THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
"Sire, it was really impossible to learn secrets which that man
concealed from all the world."
"Really impossible! Yes -- that is a great word, sir.
Unfortunately, there are great words, as there are great men;
I have measured them. Really impossible for a minister who
has an office, agents, spies, and fifteen hundred thousand
francs for secret service money, to know what is going on at
sixty leagues from the coast of France! Well, then, see, here is
a gentleman who had none of these resources at his disposal
-- a gentleman, only a simple magistrate, who learned more
than you with all your police, and who would have saved
my crown, if, like you, he had the power of directing a
telegraph." The look of the minister of police was turned
with concentrated spite on Villefort, who bent his head in
"I do not mean that for you, Blacas," continued Louis XVIII.;
"for if you have discovered nothing, at least you have had
the good sense to persevere in your suspicions. Any other
than yourself would have considered the disclosure of M. de
Villefort insignificant, or else dictated by venal ambition,"
These words were an allusion to the sentiments which the
minister of police had uttered with so much confidence an
Villefort understood the king's intent. Any other person
would, perhaps, have been overcome by such an intoxicating
draught of praise; but he feared to make for himself a mortal
enemy of the police minister, although he saw that Dandre
was irrevocably lost. In fact, the minister, who, in the
plenitude of his power, had been unable to unearth
Napoleon's secret, might in despair at his own downfall
interrogate Dantes and so lay bare the motives of Villefort's
plot. Realizing this, Villefort came to the rescue of the
crest-fallen minister, instead of aiding to crush him.
"Sire," said Villefort, "the suddenness of this event must
prove to your majesty that the issue is in the hands of
Providence; what your majesty is pleased to attribute to me
as profound perspicacity is simply owing to chance, and I
have profited by that chance, like a good and devoted
servant -- that's all. Do not attribute to me more than I
deserve, sire, that your majesty may never have occasion to
recall the first opinion you have been pleased to form of me."
The minister of police thanked the young man by an
eloquent look, and Villefort understood that he had
succeeded in his design; that is to say, that without forfeiting
the gratitude of the king, he had made a friend of one on
whom, in case of necessity, he might rely.
"'Tis well," resumed the king. "And now, gentlemen," he
continued, turning towards M. de Blacas and the minister of
police, "I have no further occasion for you, and you may
retire; what now remains to do is in the department of the
minister of war."
"Fortunately, sire," said M. de Blacas, "we can rely on the
army; your majesty knows how every report confirms their
loyalty and attachment."
"Do not mention reports, duke, to me, for I know now what
confidence to place in them. Yet, speaking of reports, baron,
what have you learned with regard to the affair in the Rue
"The affair in the Rue Saint-Jacques!" exclaimed Villefort,
unable to repress an exclamation. Then, suddenly pausing,
he added, "Your pardon, sire, but my devotion to your
majesty has made me forget, not the respect I have, for that is
too deeply engraved in my heart, but the rules of etiquette."
"Go on, go on, sir," replied the king; "you have to-day earned
the right to make inquiries here."
"Sire," interposed the minister of police, "I came a moment
ago to give your majesty fresh information which I had
obtained on this head, when your majesty's attention was
attracted by the terrible event that has occurred in the gulf,
and now these facts will cease to interest your majesty."
"On the contrary, sir, -- on the contrary," said Louis XVIII.,
"this affair seems to me to have a decided connection with
that which occupies our attention, and the death of General
Quesnel will, perhaps, put us on the direct track of a great
internal conspiracy." At the name of General Quesnel,
"Everything points to the conclusion, sire," said the minister
of police, "that death was not the result of suicide, as we first
believed, but of assassination. General Quesnel, it appears,
had just left a Bonapartist club when he disappeared. An
unknown person had been with him that morning, and
made an appointment with him in the Rue Saint-Jacques;
unfortunately, the general's valet, who was dressing his hair
at the moment when the stranger entered, heard the street
mentioned, but did not catch the number." As the police
minister related this to the king, Villefort, who looked as if
his very life hung on the speaker's lips, turned alternately
red and pale. The king looked towards him.
"Do you not think with me, M. de Villefort, that General
Quesnel, whom they believed attached to the usurper, but
who was really entirely devoted to me, has perished the
victim of a Bonapartist ambush?"
"It is probable, sire," replied Villefort. "But is this all that is
"They are on the track of the man who appointed the
meeting with him."
"On his track?" said Villefort.
"Yes, the servant has given his description. He is a man of
from fifty to fifty-two years of age, dark, with black eyes
covered with shaggy eyebrows, and a thick mustache. He
was dressed in a blue frock-coat, buttoned up to the chin,
and wore at his button-hole the rosette of an officer of the
Legion of Honor. Yesterday a person exactly corresponding
with this description was followed, but he was lost sight of
at the corner of the Rue de la Jussienne and the Rue
Coq-Heron." Villefort leaned on the back of an arm-chair, for
as the minister of police went on speaking he felt his legs
bend under him; but when he learned that the unknown had
escaped the vigilance of the agent who followed him, he
"Continue to seek for this man, sir," said the king to the
minister of police; "for if, as I am all but convinced, General
Quesnel, who would have been so useful to us at this
moment, has been murdered, his assassins, Bonapartists or
not, shall be cruelly punished." It required all Villefort's
coolness not to betray the terror with which this declaration
of the king inspired him.
"How strange," continued the king, with some asperity; "the
police think that they have disposed of the whole matter
when they say, `A murder has been committed,' and
especially so when they can add, `And we are on the track of
the guilty persons.'"
