THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Rospoli Palace, and I leave you at liberty to dispose of my
place at the Piazza del Popolo."
"But I warn you, you will lose a very curious sight," returned
"You will describe it to me," replied Franz, "and the recital
from your lips will make as great an impression on me as if I
had witnessed it. I have more than once intended witnessing
an execution, but I have never been able to make up my
mind; and you, Albert?"
"I," replied the viscount, -- "I saw Castaing executed, but I
think I was rather intoxicated that day, for I had quitted
college the same morning, and we had passed the previous
night at a tavern."
"Besides, it is no reason because you have not seen an
execution at Paris, that you should not see one anywhere
else; when you travel, it is to see everything. Think what a
figure you will make when you are asked, `How do they
execute at Rome?' and you reply, `I do not know'! And,
besides, they say that the culprit is an infamous scoundrel,
who killed with a log of wood a worthy canon who had
brought him up like his own son. Diable, when a churchman
is killed, it should be with a different weapon than a log,
especially when he has behaved like a father. If you went to
Spain, would you not see the bull-fight? Well, suppose it is a
bull-fight you are going to see? Recollect the ancient Romans
of the Circus, and the sports where they killed three hundred
lions and a hundred men. Think of the eighty thousand
applauding spectators, the sage matrons who took their
daughters, and the charming Vestals who made with the
thumb of their white hands the fatal sign that said, `Come,
despatch the dying.'"
"Shall you go, then, Albert?" asked Franz.
"Ma foi, yes; like you, I hesitated, but the count's eloquence
"Let us go, then," said Franz, "since you wish it; but on our
way to the Piazza del Popolo, I wish to pass through the
Corso. Is this possible, count?"
"On foot, yes, in a carriage, no."
"I will go on foot, then."
"Is it important that you should go that way?"
"Yes, there is something I wish to see."
"Well, we will go by the Corso. We will send the carriage to
wait for us on the Piazza del Popolo, by the Strada del
Babuino, for I shall be glad to pass, myself, through the
Corso, to see if some orders I have given have been
"Excellency," said a servant, opening the door, "a man in the
dress of a penitent wishes to speak to you."
"Ah, yes" returned the count, "I know who he is, gentlemen;
will you return to the salon? you will find good cigars on the
centre table. I will be with you directly." The young men rose
and returned into the salon, while the count, again
apologizing, left by another door. Albert, who was a great
smoker, and who had considered it no small sacrifice to be
deprived of the cigars of the Cafe de Paris, approached the
table, and uttered a cry of joy at perceiving some veritable
"Well," asked Franz, "what think you of the Count of Monte
"What do I think?" said Albert, evidently surprised at such a
question from his companion; "I think he is a delightful
fellow, who does the honors of his table admirably; who has
travelled much, read much, is, like Brutus, of the Stoic school,
and moreover," added he, sending a volume of smoke up
towards the ceiling, "that he has excellent cigars." Such was
Albert's opinion of the count, and as Franz well knew that
Albert professed never to form an opinion except upon long
reflection, he made no attempt to change it. "But," said he,
"did you observe one very singular thing?"
"How attentively he looked at you."
"Yes." -- Albert reflected. "Ah," replied he, sighing, "that is
not very surprising; I have been more than a year absent
from Paris, and my clothes are of a most antiquated cut; the
count takes me for a provincial. The first opportunity you
have, undeceive him, I beg, and tell him I am nothing of the
kind." Franz smiled; an instant after the count entered.
"I am now quite at your service, gentlemen," said he. "The
carriage is going one way to the Piazza del Popolo, and we
will go another; and, if you please, by the Corso. Take some
more of these cigars, M. de Morcerf."
"With all my heart," returned Albert; "Italian cigars are
horrible. When you come to Paris, I will return all this."
"I will not refuse; I intend going there soon, and since you
allow me, I will pay you a visit. Come, we have not any time
to lose, it is half-past twelve -- let us set off." All three
descended; the coachman received his master's orders, and
drove down the Via del Babuino. While the three gentlemen
walked along the Piazza de Spagni and the Via Frattina,
which led directly between the Fiano and Rospoli palaces,
Franz's attention was directed towards the windows of that
last palace, for he had not forgotten the signal agreed upon
between the man in the mantle and the Transtevere peasant.
