sofa placed in an angle of the room, with her legs crossed under her in the Eastern fashion, and seemed to have made for herself, as it were, a kind of nest in the rich Indian silks which enveloped her. Near her was the instrument on which she had just been playing; it was elegantly fashioned, and worthy of its mistress. On perceiving Monte Cristo, she arose and welcomed him with a smile peculiar to herself, expressive at once of the most implicit obedience and also of the deepest love. Monte Cristo advanced towards her and extended his hand, which she as usual raised to her lips.

Albert had proceeded no farther than the door, where he remained rooted to the spot, being completely fascinated by the sight of such surpassing beauty, beheld as it was for the first time, and of which an inhabitant of more northern climes could form no adequate idea.

“Whom do you bring?” asked the young girl in Romaic, of Monte Cristo; “is it a friend, a brother, a simple acquaintance, or an enemy.”

“A friend,” said Monte Cristo in the same language.

“What is his name?”

“Count Albert; it is the same man whom I rescued from the hands of the banditti at Rome.”

“In what language would you like me to converse with him?”

Monte Cristo turned to Albert. “Do you know modern Greek,” asked he.

“Alas! no,” said Albert; “nor even ancient Greek, my dear count; never had Homer or Plato a more unworthy scholar than myself.”

“Then,” said Haydée, proving by her remark that she had quite understood Monte Cristo’s question and Albert’s answer, “then I will speak either in French or Italian, if my lord so wills it.”

Monte Cristo reflected one instant. “You will speak in Italian,” said he.

Then, turning towards Albert,—“It is a pity you do not understand either ancient or modern Greek, both of which Haydée speaks so fluently; the poor child will be obliged to talk to you in Italian, which will give you but a very false idea of her powers of conversation.”

The count made a sign to Haydée to address his visitor. “Sir,” she said to Morcerf, “you are most welcome as the friend of my lord and master.” This was said in excellent Tuscan, and with that soft Roman accent which makes the language of Dante as sonorous as that of Homer. Then, turning to Ali, she directed him to bring coffee and pipes, and when he had left the room to execute the orders of his young mistress she beckoned Albert to approach nearer to her. Monte Cristo and Morcerf drew their seats towards a small table, on which were arranged music, drawings, and vases of flowers. Ali then entered bringing coffee and chibouques; as to M. Baptistin, this portion of the building was interdicted to him. Albert refused the pipe which the Nubian offered him.

“Oh, take it—take it,” said the count; “Haydée is almost as civilized as a Parisian; the smell of a Havana is disagreeable to her, but the tobacco of the East is a most delicious perfume, you know.”

Ali left the room. The cups of coffee were all prepared, with the addition of sugar, which had been brought for Albert. Monte Cristo and Haydée took the beverage in the original Arabian manner, that is to say, without sugar. Haydée took the porcelain cup in her little slender fingers and conveyed it to her mouth with all the innocent artlessness of a child when eating or drinking something which it likes. At this moment two women entered, bringing salvers filled with ices and sherbet, which they placed on two small tables appropriated to that purpose.

“My dear host, and you, signora,” said Albert, in Italian, “excuse my apparent stupidity. I am quite bewildered, and it is natural that it should be so. Here I am in the heart of Paris; but a moment ago I heard the rumbling of the omnibuses and the tinkling of the bells of the lemonade-sellers, and now I feel as if I were suddenly transported to the East; not such as I have seen it, but such as my dreams have painted it. Oh, signora, if I could but speak Greek, your conversation, added to the fairy-scene which surrounds me, would furnish an evening of such delight as it would be impossible for me ever to forget.”

“I speak sufficient Italian to enable me to converse with you, sir,” said Haydée quietly; “and if you like what is Eastern, I will do my best to secure the gratification of your tastes while you are here.”

“On what subject shall I converse with her?” said Albert, in a low tone to Monte Cristo.

“Just what you please; you may speak of her country and of her youthful reminiscences, or if you like it better you can talk of Rome, Naples, or Florence.”

“Oh,” said Albert, “it is of no use to be in the company of a Greek if one converses just in the same style as with a Parisian; let me speak to her of the East.”

“Do so then, for of all themes which you could choose that will be the most agreeable to her taste.”

Albert turned towards Haydée. “At what age did you leave Greece, signora?” asked he.

“I left it when I was but five years old,” replied Haydée.

“And have you any recollection of your country?”

“When I shut my eyes and think, I seem to see it all again. The mind can see as well as the body. The body forgets sometimes; but the mind always remembers.”

“And how far back into the past do your recollections extend?”

“I could scarcely walk when my mother, who was called Vasiliki, which means royal,” said the young girl, tossing her head proudly, “took me by the hand, and after putting in our purse all the money we possessed, we went out, both covered with veils, to solicit alms for the prisoners, saying, ‘He who giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord.’ Then when our purse was full we returned to the palace, and without saying a word to my father, we sent it to the convent, where it was divided amongst the prisoners.”

“And how old were you at that time?”

“I was three years old,” said Haydée.

“Then you remember everything that went on about you from the time when you were three years old?” said Albert.

“Everything.”

“Count,” said Albert, in a low tone to Monte Cristo, “do allow the signora to tell me something of her history. You prohibited my mentioning my father’s name to her, but perhaps she will allude to him of her own accord in the course of the recital, and you have no idea how delighted I should be to hear our name pronounced by such beautiful lips.”

Monte Cristo turned to Haydée, and with an expression of countenance which commanded her to pay the most implicit attention to his words, he said in Greek, “Πατρὸς μὲν ἄτην μήζε τὸ ὄνομα προδότου καὶ προδοσίαν εἰπὲ ἡμῖν,”—that is, “Tell us the fate of your father; but neither the name of the traitor nor the treason.” Haydée sighed deeply, and a shade of sadness clouded her beautiful brow.

“What are you saying to her?” said Morcerf in an undertone.

“I again reminded her that you were a friend, and that she need not conceal anything from you.”

“Then,” said Albert, “this pious pilgrimage in behalf of the prisoners was your first remembrance; what is the next?”

“Oh, then I remember as if it were but yesterday sitting under the shade of some sycamore-trees, on the borders of a lake, in the waters of which the trembling foliage was reflected as in a mirror. Under the oldest and thickest of these trees, reclining on cushions, sat my father; my mother was at his feet, and I, childlike, amused myself by playing with his long white beard which descended to his girdle, or with the diamond-hilt of the scimitar attached to his girdle. Then from time to time there came to him an Albanian who said something to which I paid no attention, but which he always answered in the same tone of voice, either ‘Kill,’ or ‘Pardon.’”

“It is very strange,” said Albert, “to hear such words proceed from the mouth of anyone but an actress on the stage, and one needs constantly to be saying to one’s self, ‘This is no fiction, it is all reality,’ in order to believe it. And how does France appear in your eyes, accustomed as they have been to gaze on such enchanted scenes?”

“I think it is a fine country,” said Haydée, “but I see France as it really is, because I look on it with the eyes of a woman; whereas my own country, which I can only judge of from the impression produced on my childish mind, always seems enveloped in a vague atmosphere, which is luminous or otherwise, according as my remembrances of it are sad or joyous.”

“So young,” said Albert, forgetting at the moment the Count’s command that he should ask no questions of the slave herself, “is it possible that you can have known what suffering is except by name?”

Haydée turned her eyes towards Monte Cristo, who, making at the same time some imperceptible sign, murmured:

“Εἰπέ—speak.”

“Nothing is ever so firmly impressed on the mind as the memory of our early childhood, and with the exception of the two scenes I have just described to you, all my earliest reminiscences are fraught with deepest sadness.”

“Speak, speak, signora,” said Albert, “I am listening with the most intense delight and interest to all you say.”

Haydée answered his remark with a melancholy smile. “You wish me, then, to relate the history of my past sorrows?” said she.

“I beg you to do so,” replied Albert.

