his head and empty to the very dregs the glass which
Valentine had filled. Valentine and Morrel were exchanging
their adieux in the presence of Noirtier when a ring was
heard at the door-bell. It was the signal of a visit. Valentine
looked at her watch.
"It is past noon," said she, "and to-day is Saturday; I dare say
it is the doctor, grandpapa." Noirtier looked his conviction
that she was right in her supposition. "He will come in here,
and M. Morrel had better go, -- do you not think so,
"Yes," signed the old man.
"Barrois," cried Valentine, "Barrois!"
"I am coming, mademoiselle," replied he. "Barrois will open
the door for you," said Valentine, addressing Morrel. "And
now remember one thing, Monsieur Officer, that my
grandfather commands you not to take any rash or
ill-advised step which would be likely to compromise our
"I promised him to wait," replied Morrel; "and I will wait."
At this moment Barrois entered. "Who rang?" asked
"Doctor d'Avrigny," said Barrois, staggering as if he would
"What is the matter, Barrois?" said Valentine. The old man
did not answer, but looked at his master with wild staring
eyes, while with his cramped hand he grasped a piece of
furniture to enable him to stand upright. "He is going to fall!"
cried Morrel. The rigors which had attacked Barrois
gradually increased, the features of the face became quite
altered, and the convulsive movement of the muscles
appeared to indicate the approach of a most serious nervous
disorder. Noirtier, seeing Barrois in this pitiable condition,
showed by his looks all the various emotions of sorrow and
sympathy which can animate the heart of man. Barrois made
some steps towards his master.
"Ah, sir," said he, "tell me what is the matter with me. I am
suffering -- I cannot see. A thousand fiery darts are piercing
my brain. Ah, don't touch me, pray don't." By this time his
haggard eyes had the appearance of being ready to start
from their sockets; his head fell back, and the lower
extremities of the body began to stiffen. Valentine uttered a
cry of horror; Morrel took her in his arms, as if to defend her
from some unknown danger. "M. d'Avrigny, M. d'Avrigny,"
cried she, in a stifled voice. "Help, help!" Barrois turned
round and with a great effort stumbled a few steps, then fell
at the feet of Noirtier, and resting his hand on the knee of the
invalid, exclaimed, "My master, my good master!" At this
moment M. de Villefort, attracted by the noise, appeared on
the threshold. Morrel relaxed his hold of Valentine, and
retreating to a distant corner of the room remained half
hidden behind a curtain. Pale as if he had been gazing on a
serpent, he fixed his terrified eye on the agonized sufferer.
Noirtier, burning with impatience and terror, was in despair
at his utter inability to help his old domestic, whom he
regarded more in the light of a friend than a servant. One
might by the fearful swelling of the veins of his forehead and
the contraction of the muscles round the eye, trace the
terrible conflict which was going on between the living
energetic mind and the inanimate and helpless body. Barrois,
his features convulsed, his eyes suffused with blood, and his
head thrown back, was lying at full length, beating the floor
with his hands, while his legs had become so stiff, that they
looked as if they would break rather than bend. A slight
appearance of foam was visible around the mouth, and he
breathed painfully, and with extreme difficulty.
Villefort seemed stupefied with astonishment, and remained
gazing intently on the scene before him without uttering a
word. He had not seen Morrel. After a moment of dumb
contemplation, during which his face became pale and his
hair seemed to stand on end, he sprang towards the door,
crying out, "Doctor, doctor! come instantly, pray come!"
"Madame, madame!" cried Valentine, calling her step-mother,
and running up-stairs to meet her; "come quick, quick! -- and
bring your bottle of smelling-salts with you."
"What is the matter?" said Madame de Villefort in a harsh
and constrained tone.
"Oh, come, come!"
"But where is the doctor?" exclaimed Villefort; "where is he?"
Madame de Villefort now deliberately descended the
staircase. In one hand she held her handkerchief, with which
she appeared to be wiping her face, and in the other a bottle
of English smelling-salts. Her first look on entering the room
was at Noirtier, whose face, independent of the emotion
which such a scene could not fail of producing, proclaimed
him to be in possession of his usual health; her second glance
was at the dying man. She turned pale, and her eye passed
quickly from the servant and rested on the master.