"Sire, your majesty will, I trust, be amply satisfied on this
point at least."
"We shall see. I will no longer detain you, M. de Villefort, for
you must be fatigued after so long a journey; go and rest. Of
course you stopped at your father's?" A feeling of faintness
came over Villefort.
"No, sire," he replied, "I alighted at the Hotel de Madrid, in
CHAPTER11 THECORSICAN OGRE
the Rue de Tournon."
"But you have seen him?"
"Sire, I went straight to the Duc de Blacas."
"But you will see him, then?"
"I think not, sire."
"Ah, I forgot," said Louis, smiling in a manner which proved
that all these questions were not made without a motive; "I
forgot you and M. Noirtier are not on the best terms possible,
and that is another sacrifice made to the royal cause, and for
which you should be recompensed."
"Sire, the kindness your majesty deigns to evince towards me
is a recompense which so far surpasses my utmost ambition
that I have nothing more to ask for."
"Never mind, sir, we will not forget you; make your mind
easy. In the meanwhile" (the king here detached the cross of
the Legion of Honor which he usually wore over his blue
coat, near the cross of St. Louis, above the order of
Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel and St. Lazare, and gave it to
Villefort) -- "in the meanwhile take this cross."
"Sire," said Villefort, "your majesty mistakes; this is an
"Ma foi," said Louis XVIII., "take it, such as it is, for I have
not the time to procure you another. Blacas, let it be your
care to see that the brevet is made out and sent to M. de
Villefort." Villefort's eyes were filled with tears of joy and
pride; he took the cross and kissed it.
"And now," he said, "may I inquire what are the orders with
which your majesty deigns to honor me?"
"Take what rest you require, and remember that if you are
not able to serve me here in Paris, you may be of the greatest
service to me at Marseilles."
"Sire," replied Villefort, bowing, "in an hour I shall have
"Go, sir," said the king; "and should I forget you (kings'
memories are short), do not be afraid to bring yourself to my
recollection. Baron, send for the minister of war. Blacas,
"Ah, sir," said the minister of police to Villefort, as they left
the Tuileries, "you entered by luck's door -- your fortune is
"Will it be long first?" muttered Villefort, saluting the
minister, whose career was ended, and looking about him
for a hackney-coach. One passed at the moment, which he
hailed; he gave his address to the driver, and springing in,
threw himself on the seat, and gave loose to dreams of
Ten minutes afterwards Villefort reached his hotel, ordered
horses to be ready in two hours, and asked to have his
breakfast brought to him. He was about to begin his repast
when the sound of the bell rang sharp and loud. The valet
opened the door, and Villefort heard some one speak his
"Who could know that I was here already?" said the young
man. The valet entered.
"Well," said Villefort, "what is it? -- Who rang? -- Who asked
"A stranger who will not send in his name."
"A stranger who will not send in his name! What can he
want with me?"
"He wishes to speak to you."
"Did he mention my name?"
"What sort of person is he?"
"Why, sir, a man of about fifty."
"Short or tall?"
"About your own height, sir."
"Dark or fair?"
"Dark, -- very dark; with black eyes, black hair, black
"And how dressed?" asked Villefort quickly.
"In a blue frock-coat, buttoned up close, decorated with the
Legion of Honor."
"It is he!" said Villefort, turning pale.
"Eh, pardieu," said the individual whose description we
have twice given, entering the door, "what a great deal of
ceremony! Is it the custom in Marseilles for sons to keep
their fathers waiting in their anterooms?"
"Father!" cried Villefort, "then I was not deceived; I felt sure
it must be you."
"Well, then, if you felt so sure," replied the new-comer,
putting his cane in a corner and his hat on a chair, "allow me
to say, my dear Gerard, that it was not very filial of you to
keep me waiting at the door."
"Leave us, Germain," said Villefort. The servant quitted the
apartment with evident signs of astonishment.
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Chapter 12 Father And Son
. Noirtier -- for it was, indeed, he who entered --
looked after the servant until the door was closed, and
then, fearing, no doubt, that he might be overheard in the
ante-chamber, he opened the door again, nor was the
precaution useless, as appeared from the rapid retreat of
Germain, who proved that he was not exempt from the sin
which ruined our first parents. M. Noirtier then took the
trouble to close and bolt the ante-chamber door, then that of
the bed-chamber, and then extended his hand to Villefort,
who had followed all his motions with surprise which he
could not conceal.
"Well, now, my dear Gerard," said he to the young man,
with a very significant look, "do you know, you seem as if
you were not very glad to see me?"
"My dear father," said Villefort, "I am, on the contrary,
delighted; but I so little expected your visit, that it has
somewhat overcome me."
"But, my dear fellow," replied M. Noirtier, seating himself, "I
might say the same thing to you, when you announce to me
your wedding for the 28th of February, and on the 3rd of
March you turn up here in Paris."
"And if I have come, my dear father," said Gerard, drawing
closer to M. Noirtier, "do not complain, for it is for you that I
came, and my journey will be your salvation."
"Ah, indeed!" said M. Noirtier, stretching himself out at his
ease in the chair. "Really, pray tell me all about it, for it must
"Father, you have heard speak of a certain Bonapartist club
in the Rue Saint-Jacques?"
"No. 53; yes, I am vice-president."
"Father, your coolness makes me shudder."
"Why, my dear boy, when a man has been proscribed by the
mountaineers, has escaped from Paris in a hay-cart, been
hunted over the plains of Bordeaux by Robespierre's
bloodhounds, he becomes accustomed to most things. But go
on, what about the club in the Rue Saint-Jacques?"
