THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
his heavy covering, preceded the traveller with the rapid
step of a mountaineer, which a horse can scarcely keep up
with. In ten minutes Luigi and the traveller reached the
cross-roads. On arriving there, with an air as majestic as that
of an emperor, he stretched his hand towards that one of the
roads which the traveller was to follow. -- "That is your road,
excellency, and now you cannot again mistake.' -- `And here
is your recompense,' said the traveller, offering the young
herdsman some small pieces of money.
"`Thank you,' said Luigi, drawing back his hand; `I render a
service, I do not sell it.' -- `Well,' replied the traveller, who
seemed used to this difference between the servility of a man
of the cities and the pride of the mountaineer, `if you refuse
wages, you will, perhaps, accept a gift.' -- `Ah, yes, that is
another thing.' -- `Then,' said the traveller, `take these two
Venetian sequins and give them to your bride, to make
herself a pair of earrings.'
"`And then do you take this poniard,' said the young
herdsman; `you will not find one better carved between
Albano and Civita-Castellana.'
"`I accept it,' answered the traveller, `but then the obligation
will be on my side, for this poniard is worth more than two
sequins.' -- `For a dealer perhaps; but for me, who engraved
it myself, it is hardly worth a piastre.'
"`What is your name?' inquired the traveller. -- `Luigi
Vampa,' replied the shepherd, with the same air as he would
have replied, Alexander, King of Macedon. -- `And yours?' --
`I,' said the traveller, `am called Sinbad the Sailor.'" Franz
d'Epinay started with surprise.
"Sinbad the Sailor." he said.
"Yes," replied the narrator; "that was the name which the
traveller gave to Vampa as his own."
"Well, and what may you have to say against this name?"
inquired Albert; "it is a very pretty name, and the adventures
of the gentleman of that name amused me very much in my
youth, I must confess." -- Franz said no more. The name of
Sinbad the Sailor, as may well be supposed, awakened in
him a world of recollections, as had the name of the Count of
Monte Cristo on the previous evening.
"Proceed!" said he to the host.
"Vampa put the two sequins haughtily into his pocket, and
slowly returned by the way he had gone. As he came within
two or three hundred paces of the grotto, he thought he
heard a cry. He listened to know whence this sound could
proceed. A moment afterwards he thought he heard his own
name pronounced distinctly. The cry proceeded from the
grotto. He bounded like a chamois, cocking his carbine as he
went, and in a moment reached the summit of a hill opposite
to that on which he had perceived the traveller. Three cries
for help came more distinctly to his ear. He cast his eyes
around him and saw a man carrying off Teresa, as Nessus,
the centaur, carried Dejanira. This man, who was hastening
towards the wood, was already three-quarters of the way on
the road from the grotto to the forest. Vampa measured the
distance; the man was at least two hundred paces in advance
of him, and there was not a chance of overtaking him. The
young shepherd stopped, as if his feet had been rooted to the
ground; then he put the butt of his carbine to his shoulder,
took aim at the ravisher, followed him for a second in his
track, and then fired. The ravisher stopped suddenly, his
knees bent under him, and he fell with Teresa in his arms.
The young girl rose instantly, but the man lay on the earth
struggling in the agonies of death. Vampa then rushed
towards Teresa; for at ten paces from the dying man her legs
had failed her, and she had dropped on her knees, so that
the young man feared that the ball that had brought down
his enemy, had also wounded his betrothed. Fortunately, she
was unscathed, and it was fright alone that had overcome
Teresa. When Luigi had assured himself that she was safe
and unharmed, he turned towards the wounded man. He
had just expired, with clinched hands, his mouth in a spasm
of agony, and his hair on end in the sweat of death. His eyes
remained open and menacing. Vampa approached the
corpse, and recognized Cucumetto. From the day on which
the bandit had been saved by the two young peasants, he
had been enamoured of Teresa, and had sworn she should
be his. From that time he had watched them, and profiting
by the moment when her lover had left her alone, had
carried her off, and believed he at length had her in his
power, when the ball, directed by the unerring skill of the
young herdsman, had pierced his heart. Vampa gazed on
him for a moment without betraying the slightest emotion;
while, on the contrary, Teresa, shuddering in every limb,
dared not approach the slain ruffian but by degrees, and
threw a hesitating glance at the dead body over the shoulder
of her lover. Suddenly Vampa turned toward his mistress: --
`Ah,' said he -- `good, good! You are dressed; it is now my
turn to dress myself.'