“Well, I was but four years old when one night I was suddenly awakened by my mother. We were in the palace of Yanina; she snatched me from the cushions on which I was sleeping, and on opening my eyes I saw hers filled with tears. She took me away without speaking. When I saw her weeping I began to cry too. ‘Hush, child!’ said she. At other times in spite of maternal endearments or threats, I had with a child’s caprice been accustomed to indulge my feelings of sorrow or anger by crying as much as I felt inclined; but on this occasion there was an intonation of such extreme terror in my mother’s voice when she enjoined me to silence, that I ceased crying as soon as her command was given. She bore me rapidly away.

“I saw then that we were descending a large staircase; around us were all my mother’s servants carrying trunks, bags, ornaments, jewels, purses of gold, with which they were hurrying away in the greatest distraction.

“Behind the women came a guard of twenty men armed with long guns and pistols, and dressed in the costume which the Greeks have assumed since they have again become a nation. You may imagine there was something startling and ominous,” said Haydée, shaking her head and turning pale at the mere remembrance of the scene, “in this long file of slaves and women only half-aroused from sleep, or at least so they appeared to me, who was myself scarcely awake. Here and there on the walls of the staircase, were reflected gigantic shadows, which trembled in the flickering light of the pine-torches till they seemed to reach to the vaulted roof above.

“‘Quick!’ said a voice at the end of the gallery. This voice made everyone bow before it, resembling in its effect the wind passing over a field of wheat, by its superior strength forcing every ear to yield obeisance. As for me, it made me tremble. This voice was that of my father. He came last, clothed in his splendid robes and holding in his hand the carbine which your emperor presented him. He was leaning on the shoulder of his favorite Selim, and he drove us all before him, as a shepherd would his straggling flock. My father,” said Haydée, raising her head, “was that illustrious man known in Europe under the name of Ali Tepelini, pasha of Yanina, and before whom Turkey trembled.”

Albert, without knowing why, started on hearing these words pronounced with such a haughty and dignified accent; it appeared to him as if there was something supernaturally gloomy and terrible in the expression which gleamed from the brilliant eyes of Haydée at this moment; she appeared like a Pythoness evoking a spectre, as she recalled to his mind the remembrance of the fearful death of this man, to the news of which all Europe had listened with horror.

“Soon,” said Haydée, “we halted on our march, and found ourselves on the borders of a lake. My mother pressed me to her throbbing heart, and at the distance of a few paces I saw my father, who was glancing anxiously around. Four marble steps led down to the water’s edge, and below them was a boat floating on the tide.

“From where we stood I could see in the middle of the lake a large blank mass; it was the kiosk to which we were going. This kiosk appeared to me to be at a considerable distance, perhaps on account of the darkness of the night, which prevented any object from being more than partially discerned. We stepped into the boat. I remember well that the oars made no noise whatever in striking the water, and when I leaned over to ascertain the cause I saw that they were muffled with the sashes of our Palikares.[14] Besides the rowers, the boat contained only the women, my father, mother, Selim, and myself. The Palikares had remained on the shore of the lake, ready to cover our retreat; they were kneeling on the lowest of the marble steps, and in that manner intended making a rampart of the three others, in case of pursuit. Our bark flew before the wind. ‘Why does the boat go so fast?’ asked I of my mother.

“‘Silence, child! Hush, we are flying!’ I did not understand. Why should my father fly?—he, the all-powerful—he, before whom others were accustomed to fly—he, who had taken for his device,

‘They hate me; then they fear me!’

“It was, indeed, a flight which my father was trying to effect. I have been told since that the garrison of the castle of Yanina, fatigued with long service——”

Here Haydée cast a significant glance at Monte Cristo, whose eyes had been riveted on her countenance during the whole course of her narrative. The young girl then continued, speaking slowly, like a person who is either inventing or suppressing some feature of the history which he is relating.

“You were saying, signora,” said Albert, who was paying the most implicit attention to the recital, “that the garrison of Yanina, fatigued with long service——”

“Had treated with the Seraskier[15] Kourchid, who had been sent by the sultan to gain possession of the person of my father; it was then that Ali Tepelini—after having sent to the sultan a French officer in whom he reposed great confidence—resolved to retire to the asylum which he had long before prepared for himself, and which he called kataphygion, or the refuge.”

“And this officer,” asked Albert, “do you remember his name, signora?”

Monte Cristo exchanged a rapid glance with the young girl, which was quite unperceived by Albert.

“No,” said she, “I do not remember it just at this moment; but if it should occur to me presently, I will tell you.”

Albert was on the point of pronouncing his father’s name, when Monte Cristo gently held up his finger in token of reproach; the young man recollected his promise, and was silent.

“It was towards this kiosk that we were rowing. A ground floor, ornamented with arabesques, bathing its terraces in the water, and another floor, looking on the lake, was all which was visible to the eye. But beneath the ground floor, stretching out into the island, was a large subterranean cavern, to which my mother, myself, and the women were conducted. In this place were together 60,000 pouches and 200 barrels; the pouches contained 25,000,000 of money in gold, and the barrels were filled with 30,000 pounds of gunpowder.

“Near the barrels stood Selim, my father’s favorite, whom I mentioned to you just now. He stood watch day and night with a lance provided with a lighted slowmatch in his hand, and he had orders to blow up everything—kiosk, guards, women, gold, and Ali Tepelini himself—at the first signal given by my father. I remember well that the slaves, convinced of the precarious tenure on which they held their lives, passed whole days and nights in praying, crying, and groaning. As for me, I can never forget the pale complexion and black eyes of the young soldier, and whenever the angel of death summons me to another world, I am quite sure I shall recognize Selim. I cannot tell you how long we remained in this state; at that period I did not even know what time meant. Sometimes, but very rarely, my father summoned me and my mother to the terrace of the palace; these were hours of recreation for me, as I never saw anything in the dismal cavern but the gloomy countenances of the slaves and Selim’s fiery lance. My father was endeavoring to pierce with his eager looks the remotest verge of the horizon, examining attentively every black speck which appeared on the lake, while my mother, reclining by his side, rested her head on his shoulder, and I played at his feet, admiring everything I saw with that unsophisticated innocence of childhood which throws a charm round objects insignificant in themselves, but which in its eyes are invested with the greatest importance. The heights of Pindus towered above us; the castle of Yanina rose white and angular from the blue waters of the lake, and the immense masses of black vegetation which, viewed in the distance, gave the idea of lichens clinging to the rocks, were in reality gigantic fir-trees and myrtles.

“One morning my father sent for us; my mother had been crying all the night, and was very wretched; we found the pasha calm, but paler than usual. ‘Take courage, Vasiliki,’ said he; ‘today arrives the firman of the master, and my fate will be decided. If my pardon be complete, we shall return triumphant to Yanina; if the news be inauspicious, we must fly this night.’—‘But supposing our enemy should not allow us to do so?’ said my mother. ‘Oh, make yourself easy on that head,’ said Ali, smiling; ‘Selim and his flaming lance will settle that matter. They would be glad to see me dead, but they would not like themselves to die with me.’

“My mother only answered by sighs to consolations which she knew did not come from my father’s heart. She prepared the iced water which he was in the habit of constantly drinking,—for since his sojourn at the kiosk he had been parched by the most violent fever,—after which she anointed his white beard with perfumed oil, and lighted his chibouque, which he sometimes smoked for hours together, quietly watching the wreaths of vapor that ascended in spiral clouds and gradually melted away in the surrounding atmosphere. Presently he made such a sudden movement that I was paralyzed with fear. Then, without taking his eyes from the object which had first attracted his attention, he asked for his telescope. My mother gave it him, and as she did so, looked whiter than the marble against which she leaned. I saw my father’s hand tremble. ‘A boat!—two!—three!’ murmured my, father;—‘four!’ He then arose, seizing his arms and priming his pistols. ‘Vasiliki,’ said he to my mother, trembling perceptibly, ‘the instant approaches which will decide everything. In the space of half an hour we shall know the emperor’s answer. Go into the cavern with Haydée.’—‘I will not quit you,’ said Vasiliki; ‘if you die, my lord, I will die with you.’—‘Go to Selim!’ cried my father. ‘Adieu, my lord,’ murmured my mother, determining quietly to await the approach of death. ‘Take away Vasiliki!’ said my father to his Palikares.