"Why, they induced General Quesnel to go there, and
General Quesnel, who quitted his own house at nine o'clock
in the evening, was found the next day in the Seine."
"And who told you this fine story?"
"The king himself."
"Well, then, in return for your story," continued Noirtier, "I
will tell you another."
"My dear father, I think I already know what you are about
to tell me."
"Ah, you have heard of the landing of the emperor?"
"Not so loud, father, I entreat of you -- for your own sake as
well as mine. Yes, I heard this news, and knew it even before
you could; for three days ago I posted from Marseilles to
Paris with all possible speed, half-desperate at the enforced
"Three days ago? You are crazy. Why, three days ago the
emperor had not landed."
"No matter, I was aware of his intention."
"How did you know about it?"
"By a letter addressed to you from the Island of Elba."
"To you; and which I discovered in the pocket-book of the
messenger. Had that letter fallen into the hands of another,
you, my dear father, would probably ere this have been
shot." Villefort's father laughed.
"Come, come," said he, "will the Restoration adopt imperial
methods so promptly? Shot, my dear boy? What an idea!
Where is the letter you speak of? I know you too well to
suppose you would allow such a thing to pass you."
"I burnt it, for fear that even a fragment should remain; for
that letter must have led to your condemnation."
"And the destruction of your future prospects," replied
Noirtier; "yes, I can easily comprehend that. But I have
nothing to fear while I have you to protect me."
"I do better than that, sir -- I save you."
"You do? Why, really, the thing becomes more and more
dramatic -- explain yourself."
"I must refer again to the club in the Rue Saint-Jacques."
"It appears that this club is rather a bore to the police. Why
didn't they search more vigilantly? They would have found"
"They have not found; but they are on the track."
"Yes, that is the usual phrase; I am quite familiar with it.
When the police is at fault, it declares that it is on the track;
and the government patiently awaits the day when it comes
to say, with a sneaking air, that the track is lost."
"Yes, but they have found a corpse; the general has been
killed, and in all countries they call that a murder."
"A murder do you call it? Why, there is nothing to prove that
the general was murdered. People are found every day in
the Seine, having thrown themselves in, or having been
drowned from not knowing how to swim."
"Father, you know very well that the general was not a man
to drown himself in despair, and people do not bathe in the
Seine in the month of January. No, no, do not be deceived;
this was murder in every sense of the word."
"And who thus designated it?"
"The king himself."
"The king! I thought he was philosopher enough to allow
that there was no murder in politics. In politics, my dear
fellow, you know, as well as I do, there are no men, but ideas
-- no feelings, but interests; in politics we do not kill a man,
we only remove an obstacle, that is all. Would you like to
know how matters have progressed? Well, I will tell you. It
was thought reliance might be placed in General Quesnel; he
was recommended to us from the Island of Elba; one of us
went to him, and invited him to the Rue Saint-Jacques,
where he would find some friends. He came there, and the
plan was unfolded to him for leaving Elba, the projected
landing, etc. When he had heard and comprehended all to
the fullest extent, he replied that he was a royalist. Then all
looked at each other, -- he was made to take an oath, and did
so, but with such an ill grace that it was really tempting
Providence to swear him, and yet, in spite of that, the
general was allowed to depart free -- perfectly free. Yet he
did not return home. What could that mean? Why, my dear
fellow, that on leaving us he lost his way, that's all. A
murder? really, Villefort, you surprise me. You, a deputy
procureur, to found an accusation on such bad premises! Did
I ever say to you, when you were fulfilling your character as
a royalist, and cut off the head of one of my party, `My son,
you have committed a murder?' No, I said, `Very well, sir,
you have gained the victory; to-morrow, perchance, it will be
"But, father, take care; when our turn comes, our revenge
will be sweeping."
"I do not understand you."
"You rely on the usurper's return?"
"You are mistaken; he will not advance two leagues into the
interior of France without being followed, tracked, and
caught like a wild beast."
"My dear fellow, the emperor is at this moment on the way
to Grenoble; on the 10th or 12th he will be at Lyons, and on
the 20th or 25th at Paris."
"The people will rise."
"Yes, to go and meet him."
"He has but a handful of men with him, and armies will be
despatched against him."
"Yes, to escort him into the capital. Really, my dear Gerard,
you are but a child; you think yourself well informed
because the telegraph has told you, three days after the
landing, `The usurper has landed at Cannes with several
men. He is pursued.' But where is he? what is he doing? You
do not know at all, and in this way they will chase him to
Paris, without drawing a trigger."
"Grenoble and Lyons are faithful cities, and will oppose to
him an impassable barrier."
"Grenoble will open her gates to him with enthusiasm -- all
Lyons will hasten to welcome him. Believe me, we are as
well informed as you, and our police are as good as your
own. Would you like a proof of it? well, you wished to
conceal your journey from me, and yet I knew of your
arrival half an hour after you had passed the barrier. You
gave your direction to no one but your postilion, yet I have
your address, and in proof I am here the very instant you are
going to sit at table. Ring, then, if you please, for a second
knife, fork, and plate, and we will dine together."
"Indeed!" replied Villefort, looking at his father with
astonishment, "you really do seem very well informed."
"Eh? the thing is simple enough. You who are in power have
only the means that money produces -- we who are in
expectation, have those which devotion prompts."
"Devotion!" said Villefort, with a sneer.
