THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Chapter 39 The Guests
n the house in the Rue du Helder, where Albert had
invited the Count of Monte Cristo, everything was being
prepared on the morning of the 21st of May to do honor to
the occasion. Albert de Morcerf inhabited a pavilion situated
at the corner of a large court, and directly opposite another
building, in which were the servants' apartments. Two
windows only of the pavilion faced the street; three other
windows looked into the court, and two at the back into the
garden. Between the court and the garden, built in the heavy
style of the imperial architecture, was the large and
fashionable dwelling of the Count and Countess of Morcerf.
A high wall surrounded the whole of the hotel, surmounted
at intervals by vases filled with flowers, and broken in the
centre by a large gate of gilded iron, which served as the
carriage entrance. A small door, close to the lodge of the
concierge, gave ingress and egress to the servants and
masters when they were on foot.
It was easy to discover that the delicate care of a mother,
unwilling to part from her son, and yet aware that a young
man of the viscount's age required the full exercise of his
liberty, had chosen this habitation for Albert. There were not
lacking, however, evidences of what we may call the
intelligent egoism of a youth who is charmed with the
indolent, careless life of an only son, and who lives as it were
in a gilded cage. By means of the two windows looking into
the street, Albert could see all that passed; the sight of what
is going on is necessary to young men, who always want to
see the world traverse their horizon, even if that horizon is
only a public thoroughfare. Then, should anything appear to
merit a more minute examination, Albert de Morcerf could
follow up his researches by means of a small gate, similar to
that close to the concierge's door, and which merits a
particular description. It was a little entrance that seemed
never to have been opened since the house was built, so
entirely was it covered with dust and dirt; but the well-oiled
hinges and locks told quite another story. This door was a
mockery to the concierge, from whose vigilance and
jurisdiction it was free, and, like that famous portal in the
"Arabian Nights," opening at the "Sesame" of Ali Baba, it was
wont to swing backward at a cabalistic word or a concerted
tap from without from the sweetest voices or whitest fingers
in the world. At the end of a long corridor, with which the
door communicated, and which formed the ante-chamber,
was, on the right, Albert's breakfast-room, looking into the
court, and on the left the salon, looking into the garden.
Shrubs and creeping plants covered the windows, and hid
from the garden and court these two apartments, the only
rooms into which, as they were on the ground-floor, the
prying eyes of the curious could penetrate. On the floor
above were similar rooms, with the addition of a third,
formed out of the ante-chamber; these three rooms were a
salon, a boudoir, and a bedroom. The salon down-stairs was
only an Algerian divan, for the use of smokers. The boudoir
up-stairs communicated with the bed-chamber by an
invisible door on the staircase; it was evident that every
precaution had been taken. Above this floor was a large
atelier, which had been increased in size by pulling down
the partitions -- a pandemonium, in which the artist and the
dandy strove for preeminence. There were collected and
piled up all Albert's successive caprices, hunting-horns,
bass-viols, flutes -- a whole orchestra, for Albert had had not
a taste but a fancy for music; easels, palettes, brushes, pencils
-- for music had been succeeded by painting; foils,
boxing-gloves, broadswords, and single-sticks -- for,
following the example of the fashionable young men of the
time, Albert de Morcerf cultivated, with far more
perseverance than music and drawing, the three arts that
complete a dandy's education, i.e., fencing, boxing, and
single-stick; and it was here that he received Grisier, Cook,
and Charles Leboucher. The rest of the furniture of this
privileged apartment consisted of old cabinets, filled with
Chinese porcelain and Japanese vases, Lucca della Robbia
faience, and Palissy platters; of old arm-chairs, in which
perhaps had sat Henry IV. or Sully, Louis XIII. or Richelieu --
for two of these arm-chairs, adorned with a carved shield, on
which were engraved the fleur-de-lis of France on an azure
field evidently came from the Louvre, or, at least, some royal
residence. Over these dark and sombre chairs were thrown
splendid stuffs, dyed beneath Persia's sun, or woven by the
fingers of the women of Calcutta or of Chandernagor. What
these stuffs did there, it was impossible to say; they awaited,
while gratifying the eyes, a destination unknown to their
owner himself; in the meantime they filled the place with
their golden and silky reflections. In the centre of the room
was a Roller and Blanchet "baby grand" piano in rosewood,
but holding the potentialities of an orchestra in its narrow
and sonorous cavity, and groaning beneath the weight of the
chefs-d'oeuvre of Beethoven, Weber, Mozart, Haydn, Gretry,
and Porpora. On the walls, over the doors, on the ceiling,
were swords, daggers, Malay creeses, maces, battle-axes;
gilded, damasked, and inlaid suits of armor; dried plants,
minerals, and stuffed birds, their flame-colored wings
outspread in motionless flight, and their beaks forever open.
