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Chapter 12 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Written by AlexandreDumas

Father and Son

        M. 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 antechamber, 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 antechamber door, then that of the bedchamber, and then extended his hand to Villefort, who had followed all his motions with surprise which he could not conceal.

        “Well, now, my dear Gérard,” 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 Gérard, 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 be interesting.”

        “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 delay.”

        “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 me?”

        “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 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 thus, 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; tomorrow, perchance, it will be our turn.’”

        “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?”

        “We do.”

        “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 Gérard, 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 ambition.”

        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 more.”

        “Say on.”

        “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 house.”

        “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-Héron.”

        “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 care.”

        “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?”

        “Perhaps.”

        “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 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, Gérard; 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 Gérard, 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 Gérard, 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 successes.

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Chapter 12 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Written by AlexandreDumas
Father and Son
        M. 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 antechamber, 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 antechamber door, then that of the bedchamber, and then extended his hand to Villefort, who had followed all his motions with surprise which he could not conceal.
        “Well, now, my dear Gérard,” 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 Gérard, 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 be interesting.”
        “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 delay.”
        “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 me?”
        “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 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 thus, 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; tomorrow, perchance, it will be our turn.’”
        “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?”
        “We do.”
        “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 Gérard, 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 ambition.”
        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 more.”
        “Say on.”
        “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 house.”
        “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-Héron.”
        “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 care.”
        “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?”
        “Perhaps.”
        “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 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, Gérard; 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 Gérard, 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 Gérard, 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 successes.
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Chapter 11 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Written by AlexandreDumas

The Corsican Ogre

        At the sight of this agitation Louis XVIII. pushed from him violently the table at which he was sitting.

        “What ails you, baron?” he exclaimed. “You appear quite aghast. Has your uneasiness anything to do with what M. de Blacas has told me, and M. de Villefort has just confirmed?” M. de Blacas moved suddenly towards the baron, but the fright of the courtier pleaded for the forbearance of the statesman; and besides, as matters were, it was much more to his advantage that the prefect of police should triumph over him than that he should humiliate the prefect.

        “Sire”—stammered the baron.

        “Well, what is it?” asked Louis XVIII. The minister of police, giving way to an impulse of despair, was about to throw himself at the feet of Louis XVIII., who retreated a step and frowned.

        “Will you speak?” he said.

        “Oh, sire, what a dreadful misfortune! I am, indeed, to be pitied. I can never forgive myself!”

        “Monsieur,” said Louis XVIII., “I command you to speak.”

        “Well, sire, the usurper left Elba on the 26th February, and landed on the 1st of March.”

        “And where? In Italy?” asked the king eagerly.

        “In France, sire,—at a small port, near Antibes, in the Gulf of Juan.”

        “The usurper landed in France, near Antibes, in the Gulf of Juan, two hundred and fifty leagues from Paris, on the 1st of March, and you only acquired this information today, the 3rd of March! Well, sir, what you tell me is impossible. You must have received a false report, or you have gone mad.”

        “Alas, sire, it is but too true!” Louis made a gesture of indescribable anger and alarm, and then drew himself up as if this sudden blow had struck him at the same moment in heart and countenance.

        “In France!” he cried, “the usurper in France! Then they did not watch over this man. Who knows? they were, perhaps, in league with him.”

        “Oh, sire,” exclaimed the Duc de Blacas, “M. Dandré is not a man to be accused of treason! Sire, we have all been blind, and the minister of police has shared the general blindness, that is all.”

        “But”—said Villefort, and then suddenly checking himself, he was silent; then he continued, “Your pardon, sire,” he said, bowing, “my zeal carried me away. Will your majesty deign to excuse me?”

        “Speak, sir, speak boldly,” replied Louis. “You alone forewarned us of the evil; now try and aid us with the remedy.”

        “Sire,” said Villefort, “the usurper is detested in the south; and it seems to me that if he ventured into the south, it would be easy to raise Languedoc and Provence against him.”

        “Yes, assuredly,” replied the minister; “but he is advancing by Gap and Sisteron.”

        “Advancing—he is advancing!” said Louis XVIII. “Is he then advancing on Paris?” The minister of police maintained a silence which was equivalent to a complete avowal.

        “And Dauphiné, sir?” inquired the king, of Villefort. “Do you think it possible to rouse that as well as Provence?”

        “Sire, I am sorry to tell your majesty a cruel fact; but the feeling in Dauphiné is quite the reverse of that in Provence or Languedoc. The mountaineers are Bonapartists, sire.”

        “Then,” murmured Louis, “he was well informed. And how many men had he with him?”

        “I do not know, sire,” answered the minister of police.

        “What, you do not know! Have you neglected to obtain information on that point? Of course it is of no consequence,” he added, with a withering smile.