"Teresa was clothed from head to foot in the garb of the
Count of San-Felice's daughter. Vampa took Cucumetto's
body in his arms and conveyed it to the grotto, while in her
turn Teresa remained outside. If a second traveller had
passed, he would have seen a strange thing, -- a shepherdess
watching her flock, clad in a cashmere grown, with ear-rings
and necklace of pearls, diamond pins, and buttons of
sapphires, emeralds, and rubies. He would, no doubt, have
believed that he had returned to the times of Florian, and
would have declared, on reaching Paris, that he had met an
Alpine shepherdess seated at the foot of the Sabine Hill. At
the end of a quarter of an hour Vampa quitted the grotto; his
costume was no less elegant than that of Teresa. He wore a
vest of garnet-colored velvet, with buttons of cut gold; a silk
waistcoat covered with embroidery; a Roman scarf tied
round his neck; a cartridge-box worked with gold, and red
and green silk; sky-blue velvet breeches, fastened above the
knee with diamond buckles; garters of deerskin, worked
with a thousand arabesques, and a hat whereon hung
ribbons of all colors; two watches hung from his girdle, and
a splendid poniard was in his belt. Teresa uttered a cry of
admiration. Vampa in this attire resembled a painting by
Leopold Robert, or Schnetz. He had assumed the entire
costume of Cucumetto. The young man saw the effect
produced on his betrothed, and a smile of pride passed over
his lips. -- `Now,' he said to Teresa, `are you ready to share
my fortune, whatever it may be?' -- `Oh, yes!' exclaimed the
young girl enthusiastically. -- `And follow me wherever I
go?' -- `To the world's end.' -- `Then take my arm, and let us
on; we have no time to lose.' -- The young girl did so without
questioning her lover as to where he was conducting her, for
he appeared to her at this moment as handsome, proud, and
powerful as a god. They went towards the forest, and soon
entered it. We need scarcely say that all the paths of the
mountain were known to Vampa; he therefore went forward
without a moment's hesitation, although there was no beaten
track, but he knew his path by looking at the trees and
bushes, and thus they kept on advancing for nearly an hour
and a half. At the end of this time they had reached the
thickest of the forest. A torrent, whose bed was dry, led into
a deep gorge. Vampa took this wild road, which, enclosed
between two ridges, and shadowed by the tufted umbrage of
the pines, seemed, but for the difficulties of its descent, that
path to Avernus of which Virgil speaks. Teresa had become
alarmed at the wild and deserted look of the plain around
her, and pressed closely against her guide, not uttering a
syllable; but as she saw him advance with even step and
composed countenance, she endeavored to repress her
emotion. Suddenly, about ten paces from them, a man
advanced from behind a tree and aimed at Vampa. -- `Not
another step,' he said, `or you are a dead man.' -- `What,
then,' said Vampa, raising his hand with a gesture of disdain,
while Teresa, no longer able to restrain her alarm, clung
closely to him, `do wolves rend each other?' -- `Who are
you?' inquired the sentinel. -- `I am Luigi Vampa, shepherd
of the San-Felice farm.' -- `What do you want?' -- `I would
speak with your companions who are in the glade at Rocca
Bianca.' -- `Follow me, then,' said the sentinel; `or, as you
know your way, go first.' -- Vampa smiled disdainfully at
this precaution on the part of the bandit, went before Teresa,
and continued to advance with the same firm and easy step
as before. At the end of ten minutes the bandit made them a
sign to stop. The two young persons obeyed. Then the bandit
thrice imitated the cry of a crow; a croak answered this
signal. -- `Good!' said the sentry, `you may now go on.' --
Luigi and Teresa again set forward; as they went on Teresa
clung tremblingly to her lover at the sight of weapons and
the glistening of carbines through the trees. The retreat of
Rocca Bianca was at the top of a small mountain, which no
doubt in former days had been a volcano -- an extinct
volcano before the days when Remus and Romulus had
deserted Alba to come and found the city of Rome. Teresa
and Luigi reached the summit, and all at once found
themselves in the presence of twenty bandits. `Here is a
young man who seeks and wishes to speak to you,' said the
sentinel. -- `What has he to say?' inquired the young man
who was in command in the chief's absence. -- `I wish to say
that I am tired of a shepherd's life,' was Vampa's reply. --
`Ah, I understand,' said the lieutenant; `and you seek
admittance into our ranks?' -- `Welcome!' cried several
bandits from Ferrusino, Pampinara, and Anagni, who had
recognized Luigi Vampa. -- `Yes, but I came to ask
something more than to be your companion.' -- `And what
may that be?' inquired the bandits with astonishment. -- `I
come to ask to be your captain,' said the young man. The
bandits shouted with laughter. `And what have you done to
aspire to this honor?' demanded the lieutenant. -- `I have
killed your chief, Cucumetto, whose dress I now wear; and I
set fire to the villa San-Felice to procure a wedding-dress for
my betrothed.' An hour afterwards Luigi Vampa was chosen
captain, vice Cucumetto deceased."
"Well, my dear Albert," said Franz, turning towards his
friend; "what think you of citizen Luigi Vampa?"
"I say he is a myth," replied Albert, "and never had an
"And what may a myth be?" inquired Pastrini.
"The explanation would be too long, my dear landlord,"
"And you say that Signor Vampa exercises his profession at
this moment in the environs of Rome?"
"And with a boldness of which no bandit before him ever
gave an example."
"Then the police have vainly tried to lay hands on him?"
"Why, you see, he has a good understanding with the
shepherds in the plains, the fishermen of the Tiber, and the
smugglers of the coast. They seek for him in the mountains,
and he is on the waters; they follow him on the waters, and
he is on the open sea; then they pursue him, and he has
suddenly taken refuge in the islands, at Giglio, Guanouti, or
Monte Cristo; and when they hunt for him there, he
reappears suddenly at Albano, Tivoli, or La Riccia."
"And how does he behave towards travellers?"
"Alas! his plan is very simple. It depends on the distance he
may be from the city, whether he gives eight hours, twelve
hours, or a day wherein to pay their ransom; and when that
time has elapsed he allows another hour's grace. At the
sixtieth minute of this hour, if the money is not forthcoming,
he blows out the prisoner's brains with a pistol-shot, or
plants his dagger in his heart, and that settles the account."
"Well, Albert," inquired Franz of his companion, "are you
still disposed to go to the Colosseum by the outer wall?"
"Quite so," said Albert, "if the way be picturesque." The clock
struck nine as the door opened, and a coachman appeared.
"Excellencies," said he, "the coach is ready."
"Well, then," said Franz, "let us to the Colosseum."
"By the Porta del Popolo or by the streets, your excellencies?"
"By the streets, morbleu, by the streets!" cried Franz.
"Ah, my dear fellow," said Albert, rising, and lighting his
third cigar, "really, I thought you had more courage." So
saying, the two young men went down the staircase, and got
into the carriage.