This was Albert's favorite lounging place.
However, the morning of the appointment, the young man
had established himself in the small salon down-stairs. There,
on a table, surrounded at some distance by a large and
luxurious divan, every species of tobacco known, -- from the
yellow tobacco of Petersburg to the black of Sinai, and so on
along the scale from Maryland and Porto-Rico, to Latakia, --
was exposed in pots of crackled earthenware of which the
Dutch are so fond; beside them, in boxes of fragrant wood,
were ranged, according to their size and quality, pueros,
regalias, havanas, and manillas; and, in an open cabinet, a
collection of German pipes, of chibouques, with their amber
mouth-pieces ornamented with coral, and of narghiles, with
their long tubes of morocco, awaiting the caprice or the
sympathy of the smokers. Albert had himself presided at the
arrangement, or, rather, the symmetrical derangement,
which, after coffee, the guests at a breakfast of modern days
love to contemplate through the vapor that escapes from
their mouths, and ascends in long and fanciful wreaths to
the ceiling. At a quarter to ten, a valet entered; he composed,
with a little groom named John, and who only spoke English,
all Albert's establishment, although the cook of the hotel was
always at his service, and on great occasions the count's
chasseur also. This valet, whose name was Germain, and
who enjoyed the entire confidence of his young master, held
in one hand a number of papers, and in the other a packet of
letters, which he gave to Albert. Albert glanced carelessly at
the different missives, selected two written in a small and
delicate hand, and enclosed in scented envelopes, opened
them and perused their contents with some attention. "How
did these letters come?" said he.
"One by the post, Madame Danglars' footman left the other."
"Let Madame Danglars know that I accept the place she
offers me in her box. Wait; then, during the day, tell Rosa
that when I leave the Opera I will sup with her as she wishes.
Take her six bottles of different wine -- Cyprus, sherry, and
Malaga, and a barrel of Ostend oysters; get them at Borel's,
and be sure you say they are for me."
"At what o'clock, sir, do you breakfast?"
"What time is it now?"
"A quarter to ten."
"Very well, at half past ten. Debray will, perhaps, be obliged
to go to the minister -- and besides" (Albert looked at his
tablets), "it is the hour I told the count, 21st May, at half past
ten; and though I do not much rely upon his promise, I wish
to be punctual. Is the countess up yet?"
"If you wish, I will inquire."
"Yes, ask her for one of her liqueur cellarets, mine is
incomplete; and tell her I shall have the honor of seeing her
about three o'clock, and that I request permission to
introduce some one to her." The valet left the room. Albert
threw himself on the divan, tore off the cover of two or three
of the papers, looked at the theatre announcements, made a
face seeing they gave an opera, and not a ballet; hunted
vainly amongst the advertisements for a new tooth-powder
of which he had heard, and threw down, one after the other,
the three leading papers of Paris, muttering, "These papers
become more and more stupid every day." A moment after,
a carriage stopped before the door, and the servant
announced M. Lucien Debray. A tall young man, with light
hair, clear gray eyes, and thin and compressed lips, dressed
in a blue coat with beautifully carved gold buttons, a white
neckcloth, and a tortoiseshell eye-glass suspended by a
silken thread, and which, by an effort of the superciliary and
zygomatic muscles, he fixed in his eye, entered, with a
half-official air, without smiling or speaking. "Good-morning,
Lucien, good-morning," said Albert; "your punctuality really
alarms me. What do I say? punctuality! You, whom I
expected last, you arrive at five minutes to ten, when the
time fixed was half-past! Has the ministry resigned?"