“As for me, I had been forgotten in the general confusion; I ran toward Ali Tepelini; he saw me hold out my arms to him, and he stooped down and pressed my forehead with his lips. Oh, how distinctly I remember that kiss!—it was the last he ever gave me, and I feel as if it were still warm on my forehead. On descending, we saw through the lattice-work several boats which were gradually becoming more distinct to our view. At first they appeared like black specks, and now they looked like birds skimming the surface of the waves. During this time, in the kiosk at my father’s feet, were seated twenty Palikares, concealed from view by an angle of the wall and watching with eager eyes the arrival of the boats. They were armed with their long guns inlaid with mother-of-pearl and silver, and cartridges in great numbers were lying scattered on the floor. My father looked at his watch, and paced up and down with a countenance expressive of the greatest anguish. This was the scene which presented itself to my view as I quitted my father after that last kiss.

“My mother and I traversed the gloomy passage leading to the cavern. Selim was still at his post, and smiled sadly on us as we entered. We fetched our cushions from the other end of the cavern, and sat down by Selim. In great dangers the devoted ones cling to each other; and, young as I was, I quite understood that some imminent danger was hanging over our heads.”

Albert had often heard—not from his father, for he never spoke on the subject, but from strangers—the description of the last moments of the vizier of Yanina; he had read different accounts of his death, but the story seemed to acquire fresh meaning from the voice and expression of the young girl, and her sympathetic accent and the melancholy expression of her countenance at once charmed and horrified him.

As to Haydée, these terrible reminiscences seemed to have overpowered her for a moment, for she ceased speaking, her head leaning on her hand like a beautiful flower bowing beneath the violence of the storm; and her eyes gazing on vacancy indicated that she was mentally contemplating the green summit of the Pindus and the blue waters of the lake of Yanina, which, like a magic mirror, seemed to reflect the sombre picture which she sketched. Monte Cristo looked at her with an indescribable expression of interest and pity.

“Go on, my child,” said the count in the Romaic language.

Haydée looked up abruptly, as if the sonorous tones of Monte Cristo’s voice had awakened her from a dream; and she resumed her narrative.

“It was about four o’clock in the afternoon, and although the day was brilliant out-of-doors, we were enveloped in the gloomy darkness of the cavern. One single, solitary light was burning there, and it appeared like a star set in a heaven of blackness; it was Selim’s flaming lance. My mother was a Christian, and she prayed. Selim repeated from time to time the sacred words: ‘God is great!’ However, my mother had still some hope. As she was coming down, she thought she recognized the French officer who had been sent to Constantinople, and in whom my father placed so much confidence; for he knew that all the soldiers of the French emperor were naturally noble and generous. She advanced some steps towards the staircase, and listened. ‘They are approaching,’ said she; ‘perhaps they bring us peace and liberty!’

“‘What do you fear, Vasiliki?’ said Selim, in a voice at once so gentle and yet so proud. ‘If they do not bring us peace, we will give them war; if they do not bring life, we will give them death.’ And he renewed the flame of his lance with a gesture which made one think of Dionysus of old Crete.[16] But I, being only a little child, was terrified by this undaunted courage, which appeared to me both ferocious and senseless, and I recoiled with horror from the idea of the frightful death amidst fire and flames which probably awaited us.

“My mother experienced the same sensations, for I felt her tremble. ‘Mamma, mamma,’ said I, ‘are we really to be killed?’ And at the sound of my voice the slaves redoubled their cries and prayers and lamentations. ‘My child,’ said Vasiliki, ‘may God preserve you from ever wishing for that death which today you so much dread!’ Then, whispering to Selim, she asked what were her master’s orders. ‘If he send me his poniard, it will signify that the emperor’s intentions are not favorable, and I am to set fire to the powder; if, on the contrary, he send me his ring, it will be a sign that the emperor pardons him, and I am to extinguish the match and leave the magazine untouched.’—‘My friend,’ said my mother, ‘when your master’s orders arrive, if it is the poniard which he sends, instead of despatching us by that horrible death which we both so much dread, you will mercifully kill us with this same poniard, will you not?’—‘Yes, Vasiliki,’ replied Selim tranquilly.

“Suddenly we heard loud cries; and, listening, discerned that they were cries of joy. The name of the French officer who had been sent to Constantinople resounded on all sides amongst our Palikares; it was evident that he brought the answer of the emperor, and that it was favorable.”

“And do you not remember the Frenchman’s name?” said Morcerf, quite ready to aid the memory of the narrator. Monte Cristo made a sign to him to be silent.

“I do not recollect it,” said Haydée.

“The noise increased; steps were heard approaching nearer and nearer; they were descending the steps leading to the cavern. Selim made ready his lance. Soon a figure appeared in the gray twilight at the entrance of the cave, formed by the reflection of the few rays of daylight which had found their way into this gloomy retreat. ‘Who are you?’ cried Selim. ‘But whoever you may be, I charge you not to advance another step.’—‘Long live the emperor!’ said the figure. ‘He grants a full pardon to the Vizier Ali, and not only gives him his life, but restores to him his fortune and his possessions.’ My mother uttered a cry of joy, and clasped me to her bosom. ‘Stop,’ said Selim, seeing that she was about to go out; ‘you see I have not yet received the ring,’—‘True,’ said my mother. And she fell on her knees, at the same time holding me up towards heaven, as if she desired, while praying to God in my behalf, to raise me actually to his presence.”

And for the second time Haydée stopped, overcome by such violent emotion that the perspiration stood upon her pale brow, and her stifled voice seemed hardly able to find utterance, so parched and dry were her throat and lips.

Monte Cristo poured a little iced water into a glass, and presented it to her, saying with a mildness in which was also a shade of command,—“Courage.”

Haydée dried her eyes, and continued:

“By this time our eyes, habituated to the darkness, had recognized the messenger of the pasha,—it was a friend. Selim had also recognized him, but the brave young man only acknowledged one duty, which was to obey. ‘In whose name do you come?’ said he to him. ‘I come in the name of our master, Ali Tepelini.’—‘If you come from Ali himself,’ said Selim, ‘you know what you were charged to remit to me?’—‘Yes,’ said the messenger, ‘and I bring you his ring.’ At these words he raised his hand above his head, to show the token; but it was too far off, and there was not light enough to enable Selim, where he was standing, to distinguish and recognize the object presented to his view. ‘I do not see what you have in your hand,’ said Selim. ‘Approach then,’ said the messenger, ‘or I will come nearer to you, if you prefer it.’—‘I will agree to neither one nor the other,’ replied the young soldier; ‘place the object which I desire to see in the ray of light which shines there, and retire while I examine it.’—‘Be it so,’ said the envoy; and he retired, after having first deposited the token agreed on in the place pointed out to him by Selim.

“Oh, how our hearts palpitated; for it did, indeed, seem to be a ring which was placed there. But was it my father’s ring? that was the question. Selim, still holding in his hand the lighted match, walked towards the opening in the cavern, and, aided by the faint light which streamed in through the mouth of the cave, picked up the token.