"Yes, devotion; for that is, I believe, the phrase for hopeful
And Villefort's father extended his hand to the bell-rope, to
summon the servant whom his son had not called. Villefort
caught his arm.
"Wait, my dear father," said the young man, "one word
"However stupid the royalist police may be, they do know
one terrible thing."
"What is that?"
"The description of the man who, on the morning of the day
when General Quesnel disappeared, presented himself at his
"Oh, the admirable police have found that out, have they?
And what may be that description?"
"Dark complexion; hair, eyebrows, and whiskers, black; blue
frock-coat, buttoned up to the chin; rosette of an officer of
the Legion of Honor in his button-hole; a hat with wide brim,
and a cane."
"Ah, ha, that's it, is it?" said Noirtier; "and why, then, have
they not laid hands on him?"
"Because yesterday, or the day before, they lost sight of him
at the corner of the Rue Coq-Heron."
"Didn't I say that your police were good for nothing?"
"Yes; but they may catch him yet."
"True," said Noirtier, looking carelessly around him, "true, if
this person were not on his guard, as he is," and he added
with a smile, "He will consequently make a few changes in
his personal appearance." At these words he rose, and put
off his frock-coat and cravat, went towards a table on which
lay his son's toilet articles, lathered his face, took a razor, and,
with a firm hand, cut off the compromising whiskers.
Villefort watched him with alarm not devoid of admiration.
His whiskers cut off, Noirtier gave another turn to his hair;
took, instead of his black cravat, a colored neckerchief which
lay at the top of an open portmanteau; put on, in lieu of his
blue and high-buttoned frock-coat, a coat of Villefort's of
dark brown, and cut away in front; tried on before the glass
a narrow-brimmed hat of his son's, which appeared to fit
him perfectly, and, leaving his cane in the corner where he
had deposited it, he took up a small bamboo switch, cut the
air with it once or twice, and walked about with that easy
swagger which was one of his principal characteristics.
"Well," he said, turning towards his wondering son, when
this disguise was completed, "well, do you think your police
will recognize me now."
"No, father," stammered Villefort; "at least, I hope not."
"And now, my dear boy," continued Noirtier, "I rely on your
prudence to remove all the things which I leave in your
"Oh, rely on me," said Villefort.
"Yes, yes; and now I believe you are right, and that you have
really saved my life; be assured I will return the favor
hereafter." Villefort shook his head.
"You are not convinced yet?"
"I hope at least, that you may be mistaken."
"Shall you see the king again?"
"Would you pass in his eyes for a prophet?"
"Prophets of evil are not in favor at the court, father."
"True, but some day they do them justice; and supposing a
second restoration, you would then pass for a great man."
"Well, what should I say to the king?"
"Say this to him: `Sire, you are deceived as to the feeling in
France, as to the opinions of the towns, and the prejudices of
the army; he whom in Paris you call the Corsican ogre, who
at Nevers is styled the usurper, is already saluted as
Bonaparte at Lyons, and emperor at Grenoble. You think he
is tracked, pursued, captured; he is advancing as rapidly as
his own eagles. The soldiers you believe to be dying with
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
hunger, worn out with fatigue, ready to desert, gather like
atoms of snow about the rolling ball as it hastens onward.
Sire, go, leave France to its real master, to him who acquired
it, not by purchase, but by right of conquest; go, sire, not that
you incur any risk, for your adversary is powerful enough to
show you mercy, but because it would be humiliating for a
grandson of Saint Louis to owe his life to the man of Arcola,
Marengo, Austerlitz.' Tell him this, Gerard; or, rather, tell
him nothing. Keep your journey a secret; do not boast of
what you have come to Paris to do, or have done; return
with all speed; enter Marseilles at night, and your house by
the back-door, and there remain, quiet, submissive, secret,
and, above all, inoffensive; for this time, I swear to you, we
shall act like powerful men who know their enemies. Go, my
son -- go, my dear Gerard, and by your obedience to my
paternal orders, or, if you prefer it, friendly counsels, we will
keep you in your place. This will be," added Noirtier, with a
smile, "one means by which you may a second time save me,
if the political balance should some day take another turn,
and cast you aloft while hurling me down. Adieu, my dear
Gerard, and at your next journey alight at my door." Noirtier
left the room when he had finished, with the same calmness
that had characterized him during the whole of this
remarkable and trying conversation. Villefort, pale and
agitated, ran to the window, put aside the curtain, and saw
him pass, cool and collected, by two or three ill-looking men
at the corner of the street, who were there, perhaps, to arrest
a man with black whiskers, and a blue frock-coat, and hat
with broad brim.
Villefort stood watching, breathless, until his father had
disappeared at the Rue Bussy. Then he turned to the various
articles he had left behind him, put the black cravat and blue
frock-coat at the bottom of the portmanteau, threw the hat
into a dark closet, broke the cane into small bits and flung it
in the fire, put on his travelling-cap, and calling his valet,
checked with a look the thousand questions he was ready to
ask, paid his bill, sprang into his carriage, which was ready,
learned at Lyons that Bonaparte had entered Grenoble, and
in the midst of the tumult which prevailed along the road, at
length reached Marseilles, a prey to all the hopes and fears
which enter into the heart of man with ambition and its first
Chapter 13 The Hundred Days
. Noirtier was a true prophet, and things progressed
rapidly, as he had predicted. Every one knows the
history of the famous return from Elba, a return which was
unprecedented in the past, and will probably remain
without a counterpart in the future.