"No, my dear fellow," returned the young man, seating
himself on the divan; "reassure yourself; we are tottering
always, but we never fall, and I begin to believe that we shall
pass into a state of immobility, and then the affairs of the
Peninsula will completely consolidate us."
"Ah, true; you drive Don Carlos out of Spain."
"No, no, my dear fellow, do not confound our plans. We take
him to the other side of the French frontier, and offer him
hospitality at Bourges."
"Yes, he has not much to complain of; Bourges is the capital
of Charles VII. Do you not know that all Paris knew it
yesterday, and the day before it had already transpired on
the Bourse, and M. Danglars (I do not know by what means
that man contrives to obtain intelligence as soon as we do)
made a million!"
"And you another order, for I see you have a blue ribbon at
"Yes; they sent me the order of Charles III.," returned Debray,
"Come, do not affect indifference, but confess you were
pleased to have it."
"Oh, it is very well as a finish to the toilet. It looks very neat
on a black coat buttoned up."
"And makes you resemble the Prince of Wales or the Duke of
"It is for that reason you see me so early."
"Because you have the order of Charles III., and you wish to
announce the good news to me?"
"No, because I passed the night writing letters, -- five and
twenty despatches. I returned home at daybreak, and strove
to sleep; but my head ached and I got up to have a ride for
an hour. At the Bois de Boulogne, ennui and hunger attacked
me at once, -- two enemies who rarely accompany each other,
and who are yet leagued against me, a sort of
Carlo-republican alliance. I then recollected you gave a
breakfast this morning, and here I am. I am hungry, feed me;
I am bored, amuse me."
"It is my duty as your host," returned Albert, ringing the bell,
while Lucien turned over, with his gold-mounted cane, the
papers that lay on the table. "Germain, a glass of sherry and
a biscuit. In the meantime. my dear Lucien, here are cigars --
contraband, of course -- try them, and persuade the minister
to sell us such instead of poisoning us with cabbage leaves."
"Peste, I will do nothing of the kind; the moment they come
from government you would find them execrable. Besides,
that does not concern the home but the financial department.
Address yourself to M. Humann, section of the indirect
contributions, corridor A., No. 26."
"On my word," said Albert, "you astonish me by the extent of
your knowledge. Take a cigar."
"Really, my dear Albert," replied Lucien, lighting a manilla
at a rose-colored taper that burnt in a be beautifully
enamelled stand -- "how happy you are to have nothing to
do. You do not know your own good fortune!"
"And what would you do, my dear diplomatist," replied
Morcerf, with a slight degree of irony in his voice, "if you did
nothing? What? private secretary to a minister, plunged at
once into European cabals and Parisian intrigues; having
kings, and, better still, queens, to protect, parties to unite,
elections to direct; making more use of your cabinet with
your pen and your telegraph than Napoleon did of his
battle-fields with his sword and his victories; possessing five
and twenty thousand francs a year, besides your place; a
horse, for which Chateau-Renaud offered you four hundred
louis, and which you would not part with; a tailor who never
disappoints you; with the opera, the jockey-club, and other
diversions, can you not amuse yourself? Well, I will amuse
"By introducing to you a new acquaintance."
"A man or a woman?"
"I know so many men already."
"But you do not know this man."
"Where does he come from -- the end of the world?"
"Farther still, perhaps."
"The deuce! I hope he does not bring our breakfast with
"Oh, no; our breakfast comes from my father's kitchen. Are
"Humiliating as such a confession is, I am. But I dined at M.
de Villefort's, and lawyers always give you very bad dinners.
You would think they felt some remorse; did you ever
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
"Ah, depreciate other persons' dinners; you ministers give
such splendid ones."
"Yes; but we do not invite people of fashion. If we were not
forced to entertain a parcel of country boobies because they
think and vote with us, we should never dream of dining at
home, I assure you."
"Well, take another glass of sherry and another biscuit."
"Willingly. Your Spanish wine is excellent. You see we were
quite right to pacify that country."
"Yes; but Don Carlos?"
"Well, Don Carlos will drink Bordeaux, and in ten years we
will marry his son to the little queen."
"You will then obtain the Golden Fleece, if you are still in the
"I think, Albert, you have adopted the system of feeding me
on smoke this morning."
"Well, you must allow it is the best thing for the stomach; but
I hear Beauchamp in the next room; you can dispute together,
and that will pass away the time."