"Which are your windows?" asked he of the count, with as
much indifference as he could assume. "The three last,"
returned he, with a negligence evidently unaffected, for he
could not imagine with what intention the question was put.
Franz glanced rapidly towards the three windows. The side
windows were hung with yellow damask, and the centre one
with white damask and a red cross. The man in the mantle
had kept his promise to the Transteverin, and there could
now be no doubt that he was the count. The three windows
were still untenanted. Preparations were making on every
side; chairs were placed, scaffolds were raised, and windows
were hung with flags. The masks could not appear; the
carriages could not move about; but the masks were visible
behind the windows, the carriages, and the doors.
Franz, Albert, and the count continued to descend the Corso.
As they approached the Piazza del Popolo, the crowd
became more dense, and above the heads of the multitude
two objects were visible: the obelisk, surmounted by a cross,
which marks the centre of the square, and in front of the
obelisk, at the point where the three streets, del Babuino, del
Corso, and di Ripetta, meet, the two uprights of the scaffold,
between which glittered the curved knife of the mandaia. At
the corner of the street they met the count's steward, who
was awaiting his master. The window, let at an exorbitant
price, which the count had doubtless wished to conceal from
his guests, was on the second floor of the great palace,
situated between the Via del Babuino and the Monte Pincio.
It consisted, as we have said, of a small dressing-room,
opening into a bedroom, and, when the door of
communication was shut, the inmates were quite alone. On
chairs were laid elegant masquerade costumes of blue and
white satin. "As you left the choice of your costumes to me,"
said the count to the two friends, "I have had these brought,
as they will be the most worn this year; and they are most
suitable, on account of the confetti (sweetmeats), as they do
not show the flour."
Franz heard the words of the count but imperfectly, and he
perhaps did not fully appreciate this new attention to their
wishes; for he was wholly absorbed by the spectacle that the
Piazza del Popolo presented, and by the terrible instrument
that was in the centre. It was the first time Franz had ever
seen a guillotine, -- we say guillotine, because the Roman
mandaia is formed on almost the same model as the French
instrument.* The knife, which is shaped like a crescent, that
cuts with the convex side, falls from a less height, and that is
all the difference. Two men, seated on the movable plank on
which the victim is laid, were eating their breakfasts, while
waiting for the criminal. Their repast consisted apparently of
bread and sausages. One of them lifted the plank, took out a
flask of wine, drank some, and then passed it to his
companion. These two men were the executioner's assistants.
At this sight Franz felt the perspiration start forth upon his
brow. The prisoners, transported the previous evening from
the Carcere Nuovo to the little church of Santa Maria del
Popolo, had passed the night, each accompanied by two
priests, in a chapel closed by a grating, before which were
two sentinels, who were relieved at intervals. A double line
of carbineers, placed on each side of the door of the church,
reached to the scaffold, and formed a circle around it,
leaving a path about ten feet wide, and around the guillotine
a space of nearly a hundred feet. All the rest of the square
was paved with heads. Many women held their infants on
their shoulders, and thus the children had the best view. The
Monte Pincio seemed a vast amphitheatre filled with
spectators; the balconies of the two churches at the corner of
the Via del Babuino and the Via di Ripetta were crammed;
the steps even seemed a parti-colored sea, that was impelled
towards the portico; every niche in the wall held its living
statue. What the count said was true -- the most curious
spectacle in life is that of death. And yet, instead of the
silence and the solemnity demanded by the occasion,
laughter and jests arose from the crowd. It was evident that
the execution was, in the eyes of the people, only the
commencement of the Carnival. Suddenly the tumult ceased,
as if by magic, and the doors of the church opened. A
brotherhood of penitents, clothed from head to foot in robes
of gray sackcloth, with holes for the eyes, and holding in
their hands lighted tapers, appeared first; the chief marched
at the head. Behind the penitents came a man of vast stature
and proportions. He was naked, with the exception of cloth
drawers at the left side of which hung a large knife in a
sheath, and he bore on his right shoulder a heavy iron
sledge-hammer. This man was the executioner. He had,
moreover, sandals bound on his feet by cords. Behind the
executioner came, in the order in which they were to die,
first Peppino and then Andrea. Each was accompanied by
two priests. Neither had his eyes bandaged. Peppino walked
with a firm step, doubtless aware of what awaited him.