Louis XVIII. made but a faint attempt to parry this
unexpected blow; the monarchy he had scarcely
reconstructed tottered on its precarious foundation, and at a
sign from the emperor the incongruous structure of ancient
prejudices and new ideas fell to the ground. Villefort,
therefore, gained nothing save the king's gratitude (which
was rather likely to injure him at the present time) and the
cross of the Legion of Honor, which he had the prudence not
to wear, although M. de Blacas had duly forwarded the
Napoleon would, doubtless, have deprived Villefort of his
office had it not been for Noirtier, who was all powerful at
court, and thus the Girondin of '93 and the Senator of 1806
protected him who so lately had been his protector. All
Villefort's influence barely enabled him to stifle the secret
Dantes had so nearly divulged. The king's procureur alone
was deprived of his office, being suspected of royalism.
However, scarcely was the imperial power established -- that
is, scarcely had the emperor re-entered the Tuileries and
begun to issue orders from the closet into which we have
introduced our readers, -- he found on the table there Louis
XVIII.'s half-filled snuff-box, -- scarcely had this occurred
when Marseilles began, in spite of the authorities, to rekindle
the flames of civil war, always smouldering in the south, and
it required but little to excite the populace to acts of far
greater violence than the shouts and insults with which they
assailed the royalists whenever they ventured abroad.
Owing to this change, the worthy shipowner became at that
moment -- we will not say all powerful, because Morrel was
a prudent and rather a timid man, so much so, that many of
the most zealous partisans of Bonaparte accused him of
"moderation" -- but sufficiently influential to make a demand
in favor of Dantes.
Villefort retained his place, but his marriage was put off
until a more favorable opportunity. If the emperor remained
on the throne, Gerard required a different alliance to aid his
career; if Louis XVIII. returned, the influence of M. de
Saint-Meran, like his own, could be vastly increased, and the
marriage be still more suitable. The deputy-procureur was,
therefore, the first magistrate of Marseilles, when one
morning his door opened, and M. Morrel was announced.
Any one else would have hastened to receive him; but
Villefort was a man of ability, and he knew this would be a
sign of weakness. He made Morrel wait in the ante-chamber,
although he had no one with him, for the simple reason that
the king's procureur always makes every one wait, and after
passing a quarter of an hour in reading the papers, he
ordered M. Morrel to be admitted.
Morrel expected Villefort would be dejected; he found him
as he had found him six weeks before, calm, firm, and full of
that glacial politeness, that most insurmountable barrier
which separates the well-bred from the vulgar man.
He had entered Villefort's office expecting that the
magistrate would tremble at the sight of him; on the contrary,
he felt a cold shudder all over him when he saw Villefort
sitting there with his elbow on his desk, and his head leaning
on his hand. He stopped at the door; Villefort gazed at him
as if he had some difficulty in recognizing him; then, after a
brief interval, during which the honest shipowner turned his
hat in his hands, --
"M. Morrel, I believe?" said Villefort.
"Come nearer," said the magistrate, with a patronizing wave
of the hand, "and tell me to what circumstance I owe the
honor of this visit."
"Do you not guess, monsieur?" asked Morrel.
"Not in the least; but if I can serve you in any way I shall be
"Everything depends on you."
"Explain yourself, pray."
"Monsieur," said Morrel, recovering his assurance as he
proceeded, "do you recollect that a few days before the
landing of his majesty the emperor, I came to intercede for a
young man, the mate of my ship, who was accused of being
concerned in correspondence with the Island of Elba? What
was the other day a crime is to-day a title to favor. You then
served Louis XVIII., and you did not show any favor -- it
was your duty; to-day you serve Napoleon, and you ought
to protect him -- it is equally your duty; I come, therefore, to
ask what has become of him?"
Villefort by a strong effort sought to control himself. "What
is his name?" said he. "Tell me his name."
Villefort would probably have rather stood opposite the
muzzle of a pistol at five-and-twenty paces than have heard
this name spoken; but he did not blanch.
"Dantes," repeated he, "Edmond Dantes."
"Yes, monsieur." Villefort opened a large register, then went
to a table, from the table turned to his registers, and then,
turning to Morrel, --
"Are you quite sure you are not mistaken, monsieur?" said
he, in the most natural tone in the world.
Had Morrel been a more quick-sighted man, or better versed
in these matters, he would have been surprised at the king's
procureur answering him on such a subject, instead of
referring him to the governors of the prison or the prefect of
the department. But Morrel, disappointed in his expectations
of exciting fear, was conscious only of the other's
condescension. Villefort had calculated rightly.
"No," said Morrel; "I am not mistaken. I have known him for
ten years, the last four of which he was in my service. Do not
you recollect, I came about six weeks ago to plead for
clemency, as I come to-day to plead for justice. You received
me very coldly. Oh, the royalists were very severe with the
Bonapartists in those days."
"Monsieur," returned Villefort, "I was then a royalist, because
I believed the Bourbons not only the heirs to the throne, but
the chosen of the nation. The miraculous return of Napoleon
has conquered me, the legitimate monarch is he who is loved
by his people."
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
"That's right!" cried Morrel. "I like to hear you speak thus,
and I augur well for Edmond from it."
"Wait a moment," said Villefort, turning over the leaves of a
register; "I have it -- a sailor, who was about to marry a
young Catalan girl. I recollect now; it was a very serious
"You know that when he left here he was taken to the Palais
"I made my report to the authorities at Paris, and a week
after he was carried off."