"About the papers."
"My dear friend," said Lucien with an air of sovereign
contempt, "do I ever read the papers?"
"Then you will dispute the more."
"M. Beauchamp," announced the servant. "Come in, come
in," said Albert, rising and advancing to meet the young man.
"Here is Debray, who detests you without reading you, so he
"He is quite right," returned Beauchamp; "for I criticise him
without knowing what he does. Good-day, commander!"
"Ah, you know that already," said the private secretary,
smiling and shaking hands with him.
"And what do they say of it in the world?"
"In which world? we have so many worlds in the year of
"In the entire political world, of which you are one of the
"They say that it is quite fair, and that sowing so much red,
you ought to reap a little blue."
"Come, come, that is not bad!" said Lucien. "Why do you not
join our party, my dear Beauchamp? With your talents you
would make your fortune in three or four years."
"I only await one thing before following your advice; that is,
a minister who will hold office for six months. My dear
Albert, one word, for I must give poor Lucien a respite. Do
we breakfast or dine? I must go to the Chamber, for our life
is not an idle one."
"You only breakfast; I await two persons, and the instant
they arrive we shall sit down to table."
Chapter 40 The Breakfast
nd what sort of persons do you expect to breakfast?"
"A gentleman, and a diplomatist."
"Then we shall have to wait two hours for the gentleman,
and three for the diplomatist. I shall come back to dessert;
keep me some strawberries, coffee, and cigars. I shall take a
cutlet on my way to the Chamber."
"Do not do anything of the sort; for were the gentleman a
Montmorency, and the diplomatist a Metternich, we will
breakfast at eleven; in the meantime, follow Debray's
example, and take a glass of sherry and a biscuit."
"Be it so; I will stay; I must do something to distract my
"You are like Debray, and yet it seems to me that when the
minister is out of spirits, the opposition ought to be joyous."
"Ah, you do not know with what I am threatened. I shall
hear this morning that M. Danglars make a speech at the
Chamber of Deputies, and at his wife's this evening I shall
hear the tragedy of a peer of France. The devil take the
constitutional government, and since we had our choice, as
they say, at least, how could we choose that?"
"I understand; you must lay in a stock of hilarity."
"Do not run down M. Danglars' speeches," said Debray; "he
votes for you, for he belongs to the opposition."
"Pardieu, that is exactly the worst of all. I am waiting until
you send him to speak at the Luxembourg, to laugh at my
"My dear friend," said Albert to Beauchamp, "it is plain that
the affairs of Spain are settled, for you are most desperately
out of humor this morning. Recollect that Parisian gossip has
spoken of a marriage between myself and Mlle. Eugenie
Danglars; I cannot in conscience, therefore, let you run down
the speeches of a man who will one day say to me, `Vicomte,
you know I give my daughter two millions.'"
"Ah, this marriage will never take place," said Beauchamp.
"The king has made him a baron, and can make him a peer,
but he cannot make him a gentleman, and the Count of
Morcerf is too aristocratic to consent, for the paltry sum of
two million francs, to a mesalliance. The Viscount of Morcerf
can only wed a marchioness."
"But two million francs make a nice little sum," replied
"It is the social capital of a theatre on the boulevard, or a
railroad from the Jardin des Plantes to La Rapee."
"Never mind what he says, Morcerf," said Debray, "do you
marry her. You marry a money-bag label, it is true; well, but
what does that matter? It is better to have a blazon less and a
figure more on it. You have seven martlets on your arms;
give three to your wife, and you will still have four; that is
one more than M. de Guise had, who so nearly became King
of France, and whose cousin was Emperor of Germany."
"On my word, I think you are right, Lucien," said Albert
"To be sure; besides, every millionaire is as noble as a
bastard -- that is, he can be."
"Do not say that, Debray," returned Beauchamp, laughing,
"for here is Chateau-Renaud, who, to cure you of your mania
for paradoxes, will pass the sword of Renaud de Montauban,
his ancestor, through your body."
"He will sully it then," returned Lucien; "for I am low -- very
"Oh, heavens," cried Beauchamp, "the minister quotes
Beranger, what shall we come to next?"
"M. de Chateau-Renaud -- M. Maximilian Morrel," said the
servant, announcing two fresh guests.