“‘It is well,’ said he, kissing it; ‘it is my master’s ring!’ And throwing the match on the ground, he trampled on it and extinguished it. The messenger uttered a cry of joy and clapped his hands. At this signal four soldiers of the Seraskier Kourchid suddenly appeared, and Selim fell, pierced by five blows. Each man had stabbed him separately, and, intoxicated by their crime, though still pale with fear, they sought all over the cavern to discover if there was any fear of fire, after which they amused themselves by rolling on the bags of gold. At this moment my mother seized me in her arms, and hurrying noiselessly along numerous turnings and windings known only to ourselves, she arrived at a private staircase of the kiosk, where was a scene of frightful tumult and confusion. The lower rooms were entirely filled with Kourchid’s troops; that is to say, with our enemies. Just as my mother was on the point of pushing open a small door, we heard the voice of the pasha sounding in a loud and threatening tone. My mother applied her eye to the crack between the boards; I luckily found a small opening which afforded me a view of the apartment and what was passing within. ‘What do you want?’ said my father to some people who were holding a paper inscribed with characters of gold. ‘What we want,’ replied one, ‘is to communicate to you the will of his highness. Do you see this firman?’—‘I do,’ said my father. ‘Well, read it; he demands your head.’

“My father answered with a loud laugh, which was more frightful than even threats would have been, and he had not ceased when two reports of a pistol were heard; he had fired them himself, and had killed two men. The Palikares, who were prostrated at my father’s feet, now sprang up and fired, and the room was filled with fire and smoke. At the same instant the firing began on the other side, and the balls penetrated the boards all round us. Oh, how noble did the grand vizier my father look at that moment, in the midst of the flying bullets, his scimitar in his hand, and his face blackened with the powder of his enemies! and how he terrified them, even then, and made them fly before him! ‘Selim, Selim!’ cried he, ‘guardian of the fire, do your duty!’—‘Selim is dead,’ replied a voice which seemed to come from the depths of the earth, ‘and you are lost, Ali!’ At the same moment an explosion was heard, and the flooring of the room in which my father was sitting was suddenly torn up and shivered to atoms—the troops were firing from underneath. Three or four Palikares fell with their bodies literally ploughed with wounds.

“My father howled aloud, plunged his fingers into the holes which the balls had made, and tore up one of the planks entire. But immediately through this opening twenty more shots were fired, and the flame, rushing up like fire from the crater of a volcano, soon reached the tapestry, which it quickly devoured. In the midst of all this frightful tumult and these terrific cries, two reports, fearfully distinct, followed by two shrieks more heartrending than all, froze me with terror. These two shots had mortally wounded my father, and it was he who had given utterance to these frightful cries. However, he remained standing, clinging to a window. My mother tried to force the door, that she might go and die with him, but it was fastened on the inside. All around him were lying the Palikares, writhing in convulsive agonies, while two or three who were only slightly wounded were trying to escape by springing from the windows. At this crisis the whole flooring suddenly gave way, my father fell on one knee, and at the same moment twenty hands were thrust forth, armed with sabres, pistols, and poniards—twenty blows were instantaneously directed against one man, and my father disappeared in a whirlwind of fire and smoke kindled by these demons, and which seemed like hell itself opening beneath his feet. I felt myself fall to the ground, my mother had fainted.”

Haydée’s arms fell by her side, and she uttered a deep groan, at the same time looking towards the count as if to ask if he were satisfied with her obedience to his commands.

Monte Cristo arose and approached her, took her hand, and said to her in Romaic:

“Calm yourself, my dear child, and take courage in remembering that there is a God who will punish traitors.”

“It is a frightful story, count,” said Albert, terrified at the paleness of Haydée’s countenance, “and I reproach myself now for having been so cruel and thoughtless in my request.”

“Oh, it is nothing,” said Monte Cristo. Then, patting the young girl on the head, he continued, “Haydée is very courageous, and she sometimes even finds consolation in the recital of her misfortunes.”

“Because, my lord,” said Haydée eagerly, “my miseries recall to me the remembrance of your goodness.”

Albert looked at her with curiosity, for she had not yet related what he most desired to know,—how she had become the slave of the count. Haydée saw at a glance the same expression pervading the countenances of her two auditors; she continued:

“When my mother recovered her senses we were before the seraskier. ‘Kill,’ said she, ‘but spare the honor of the widow of Ali.’—‘It is not to me to whom you must address yourself,’ said Kourchid.

“‘To whom, then?’—‘To your new master.’

“‘Who and where is he?’—‘He is here.’

“And Kourchid pointed out one who had more than any contributed to the death of my father,” said Haydée, in a tone of chastened anger.

“Then,” said Albert, “you became the property of this man?”

“No,” replied Haydée, “he did not dare to keep us, so we were sold to some slave-merchants who were going to Constantinople. We traversed Greece, and arrived half dead at the imperial gates. They were surrounded by a crowd of people, who opened a way for us to pass, when suddenly my mother, having looked closely at an object which was attracting their attention, uttered a piercing cry and fell to the ground, pointing as she did so to a head which was placed over the gates, and beneath which were inscribed these words:

‘This is the head of Ali Tepelini, Pasha of Yanina.’

“I cried bitterly, and tried to raise my mother from the earth, but she was dead! I was taken to the slave-market, and was purchased by a rich Armenian. He caused me to be instructed, gave me masters, and when I was thirteen years of age he sold me to the Sultan Mahmoud.”

“Of whom I bought her,” said Monte Cristo, “as I told you, Albert, with the emerald which formed a match to the one I had made into a box for the purpose of holding my hashish pills.”

“Oh, you are good, you are great, my lord!” said Haydée, kissing the count’s hand, “and I am very fortunate in belonging to such a master!”

Albert remained quite bewildered with all that he had seen and heard.

“Come, finish your cup of coffee,” said Monte Cristo; “the history is ended.”


Chapter 78. We hear From Yanina


If Valentine could have seen the trembling step and agitated countenance of Franz when he quitted the chamber of M. Noirtier, even she would have been constrained to pity him. Villefort had only just given utterance to a few incoherent sentences, and then retired to his study, where he received about two hours afterwards the following letter:

“After all the disclosures which were made this morning, M. Noirtier de Villefort must see the utter impossibility of any alliance being formed between his family and that of M. Franz d’Épinay. M. d’Épinay must say that he is shocked and astonished that M. de Villefort, who appeared to be aware of all the circumstances detailed this morning, should not have anticipated him in this announcement.”

No one who had seen the magistrate at this moment, so thoroughly unnerved by the recent inauspicious combination of circumstances, would have supposed for an instant that he had anticipated the annoyance; although it certainly never had occurred to him that his father would carry candor, or rather rudeness, so far as to relate such a history. And in justice to Villefort, it must be understood that M. Noirtier, who never cared for the opinion of his son on any subject, had always omitted to explain the affair to Villefort, so that he had all his life entertained the belief that General de Quesnel, or the Baron d’Épinay, as he was alternately styled, according as the speaker wished to identify him by his own family name, or by the title which had been conferred on him, fell the victim of assassination, and not that he was killed fairly in a duel. This harsh letter, coming as it did from a man generally so polite and respectful, struck a mortal blow at the pride of Villefort.

Hardly had he read the letter, when his wife entered. The sudden departure of Franz, after being summoned by M. Noirtier, had so much astonished everyone, that the position of Madame de Villefort, left alone with the notary and the witnesses, became every moment more embarrassing. Determined to bear it no longer, she arose and left the room; saying she would go and make some inquiries into the cause of his sudden disappearance.

M. de Villefort’s communications on the subject were very limited and concise; he told her, in fact, that an explanation had taken place between M. Noirtier, M. d’Épinay, and himself, and that the marriage of Valentine and Franz would consequently be broken off. This was an awkward and unpleasant thing to have to report to those who were waiting. She therefore contented herself with saying that M. Noirtier having at the commencement of the discussion been attacked by a sort of apoplectic fit, the affair would necessarily be deferred for some days longer. This news, false as it was following so singularly in the train of the two similar misfortunes which had so recently occurred, evidently astonished the auditors, and they retired without a word.