"Carried off!" said Morrel. "What can they have done with
"Oh, he has been taken to Fenestrelles, to Pignerol, or to the
Sainte-Marguerite islands. Some fine morning he will return
to take command of your vessel."
"Come when he will, it shall be kept for him. But how is it he
is not already returned? It seems to me the first care of
government should be to set at liberty those who have
suffered for their adherence to it."
"Do not be too hasty, M. Morrel," replied Villefort. "The
order of imprisonment came from high authority, and the
order for his liberation must proceed from the same source;
and, as Napoleon has scarcely been reinstated a fortnight,
the letters have not yet been forwarded."
"But," said Morrel, "is there no way of expediting all these
formalities -- of releasing him from arrest?"
"There has been no arrest."
"It is sometimes essential to government to cause a man's
disappearance without leaving any traces, so that no written
forms or documents may defeat their wishes."
"It might be so under the Bourbons, but at present" --
"It has always been so, my dear Morrel, since the reign of
Louis XIV. The emperor is more strict in prison discipline
than even Louis himself, and the number of prisoners whose
names are not on the register is incalculable." Had Morrel
even any suspicions, so much kindness would have
"Well, M. de Villefort, how would you advise me to act?"
"Petition the minister."
"Oh, I know what that is; the minister receives two hundred
petitions every day, and does not read three."
"That is true; but he will read a petition countersigned and
presented by me."
"And will you undertake to deliver it?"
"With the greatest pleasure. Dantes was then guilty, and now
he is innocent, and it is as much my duty to free him as it
was to condemn him." Villefort thus forestalled any danger
of an inquiry, which, however improbable it might be, if it
did take place would leave him defenceless.
"But how shall I address the minister?"
"Sit down there," said Villefort, giving up his place to Morrel,
"and write what I dictate."
"Will you be so good?"
"Certainly. But lose no time; we have lost too much already."
"That is true. Only think what the poor fellow may even now
be suffering." Villefort shuddered at the suggestion; but he
had gone too far to draw back. Dantes must be crushed to
gratify Villefort's ambition.
Villefort dictated a petition, in which, from an excellent
intention, no doubt, Dantes' patriotic services were
exaggerated, and he was made out one of the most active
agents of Napoleon's return. It was evident that at the sight
of this document the minister would instantly release him.
The petition finished, Villefort read it aloud.
"That will do," said he; "leave the rest to me."
"Will the petition go soon?"
"Countersigned by you?"
"The best thing I can do will be to certify the truth of the
contents of your petition." And, sitting down, Villefort wrote
the certificate at the bottom.
"What more is to be done?"
"I will do whatever is necessary." This assurance delighted
Morrel, who took leave of Villefort, and hastened to
announce to old Dantes that he would soon see his son.
As for Villefort, instead of sending to Paris, he carefully
preserved the petition that so fearfully compromised Dantes,
in the hopes of an event that seemed not unlikely, -- that is, a
second restoration. Dantes remained a prisoner, and heard
not the noise of the fall of Louis XVIII.'s throne, or the still
more tragic destruction of the empire.
Twice during the Hundred Days had Morrel renewed his
demand, and twice had Villefort soothed him with promises.
At last there was Waterloo, and Morrel came no more; he
had done all that was in his power, and any fresh attempt
would only compromise himself uselessly.
Louis XVIII. remounted the throne; Villefort, to whom
Marseilles had become filled with remorseful memories,
sought and obtained the situation of king's procureur at
Toulouse, and a fortnight afterwards he married
Mademoiselle de Saint-Meran, whose father now stood
higher at court than ever.
And so Dantes, after the Hundred Days and after Waterloo,
remained in his dungeon, forgotten of earth and heaven.
Danglars comprehended the full extent of the wretched fate
that overwhelmed Dantes; and, when Napoleon returned to
France, he, after the manner of mediocre minds, termed the
coincidence, "a decree of Providence." But when Napoleon
returned to Paris, Danglars' heart failed him, and he lived in
constant fear of Dantes' return on a mission of vengeance.
He therefore informed M. Morrel of his wish to quit the sea,
and obtained a recommendation from him to a Spanish
merchant, into whose service he entered at the end of March,
that is, ten or twelve days after Napoleon's return. He then
left for Madrid, and was no more heard of.
Fernand understood nothing except that Dantes was absent.
What had become of him he cared not to inquire. Only,
during the respite the absence of his rival afforded him, he
reflected, partly on the means of deceiving Mercedes as to
the cause of his absence, partly on plans of emigration and
abduction, as from time to time he sat sad and motionless on
the summit of Cape Pharo, at the spot from whence
Marseilles and the Catalans are visible, watching for the
apparition of a young and handsome man, who was for him
also the messenger of vengeance. Fernand's mind was made
up; he would shoot Dantes, and then kill himself. But
Fernand was mistaken; a man of his disposition never kills
himself, for he constantly hopes.
During this time the empire made its last conscription, and
every man in France capable of bearing arms rushed to obey
the summons of the emperor. Fernand departed with the rest,
bearing with him the terrible thought that while he was
away, his rival would perhaps return and marry Mercedes.
Had Fernand really meant to kill himself, he would have
done so when he parted from Mercedes. His devotion, and
the compassion he showed for her misfortunes, produced
the effect they always produce on noble minds -- Mercedes
had always had a sincere regard for Fernand, and this was
now strengthened by gratitude.
"My brother," said she as she placed his knapsack on his
shoulders, "be careful of yourself, for if you are killed, I shall
be alone in the world." These words carried a ray of hope
into Fernand's heart. Should Dantes not return, Mercedes
might one day be his.