"Now, then, to breakfast," said Beauchamp; "for, if I
remember, you told me you only expected two persons,
"Morrel," muttered Albert -- "Morrel -- who is he?" But
before he had finished, M. de Chateau-Renaud, a handsome
young man of thirty, gentleman all over, -- that is, with the
figure of a Guiche and the wit of a Mortemart, -- took
Albert's hand. "My dear Albert," said he, "let me introduce to
you M. Maximilian Morrel, captain of Spahis, my friend; and
what is more -- however the man speaks for himself -- my
preserver. Salute my hero, viscount." And he stepped on one
side to give place to a young man of refined and dignified
bearing, with large and open brow, piercing eyes, and black
mustache, whom our readers have already seen at Marseilles,
under circumstances sufficiently dramatic not to be forgotten.
A rich uniform, half French, half Oriental, set off his graceful
and stalwart figure, and his broad chest was decorated with
the order of the Legion of Honor. The young officer bowed
with easy and elegant politeness. "Monsieur," said Albert
with affectionate courtesy, "the count of Chateau-Renaud
knew how much pleasure this introduction would give me;
you are his friend, be ours also."
"Well said," interrupted Chateau-Renaud; "and pray that, if
you should ever be in a similar predicament, he may do as
much for you as he did for me."
"What has he done?" asked Albert.
"Oh, nothing worth speaking of," said Morrel; "M. de
"Not worth speaking of?" cried Chateau-Renaud; "life is not
worth speaking of! -- that is rather too philosophical, on my
word, Morrel. It is very well for you, who risk your life every
day, but for me, who only did so once" --
"We gather from all this, baron, that Captain Morrel saved
"On what occasion?" asked Beauchamp.
"Beauchamp, my good fellow, you know I am starving," said
Debray: "do not set him off on some long story."
"Well, I do not prevent your sitting down to table," replied
Beauchamp, "Chateau-Renaud can tell us while we eat our
"Gentlemen," said Morcerf, "it is only a quarter past ten, and
I expect some one else."
"Ah, true, a diplomatist!" observed Debray.
"Diplomat or not, I don't know; I only know that he charged
himself on my account with a mission, which he terminated
so entirely to my satisfaction, that had I been king, I should
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
have instantly created him knight of all my orders, even had
I been able to offer him the Golden Fleece and the Garter."
"Well, since we are not to sit down to table," said Debray,
"take a glass of sherry, and tell us all about it."
"You all know that I had the fancy of going to Africa."
"It is a road your ancestors have traced for you," said Albert
"Yes? but I doubt that your object was like theirs -- to rescue
the Holy Sepulchre."
"You are quite right, Beauchamp," observed the young
aristocrat. "It was only to fight as an amateur. I cannot bear
duelling since two seconds, whom I had chosen to arrange
an affair, forced me to break the arm of one of my best
friends, one whom you all know -- poor Franz d'Epinay."
"Ah, true," said Debray, "you did fight some time ago; about
"The devil take me, if I remember," returned
Chateau-Renaud. "But I recollect perfectly one thing, that,
being unwilling to let such talents as mine sleep, I wished to
try upon the Arabs the new pistols that had been given to
me. In consequence I embarked for Oran, and went from
thence to Constantine, where I arrived just in time to witness
the raising of the siege. I retreated with the rest, for eight and
forty hours. I endured the rain during the day, and the cold
during the night tolerably well, but the third morning my
horse died of cold. Poor brute -- accustomed to be covered
up and to have a stove in the stable, the Arabian finds
himself unable to bear ten degrees of cold in Arabia."
"That's why you want to purchase my English horse," said
Debray, "you think he will bear the cold better."
"You are mistaken, for I have made a vow never to return to
"You were very much frightened, then?" asked Beauchamp.
"Well, yes, and I had good reason to be so," replied
Chateau-Renaud. "I was retreating on foot, for my horse was
dead. Six Arabs came up, full gallop, to cut off my head. I
shot two with my double-barrelled gun, and two more with
my pistols, but I was then disarmed, and two were still left;
one seized me by the hair (that is why I now wear it so short,
for no one knows what may happen), the other swung a
yataghan, and I already felt the cold steel on my neck, when
this gentleman whom you see here charged them, shot the
one who held me by the hair, and cleft the skull of the other
with his sabre. He had assigned himself the task of saving a
man's life that day; chance caused that man to be myself.