During this time Valentine, at once terrified and happy, after having embraced and thanked the feeble old man for thus breaking with a single blow the chain which she had been accustomed to consider as irrefragable, asked leave to retire to her own room, in order to recover her composure. Noirtier looked the permission which she solicited. But instead of going to her own room, Valentine, having once gained her liberty, entered the gallery, and, opening a small door at the end of it, found herself at once in the garden.

In the midst of all the strange events which had crowded one on the other, an indefinable sentiment of dread had taken possession of Valentine’s mind. She expected every moment that she should see Morrel appear, pale and trembling, to forbid the signing of the contract, like the Laird of Ravenswood in The Bride of Lammermoor.

It was high time for her to make her appearance at the gate, for Maximilian had long awaited her coming. He had half guessed what was going on when he saw Franz quit the cemetery with M. de Villefort. He followed M. d’Épinay, saw him enter, afterwards go out, and then re-enter with Albert and Château-Renaud. He had no longer any doubts as to the nature of the conference; he therefore quickly went to the gate in the clover-patch, prepared to hear the result of the proceedings, and very certain that Valentine would hasten to him the first moment she should be set at liberty. He was not mistaken; peering through the crevices of the wooden partition, he soon discovered the young girl, who cast aside all her usual precautions and walked at once to the barrier. The first glance which Maximilian directed towards her entirely reassured him, and the first words she spoke made his heart bound with delight.

“We are saved!” said Valentine.

“Saved?” repeated Morrel, not being able to conceive such intense happiness; “by whom?”

“By my grandfather. Oh, Morrel, pray love him for all his goodness to us!”

Morrel swore to love him with all his soul; and at that moment he could safely promise to do so, for he felt as though it were not enough to love him merely as a friend or even as a father, he worshiped him as a god.

“But tell me, Valentine, how has it all been effected? What strange means has he used to compass this blessed end?”

Valentine was on the point of relating all that had passed, but she suddenly remembered that in doing so she must reveal a terrible secret which concerned others as well as her grandfather, and she said:

“At some future time I will tell you all about it.”

“But when will that be?”

“When I am your wife.”

The conversation had now turned upon a topic so pleasing to Morrel, that he was ready to accede to anything that Valentine thought fit to propose, and he likewise felt that a piece of intelligence such as he just heard ought to be more than sufficient to content him for one day. However, he would not leave without the promise of seeing Valentine again the next night. Valentine promised all that Morrel required of her, and certainly it was less difficult now for her to believe that she should marry Maximilian than it was an hour ago to assure herself that she should not marry Franz.

During the time occupied by the interview we have just detailed, Madame de Villefort had gone to visit M. Noirtier. The old man looked at her with that stern and forbidding expression with which he was accustomed to receive her.

“Sir,” said she, “it is superfluous for me to tell you that Valentine’s marriage is broken off, since it was here that the affair was concluded.”

Noirtier’s countenance remained immovable.

“But one thing I can tell you, of which I do not think you are aware; that is, that I have always been opposed to this marriage, and that the contract was entered into entirely without my consent or approbation.”

Noirtier regarded his daughter-in-law with the look of a man desiring an explanation.

“Now that this marriage, which I know you so much disliked, is done away with, I come to you on an errand which neither M. de Villefort nor Valentine could consistently undertake.”

Noirtier’s eyes demanded the nature of her mission.

“I come to entreat you, sir,” continued Madame de Villefort, “as the only one who has the right of doing so, inasmuch as I am the only one who will receive no personal benefit from the transaction,—I come to entreat you to restore, not your love, for that she has always possessed, but to restore your fortune to your granddaughter.”

There was a doubtful expression in Noirtier’s eyes; he was evidently trying to discover the motive of this proceeding, and he could not succeed in doing so.

“May I hope, sir,” said Madame de Villefort, “that your intentions accord with my request?”

Noirtier made a sign that they did.

“In that case, sir,” rejoined Madame de Villefort, “I will leave you overwhelmed with gratitude and happiness at your prompt acquiescence to my wishes.” She then bowed to M. Noirtier and retired.

The next day M. Noirtier sent for the notary; the first will was torn up and a second made, in which he left the whole of his fortune to Valentine, on condition that she should never be separated from him. It was then generally reported that Mademoiselle de Villefort, the heiress of the marquis and marchioness of Saint-Méran, had regained the good graces of her grandfather, and that she would ultimately be in possession of an income of 300,000 livres.

While all the proceedings relative to the dissolution of the marriage-contract were being carried on at the house of M. de Villefort, Monte Cristo had paid his visit to the Count of Morcerf, who, in order to lose no time in responding to M. Danglars’ wishes, and at the same time to pay all due deference to his position in society, donned his uniform of lieutenant-general, which he ornamented with all his crosses, and thus attired, ordered his finest horses and drove to the Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin.

Danglars was balancing his monthly accounts, and it was perhaps not the most favorable moment for finding him in his best humor. At the first sight of his old friend, Danglars assumed his majestic air, and settled himself in his easy-chair.

Morcerf, usually so stiff and formal, accosted the banker in an affable and smiling manner, and, feeling sure that the overture he was about to make would be well received, he did not consider it necessary to adopt any manœuvres in order to gain his end, but went at once straight to the point.

“Well, baron,” said he, “here I am at last; some time has elapsed since our plans were formed, and they are not yet executed.”

Morcerf paused at these words, quietly waiting till the cloud should have dispersed which had gathered on the brow of Danglars, and which he attributed to his silence; but, on the contrary, to his great surprise, it grew darker and darker.

“To what do you allude, monsieur?” said Danglars; as if he were trying in vain to guess at the possible meaning of the general’s words.

“Ah,” said Morcerf, “I see you are a stickler for forms, my dear sir, and you would remind me that the ceremonial rites should not be omitted. Ma foi, I beg your pardon, but as I have but one son, and it is the first time I have ever thought of marrying him, I am still serving my apprenticeship, you know; come, I will reform.”

And Morcerf with a forced smile arose, and, making a low bow to M. Danglars, said:

“Baron, I have the honor of asking of you the hand of Mademoiselle Eugénie Danglars for my son, the Vicomte Albert de Morcerf.”

But Danglars, instead of receiving this address in the favorable manner which Morcerf had expected, knit his brow, and without inviting the count, who was still standing, to take a seat, he said:

“Monsieur, it will be necessary to reflect before I give you an answer.”

“To reflect?” said Morcerf, more and more astonished; “have you not had enough time for reflection during the eight years which have elapsed since this marriage was first discussed between us?”

“Count,” said the banker, “things are constantly occurring in the world to induce us to lay aside our most established opinions, or at all events to cause us to remodel them according to the change of circumstances, which may have placed affairs in a totally different light to that in which we at first viewed them.”

“I do not understand you, baron,” said Morcerf.

“What I mean to say is this, sir,—that during the last fortnight unforeseen circumstances have occurred——”

“Excuse me,” said Morcerf, “but is it a play we are acting?”

“A play?”

“Yes, for it is like one; pray let us come more to the point, and endeavor thoroughly to understand each other.”

“That is quite my desire.”

“You have seen M. de Monte Cristo have you not?”

“I see him very often,” said Danglars, drawing himself up; “he is a particular friend of mine.”

“Well, in one of your late conversations with him, you said that I appeared to be forgetful and irresolute concerning this marriage, did you not?”

“I did say so.”

“Well, here I am, proving at once that I am really neither the one nor the other, by entreating you to keep your promise on that score.”

Danglars did not answer.

“Have you so soon changed your mind,” added Morcerf, “or have you only provoked my request that you may have the pleasure of seeing me humbled?”

Danglars, seeing that if he continued the conversation in the same tone in which he had begun it, the whole thing might turn out to his own disadvantage, turned to Morcerf, and said:

“Count, you must doubtless be surprised at my reserve, and I assure you it costs me much to act in such a manner towards you; but, believe me when I say that imperative necessity has imposed the painful task upon me.”