Mercedes was left alone face to face with the vast plain that
had never seemed so barren, and the sea that had never
seemed so vast. Bathed in tears she wandered about the
Catalan village. Sometimes she stood mute and motionless
as a statue, looking towards Marseilles, at other times gazing
on the sea, and debating as to whether it were not better to
cast herself into the abyss of the ocean, and thus end her
woes. It was not want of courage that prevented her putting
this resolution into execution; but her religious feelings came
to her aid and saved her. Caderousse was, like Fernand,
enrolled in the army, but, being married and eight years
older, he was merely sent to the frontier. Old Dantes, who
was only sustained by hope, lost all hope at Napoleon's
downfall. Five months after he had been separated from his
son, and almost at the hour of his arrest, he breathed his last
in Mercedes' arms. M. Morrel paid the expenses of his
funeral, and a few small debts the poor old man had
There was more than benevolence in this action; there was
courage; the south was aflame, and to assist, even on his
death-bed, the father of so dangerous a Bonapartist as
Dantes, was stigmatized as a crime.
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Chapter 14 The Two Prisoners
year after Louis XVIII.'s restoration, a visit was made by
the inspector-general of prisons. Dantes in his cell
heard the noise of preparation, -- sounds that at the depth
where he lay would have been inaudible to any but the ear
of a prisoner, who could hear the plash of the drop of water
that every hour fell from the roof of his dungeon. He
guessed something uncommon was passing among the
living; but he had so long ceased to have any intercourse
with the world, that he looked upon himself as dead.
The inspector visited, one after another, the cells and
dungeons of several of the prisoners, whose good behavior
or stupidity recommended them to the clemency of the
government. He inquired how they were fed, and if they had
any request to make. The universal response was, that the
fare was detestable, and that they wanted to be set free.
The inspector asked if they had anything else to ask for.
They shook their heads. What could they desire beyond their
liberty? The inspector turned smilingly to the governor.
"I do not know what reason government can assign for these
useless visits; when you see one prisoner, you see all, --
always the same thing, -- ill fed and innocent. Are there any
"Yes; the dangerous and mad prisoners are in the dungeons."
"Let us visit them," said the inspector with an air of fatigue.
"We must play the farce to the end. Let us see the dungeons."
"Let us first send for two soldiers," said the governor. "The
prisoners sometimes, through mere uneasiness of life, and in
order to be sentenced to death, commit acts of useless
violence, and you might fall a victim."
"Take all needful precautions," replied the inspector.
Two soldiers were accordingly sent for, and the inspector
descended a stairway, so foul, so humid, so dark, as to be
loathsome to sight, smell, and respiration.
"Oh," cried the inspector, "who can live here?"
"A most dangerous conspirator, a man we are ordered to
keep the most strict watch over, as he is daring and resolute."
"He is alone?"
"How long has he been there?"
"Nearly a year."
"Was he placed here when he first arrived?"
"No; not until he attempted to kill the turnkey, who took his
food to him."
"To kill the turnkey?"
"Yes, the very one who is lighting us. Is it not true, Antoine?"
asked the governor.
"True enough; he wanted to kill me!" returned the turnkey.
"He must be mad," said the inspector.
"He is worse than that, -- he is a devil!" returned the turnkey.
"Shall I complain of him?" demanded the inspector.
"Oh, no; it is useless. Besides, he is almost mad now, and in
another year he will be quite so."
"So much the better for him, -- he will suffer less," said the
inspector. He was, as this remark shows, a man full of
philanthropy, and in every way fit for his office.
"You are right, sir," replied the governor; "and this remark
proves that you have deeply considered the subject. Now we
have in a dungeon about twenty feet distant, and to which
you descend by another stair, an abbe, formerly leader of a
party in Italy, who has been here since 1811, and in 1813 he
went mad, and the change is astonishing. He used to weep,
he now laughs; he grew thin, he now grows fat. You had
better see him, for his madness is amusing."
"I will see them both," returned the inspector; "I must
conscientiously perform my duty." This was the inspector's
first visit; he wished to display his authority.
"Let us visit this one first," added he.
"By all means," replied the governor, and he signed to the
turnkey to open the door. At the sound of the key turning in
the lock, and the creaking of the hinges, Dantes, who was
crouched in a corner of the dungeon, whence he could see
the ray of light that came through a narrow iron grating
above, raised his head. Seeing a stranger, escorted by two
turnkeys holding torches and accompanied by two soldiers,
and to whom the governor spoke bareheaded, Dantes, who
guessed the truth, and that the moment to address himself to
the superior authorities was come, sprang forward with
The soldiers interposed their bayonets, for they thought that
he was about to attack the inspector, and the latter recoiled
two or three steps. Dantes saw that he was looked upon as
dangerous. Then, infusing all the humility he possessed into
his eyes and voice, he addressed the inspector, and sought to
inspire him with pity.
The inspector listened attentively; then, turning to the
governor, observed, "He will become religious -- he is
already more gentle; he is afraid, and retreated before the
bayonets -- madmen are not afraid of anything; I made some
curious observations on this at Charenton." Then, turning to
the prisoner, "What is it you want?" said he.
"I want to know what crime I have committed -- to be tried;
and if I am guilty, to be shot; if innocent, to be set at liberty."
"Are you well fed?" said the inspector.