"In the name of heaven, madame," said Villefort, "where is
the doctor? He was with you just now. You see this is a fit of
apoplexy, and he might be saved if he could but be bled!"
"Has he eaten anything lately?" asked Madame de Villefort,
eluding her husband's question. "Madame," replied
Valentine, "he has not even breakfasted. He has been
running very fast on an errand with which my grandfather
charged him, and when he returned, took nothing but a glass
"Ah," said Madame de Villefort, "why did he not take wine?
Lemonade was a very bad thing for him."
"Grandpapa's bottle of lemonade was standing just by his
side; poor Barrois was very thirsty, and was thankful to
drink anything he could find." Madame de Villefort started.
Noirtier looked at her with a glance of the most profound
scrutiny. "He has such a short neck," said she. "Madame,"
said Villefort, "I ask where is M. d'Avrigny? In God's name
"He is with Edward, who is not quite well," replied Madame
de Villefort, no longer being able to avoid answering.
Villefort rushed up-stairs to fetch him. "Take this," said
Madame de Villefort, giving her smelling-bottle to Valentine.
"They will, no doubt, bleed him; therefore I will retire, for I
cannot endure the sight of blood;" and she followed her
husband up-stairs. Morrel now emerged from his
hiding-place, where he had remained quite unperceived, so
great had been the general confusion. "Go away as quick as
you can, Maximilian," said Valentine, "and stay till I send for
Morrel looked towards Noirtier for permission to retire. The
old man, who had preserved all his usual coolness, made a
sign to him to do so. The young man pressed Valentine's
hand to his lips, and then left the house by a back staircase.
At the same moment that he quitted the room, Villefort and
the doctor entered by an opposite door. Barrois was now
showing signs of returning consciousness. The crisis seemed
past, a low moaning was heard, and he raised himself on one
knee. D'Avrigny and Villefort laid him on a couch. "What do
you prescribe, doctor?" demanded Villefort. "Give me some
water and ether. You have some in the house, have you not?"
"Send for some oil of turpentine and tartar emetic."
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THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Villefort immediately despatched a messenger. "And now let
every one retire."
"Must I go too?" asked Valentine timidly.
"Yes, mademoiselle, you especially," replied the doctor
Valentine looked at M. d'Avrigny with astonishment, kissed
her grandfather on the forehead, and left the room. The
doctor closed the door after her with a gloomy air. "Look,
look, doctor," said Villefort, "he is quite coming round again;
I really do not think, after all, it is anything of consequence."
M. d'Avrigny answered by a melancholy smile. "How do
you feel, Barrois?" asked he. "A little better, sir."
"Will you drink some of this ether and water?"
"I will try; but don't touch me."
"Because I feel that if you were only to touch me with the tip
of your finger the fit would return."
Barrois took the glass, and, raising it to his purple lips, took
about half of the liquid offered him. "Where do you suffer?"
asked the doctor.
"Everywhere. I feel cramps over my whole body."
"Do you find any dazzling sensation before the eyes?"
"Any noise in the ears?"
"When did you first feel that?"
"Yes, like a clap of thunder."
"Did you feel nothing of it yesterday or the day before?"
"What have you eaten to-day?"
"I have eaten nothing; I only drank a glass of my master's
lemonade -- that's all;" and Barrois turned towards Noirtier,
who, immovably fixed in his arm-chair, was contemplating
this terrible scene without allowing a word or a movement
to escape him.
"Where is this lemonade?" asked the doctor eagerly.
"Down-stairs in the decanter."
"In the kitchen."
"Shall I go and fetch it, doctor?" inquired Villefort.
"No, stay here and try to make Barrois drink the rest of this
glass of ether and water. I will go myself and fetch the
lemonade." D'Avrigny bounded towards the door, flew
down the back staircase, and almost knocked down Madame
de Villefort, in his haste, who was herself going down to the
kitchen. She cried out, but d'Avrigny paid no attention to her;
possessed with but one idea, he cleared the last four steps
with a bound, and rushed into the kitchen, where he saw the
decanter about three parts empty still standing on the waiter,
where it had been left. He darted upon it as an eagle would
seize upon its prey. Panting with loss of breath, he returned
to the room he had just left. Madame de Villefort was slowly
ascending the steps which led to her room. "Is this the
decanter you spoke of?" asked d'Avrigny.