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Chapter 34 The Colosseum
ranz had so managed his route, that during the ride to
the Colosseum they passed not a single ancient ruin, so
that no preliminary impression interfered to mitigate the
colossal proportions of the gigantic building they came to
admire. The road selected was a continuation of the Via
Sistina; then by cutting off the right angle of the street in
which stands Santa Maria Maggiore and proceeding by the
Via Urbana and San Pietro in Vincoli, the travellers would
find themselves directly opposite the Colosseum. This
itinerary possessed another great advantage, -- that of
leaving Franz at full liberty to indulge his deep reverie upon
the subject of Signor Pastrini's story, in which his mysterious
host of Monte Cristo was so strangely mixed up. Seated with
folded arms in a corner of the carriage, he continued to
ponder over the singular history he had so lately listened to,
and to ask himself an interminable number of questions
touching its various circumstances without, however,
arriving at a satisfactory reply to any of them. One fact more
than the rest brought his friend "Sinbad the Sailor" back to
his recollection, and that was the mysterious sort of intimacy
that seemed to exist between the brigands and the sailors;
and Pastrini's account of Vampa's having found refuge on
board the vessels of smugglers and fishermen, reminded
Franz of the two Corsican bandits he had found supping so
amicably with the crew of the little yacht, which had even
deviated from its course and touched at Porto-Vecchio for
the sole purpose of landing them. The very name assumed
by his host of Monte Cristo and again repeated by the
landlord of the Hotel de Londres, abundantly proved to him
that his island friend was playing his philanthropic part on
the shores of Piombino, Civita-Vecchio, Ostia, and Gaeta, as
on those of Corsica, Tuscany, and Spain; and further, Franz
bethought him of having heard his singular entertainer
speak both of Tunis and Palermo, proving thereby how
largely his circle of acquaintances extended.
But however the mind of the young man might be absorbed
in these reflections, they were at once dispersed at the sight
of the dark frowning ruins of the stupendous Colosseum,
through the various openings of which the pale moonlight
played and flickered like the unearthly gleam from the eyes
of the wandering dead. The carriage stopped near the Meta
Sudans; the door was opened, and the young men, eagerly
alighting, found themselves opposite a cicerone, who
appeared to have sprung up from the ground, so unexpected
was his appearance.
The usual guide from the hotel having followed them, they
had paid two conductors, nor is it possible, at Rome, to
avoid this abundant supply of guides; besides the ordinary
cicerone, who seizes upon you directly you set foot in your
hotel, and never quits you while you remain in the city, there
is also a special cicerone belonging to each monument -- nay,
almost to each part of a monument. It may, therefore, be
easily imagined there is no scarcity of guides at the
Colosseum, that wonder of all ages, which Martial thus
eulogizes: "Let Memphis cease to boast the barbarous
miracles of her pyramids, and the wonders of Babylon be
talked of no more among us; all must bow to the superiority
of the gigantic labor of the Caesars, and the many voices of
Fame spread far and wide the surpassing merits of this
As for Albert and Franz, they essayed not to escape from
their ciceronian tyrants; and, indeed, it would have been so
much the more difficult to break their bondage, as the guides
alone are permitted to visit these monuments with torches in
their hands. Thus, then, the young men made no attempt at
resistance, but blindly and confidingly surrendered
themselves into the care and custody of their conductors.
Albert had already made seven or eight similar excursions to
the Colosseum, while his less favored companion trod for
the first time in his life the classic ground forming the
monument of Flavius Vespasian; and, to his credit be it
spoken, his mind, even amid the glib loquacity of the guides,
was duly and deeply touched with awe and enthusiastic
admiration of all he saw; and certainly no adequate notion of
these stupendous ruins can be formed save by such as have
visited them, and more especially by moonlight, at which
time the vast proportions of the building appear twice as
large when viewed by the mysterious beams of a southern
moonlit sky, whose rays are sufficiently clear and vivid to
light the horizon with a glow equal to the soft twilight of an
eastern clime. Scarcely, therefore, had the reflective Franz
walked a hundred steps beneath the interior porticoes of the
ruin, than, abandoning Albert to the guides (who would by
no means yield their prescriptive right of carrying their
victims through the routine regularly laid down, and as
regularly followed by them, but dragged the unconscious
visitor to the various objects with a pertinacity that admitted
of no appeal, beginning, as a matter of course, with the
Lions' Den, and finishing with Caesar's "Podium,"), to escape
a jargon and mechanical survey of the wonders by which he
was surrounded, Franz ascended a half-dilapidated staircase,
and, leaving them to follow their monotonous round, seated
himself at the foot of a column, and immediately opposite a
large aperture, which permitted him to enjoy a full and
undisturbed view of the gigantic dimensions of the majestic
Franz had remained for nearly a quarter of an hour perfectly
hidden by the shadow of the vast column at whose base he
had found a resting-place, and from whence his eyes
followed the motions of Albert and his guides, who, holding
torches in their hands, had emerged from a vomitarium at
the opposite extremity of the Colosseum, and then again
disappeared down the steps conducting to the seats reserved
for the Vestal virgins, resembling, as they glided along, some
restless shades following the flickering glare of so many
ignes-fatui. All at once his ear caught a sound resembling
that of a stone rolling down the staircase opposite the one by
which he had himself ascended. There was nothing
remarkable in the circumstance of a fragment of granite
giving way and falling heavily below; but it seemed to him
that the substance that fell gave way beneath the pressure of
a foot, and also that some one, who endeavored as much as
possible to prevent his footsteps from being heard, was
approaching the spot where he sat. Conjecture soon became
certainty, for the figure of a man was distinctly visible to
Franz, gradually emerging from the staircase opposite, upon
which the moon was at that moment pouring a full tide of
The stranger thus presenting himself was probably a person
who, like Franz, preferred the enjoyment of solitude and his
own thoughts to the frivolous gabble of the guides. And his
appearance had nothing extraordinary in it; but the
hesitation with which he proceeded, stopping and listening
with anxious attention at every step he took, convinced
Franz that he expected the arrival of some person. By a sort
of instinctive impulse, Franz withdrew as much as possible
behind his pillar. About ten feet from the spot where he and
the stranger were, the roof had given way, leaving a large
round opening, through which might be seen the blue vault
of heaven, thickly studded with stars. Around this opening,
which had, possibly, for ages permitted a free entrance to the
brilliant moonbeams that now illumined the vast pile, grew
a quantity of creeping plants, whose delicate green branches
stood out in bold relief against the clear azure of the
firmament, while large masses of thick, strong fibrous shoots
forced their way through the chasm, and hung floating to
and fro, like so many waving strings. The person whose
mysterious arrival had attracted the attention of Franz stood
in a kind of half-light, that rendered it impossible to
distinguish his features, although his dress was easily made
out. He wore a large brown mantle, one fold of which,
thrown over his left shoulder, served likewise to mask the
lower part of his countenance, while the upper part was
completely hidden by his broad-brimmed hat. The lower
part of his dress was more distinctly visible by the bright
rays of the moon, which, entering through the broken ceiling,
shed their refulgent beams on feet cased in elegantly made
boots of polished leather, over which descended fashionably
cut trousers of black cloth.