Andrea was supported by two priests. Each of them, from
time to time, kissed the crucifix a confessor held out to them.
At this sight alone Franz felt his legs tremble under him. He
looked at Albert -- he was as white as his shirt, and
mechanically cast away his cigar, although he had not half
smoked it. The count alone seemed unmoved -- nay, more, a
slight color seemed striving to rise in his pale cheeks. His
nostrils dilated like those of a wild beast that scents its prey,
and his lips, half opened, disclosed his white teeth, small and
sharp like those of a jackal. And yet his features wore an
expression of smiling tenderness, such as Franz had never
before witnessed in them; his black eyes especially were full
of kindness and pity. However, the two culprits advanced,
and as they approached their faces became visible. Peppino
was a handsome young man of four or five and twenty,
bronzed by the sun; he carried his head erect, and seemed on
the watch to see on which side his liberator would appear.
Andrea was short and fat; his visage, marked with brutal
cruelty, did not indicate age; he might be thirty. In prison he
had suffered his beard to grow; his head fell on his shoulder,
his legs bent beneath him, and his movements were
apparently automatic and unconscious.
* Dr. Guillotin got the idea of his famous machine from
witnessing an execution in Italy.
"I thought," said Franz to the count, "that you told me there
would be but one execution."
"I told you true," replied he coldly.
"And yet here are two culprits."
"Yes; but only one of these two is about to die; the other has
many years to live."
"If the pardon is to come, there is no time to lose."
"And see, here it is," said the count. At the moment when
Peppino reached the foot of the mandaia, a priest arrived in
some haste, forced his way through the soldiers, and,
advancing to the chief of the brotherhood, gave him a folded
paper. The piercing eye of Peppino had noticed all. The chief
took the paper, unfolded it, and, raising his hand, "Heaven
be praised, and his holiness also," said he in a loud voice;
"here is a pardon for one of the prisoners!"
"A pardon!" cried the people with one voice -- "a pardon!" At
this cry Andrea raised his head. "Pardon for whom?" cried
Peppino remained breathless. "A pardon for Peppino, called
Rocca Priori," said the principal friar. And he passed the
paper to the officer commanding the carbineers, who read
and returned it to him.
"For Peppino!" cried Andrea, who seemed roused from the
torpor in which he had been plunged. "Why for him and not
for me? We ought to die together. I was promised he should
die with me. You have no right to put me to death alone. I
will not die alone -- I will not!" And he broke from the priests
struggling and raving like a wild beast, and striving
desperately to break the cords that bound his hands. The
executioner made a sign, and his two assistants leaped from
the scaffold and seized him. "What is going on?" asked Franz
of the count; for, as all the talk was in the Roman dialect, he
had not perfectly understood it. "Do you not see?" returned
the count, "that this human creature who is about to die is
furious that his fellow-sufferer does not perish with him?
and, were he able, he would rather tear him to pieces with
his teeth and nails than let him enjoy the life he himself is
about to be deprived of. Oh, man, man -- race of crocodiles,"
cried the count, extending his clinched hands towards the
crowd, "how well do I recognize you there, and that at all
times you are worthy of yourselves!" Meanwhile Andrea and
the two executioners were struggling on the ground, and he
kept exclaiming, "He ought to die! -- he shall die! -- I will not
"Look, look," cried the count. seizing the young men's hands
-- "look, for on my soul it is curious. Here is a man who had
resigned himself to his fate, who was going to the scaffold to
die -- like a coward, it is true, but he was about to die
without resistance. Do you know what gave him strength? --
do you know what consoled him? It was, that another
partook of his punishment -- that another partook of his
anguish -- that another was to die before him. Lead two
sheep to the butcher's, two oxen to the slaughterhouse, and
make one of them understand that his companion will not
die; the sheep will bleat for pleasure, the ox will bellow with
joy. But man -- man, whom God created in his own image --
man, upon whom God has laid his first, his sole
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
commandment, to love his neighbor -- man, to whom God
has given a voice to express his thoughts -- what is his first
cry when he hears his fellow-man is saved? A blasphemy.