"Is this the same lemonade of which you partook?"
"I believe so."
"What did it taste like?"
"It had a bitter taste."
The doctor poured some drops of the lemonade into the
palm of his hand, put his lips to it, and after having rinsed
his mouth as a man does when he is tasting wine, he spat the
liquor into the fireplace.
"It is no doubt the same," said he. "Did you drink some too,
"And did you also discover a bitter taste?"
"Oh, doctor," cried Barrois, "the fit is coming on again. Oh,
do something for me." The doctor flew to his patient. "That
emetic, Villefort -- see if it is coming." Villefort sprang into
the passage, exclaiming, "The emetic! the emetic! -- is it come
yet?" No one answered. The most profound terror reigned
throughout the house. "If I had anything by means of which
I could inflate the lungs," said d'Avrigny, looking around
him, "perhaps I might prevent suffocation. But there is
nothing which would do -- nothing!" "Oh, sir," cried Barrois,
"are you going to let me die without help? Oh, I am dying!
Oh, save me!"
"A pen, a pen!" said the doctor. There was one lying on the
table; he endeavored to introduce it into the mouth of the
patient, who, in the midst of his convulsions, was making
vain attempts to vomit; but the jaws were so clinched that
the pen could not pass them. This second attack was much
more violent than the first, and he had slipped from the
couch to the ground, where he was writhing in agony. The
doctor left him in this paroxysm, knowing that he could do
nothing to alleviate it, and, going up to Noirtier, said
abruptly, "How do you find yourself? -- well?"
"Have you any weight on the chest; or does your stomach
feel light and comfortable -- eh?"
"Then you feel pretty much as you generally do after you
have had the dose which I am accustomed to give you every
"Did Barrois make your lemonade?"
"Was it you who asked him to drink some of it?"
"Was it M. de Villefort?"
"It was your granddaughter, then, was it not?"
"Yes." A groan from Barrois, accompanied by a yawn which
seemed to crack the very jawbones, attracted the attention of
M. d'Avrigny; he left M. Noirtier, and returned to the sick
man. "Barrois," said the doctor, "can you speak?" Barrois
muttered a few unintelligible words. "Try and make an effort
to do so, my good man." said d'Avrigny. Barrois reopened
his bloodshot eyes. "Who made the lemonade?"
"Did you bring it to your master directly it was made?"
"You left it somewhere, then, in the meantime?"
"Yes; I left it in the pantry, because I was called away."
"Who brought it into this room, then?"
"Mademoiselle Valentine." D'Avrigny struck his forehead
with his hand. "Gracious heaven," exclaimed he. "Doctor,
doctor!" cried Barrois, who felt another fit coming.
"Will they never bring that emetic?" asked the doctor.
"Here is a glass with one already prepared," said Villefort,
entering the room.
"Who prepared it?"
"The chemist who came here with me."
"Drink it," said the doctor to Barrois. "Impossible, doctor; it is
too late; my throat is closing up. I am choking! Oh, my heart!
Ah, my head! -- Oh, what agony! -- Shall I suffer like this
"No, no, friend," replied the doctor, "you will soon cease to
"Ah, I understand you," said the unhappy man. "My God,
have mercy upon me!" and, uttering a fearful cry, Barrois fell
back as if he had been struck by lightning. D'Avrigny put his
hand to his heart, and placed a glass before his lips.
"Well?" said Villefort. "Go to the kitchen and get me some
syrup of violets." Villefort went immediately. "Do not be
alarmed, M. Noirtier," said d'Avrigny; "I am going to take
my patient into the next room to bleed him; this sort of
attack is very frightful to witness."
And taking Barrois under the arms, he dragged him into an
adjoining room; but almost immediately he returned to fetch
the lemonade. Noirtier closed lids right eye. "You want
Valentine, do you not? I will tell them to send her to you."
Villefort returned, and d'Avrigny met him in the passage.
"Well, how is he now?" asked he. "Come in here," said
d'Avrigny, and he took him into the chamber where the sick
man lay. "Is he still in a fit?" said the procureur.
"He is dead."