From the imperfect means Franz had of judging, he could
only come to one conclusion, -- that the person whom he was
thus watching certainly belonged to no inferior station of life.
Some few minutes had elapsed, and the stranger began to
show manifest signs of impatience, when a slight noise was
heard outside the aperture in the roof, and almost
immediately a dark shadow seemed to obstruct the flood of
light that had entered it, and the figure of a man was clearly
seen gazing with eager scrutiny on the immense space
beneath him; then, as his eye caught sight of him in the
mantle, he grasped a floating mass of thickly matted boughs,
and glided down by their help to within three or four feet of
the ground, and then leaped lightly on his feet. The man
who had performed this daring act with so much
indifference wore the Transtevere costume. "I beg your
excellency's pardon for keeping you waiting," said the man,
in the Roman dialect, "but I don't think I'm many minutes
after my time, ten o'clock has just struck on the Lateran."
"Say not a word about being late," replied the stranger in
purest Tuscan; "'tis I who am too soon. But even if you had
caused me to wait a little while, I should have felt quite sure
that the delay was not occasioned by any fault of yours."
"Your excellency is perfectly right in so thinking," said the
man; "I came here direct from the Castle of St. Angelo, and I
had an immense deal of trouble before I could get a chance
to speak to Beppo."
"And who is Beppo?"
"Oh, Beppo is employed in the prison, and I give him so
much a year to let me know what is going on within his
"Indeed! You are a provident person, I see."
"Why, you see, no one knows what may happen. Perhaps
some of these days I may be entrapped, like poor Peppino
and may be very glad to have some little nibbling mouse to
gnaw the meshes of my net, and so help me out of prison."
"Briefly, what did you glean?"
"That two executions of considerable interest will take place
the day after to-morrow at two o'clock, as is customary at
Rome at the commencement of all great festivals. One of the
culprits will be mazzolato;* he is an atrocious villain, who
murdered the priest who brought him up, and deserves not
the smallest pity. The other sufferer is sentenced to be
decapitato;** and he, your excellency, is poor Peppino."
* Knocked on the head. ** Beheaded.
"The fact is, that you have inspired not only the pontifical
government, but also the neighboring states, with such
extreme fear, that they are glad of all opportunity of making
"But Peppino did not even belong to my band: he was
merely a poor shepherd, whose only crime consisted in
furnishing us with provisions."
"Which makes him your accomplice to all intents and
purposes. But mark the distinction with which he is treated;
instead of being knocked on the head as you would be if
once they caught hold of you, he is simply sentenced to be
guillotined, by which means, too, the amusements of the day
are diversified, and there is a spectacle to please every
"Without reckoning the wholly unexpected one I am
preparing to surprise them with."
"My good friend," said the man in the cloak, "excuse me for
saying that you seem to me precisely in the mood to commit
some wild or extravagant act."
"Perhaps I am; but one thing I have resolved on, and that is,
to stop at nothing to restore a poor devil to liberty, who has
got into this scrape solely from having served me. I should
hate and despise myself as a coward did I desert the brave
fellow in his present extremity."
"And what do you mean to do?"
"To surround the scaffold with twenty of my best men, who,
at a signal from me, will rush forward directly Peppino is
brought for execution, and, by the assistance of their stilettos,
drive back the guard, and carry off the prisoner."
"That seems to me as hazardous as uncertain, and convinces
me that my scheme is far better than yours."
"And what is your excellency's project?"
"Just this. I will so advantageously bestow 2,000 piastres,
that the person receiving them shall obtain a respite till next
year for Peppino; and during that year, another skilfully
placed 1,000 piastres will afford him the means of escaping
from his prison."
"And do you feel sure of succeeding?"
"Pardieu!" exclaimed the man in the cloak, suddenly
expressing himself in French.
"What did your excellency say?" inquired the other.
"I said, my good fellow, that I would do more single-handed
by the means of gold than you and all your troop could
effect with stilettos, pistols, carbines, and blunderbusses
included. Leave me, then, to act, and have no fears for the
"At least, there can be no harm in myself and party being in
readiness, in case your excellency should fail."
"None whatever. Take what precautions you please, if it is
any satisfaction to you to do so; but rely upon my obtaining
the reprieve I seek."
"Remember, the execution is fixed for the day after
tomorrow, and that you have but one day to work in."
"And what of that? Is not a day divided into twenty-four
hours, each hour into sixty minutes, and every minute
sub-divided into sixty seconds? Now in 86,400 seconds very
many things can be done."
"And how shall I know whether your excellency has
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
succeeded or not."
"Oh, that is very easily arranged. I have engaged the three
lower windows at the Cafe Rospoli; should I have obtained
the requisite pardon for Peppino, the two outside windows
will be hung with yellow damasks, and the centre with
white, having a large cross in red marked on it."