“These are all so many empty words, my dear sir,” said Morcerf: “they might satisfy a new acquaintance, but the Comte de Morcerf does not rank in that list; and when a man like him comes to another, recalls to him his plighted word, and this man fails to redeem the pledge, he has at least a right to exact from him a good reason for so doing.”

Danglars was a coward, but did not wish to appear so; he was piqued at the tone which Morcerf had just assumed.

“I am not without a good reason for my conduct,” replied the banker.

“What do you mean to say?”

“I mean to say that I have a good reason, but that it is difficult to explain.”

“You must be aware, at all events, that it is impossible for me to understand motives before they are explained to me; but one thing at least is clear, which is, that you decline allying yourself with my family.”

“No, sir,” said Danglars; “I merely suspend my decision, that is all.”

“And do you really flatter yourself that I shall yield to all your caprices, and quietly and humbly await the time of again being received into your good graces?”

“Then, count, if you will not wait, we must look upon these projects as if they had never been entertained.”

The count bit his lips till the blood almost started, to prevent the ebullition of anger which his proud and irritable temper scarcely allowed him to restrain; understanding, however, that in the present state of things the laugh would decidedly be against him, he turned from the door, towards which he had been directing his steps, and again confronted the banker. A cloud settled on his brow, evincing decided anxiety and uneasiness, instead of the expression of offended pride which had lately reigned there.

“My dear Danglars,” said Morcerf, “we have been acquainted for many years, and consequently we ought to make some allowance for each other’s failings. You owe me an explanation, and really it is but fair that I should know what circumstance has occurred to deprive my son of your favor.”

“It is from no personal ill-feeling towards the viscount, that is all I can say, sir,” replied Danglars, who resumed his insolent manner as soon as he perceived that Morcerf was a little softened and calmed down.

“And towards whom do you bear this personal ill-feeling, then?” said Morcerf, turning pale with anger. The expression of the count’s face had not remained unperceived by the banker; he fixed on him a look of greater assurance than before, and said:

“You may, perhaps, be better satisfied that I should not go farther into particulars.”

A tremor of suppressed rage shook the whole frame of the count, and making a violent effort over himself, he said: “I have a right to insist on your giving me an explanation. Is it Madame de Morcerf who has displeased you? Is it my fortune which you find insufficient? Is it because my opinions differ from yours?”

“Nothing of the kind, sir,” replied Danglars: “if such had been the case, I only should have been to blame, inasmuch as I was aware of all these things when I made the engagement. No, do not seek any longer to discover the reason. I really am quite ashamed to have been the cause of your undergoing such severe self-examination; let us drop the subject, and adopt the middle course of delay, which implies neither a rupture nor an engagement. Ma foi, there is no hurry. My daughter is only seventeen years old, and your son twenty-one. While we wait, time will be progressing, events will succeed each other; things which in the evening look dark and obscure, appear but too clearly in the light of morning, and sometimes the utterance of one word, or the lapse of a single day, will reveal the most cruel calumnies.”

“Calumnies, did you say, sir?” cried Morcerf, turning livid with rage. “Does anyone dare to slander me?”

“Monsieur, I told you that I considered it best to avoid all explanation.”

“Then, sir, I am patiently to submit to your refusal?”

“Yes, sir, although I assure you the refusal is as painful for me to give as it is for you to receive, for I had reckoned on the honor of your alliance, and the breaking off of a marriage contract always injures the lady more than the gentleman.”

“Enough, sir,” said Morcerf, “we will speak no more on the subject.”

And clutching his gloves in anger, he left the apartment. Danglars observed that during the whole conversation Morcerf had never once dared to ask if it was on his own account that Danglars recalled his word.

That evening he had a long conference with several friends; and M. Cavalcanti, who had remained in the drawing-room with the ladies, was the last to leave the banker’s house.

The next morning, as soon as he awoke, Danglars asked for the newspapers; they were brought to him; he laid aside three or four, and at last fixed on l’Impartial, the paper of which Beauchamp was the chief editor. He hastily tore off the cover, opened the journal with nervous precipitation, passed contemptuously over the Paris jottings, and arriving at the miscellaneous intelligence, stopped with a malicious smile, at a paragraph headed

We hear from Yanina.

“Very good,” observed Danglars, after having read the paragraph; “here is a little article on Colonel Fernand, which, if I am not mistaken, would render the explanation which the Comte de Morcerf required of me perfectly unnecessary.”

At the same moment, that is, at nine o’clock in the morning, Albert de Morcerf, dressed in a black coat buttoned up to his chin, might have been seen walking with a quick and agitated step in the direction of Monte Cristo’s house in the Champs-Élysées. When he presented himself at the gate the porter informed him that the Count had gone out about half an hour previously.

“Did he take Baptistin with him?”

“No, my lord.”

“Call him, then; I wish to speak to him.”

The concierge went to seek the valet de chambre, and returned with him in an instant.

“My good friend,” said Albert, “I beg pardon for my intrusion, but I was anxious to know from your own mouth if your master was really out or not.”

“He is really out, sir,” replied Baptistin.

“Out, even to me?”

“I know how happy my master always is to receive the vicomte,” said Baptistin; “and I should therefore never think of including him in any general order.”

“You are right; and now I wish to see him on an affair of great importance. Do you think it will be long before he comes in?”

“No, I think not, for he ordered his breakfast at ten o’clock.”

“Well, I will go and take a turn in the Champs-Élysées, and at ten o’clock I will return here; meanwhile, if the count should come in, will you beg him not to go out again without seeing me?”

“You may depend on my doing so, sir,” said Baptistin.

Albert left the cab in which he had come at the count’s door, intending to take a turn on foot. As he was passing the Allée des Veuves, he thought he saw the count’s horses standing at Gosset’s shooting-gallery; he approached, and soon recognized the coachman.

“Is the count shooting in the gallery?” said Morcerf.

“Yes, sir,” replied the coachman. While he was speaking, Albert had heard the report of two or three pistol-shots. He entered, and on his way met the waiter.

“Excuse me, my lord,” said the lad; “but will you have the kindness to wait a moment?”

“What for, Philip?” asked Albert, who, being a constant visitor there, did not understand this opposition to his entrance.

“Because the person who is now in the gallery prefers being alone, and never practices in the presence of anyone.”

“Not even before you, Philip? Then who loads his pistol?”

“His servant.”

“A Nubian?”

“A negro.”

“It is he, then.”

“Do you know this gentleman?”

“Yes, and I am come to look for him; he is a friend of mine.”

“Oh, that is quite another thing, then. I will go immediately and inform him of your arrival.”

And Philip, urged by his own curiosity, entered the gallery; a second afterwards, Monte Cristo appeared on the threshold.

“I ask your pardon, my dear count,” said Albert, “for following you here, and I must first tell you that it was not the fault of your servants that I did so; I alone am to blame for the indiscretion. I went to your house, and they told me you were out, but that they expected you home at ten o’clock to breakfast. I was walking about in order to pass away the time till ten o’clock, when I caught sight of your carriage and horses.”

“What you have just said induces me to hope that you intend breakfasting with me.”

“No, thank you, I am thinking of other things besides breakfast just now; perhaps we may take that meal at a later hour and in worse company.”

“What on earth are you talking of?”

“I am to fight today.”

“For what?”

“For the sake of fighting!”

“Yes, I understand that, but what is the quarrel? People fight for all sorts of reasons, you know.”

“I fight in the cause of honor.”

“Ah, that is something serious.”

“So serious, that I come to beg you to render me a service.”

“What is it?”

“To be my second.”

“That is a serious matter, and we will not discuss it here; let us speak of nothing till we get home. Ali, bring me some water.”

The count turned up his sleeves, and passed into the little vestibule where the gentlemen were accustomed to wash their hands after shooting.

“Come in, my lord,” said Philip in a low tone, “and I will show you something droll.” Morcerf entered, and in place of the usual target, he saw some playing-cards fixed against the wall. At a distance Albert thought it was a complete suit, for he counted from the ace to the ten.