Villefort drew back a few steps, and, clasping his hands,
exclaimed, with real amazement and sympathy, "Dead? --
and so soon too!"
"Yes, it is very soon," said the doctor, looking at the corpse
before him; "but that ought not to astonish you; Monsieur
and Madame de Saint-Meran died as soon. People die very
suddenly in your house, M. de Villefort."
"What?" cried the magistrate, with an accent of horror and
consternation, "are you still harping on that terrible idea?"
"Still, sir; and I shall always do so," replied d'Avrigny, "for it
has never for one instant ceased to retain possession of my
mind; and that you may be quite sure I am not mistaken this
time, listen well to what I am going to say, M. de Villefort."
The magistrate trembled convulsively. "There is a poison
which destroys life almost without leaving any perceptible
traces. I know it well; I have studied it in all its forms and in
the effects which it produces. I recognized the presence of
this poison in the case of poor Barrois as well as in that of
Madame de Saint-Meran. There is a way of detecting its
presence. It restores the blue color of litmus-paper reddened
by an acid, and it turns syrup of violets green. We have no
litmus-paper, but, see, here they come with the syrup of
The doctor was right; steps were heard in the passage. M.
d'Avrigny opened the door, and took from the hands of the
chambermaid a cup which contained two or three spoonfuls
of the syrup, he then carefully closed the door. "Look," said
he to the procureur, whose heart beat so loudly that it might
almost be heard, "here is in this cup some syrup of violets,
and this decanter contains the remainder of the lemonade of
which M. Noirtier and Barrois partook. If the lemonade be
pure and inoffensive, the syrup will retain its color; if, on the
contrary, the lemonade be drugged with poison, the syrup
will become green. Look closely!"
The doctor then slowly poured some drops of the lemonade
from the decanter into the cup, and in an instant a light
cloudy sediment began to form at the bottom of the cup; this
sediment first took a blue shade, then from the color of
sapphire it passed to that of opal, and from opal to emerald.
Arrived at this last hue, it changed no more. The result of the
experiment left no doubt whatever on the mind.
"The unfortunate Barrois has been poisoned," said d'Avrigny,
"and I will maintain this assertion before God and man."
Villefort said nothing, but he clasped his hands, opened his
haggard eyes, and, overcome with his emotion, sank into a
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Chapter 80 The Accusation
. D'Avrigny soon restored the magistrate to
consciousness, who had looked like a second corpse in
that chamber of death. "Oh, death is in my house!" cried
"Say, rather, crime!" replied the doctor.
"M. d'Avrigny," cried Villefort, "I cannot tell you all I feel at
this moment, -- terror, grief, madness."
"Yes," said M. d'Avrigny, with an imposing calmness, "but I
think it is now time to act. I think it is time to stop this
torrent of mortality. I can no longer bear to be in possession
of these secrets without the hope of seeing the victims and
society generally revenged." Villefort cast a gloomy look
around him. "In my house," murmured he, "in my house!"
"Come, magistrate," said M. d'Avrigny, "show yourself a
man; as an interpreter of the law, do honor to your
profession by sacrificing your selfish interests to it."
"You make me shudder, doctor. Do you talk of a sacrifice?"
"Do you then suspect any one?"
"I suspect no one; death raps at your door -- it enters -- it
goes, not blindfolded, but circumspectly, from room to room.
Well, I follow its course, I track its passage; I adopt the
wisdom of the ancients, and feel my way, for my friendship
for your family and my respect for you are as a twofold
bandage over my eyes; well" --
"Oh, speak, speak, doctor; I shall have courage."
"Well, sir, you have in your establishment, or in your family,
perhaps, one of the frightful monstrosities of which each
century produces only one. Locusta and Agrippina, living at
the same time, were an exception, and proved the
determination of providence to effect the entire ruin of the
Roman empire, sullied by so many crimes. Brunehilde and
Fredegonde were the results of the painful struggle of
civilization in its infancy, when man was learning to control
mind, were it even by an emissary from the realms of
darkness. All these women had been, or were, beautiful. The
same flower of innocence had flourished, or was still
flourishing, on their brow, that is seen on the brow of the
culprit in your house." Villefort shrieked, clasped his hands,
and looked at the doctor with a supplicating air. But the
latter went on without pity: --
"`Seek whom the crime will profit,' says an axiom of
"Doctor," cried Villefort, "alas, doctor, how often has man's
justice been deceived by those fatal words. I know not why,
but I feel that this crime" --
"You acknowledge, then, the existence of the crime?"