"And whom will you employ to carry the reprieve to the
officer directing the execution?"
"Send one of your men, disguised as a penitent friar, and I
will give it to him. His dress will procure him the means of
approaching the scaffold itself, and he will deliver the
official order to the officer, who, in his turn, will hand it to
the executioner; in the meantime, it will be as well to
acquaint Peppino with what we have determined on, if it be
only to prevent his dying of fear or losing his senses, because
in either case a very useless expense will have been
"Your excellency," said the man, "you are fully persuaded of
my entire devotion to you, are you not?"
"Nay, I flatter myself that there can be no doubt of it," replied
the cavalier in the cloak.
"Well, then, only fulfil your promise of rescuing Peppino,
and henceforward you shall receive not only devotion, but
the most absolute obedience from myself and those under
me that one human being can render to another."
"Have a care how far you pledge yourself, my good friend,
for I may remind you of your promise at some, perhaps, not
very distant period, when I, in my turn, may require your
aid and influence."
"Let that day come sooner or later, your excellency will find
me what I have found you in this my heavy trouble; and if
from the other end of the world you but write me word to do
such or such a thing, you may regard it as done, for done it
shall be, on the word and faith of" --
"Hush!" interrupted the stranger; "I hear a noise."
"'Tis some travellers, who are visiting the Colosseum by
"'Twere better we should not be seen together; those guides
are nothing but spies, and might possibly recognize you; and,
however I may be honored by your friendship, my worthy
friend, if once the extent of our intimacy were known, I am
sadly afraid both my reputation and credit would suffer
"Well, then, if you obtain the reprieve?"
"The middle window at the Cafe Rospoli will be hung with
white damask, bearing a red cross."
"And if you fail?"
"Then all three windows will have yellow draperies."
"And then, my good fellow, use your daggers in any way
you please, and I further promise you to be there as a
spectator of your prowess."
"We understand each other perfectly, then. Adieu, your
excellency; depend upon me as firmly as I do upon you."
Saying these words, the Transteverin disappeared down the
staircase, while his companion, muffling his features more
closely than before in the folds of his mantle, passed almost
close to Franz, and descended to the arena by an outward
flight of steps. The next minute Franz heard himself called
by Albert, who made the lofty building re-echo with the
sound of his friend's name. Franz, however, did not obey the
summons till he had satisfied himself that the two men
whose conversation he had overheard were at a sufficient
distance to prevent his encountering them in his descent. In
ten minutes after the strangers had departed, Franz was on
the road to the Piazza de Spagni, listening with studied
indifference to the learned dissertation delivered by Albert,
after the manner of Pliny and Calpurnius, touching the
iron-pointed nets used to prevent the ferocious beasts from
springing on the spectators. Franz let him proceed without
interruption, and, in fact, did not hear what was said; he
longed to be alone, and free to ponder over all that had
occurred. One of the two men, whose mysterious meeting in
the Colosseum he had so unintentionally witnessed, was an
entire stranger to him, but not so the other; and though
Franz had been unable to distinguish his features, from his
being either wrapped in his mantle or obscured by the
shadow, the tones of his voice had made too powerful an
impression on him the first time he had heard them for him
ever again to forget them, hear them when or where he
might. It was more especially when this man was speaking
in a manner half jesting, half bitter, that Franz's ear recalled
most vividly the deep sonorous, yet well-pitched voice that
had addressed him in the grotto of Monte Cristo, and which
he heard for the second time amid the darkness and ruined
grandeur of the Colosseum. And the more he thought, the
more entire was his conviction, that the person who wore the
mantle was no other than his former host and entertainer,
"Sinbad the Sailor."
Under any other circumstances, Franz would have found it
impossible to resist his extreme curiosity to know more of so
singular a personage, and with that intent have sought to
renew their short acquaintance; but in the present instance,
the confidential nature of the conversation he had overheard
made him, with propriety, judge that his appearance at such
a time would be anything but agreeable. As we have seen,
therefore, he permitted his former host to retire without
attempting a recognition, but fully promising himself a rich
indemnity for his present forbearance should chance afford
him another opportunity. In vain did Franz endeavor to
forget the many perplexing thoughts which assailed him; in
vain did he court the refreshment of sleep. Slumber refused
to visit his eyelids and the night was passed in feverish
contemplation of the chain of circumstances tending to
prove the identity of the mysterious visitant to the
Colosseum with the inhabitant of the grotto of Monte Cristo;
and the more he thought, the firmer grew his opinion on the
subject. Worn out at length, he fell asleep at daybreak, and
did not awake till late. Like a genuine Frenchman, Albert
had employed his time in arranging for the evening's
diversion; he had sent to engage a box at the Teatro
Argentino; and Franz, having a number of letters to write,
relinquished the carriage to Albert for the whole of the day.
At five o'clock Albert returned, delighted with his day's
work; he had been occupied in leaving his letters of
introduction, and had received in return more invitations to
balls and routs than it would be possible for him to accept;
besides this, he had seen (as he called it) all the remarkable
sights at Rome. Yes, in a single day he had accomplished
what his more serious-minded companion would have taken
weeks to effect. Neither had he neglected to ascertain the
name of the piece to be played that night at the Teatro
Argentino, and also what performers appeared in it.