Honor to man, this masterpiece of nature, this king of the
creation!" And the count burst into a laugh; a terrible laugh,
that showed he must have suffered horribly to be able thus
to laugh. However, the struggle still continued, and it was
dreadful to witness. The people all took part against Andrea,
and twenty thousand voices cried, "Put him to death! put
him to death!" Franz sprang back, but the count seized his
arm, and held him before the window. "What are you
doing?" said he. "Do you pity him? If you heard the cry of
`Mad dog!' you would take your gun -- you would
unhesitatingly shoot the poor beast, who, after all, was only
guilty of having been bitten by another dog. And yet you
pity a man who, without being bitten by one of his race, has
yet murdered his benefactor; and who, now unable to kill
any one, because his hands are bound, wishes to see his
companion in captivity perish. No, no -- look, look!"
The command was needless. Franz was fascinated by the
horribly spectacle. The two assistants had borne Andrea to
the scaffold, and there, in spite of his struggles, his bites, and
his cries, had forced him to his knees. During this time the
executioner had raised his mace, and signed to them to get
out of the way; the criminal strove to rise, but, ere he had
time, the mace fell on his left temple. A dull and heavy
sound was heard, and the man dropped like an ox on his
face, and then turned over on his back. The executioner let
fall his mace, drew his knife, and with one stroke opened his
throat, and mounting on his stomach, stamped violently on
it with his feet. At every stroke a jet of blood sprang from the
This time Franz could contain himself no longer, but sank,
half fainting, into a seat. Albert, with his eyes closed, was
standing grasping the window-curtains. The count was erect
and triumphant, like the Avenging Angel!G
CHAPTER36 THECARNIVAL ATROME
Chapter 36 The Carnival At Rome
hen Franz recovered his senses, he saw Albert
drinking a glass of water, of which, to judge from his
pallor, he stood in great need; and the count, who was
assuming his masquerade costume. He glanced
mechanically towards the square -- the scene was wholly
changed; scaffold, executioners, victims, all had disappeared;
only the people remained, full of noise and excitement. The
bell of Monte Citorio, which only sounds on the pope's
decease and the opening of the Carnival, was ringing a
joyous peal. "Well," asked he of the count, "what has, then,
"Nothing," replied the count; "only, as you see, the Carnival
his commenced. Make haste and dress yourself."
"In fact," said Franz, "this horrible scene has passed away
like a dream."
"It is but a dream, a nightmare, that has disturbed you."
"Yes, that I have suffered; but the culprit?"
"That is a dream also; only he has remained asleep, while
you have awakened; and who knows which of you is the
"But Peppino -- what has become of him?"
"Peppino is a lad of sense, who, unlike most men, who are
happy in proportion as they are noticed, was delighted to see
that the general attention was directed towards his
companion. He profited by this distraction to slip away
among the crowd, without even thanking the worthy priests
who accompanied him. Decidedly man is an ungrateful and
egotistical animal. But dress yourself; see, M. de Morcerf sets
you the example." Albert was drawing on the satin
pantaloon over his black trousers and varnished boots. "Well,
Albert," said Franz, "do you feel much inclined to join the
revels? Come, answer frankly."
"Ma foi, no," returned Albert. "But I am really glad to have
seen such a sight; and I understand what the count said --
that when you have once habituated yourself to a similar
spectacle, it is the only one that causes you any emotion."
"Without reflecting that this is the only moment in which
you can study character," said the count; "on the steps of the
scaffold death tears off the mask that has been worn through
life, and the real visage is disclosed. It must be allowed that
Andrea was not very handsome, the hideous scoundrel!