When I am rich I will order a statue of Chance from
Klagmann or Marochetti."
"Yes," said Morrel, smiling, "it was the 5th of September, the
anniversary of the day on which my father was miraculously
preserved; therefore, as far as it lies in my power, I endeavor
to celebrate it by some" --
"Heroic action," interrupted Chateau-Renaud. "I was chosen.
But that is not all -- after rescuing me from the sword, he
rescued me from the cold, not by sharing his cloak with me,
like St. Martin, but by giving me the whole; then from
hunger by sharing with me -- guess what?"
"A Strasbourg pie?" asked Beauchamp.
"No, his horse; of which we each of us ate a slice with a
hearty appetite. It was very hard."
"The horse?" said Morcerf, laughing.
"No, the sacrifice," returned Chateau-Renaud; "ask Debray if
he would sacrifice his English steed for a stranger?"
"Not for a stranger," said Debray, "but for a friend I might,
"I divined that you would become mine, count," replied
Morrel; "besides, as I had the honor to tell you, heroism or
not, sacrifice or not, that day I owed an offering to bad
fortune in recompense for the favors good fortune had on
other days granted to us."
"The history to which M. Morrel alludes," continued
Chateau-Renaud, "is an admirable one, which he will tell
you some day when you are better acquainted with him;
to-day let us fill our stomachs, and not our memories. What
time do you breakfast, Albert?"
"At half-past ten."
"Precisely?" asked Debray, taking out his watch.
"Oh, you will give me five minutes' grace," replied Morcerf,
"for I also expect a preserver."
"Of myself," cried Morcerf; "parbleu, do you think I cannot
be saved as well as any one else, and that there are only
Arabs who cut off heads? Our breakfast is a philanthropic
one, and we shall have at table -- at least, I hope so -- two
benefactors of humanity."
"What shall we do?" said Debray; "we have only one
"Well, it will be given to some one who has done nothing to
deserve it," said Beauchamp; "that is the way the Academy
mostly escapes from the dilemma."
"And where does he come from?" asked Debray. "You have
already answered the question once, but so vaguely that I
venture to put it a second time."
"Really," said Albert, "I do not know; when I invited him
three months ago, he was then at Rome, but since that time
who knows where he may have gone?"
"And you think him capable of being exact?" demanded
"I think him capable of everything."
"Well, with the five minutes' grace, we have only ten left."
"I will profit by them to tell you something about my guest."
"I beg pardon," interrupted Beauchamp; "are there any
materials for an article in what you are going to tell us?"
"Yes, and for a most curious one."
"Go on, then, for I see I shall not get to the Chamber this
morning, and I must make up for it."
"I was at Rome during the last Carnival."
"We know that," said Beauchamp.
"Yes, but what you do not know is that I was carried off by
"There are no bandits," cried Debray.
"Yes there are, and most hideous, or rather most admirable
ones, for I found them ugly enough to frighten me."
"Come, my dear Albert," said Debray, "confess that your
cook is behindhand, that the oysters have not arrived from
Ostend or Marennes, and that, like Madame de Maintenon,
you are going to replace the dish by a story. Say so at once;
we are sufficiently well-bred to excuse you, and to listen to
your history, fabulous as it promises to be."
"And I say to you, fabulous as it may seem, I tell it as a true
one from beginning to end. The brigands had carried me
off, and conducted me to a gloomy spot, called the
Catacombs of Saint Sebastian."
"I know it," said Chateau-Renaud; "I narrowly escaped
catching a fever there."
"And I did more than that," replied Morcerf, "for I caught
one. I was informed that I was prisoner until I paid the sum
of 4,000 Roman crowns -- about 24,000 francs. Unfortunately,
I had not above 1,500. I was at the end of my journey and of
my credit. I wrote to Franz -- and were he here he would
confirm every word -- I wrote then to Franz that if he did not
come with the four thousand crowns before six, at ten
minutes past I should have gone to join the blessed saints
and glorious martyrs in whose company I had the honor of
being; and Signor Luigi Vampa, such was the name of the
chief of these bandits, would have scrupulously kept his
"But Franz did come with the four thousand crowns," said
Chateau-Renaud. "A man whose name is Franz d'Epinay or
Albert de Morcerf has not much difficulty in procuring
"No, he arrived accompanied simply by the guest I am going
to present to you."