The opera of "Parisina" was announced for representation,
and the principal actors were Coselli, Moriani, and La
Specchia. The young men, therefore, had reason to consider
themselves fortunate in having the opportunity of hearing
one of the best works by the composer of "Lucia di
Lammermoor," supported by three of the most renowned
vocalists of Italy. Albert had never been able to endure
the Italian theatres, with their orchestras from which it is
impossible to see, and the absence of balconies, or open
boxes; all these defects pressed hard on a man who had had
his stall at the Bouffes, and had shared a lower box at the
Opera. Still, in spite of this, Albert displayed his most
dazzling and effective costumes each time he visited the
theatres; but, alas, his elegant toilet was wholly thrown away,
and one of the most worthy representatives of Parisian
fashion had to carry with him the mortifying reflection that
he had nearly overrun Italy without meeting with a single
Sometimes Albert would affect to make a joke of his want of
success; but internally he was deeply wounded, and his
self-love immensely piqued, to think that Albert de Morcerf,
the most admired and most sought after of any young
person of his day, should thus be passed over, and merely
have his labor for his pains. And the thing was so much the
more annoying, as, according to the characteristic modesty
of a Frenchman, Albert had quitted Paris with the full
conviction that he had only to show himself in Italy to carry
all before him, and that upon his return he should astonish
the Parisian world with the recital of his numerous
love-affairs. Alas, poor Albert! none of those interesting
adventures fell in his way; the lovely Genoese, Florentines,
and Neapolitans were all faithful, if not to their husbands, at
least to their lovers, and thought not of changing even for
the splendid appearance of Albert de Morcerf; and all he
gained was the painful conviction that the ladies of Italy
have this advantage over those of France, that they are
faithful even in their infidelity. Yet he could not restrain a
hope that in Italy, as elsewhere, there might be an exception
to the general rule. Albert, besides being an elegant,
well-looking young man, was also possessed of considerable
talent and ability; moreover, he was a viscount -- a recently
created one, certainly, but in the present day it is not
necessary to go as far back as Noah in tracing a descent, and
a genealogical tree is equally estimated, whether dated from
1399 or merely 1815; but to crown all these advantages,
Albert de Morcerf commanded an income of 50,000 livres, a
more than sufficient sum to render him a personage of
considerable importance in Paris. It was therefore no small
mortification to him to have visited most of the principal
cities in Italy without having excited the most trifling
observation. Albert, however, hoped to indemnify himself
for all these slights and indifferences during the Carnival,
knowing full well that among the different states and
kingdoms in which this festivity is celebrated, Rome is the
spot where even the wisest and gravest throw off the usual
rigidity of their lives, and deign to mingle in the follies of
this time of liberty and relaxation.
The Carnival was to commence on the morrow; therefore
Albert had not an instant to lose in setting forth the
programme of his hopes, expectations, and claims to notice.
With this design he had engaged a box in the most
conspicuous part of the theatre, and exerted himself to set off
his personal attractions by the aid of the most rich and
elaborate toilet. The box taken by Albert was in the first
circle; although each of the three tiers of boxes is deemed
equally aristocratic, and is, for this reason, generally styled
the "nobility's boxes," and although the box engaged for the
two friends was sufficiently capacious to contain at least a
dozen persons, it had cost less than would be paid at some of
the French theatres for one admitting merely four occupants.
Another motive had influenced Albert's selection of his seat,
-- who knew but that, thus advantageously placed, he might
not in truth attract the notice of some fair Roman, and an
introduction might ensue that would procure him the offer
of a seat in a carriage, or a place in a princely balcony, from
which he might behold the gayeties of the Carnival?
These united considerations made Albert more lively and
anxious to please than he had hitherto been. Totally
disregarding the business of the stage, he leaned from his
box and began attentively scrutinizing the beauty of each
pretty woman, aided by a powerful opera-glass; but, alas,
this attempt to attract notice wholly failed; not even curiosity
had been excited, and it was but too apparent that the lovely
creatures, into whose good graces he was desirous of
stealing, were all so much engrossed with themselves, their
lovers, or their own thoughts, that they had not so much as
noticed him or the manipulation of his glass.
The truth was, that the anticipated pleasures of the Carnival,
with the "holy week" that was to succeed it, so filled every
fair breast, as to prevent the least attention being bestowed
even on the business of the stage. The actors made their
entries and exits unobserved or unthought of; at certain
conventional moments, the spectators would suddenly cease
their conversation, or rouse themselves from their musings,
to listen to some brilliant effort of Moriani's, a well-executed
recitative by Coselli, or to join in loud applause at the
wonderful powers of La Specchia; but that momentary
excitement over, they quickly relapsed into their former state
of preoccupation or interesting conversation. Towards the
close of the first act, the door of a box which had been
hitherto vacant was opened; a lady entered to whom Franz
had been introduced in Paris, where indeed, he had
imagined she still was. The quick eye of Albert caught the
involuntary start with which his friend beheld the new
arrival, and, turning to him, he said hastily, "Do you know
the woman who has just entered that box?"
"Yes; what do you think of her?"
"Oh, she is perfectly lovely -- what a complexion! And such
magnificent hair! Is she French?"
"No; a Venetian."
"And her name is -- "
"Countess G---- ."
"Ah, I know her by name!" exclaimed Albert; "she is said to
possess as much wit and cleverness as beauty. I was to have
been presented to her when I met her at Madame Villefort's
"Shall I assist you in repairing your negligence?" asked
"My dear fellow, are you really on such good terms with her
as to venture to take me to her box?"
"Why, I have only had the honor of being in her society and
conversing with her three or four times in my life; but you
know that even such an acquaintance as that might warrant
my doing what you ask." At that instant, the countess
perceived Franz, and graciously waved her hand to him, to
which he replied by a respectful inclination of the head.
"Upon my word," said Albert, "you seem to be on excellent
terms with the beautiful countess."
"You are mistaken in thinking so," returned Franz calmly;
"but you merely fall into the same error which leads so many
of our countrymen to commit the most egregious blunders,
-- I mean that of judging the habits and customs of Italy and
Spain by our Parisian notions; believe me, nothing is more
fallacious than to form any estimate of the degree of
intimacy you may suppose existing among persons by the
familiar terms they seem upon; there is a similarity of feeling
at this instant between ourselves and the countess -- nothing
"Is there, indeed, my good fellow? Pray tell me, is it
sympathy of heart?"
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
"No; of taste," continued Franz gravely.