"Yes, I see too plainly that it does exist. But it seems that it is
intended to affect me personally. I fear an attack myself, after
all these disasters."
"Oh, man," murmured d'Avrigny, "the most selfish of all
animals, the most personal of all creatures, who believes the
earth turns, the sun shines, and death strikes for him alone,
-- an ant cursing God from the top of a blade of grass! And
have those who have lost their lives lost nothing? -- M. de
Saint-Meran, Madame de Saint-Meran, M. Noirtier" --
"How? M. Noirtier?"
"Yes; think you it was the poor servant's life was coveted?
No, no; like Shakespeare's `Polonius,' he died for another. It
was Noirtier the lemonade was intended for -- it is Noirtier,
logically speaking, who drank it. The other drank it only by
accident, and, although Barrois is dead, it was Noirtier
whose death was wished for."
"But why did it not kill my father?"
"I told you one evening in the garden after Madame de
Saint-Meran's death -- because his system is accustomed to
that very poison, and the dose was trifling to him, which
would be fatal to another; because no one knows, not even
the assassin, that, for the last twelve months, I have given M.
Noirtier brucine for his paralytic affection, while the assassin
is not ignorant, for he has proved that brucine is a violent
"Oh, have pity -- have pity!" murmured Villefort, wringing
"Follow the culprit's steps; he first kills M. de Saint-Meran" --
"I would swear to it; what I heard of his symptoms agrees
too well with what I have seen in the other cases." Villefort
ceased to contend; he only groaned. "He first kills M. de
Saint-Meran," repeated the doctor, "then Madame de
Saint-Meran, -- a double fortune to inherit." Villefort wiped
the perspiration from his forehead. "Listen attentively."
"Alas," stammered Villefort, "I do not lose a single word."
"M. Noirtier," resumed M. d'Avrigny in the same pitiless
tone, -- "M. Noirtier had once made a will against you --
against your family -- in favor of the poor, in fact; M.
Noirtier is spared, because nothing is expected from him.
But he has no sooner destroyed his first will and made a
second, than, for fear he should make a third, he is struck
down. The will was made the day before yesterday, I believe;
you see there has been no time lost."
"Oh, mercy, M. d'Avrigny!"
"No mercy, sir! The physician has a sacred mission on earth;
and to fulfil it he begins at the source of life, and goes down
to the mysterious darkness of the tomb. When crime has
been committed, and God, doubtless in anger, turns away
his face, it is for the physician to bring the culprit to justice."
"Have mercy on my child, sir," murmured Villefort.
"You see it is yourself who have first named her -- you, her
"Have pity on Valentine! Listen -- it is impossible! I would as
willingly accuse myself! Valentine, whose heart is pure as a
diamond or a lily."
"No pity, procureur; the crime is fragrant. Mademoiselle
herself packed all the medicines which were sent to M. de
Saint-Meran; and M. de Saint-Meran is dead. Mademoiselle
de Villefort prepared all the cooling draughts which
Madame de Saint-Meran took, and Madame de Saint-Meran
is dead. Mademoiselle de Villefort took from the hands of
Barrois, who was sent out, the lemonade which M. Noirtier
had every morning, and he has escaped by a miracle.
Mademoiselle de Villefort is the culprit -- she is the poisoner!
To you, as the king's attorney, I denounce Mademoiselle
de Villefort, do your duty."
"Doctor, I resist no longer -- I can no longer defend myself --
I believe you; but, for pity's sake, spare my life, my honor!"
"M. de Villefort," replied the doctor, with increased
vehemence, "there are occasions when I dispense with all
foolish human circumspection. If your daughter had
committed only one crime, and I saw her meditating another,
I would say `Warn her, punish her, let her pass the
remainder of her life in a convent, weeping and praying.' If
she had committed two crimes, I would say, `Here, M. de
Villefort, is a poison that the prisoner is not acquainted with,
-- one that has no known antidote, quick as thought, rapid as
lightning, mortal as the thunderbolt; give her that poison,
recommending her soul to God, and save your honor and
your life, for it is yours she aims at; and I can picture her
approaching your pillow with her hypocritical smiles and
her sweet exhortations. Woe to you, M. de Villefort, if you
do not strike first!' This is what I would say had she only
killed two persons but she has seen three deaths, -- has
contemplated three murdered persons, -- has knelt by three
corpses! To the scaffold with the poisoner -- to the scaffold!