"Ah, this gentleman is a Hercules killing Cacus, a Perseus
"No, he is a man about my own size."
"Armed to the teeth?"
"He had not even a knitting-needle."
"But he paid your ransom?"
"He said two words to the chief and I was free."
"And they apologized to him for having carried you off?"
"Why, he is a second Ariosto."
"No, his name is the Count of Monte Cristo."
"There is no Count of Monte Cristo" said Debray.
"I do not think so," added Chateau-Renaud, with the air of a
man who knows the whole of the European nobility
"Does any one know anything of a Count of Monte Cristo?"
"He comes possibly from the Holy Land, and one of his
ancestors possessed Calvary, as the Mortemarts did the
"I think I can assist your researches," said Maximilian.
"Monte Cristo is a little island I have often heard spoken of
by the old sailors my father employed -- a grain of sand in
the centre of the Mediterranean, an atom in the infinite."
"Precisely!" cried Albert. "Well, he of whom I speak is the
lord and master of this grain of sand, of this atom; he has
purchased the title of count somewhere in Tuscany."
"He is rich, then?"
"I believe so."
"But that ought to be visible."
"That is what deceives you, Debray."
"I do not understand you."
"Have you read the `Arabian Nights'?"
"What a question!"
"Well, do you know if the persons you see there are rich or
poor, if their sacks of wheat are not rubies or diamonds?
They seem like poor fishermen, and suddenly they open
some mysterious cavern filled with the wealth of the Indies."
"Which means that my Count of Monte Cristo is one of those
fishermen. He has even a name taken from the book, since he
calls himself Sinbad the Sailor, and has a cave filled with
"And you have seen this cavern, Morcerf?" asked
"No, but Franz has; for heaven's sake, not a word of this
before him. Franz went in with his eyes blindfolded, and
was waited on by mutes and by women to whom Cleopatra
was a painted strumpet. Only he is not quite sure about the
women, for they did not come in until after he had taken
hashish, so that what he took for women might have been
simply a row of statues."
The two young men looked at Morcerf as if to say, -- "Are
you mad, or are you laughing at us?"
"And I also," said Morrel thoughtfully, "have heard
something like this from an old sailor named Penelon."
"Ah," cried Albert, "it is very lucky that M. Morrel comes to
aid me; you are vexed, are you not, that he thus gives a clew
to the labyrinth?"
"My dear Albert," said Debray, "what you tell us is so
"Ah, because your ambassadors and your consuls do not tell
you of them -- they have no time. They are too much taken
up with interfering in the affairs of their countrymen who
"Now you get angry, and attack our poor agents. How will
you have them protect you? The Chamber cuts down their
salaries every day, so that now they have scarcely any. Will
you be ambassador, Albert? I will send you to
"No, lest on the first demonstration I make in favor of
Mehemet Ali, the Sultan send me the bowstring, and make
my secretaries strangle me."
"You say very true," responded Debray.
"Yes," said Albert, "but this has nothing to do with the
existence of the Count of Monte Cristo."
"Pardieu, every one exists."
"Doubtless, but not in the same way; every one has not black
slaves, a princely retinue, an arsenal of weapons that would
do credit to an Arabian fortress, horses that cost six
thousand francs apiece, and Greek mistresses."
"Have you seen the Greek mistress?"
"I have both seen and heard her. I saw her at the theatre, and
heard her one morning when I breakfasted with the count."
"He eats, then?"
"Yes; but so little, it can hardly be called eating."
"He must be a vampire."
"Laugh, if you will; the Countess G---- , who knew Lord
Ruthven, declared that the count was a vampire."
"Ah, capital," said Beauchamp. "For a man not connected
with newspapers, here is the pendant to the famous
sea-serpent of the Constitutionnel."
"Wild eyes, the iris of which contracts or dilates at pleasure,"
said Debray; "facial angle strongly developed, magnificent
forehead, livid complexion, black beard, sharp and white
teeth, politeness unexceptionable."
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