"I believe so; I don't know; it's of no consequence. What
matters really, not only to me, but to officers of justice and
the king, is that an innocent man should languish in prison,
the victim of an infamous denunciation, to die here cursing
"You are very humble to-day," remarked the governor; "you
are not so always; the other day, for instance, when you tried
to kill the turnkey."
"It is true, sir, and I beg his pardon, for he has always been
very good to me, but I was mad."
"And you are not so any longer?"
"No; captivity has subdued me -- I have been here so long."
"So long? -- when were you arrested, then?" asked the
"The 28th of February, 1815, at half-past two in the
"To-day is the 30th of July, 1816, -- why it is but seventeen
"Only seventeen months," replied Dantes. "Oh, you do not
know what is seventeen months in prison! -- seventeen ages
rather, especially to a man who, like me, had arrived at the
summit of his ambition -- to a man, who, like me, was on the
point of marrying a woman he adored, who saw an
honorable career opened before him, and who loses all in an
instant -- who sees his prospects destroyed, and is ignorant
of the fate of his affianced wife, and whether his aged father
be still living! Seventeen months captivity to a sailor
accustomed to the boundless ocean, is a worse punishment
than human crime ever merited. Have pity on me, then, and
ask for me, not intelligence, but a trial; not pardon, but a
verdict -- a trial, sir, I ask only for a trial; that, surely, cannot
be denied to one who is accused!"
"We shall see," said the inspector; then, turning to the
governor, "On my word, the poor devil touches me. You
must show me the proofs against him."
"Certainly; but you will find terrible charges."
"Monsieur," continued Dantes, "I know it is not in your
power to release me; but you can plead for me -- you can
have me tried -- and that is all I ask. Let me know my crime,
and the reason why I was condemned. Uncertainty is worse
"Go on with the lights," said the inspector.
"Monsieur," cried Dantes, "I can tell by your voice you are
touched with pity; tell me at least to hope."
"I cannot tell you that," replied the inspector; "I can only
promise to examine into your case."
"Oh, I am free -- then I am saved!"
"Who arrested you?"
"M. Villefort. See him, and hear what he says."
"M. Villefort is no longer at Marseilles; he is now at
"I am no longer surprised at my detention," murmured
Dantes, "since my only protector is removed."
"Had M. de Villefort any cause of personal dislike to you?"
"None; on the contrary, he was very kind to me."
"I can, then, rely on the notes he has left concerning you?"
"That is well; wait patiently, then." Dantes fell on his knees,
and prayed earnestly. The door closed; but this time a fresh
inmate was left with Dantes -- hope.
"Will you see the register at once," asked the governor, "or
proceed to the other cell?"
"Let us visit them all," said the inspector. "If I once went up
those stairs. I should never have the courage to come down
"Ah, this one is not like the other, and his madness is less
affecting than this one's display of reason."
"What is his folly?"
"He fancies he possesses an immense treasure. The first year
he offered government a million of francs for his release; the
second, two; the third, three; and so on progressively. He is
now in his fifth year of captivity; he will ask to speak to you
in private, and offer you five millions."
"How curious! -- what is his name?"
"The Abbe Faria."
"No. 27," said the inspector.
"It is here; unlock the door, Antoine." The turnkey obeyed,
and the inspector gazed curiously into the chamber of the
In the centre of the cell, in a circle traced with a fragment of
plaster detached from the wall, sat a man whose tattered
garments scarcely covered him. He was drawing in this
circle geometrical lines, and seemed as much absorbed in his
problem as Archimedes was when the soldier of Marcellus
He did not move at the sound of the door, and continued his
calculations until the flash of the torches lighted up with an
unwonted glare the sombre walls of his cell; then, raising his
head, he perceived with astonishment the number of persons
present. He hastily seized the coverlet of his bed, and
wrapped it round him.
"What is it you want?" said the inspector.
"I, monsieur," replied the abbe with an air of surprise -- "I
"You do not understand," continued the inspector; "I am sent
here by government to visit the prison, and hear the requests
of the prisoners."
"Oh, that is different," cried the abbe; "and we shall
understand each other, I hope."
"There, now," whispered the governor, "it is just as I told
"Monsieur," continued the prisoner, "I am the Abbe Faria,
born at Rome. I was for twenty years Cardinal Spada's
secretary; I was arrested, why, I know not, toward the
beginning of the year 1811; since then I have demanded my
liberty from the Italian and French government."
"Why from the French government?"
"Because I was arrested at Piombino, and I presume that, like
Milan and Florence, Piombino has become the capital of
some French department."
"Ah," said the inspector, "you have not the latest news from
"My information dates from the day on which I was
arrested," returned the Abbe Faria; "and as the emperor had
created the kingdom of Rome for his infant son, I presume
that he has realized the dream of Machiavelli and Caesar
Borgia, which was to make Italy a united kingdom."
"Monsieur," returned the inspector, "providence has changed
this gigantic plan you advocate so warmly."
"It is the only means of rendering Italy strong, happy, and
"Very possibly; only I am not come to discuss politics, but to
inquire if you have anything to ask or to complain of."
"The food is the same as in other prisons, -- that is, very bad;
the lodging is very unhealthful, but, on the whole, passable
for a dungeon; but it is not that which I wish to speak of, but
a secret I have to reveal of the greatest importance."
"We are coming to the point," whispered the governor.
"It is for that reason I am delighted to see you," continued
the abbe, "although you have disturbed me in a most
important calculation, which, if it succeeded, would possibly
change Newton's system. Could you allow me a few words
"What did I tell you?" said the governor.
"You knew him," returned the inspector with a smile.
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