"And in what manner has this congeniality of mind been
"By the countess's visiting the Colosseum, as we did last
night, by moonlight, and nearly alone."
"You were with her, then?"
"And what did you say to her?"
"Oh, we talked of the illustrious dead of whom that
magnificent ruin is a glorious monument!"
"Upon my word," cried Albert, "you must have been a very
entertaining companion alone, or all but alone, with a
beautiful woman in such a place of sentiment as the
Colosseum, and yet to find nothing better to talk about than
the dead! All I can say is, if ever I should get such a chance,
the living should be my theme."
"And you will probably find your theme ill-chosen."
"But," said Albert, breaking in upon his discourse, "never
mind the past; let us only remember the present. Are you not
going to keep your promise of introducing me to the fair
subject of our remarks?"
"Certainly, directly the curtain falls on the stage."
"What a confounded time this first act takes. I believe, on my
soul, that they never mean to finish it."
"Oh, yes, they will; only listen to that charming finale. How
exquisitely Coselli sings his part."
"But what an awkward, inelegant fellow he is."
"Well, then, what do you say to La Specchia? Did you ever
see anything more perfect than her acting?"
"Why, you know, my dear fellow, when one has been
accustomed to Malibran and Sontag, such singers as these
don't make the same impression on you they perhaps do on
"At least, you must admire Moriani's style and execution."
"I never fancied men of his dark, ponderous appearance
singing with a voice like a woman's."
"My good friend," said Franz, turning to him, while Albert
continued to point his glass at every box in the theatre, "you
seem determined not to approve; you are really too difficult
to please." The curtain at length fell on the performances, to
the infinite satisfaction of the Viscount of Morcerf, who
seized his hat, rapidly passed his fingers through his hair,
arranged his cravat and wristbands, and signified to Franz
that he was waiting for him to lead the way. Franz, who had
mutely interrogated the countess, and received from her a
gracious smile in token that he would be welcome, sought
not to retard the gratification of Albert's eager impatience,
but began at once the tour of the house, closely followed by
Albert, who availed himself of the few minutes required to
reach the opposite side of the theatre to settle the height and
smoothness of his collar, and to arrange the lappets of his
coat. This important task was just completed as they arrived
at the countess's box. At the knock, the door was
immediately opened, and the young man who was seated
beside the countess, in obedience to the Italian custom,
instantly rose and surrendered his place to the strangers,
who, in turn, would be expected to retire upon the arrival of
Franz presented Albert as one of the most distinguished
young men of the day, both as regarded his position in
society and extraordinary talents; nor did he say more than
the truth, for in Paris and the circle in which the viscount
moved, he was looked upon and cited as a model of
perfection. Franz added that his companion, deeply grieved
at having been prevented the honor of being presented to the
countess during her sojourn in Paris, was most anxious to
make up for it, and had requested him (Franz) to remedy the
past misfortune by conducting him to her box, and
concluded by asking pardon for his presumption in having
taken it upon himself to do so. The countess, in reply, bowed
gracefully to Albert, and extended her hand with cordial
kindness to Franz; then, inviting Albert to take the vacant
seat beside her, she recommended Franz to take the next best,
if he wished to view the ballet, and pointed to the one
behind her own chair. Albert was soon deeply engrossed in
discoursing upon Paris and Parisian matters, speaking to the
countess of the various persons they both knew there. Franz
perceived how completely he was in his element; and,
unwilling to interfere with the pleasure he so evidently felt,
took up Albert's glass, and began in his turn to survey the
audience. Sitting alone, in the front of a box immediately
opposite, but situated on the third row, was a woman of
exquisite beauty, dressed in a Greek costume, which
evidently, from the ease and grace with which she wore it,
was her national attire. Behind her, but in deep shadow, was
the outline of a masculine figure; but the features of this
latter personage it was not possible to distinguish. Franz
could not forbear breaking in upon the apparently
interesting conversation passing between the countess and
Albert, to inquire of the former if she knew who was the fair
Albanian opposite, since beauty such as hers was well
worthy of being observed by either sex. "All I can tell about
her," replied the countess, "is, that she has been at Rome
since the beginning of the season; for I saw her where she
now sits the very first night of the season, and since then she
has never missed a performance. Sometimes she is
accompanied by the person who is now with her, and at
others she is merely attended by a black servant."
"And what do you think of her personal appearance?"
"Oh, I consider her perfectly lovely -- she is just my idea of
what Medora must have been."
Franz and the countess exchanged a smile, and then the
latter resumed her conversation with Albert, while Franz
returned to his previous survey of the house and company.
The curtain rose on the ballet, which was one of those
excellent specimens of the Italian school, admirably arranged
and put on the stage by Henri, who has established for
himself a great reputation throughout Italy for his taste and
skill in the choregraphic art -- one of those masterly
productions of grace, method, and elegance in which the
whole corps de ballet, from the principal dancers to the
humblest supernumerary, are all engaged on the stage at the
same time; and a hundred and fifty persons may be seen
exhibiting the same attitude, or elevating the same arm or
leg with a simultaneous movement, that would lead you to
suppose that but one mind, one act of volition, influenced
the moving mass -- the ballet was called "Poliska." However
much the ballet might have claimed his attention, Franz was
too deeply occupied with the beautiful Greek to take any
note of it; while she seemed to experience an almost childlike
delight in watching it, her eager, animated looks contrasting
strongly with the utter indifference of her companion, who,
during the whole time the piece lasted, never even moved,
not even when the furious, crashing din produced by the
trumpets, cymbals, and Chinese bells sounded their loudest
from the orchestra. Of this he took no heed, but was, as far as
appearances might be trusted, enjoying soft repose and
bright celestial dreams. The ballet at length came to a close,
and the curtain fell amid the loud, unanimous plaudits of an
enthusiastic and delighted audience.