“Ah, ha,” said Albert, “I see you were preparing for a game of cards.”

“No,” said the count, “I was making a suit.”

“How?” said Albert.

“Those are really aces and twos which you see, but my shots have turned them into threes, fives, sevens, eights, nines, and tens.”

Albert approached. In fact, the bullets had actually pierced the cards in the exact places which the painted signs would otherwise have occupied, the lines and distances being as regularly kept as if they had been ruled with pencil. In going up to the target Morcerf picked up two or three swallows that had been rash enough to come within the range of the count’s pistol.

“Diable!” said Morcerf.

“What would you have, my dear viscount?” said Monte Cristo, wiping his hands on the towel which Ali had brought him; “I must occupy my leisure moments in some way or other. But come, I am waiting for you.”

Both men entered Monte Cristo’s carriage, which in the course of a few minutes deposited them safely at No. 30. Monte Cristo took Albert into his study, and pointing to a seat, placed another for himself. “Now let us talk the matter over quietly,” said the count.

“You see I am perfectly composed,” said Albert.

“With whom are you going to fight?”

“With Beauchamp.”

“One of your friends!”

“Of course; it is always with friends that one fights.”

“I suppose you have some cause of quarrel?”

“I have.”

“What has he done to you?”

“There appeared in his journal last night—but wait, and read for yourself.” And Albert handed over the paper to the count, who read as follows:

“A correspondent at Yanina informs us of a fact of which until now we had remained in ignorance. The castle which formed the protection of the town was given up to the Turks by a French officer named Fernand, in whom the grand vizier, Ali Tepelini, had reposed the greatest confidence.”

“Well,” said Monte Cristo, “what do you see in that to annoy you?”

“What do I see in it?”

“Yes; what does it signify to you if the castle of Yanina was given up by a French officer?”

“It signifies to my father, the Count of Morcerf, whose Christian name is Fernand!”

“Did your father serve under Ali Pasha?”

“Yes; that is to say, he fought for the independence of the Greeks, and hence arises the calumny.”

“Oh, my dear viscount, do talk reason!”

“I do not desire to do otherwise.”

“Now, just tell me who the devil should know in France that the officer Fernand and the Count of Morcerf are one and the same person? and who cares now about Yanina, which was taken as long ago as the year 1822 or 1823?”

“That just shows the meanness of this slander. They have allowed all this time to elapse, and then all of a sudden rake up events which have been forgotten to furnish materials for scandal, in order to tarnish the lustre of our high position. I inherit my father’s name, and I do not choose that the shadow of disgrace should darken it. I am going to Beauchamp, in whose journal this paragraph appears, and I shall insist on his retracting the assertion before two witnesses.”

“Beauchamp will never retract.”

“Then we must fight.”

“No you will not, for he will tell you, what is very true, that perhaps there were fifty officers in the Greek army bearing the same name.”

“We will fight, nevertheless. I will efface that blot on my father’s character. My father, who was such a brave soldier, whose career was so brilliant——”

“Oh, well, he will add, ‘We are warranted in believing that this Fernand is not the illustrious Count of Morcerf, who also bears the same Christian name.’”

“I am determined not to be content with anything short of an entire retractation.”

“And you intend to make him do it in the presence of two witnesses, do you?”

“Yes.”

“You do wrong.”

“Which means, I suppose, that you refuse the service which I asked of you?”

“You know my theory regarding duels; I told you my opinion on that subject, if you remember, when we were at Rome.”

“Nevertheless, my dear count, I found you this morning engaged in an occupation but little consistent with the notions you profess to entertain.”

“Because, my dear fellow, you understand one must never be eccentric. If one’s lot is cast among fools, it is necessary to study folly. I shall perhaps find myself one day called out by some harebrained scamp, who has no more real cause of quarrel with me than you have with Beauchamp; he may take me to task for some foolish trifle or other, he will bring his witnesses, or will insult me in some public place, and I am expected to kill him for all that.”

“You admit that you would fight, then? Well, if so, why do you object to my doing so?”

“I do not say that you ought not to fight, I only say that a duel is a serious thing, and ought not to be undertaken without due reflection.”

“Did he reflect before he insulted my father?”

“If he spoke hastily, and owns that he did so, you ought to be satisfied.”

“Ah, my dear count, you are far too indulgent.”

“And you are far too exacting. Supposing, for instance, and do not be angry at what I am going to say——”

“Well.”

“Supposing the assertion to be really true?”

“A son ought not to submit to such a stain on his father’s honor.”

“Ma foi! we live in times when there is much to which we must submit.”

“That is precisely the fault of the age.”

“And do you undertake to reform it?”

“Yes, as far as I am personally concerned.”

“Well, you are indeed exacting, my dear fellow!”

“Yes, I own it.”

“Are you quite impervious to good advice?”

“Not when it comes from a friend.”

“And do you account me that title?”

“Certainly I do.”

“Well, then, before going to Beauchamp with your witnesses, seek further information on the subject.”

“From whom?”

“From Haydée.”

“Why, what can be the use of mixing a woman up in the affair?—what can she do in it?”

“She can declare to you, for example, that your father had no hand whatever in the defeat and death of the vizier; or if by chance he had, indeed, the misfortune to——”

“I have told you, my dear count, that I would not for one moment admit of such a proposition.”

“You reject this means of information, then?”

“I do—most decidedly.”

“Then let me offer one more word of advice.”

“Do so, then, but let it be the last.”

“You do not wish to hear it, perhaps?”

“On the contrary, I request it.”

“Do not take any witnesses with you when you go to Beauchamp—visit him alone.”

“That would be contrary to all custom.”

“Your case is not an ordinary one.”

“And what is your reason for advising me to go alone?”

“Because then the affair will rest between you and Beauchamp.”

“Explain yourself.”

“I will do so. If Beauchamp be disposed to retract, you ought at least to give him the opportunity of doing it of his own free will,—the satisfaction to you will be the same. If, on the contrary, he refuses to do so, it will then be quite time enough to admit two strangers into your secret.”

“They will not be strangers, they will be friends.”

“Ah, but the friends of today are the enemies of tomorrow; Beauchamp, for instance.”

“So you recommend——”

“I recommend you to be prudent.”

“Then you advise me to go alone to Beauchamp?”

“I do, and I will tell you why. When you wish to obtain some concession from a man’s self-love, you must avoid even the appearance of wishing to wound it.”

“I believe you are right.”

“I am glad of it.”

“Then I will go alone.”

“Go; but you would do better still by not going at all.”

“That is impossible.”

“Do so, then; it will be a wiser plan than the first which you proposed.”

“But if, in spite of all my precautions, I am at last obliged to fight, will you not be my second?”

“My dear viscount,” said Monte Cristo gravely, “you must have seen before today that at all times and in all places I have been at your disposal, but the service which you have just demanded of me is one which it is out of my power to render you.”

“Why?”

“Perhaps you may know at some future period, and in the mean time I request you to excuse my declining to put you in possession of my reasons.”

“Well, I will have Franz and Château-Renaud; they will be the very men for it.”

“Do so, then.”

“But if I do fight, you will surely not object to giving me a lesson or two in shooting and fencing?”

“That, too, is impossible.”

“What a singular being you are!—you will not interfere in anything.”

“You are right—that is the principle on which I wish to act.”

“We will say no more about it, then. Good-bye, count.”

Morcerf took his hat, and left the room. He found his carriage at the door, and doing his utmost to restrain his anger he went at once to find Beauchamp, who was in his office. It was a gloomy, dusty-looking apartment, such as journalists’ offices have always been from time immemorial. The servant announced M. Albert de Morcerf. Beauchamp repeated the name to himself, as though he could scarcely believe that he had heard aright, and then gave orders for him to be admitted. Albert entered.

Beauchamp uttered an exclamation of surprise on seeing his friend leap over and trample under foot all the newspapers which were strewed about the room.