Do you talk of your honor? Do what I tell you, and
immortality awaits you!"
Villefort fell on his knees. "Listen," said he; "I have not the
strength of mind you have, or rather that which you would
not have, if instead of my daughter Valentine your daughter
Madeleine were concerned." The doctor turned pale. "Doctor,
every son of woman is born to suffer and to die; I am content
to suffer and to await death."
"Beware," said M. d'Avrigny, "it may come slowly; you will
see it approach after having struck your father, your wife,
perhaps your son."
Villefort, suffocating, pressed the doctor's arm. "Listen,"
cried he; "pity me -- help me! No, my daughter is not guilty.
If you drag us both before a tribunal I will still say, `No, my
daughter is not guilty; -- there is no crime in my house. I will
not acknowledge a crime in my house; for when crime enters
a dwelling, it is like death -- it does not come alone.' Listen.
What does it signify to you if I am murdered? Are you my
friend? Are you a man? Have you a heart? No, you are a
physician! Well, I tell you I will not drag my daughter before
a tribunal, and give her up to the executioner! The bare idea
would kill me -- would drive me like a madman to dig my
heart out with my finger-nails! And if you were mistaken,
doctor -- if it were not my daughter -- if I should come one
day, pale as a spectre, and say to you, `Assassin, you have
killed my child!' -- hold -- if that should happen, although I
am a Christian, M. d'Avrigny, I should kill myself."
"Well," said the doctor, after a moment's silence, "I will wait."
Villefort looked at him as if he had doubted his words.
"Only," continued M. d'Avrigny, with a slow and solemn
tone, "if any one falls ill in your house, if you feel yourself
attacked, do not send for me, for I will come no more. I will
consent to share this dreadful secret with you, but I will not
allow shame and remorse to grow and increase in my
conscience, as crime and misery will in your house."
"Then you abandon me, doctor?"
"Yes, for I can follow you no farther, and I only stop at the
foot of the scaffold. Some further discovery will be made,
which will bring this dreadful tragedy to a close. Adieu."
"I entreat you, doctor!"
"All the horrors that disturb my thoughts make your house
odious and fatal. Adieu, sir."
"One word -- one single word more, doctor! You go, leaving
me in all the horror of my situation, after increasing it by
what you have revealed to me. But what will be reported of
the sudden death of the poor old servant?"
"True," said M. d'Avrigny; "we will return." The doctor went
out first, followed by M. de Villefort. The terrified servants
were on the stairs and in the passage where the doctor
would pass. "Sir," said d'Avrigny to Villefort, so loud that all
might hear, "poor Barrois has led too sedentary a life of late;
accustomed formerly to ride on horseback, or in the carriage,
to the four corners of Europe, the monotonous walk around
that arm-chair has killed him -- his blood has thickened. He
was stout, had a short, thick neck; he was attacked with
apoplexy, and I was called in too late. By the way," added he
in a low tone, "take care to throw away that cup of syrup of
violets in the ashes."
The doctor, without shaking hands with Villefort, without
adding a word to what he had said, went out, amid the tears
and lamentations of the whole household. The same evening
all Villefort's servants, who had assembled in the kitchen,
and had a long consultation, came to tell Madame de
Villefort that they wished to leave. No entreaty, no
proposition of increased wages, could induce them to remain;
to every argument they replied, "We must go, for death is in
this house." They all left, in spite of prayers and entreaties,
testifying their regret at leaving so good a master and
mistress, and especially Mademoiselle Valentine, so good, so
kind, and so gentle. Villefort looked at Valentine as they said
this. She was in tears, and, strange as it was, in spite of the
emotions he felt at the sight of these tears, he looked also at
Madame de Villefort, and it appeared to him as if a slight
gloomy smile had passed over her thin lips, like a meteor
seen passing inauspiciously between two clouds in a stormy
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