Come, dress yourselves, gentlemen, dress yourselves." Franz
felt it would be ridiculous not to follow his two companions'
example. He assumed his costume, and fastened on the mask
that scarcely equalled the pallor of his own face. Their toilet
finished, they descended; the carriage awaited them at the
door, filled with sweetmeats and bouquets. They fell into the
line of carriages. It is difficult to form an idea of the perfect
change that had taken place. Instead of the spectacle of
gloomy and silent death, the Piazza del Popolo presented a
spectacle of gay and noisy mirth and revelry. A crowd of
masks flowed in from all sides, emerging from the doors,
descending from the windows. From every street and every
corner drove carriages filled with clowns, harlequins,
dominoes, mummers, pantomimists, Transteverins, knights,
and peasants, screaming, fighting, gesticulating, throwing
eggs filled with flour, confetti, nosegays, attacking, with
their sarcasms and their missiles, friends and foes,
companions and strangers, indiscriminately, and no one
took offence, or did anything but laugh. Franz and Albert
were like men who, to drive away a violent sorrow, have
recourse to wine, and who, as they drink and become
intoxicated, feel a thick veil drawn between the past and the
present. They saw, or rather continued to see, the image of
what they had witnessed; but little by little the general
vertigo seized them, and they felt themselves obliged to take
part in the noise and confusion. A handful of confetti that
came from a neighboring carriage, and which, while it
covered Morcerf and his two companions with dust, pricked
his neck and that portion of his face uncovered by his mask
like a hundred pins, incited him to join in the general combat,
in which all the masks around him were engaged. He rose in
his turn, and seizing handfuls of confetti and sweetmeats,
with which the carriage was filled, cast them with all the
force and skill he was master of.
The strife had fairly begun, and the recollection of what they
had seen half an hour before was gradually effaced from the
young men's minds, so much were they occupied by the gay
and glittering procession they now beheld. As for the Count
of Monte Cristo, he had never for an instant shown any
appearance of having been moved. Imagine the large and
splendid Corso, bordered from one end to the other with
lofty palaces, with their balconies hung with carpets, and
their windows with flags. At these balconies are three
hundred thousand spectators -- Romans, Italians, strangers
from all parts of the world, the united aristocracy of birth,
wealth, and genius. Lovely women, yielding to the influence
of the scene, bend over their balconies, or lean from their
windows, and shower down confetti, which are returned by
bouquets; the air seems darkened with the falling confetti
and flying flowers. In the streets the lively crowd is dressed
in the most fantastic costumes -- gigantic cabbages walk
gravely about, buffaloes' heads below from men's shoulders,
dogs walk on their hind legs; in the midst of all this a mask is
lifted, and, as in Callot's Temptation of St. Anthony, a lovely
face is exhibited, which we would fain follow, but from
which we are separated by troops of fiends. This will give a
faint idea of the Carnival at Rome. At the second turn the
Count stopped the carriage, and requested permission to
withdraw, leaving the vehicle at their disposal. Franz looked
up -- they were opposite the Rospoli Palace. At the centre
window, the one hung with white damask with a red cross,
was a blue domino, beneath which Franz's imagination
easily pictured the beautiful Greek of the Argentina.
"Gentlemen," said the count, springing out, "when you are
tired of being actors, and wish to become spectators of this
scene, you know you have places at my windows. In the
meantime, dispose of my coachman, my carriage, and my
servants." We have forgotten to mention, that the count's
coachman was attired in a bear-skin, exactly resembling
Odry's in "The Bear and the Pasha;" and the two footmen
behind were dressed up as green monkeys, with spring
masks, with which they made grimaces at every one who
passed. Franz thanked the count for his attention. As for
Albert, he was busily occupied throwing bouquets at a
carriage full of Roman peasants that was passing near him.
Unfortunately for him, the line of carriages moved on again,
and while he descended the Piazza del Popolo, the other
ascended towards the Palazzo di Venezia. "Ah, my dear
fellow," said he to Franz; "you did not see?"
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