Owing to the very judicious plan of dividing the two acts of
the opera with a ballet, the pauses between the performances
are very short, the singers in the opera having time to repose
themselves and change their costume, when necessary, while
the dancers are executing their pirouettes and exhibiting
their graceful steps. The overture to the second act began;
and, at the first sound of the leader's bow across his violin,
Franz observed the sleeper slowly arise and approach the
Greek girl, who turned around to say a few words to him,
and then, leaning forward again on the railing of her box,
she became as absorbed as before in what was going on. The
countenance of the person who had addressed her remained
so completely in the shade, that, though Franz tried his
utmost, he could not distinguish a single feature. The curtain
rose, and the attention of Franz was attracted by the actors;
and his eyes turned from the box containing the Greek girl
and her strange companion to watch the business of the
Most of my readers are aware that the second act of
"Parisina" opens with the celebrated and effective duet in
which Parisina, while sleeping, betrays to Azzo the secret of
her love for Ugo. The injured husband goes through all the
emotions of jealousy, until conviction seizes on his mind,
and then, in a frenzy of rage and indignation, he awakens his
guilty wife to tell her that he knows her guilt and to threaten
her with his vengeance. This duet is one of the most
beautiful, expressive and terrible conceptions that has ever
emanated from the fruitful pen of Donizetti. Franz now
listened to it for the third time; yet it's notes, so tenderly
expressive and fearfully grand as the wretched husband and
wife give vent to their different griefs and passions, thrilled
through the soul of Franz with an effect equal to his first
emotions upon hearing it. Excited beyond his usual calm
demeanor, Franz rose with the audience, and was about to
join the loud, enthusiastic applause that followed; but
suddenly his purpose was arrested, his hands fell by his
sides, and the half-uttered "bravos" expired on his lips. The
occupant of the box in which the Greek girl sat appeared to
share the universal admiration that prevailed; for he left his
seat to stand up in front, so that, his countenance being fully
revealed, Franz had no difficulty in recognizing him as the
mysterious inhabitant of Monte Cristo, and the very same
person he had encountered the preceding evening in the
ruins of the Colosseum, and whose voice and figure had
seemed so familiar to him. All doubt of his identity was now
at an end; his singular host evidently resided at Rome. The
surprise and agitation occasioned by this full confirmation of
Franz's former suspicion had no doubt imparted a
corresponding expression to his features; for the countess,
after gazing with a puzzled look at his face, burst into a fit of
laughter, and begged to know what had happened.
"Countess," returned Franz, totally unheeding her raillery, "I
asked you a short time since if you knew any particulars
respecting the Albanian lady opposite; I must now beseech
you to inform me who and what is her husband?"
"Nay," answered the countess, "I know no more of him than
"Perhaps you never before noticed him?"
"What a question -- so truly French! Do you not know that
we Italians have eyes only for the man we love?"
"True," replied Franz.
"All I call say is," continued the countess, taking up the
lorgnette, and directing it toward the box in question, "that
the gentleman, whose history I am unable to furnish, seems
to me as though he had just been dug up; he looks more like
a corpse permitted by some friendly grave-digger to quit his
tomb for a while, and revisit this earth of ours, than anything
human. How ghastly pale he is!"
"Oh, he is always as colorless as you now see him," said
"Then you know him?" almost screamed the countess. "Oh,
pray do, for heaven's sake, tell us all about -- is he a vampire,
or a resuscitated corpse, or what?"
"I fancy I have seen him before; and I even think he
"And I can well understand," said the countess, shrugging
up her beautiful shoulders, as though an involuntary
shudder passed through her veins, "that those who have
once seen that man will never be likely to forget him." The
sensation experienced by Franz was evidently not peculiar to
himself; another, and wholly uninterested person, felt the
same unaccountable awe and misgiving. "Well." inquired
Franz, after the countess had a second time directed her
lorgnette at the box, "what do you think of our opposite
"Why, that he is no other than Lord Ruthven himself in a
living form." This fresh allusion to Byron* drew a smile to
Franz's countenance; although he could but allow that if
anything was likely to induce belief in the existence of
vampires, it would be the presence of such a man as the
mysterious personage before him.
"I must positively find out who and what he is," said Franz,
rising from his seat.
"No, no," cried the countess; "you must not leave me. I
depend upon you to escort me home. Oh, indeed, I cannot
permit you to go."
* Scott, of course: "The son of an ill-fated sire, and the father
of a yet more unfortunate family, bore in his looks that cast
of inauspicious melancholy by which the physiognomists of
that time pretended to distinguish those who were
predestined to a violent and unhappy death." -- The Abbot,
"Is it possible," whispered Franz, "that you entertain any
"I'll tell you," answered the countess. "Byron had the most
perfect belief in the existence of vampires, and even assured
me that he had seen them. The description he gave me
perfectly corresponds with the features and character of the
man before us. Oh, he is the exact personification of what I
have been led to expect! The coal-black hair, large bright,
glittering eyes, in which a wild, unearthly fire seems burning,
-- the same ghastly paleness. Then observe, too, that the
woman with him is altogether unlike all others of her sex.
She is a foreigner -- a stranger. Nobody knows who she is, or
where she comes from. No doubt she belongs to the same
horrible race he does, and is, like himself, a dealer in magical
arts. I entreat of you not to go near him -- at least to-night;
and if to-morrow your curiosity still continues as great,
pursue your researches if you will; but to-night you neither
can nor shall. For that purpose I mean to keep you all to
myself." Franz protested he could not defer his pursuit till
the following day, for many reasons. "Listen to me," said the
countess, "and do not be so very headstrong. I am going
home. I have a party at my house to-night, and therefore
cannot possibly remain till the end of the opera. Now, I
cannot for one instant believe you so devoid of gallantry as
to refuse a lady your escort when she even condescends to
ask you for it."
There was nothing else left for Franz to do but to take up his
hat, open the door of the box, and offer the countess his arm.
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