“This way, this way, my dear Albert!” said he, holding out his hand to the young man. “Are you out of your senses, or do you come peaceably to take breakfast with me? Try and find a seat—there is one by that geranium, which is the only thing in the room to remind me that there are other leaves in the world besides leaves of paper.”

“Beauchamp,” said Albert, “it is of your journal that I come to speak.”

“Indeed? What do you wish to say about it?”

“I desire that a statement contained in it should be rectified.”

“To what do you refer? But pray sit down.”

“Thank you,” said Albert, with a cold and formal bow.

“Will you now have the kindness to explain the nature of the statement which has displeased you?”

“An announcement has been made which implicates the honor of a member of my family.”

“What is it?” said Beauchamp, much surprised; “surely you must be mistaken.”

“The story sent you from Yanina.”

“Yanina?”

“Yes; really you appear to be totally ignorant of the cause which brings me here.”

“Such is really the case, I assure you, upon my honor! Baptiste, give me yesterday’s paper,” cried Beauchamp.

“Here, I have brought mine with me,” replied Albert.

Beauchamp took the paper, and read the article to which Albert pointed in an undertone.

“You see it is a serious annoyance,” said Morcerf, when Beauchamp had finished the perusal of the paragraph.

“Is the officer referred to a relation of yours, then?” demanded the journalist.

“Yes,” said Albert, blushing.

“Well, what do you wish me to do for you?” said Beauchamp mildly.

“My dear Beauchamp, I wish you to contradict this statement.” Beauchamp looked at Albert with a benevolent expression.

“Come,” said he, “this matter will want a good deal of talking over; a retractation is always a serious thing, you know. Sit down, and I will read it again.”

Albert resumed his seat, and Beauchamp read, with more attention than at first, the lines denounced by his friend.

“Well,” said Albert in a determined tone, “you see that your paper has insulted a member of my family, and I insist on a retractation being made.”

“You insist?”

“Yes, I insist.”

“Permit me to remind you that you are not in the Chamber, my dear viscount.”

“Nor do I wish to be there,” replied the young man, rising. “I repeat that I am determined to have the announcement of yesterday contradicted. You have known me long enough,” continued Albert, biting his lips convulsively, for he saw that Beauchamp’s anger was beginning to rise,—“you have been my friend, and therefore sufficiently intimate with me to be aware that I am likely to maintain my resolution on this point.”

“If I have been your friend, Morcerf, your present manner of speaking would almost lead me to forget that I ever bore that title. But wait a moment, do not let us get angry, or at least not yet. You are irritated and vexed—tell me how this Fernand is related to you?”

“He is merely my father,” said Albert—“M. Fernand Mondego, Count of Morcerf, an old soldier who has fought in twenty battles and whose honorable scars they would denounce as badges of disgrace.”

“Is it your father?” said Beauchamp; “that is quite another thing. Then I can well understand your indignation, my dear Albert. I will look at it again;” and he read the paragraph for the third time, laying a stress on each word as he proceeded. “But the paper nowhere identifies this Fernand with your father.”

“No; but the connection will be seen by others, and therefore I will have the article contradicted.”

At the words I will, Beauchamp steadily raised his eyes to Albert’s countenance, and then as gradually lowering them, he remained thoughtful for a few moments.

“You will retract this assertion, will you not, Beauchamp?” said Albert with increased though stifled anger.

“Yes,” replied Beauchamp.

“Immediately?” said Albert.

“When I am convinced that the statement is false.”

“What?”

“The thing is worth looking into, and I will take pains to investigate the matter thoroughly.”

“But what is there to investigate, sir?” said Albert, enraged beyond measure at Beauchamp’s last remark. “If you do not believe that it is my father, say so immediately; and if, on the contrary, you believe it to be him, state your reasons for doing so.”

Beauchamp looked at Albert with the smile which was so peculiar to him, and which in its numerous modifications served to express every varied emotion of his mind.

“Sir,” replied he, “if you came to me with the idea of demanding satisfaction, you should have gone at once to the point, and not have entertained me with the idle conversation to which I have been patiently listening for the last half hour. Am I to put this construction on your visit?”

“Yes, if you will not consent to retract that infamous calumny.”

“Wait a moment—no threats, if you please, M. Fernand Mondego, Vicomte de Morcerf; I never allow them from my enemies, and therefore shall not put up with them from my friends. You insist on my contradicting the article relating to General Fernand, an article with which, I assure you on my word of honor, I had nothing whatever to do?”

“Yes, I insist on it,” said Albert, whose mind was beginning to get bewildered with the excitement of his feelings.

“And if I refuse to retract, you wish to fight, do you?” said Beauchamp in a calm tone.

“Yes,” replied Albert, raising his voice.

“Well,” said Beauchamp, “here is my answer, my dear sir. The article was not inserted by me—I was not even aware of it; but you have, by the step you have taken, called my attention to the paragraph in question, and it will remain until it shall be either contradicted or confirmed by someone who has a right to do so.”

“Sir,” said Albert, rising, “I will do myself the honor of sending my seconds to you, and you will be kind enough to arrange with them the place of meeting and the weapons.”

“Certainly, my dear sir.”

“And this evening, if you please, or tomorrow at the latest, we will meet.”

“No, no, I will be on the ground at the proper time; but in my opinion (and I have a right to dictate the preliminaries, as it is I who have received the provocation)—in my opinion the time ought not to be yet. I know you to be well skilled in the management of the sword, while I am only moderately so; I know, too, that you are a good marksman—there we are about equal. I know that a duel between us two would be a serious affair, because you are brave, and I am brave also. I do not therefore wish either to kill you, or to be killed myself without a cause. Now, I am going to put a question to you, and one very much to the purpose too. Do you insist on this retractation so far as to kill me if I do not make it, although I have repeated more than once, and affirmed on my honor, that I was ignorant of the thing with which you charge me, and although I still declare that it is impossible for anyone but you to recognize the Count of Morcerf under the name of Fernand?”

“I maintain my original resolution.”

“Very well, my dear sir; then I consent to cut throats with you. But I require three weeks’ preparation; at the end of that time I shall come and say to you, ‘The assertion is false, and I retract it,’ or ‘The assertion is true,’ when I shall immediately draw the sword from its sheath, or the pistols from the case, whichever you please.”

“Three weeks!” cried Albert; “they will pass as slowly as three centuries when I am all the time suffering dishonor.”

“Had you continued to remain on amicable terms with me, I should have said, ‘Patience, my friend;’ but you have constituted yourself my enemy, therefore I say, ‘What does that signify to me, sir?’”

“Well, let it be three weeks then,” said Morcerf; “but remember, at the expiration of that time no delay or subterfuge will justify you in——”

“M. Albert de Morcerf,” said Beauchamp, rising in his turn, “I cannot throw you out of window for three weeks—that is to say, for twenty-four days to come—nor have you any right to split my skull open till that time has elapsed. Today is the 29th of August; the 21st of September will, therefore, be the conclusion of the term agreed on, and till that time arrives—and it is the advice of a gentleman which I am about to give you—till then we will refrain from growling and barking like two dogs chained within sight of each other.”

When he had concluded his speech, Beauchamp bowed coldly to Albert, turned his back upon him, and went to the press-room. Albert vented his anger on a pile of newspapers, which he sent flying all over the office by switching them violently with his stick; after which ebullition he departed—not, however, without walking several times to the door of the press-room, as if he had half a mind to enter.

While Albert was lashing the front of his carriage in the same manner that he had the newspapers which were the innocent agents of his discomfiture, as he was crossing the barrier he perceived Morrel, who was walking with a quick step and a bright eye. He was passing the Chinese Baths, and appeared to have come from the direction of the Porte Saint-Martin, and to be going towards the Madeleine.

“Ah,” said Morcerf, “there goes a happy man!” And it so happened Albert was not mistaken in his opinion.