        “Sire, it was impossible to learn; the despatch simply stated the fact of the landing and the route taken by the usurper.”

        “And how did this despatch reach you?” inquired the king. The minister bowed his head, and while a deep color overspread his cheeks, he stammered out,—

        “By the telegraph, sire.”—Louis XVIII. advanced a step, and folded his arms over his chest as Napoleon would have done.

        “So then,” he exclaimed, turning pale with anger, “seven conjoined and allied armies overthrew that man. A miracle of heaven replaced me on the throne of my fathers after five-and-twenty years of exile. I have, during those five-and-twenty years, spared no pains to understand the people of France and the interests which were confided to me; and now, when I see the fruition of my wishes almost within reach, the power I hold in my hands bursts and shatters me to atoms!”

        “Sire, it is fatality!” murmured the minister, feeling that the pressure of circumstances, however light a thing to destiny, was too much for any human strength to endure.

        “What our enemies say of us is then true. We have learnt nothing, forgotten nothing! If I were betrayed as he was, I would console myself; but to be in the midst of persons elevated by myself to places of honor, who ought to watch over me more carefully than over themselves,—for my fortune is theirs—before me they were nothing—after me they will be nothing, and perish miserably from incapacity—ineptitude! Oh, yes, sir, you are right—it is fatality!”

        The minister quailed before this outburst of sarcasm. M. de Blacas wiped the moisture from his brow. Villefort smiled within himself, for he felt his increased importance.

        “To fall,” continued King Louis, who at the first glance had sounded the abyss on which the monarchy hung suspended,—“to fall, and learn of that fall by telegraph! Oh, I would rather mount the scaffold of my brother, Louis XVI., than thus descend the staircase at the Tuileries driven away by ridicule. Ridicule, sir—why, you know not its power in France, and yet you ought to know it!”

        “Sire, sire,” murmured the minister, “for pity’s——”

        “Approach, M. de Villefort,” resumed the king, addressing the young man, who, motionless and breathless, was listening to a conversation on which depended the destiny of a kingdom. “Approach, and tell monsieur that it is possible to know beforehand all that he has not known.”

        “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 modest triumph.

        “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 hour before.

        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 Dandré 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 Dantès 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 Saint-Jacques?”

        “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 today 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, Villefort trembled.

        “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 known?”

        “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 moustache. 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-Héron.” Villefort leaned on the back of an armchair, 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 breathed again.

        “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 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 officer’s cross.”

        “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 quitted Paris.”

        “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, remain.”

        “Ah, sir,” said the minister of police to Villefort, as they left the Tuileries, “you entered by luck’s door—your fortune is made.”

        “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 ambition.

        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 someone speak his name.

        “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 for me?”

        “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.”

        “To me?”

        “Yes.”

        “Did he mention my name?”

        “Yes.”

        “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 eyebrows.”

        “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 Gérard, 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.

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Chapter 11 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Written by AlexandreDumas
The Corsican Ogre
        At the sight of this agitation Louis XVIII. pushed from him violently the table at which he was sitting.
        “What ails you, baron?” he exclaimed. “You appear quite aghast. Has your uneasiness anything to do with what M. de Blacas has told me, and M. de Villefort has just confirmed?” M. de Blacas moved suddenly towards the baron, but the fright of the courtier pleaded for the forbearance of the statesman; and besides, as matters were, it was much more to his advantage that the prefect of police should triumph over him than that he should humiliate the prefect.
        “Sire”—stammered the baron.
        “Well, what is it?” asked Louis XVIII. The minister of police, giving way to an impulse of despair, was about to throw himself at the feet of Louis XVIII., who retreated a step and frowned.
        “Will you speak?” he said.
        “Oh, sire, what a dreadful misfortune! I am, indeed, to be pitied. I can never forgive myself!”
        “Monsieur,” said Louis XVIII., “I command you to speak.”
        “Well, sire, the usurper left Elba on the 26th February, and landed on the 1st of March.”
        “And where? In Italy?” asked the king eagerly.
        “In France, sire,—at a small port, near Antibes, in the Gulf of Juan.”
        “The usurper landed in France, near Antibes, in the Gulf of Juan, two hundred and fifty leagues from Paris, on the 1st of March, and you only acquired this information today, the 3rd of March! Well, sir, what you tell me is impossible. You must have received a false report, or you have gone mad.”
        “Alas, sire, it is but too true!” Louis made a gesture of indescribable anger and alarm, and then drew himself up as if this sudden blow had struck him at the same moment in heart and countenance.
        “In France!” he cried, “the usurper in France! Then they did not watch over this man. Who knows? they were, perhaps, in league with him.”
        “Oh, sire,” exclaimed the Duc de Blacas, “M. Dandré is not a man to be accused of treason! Sire, we have all been blind, and the minister of police has shared the general blindness, that is all.”
        “But”—said Villefort, and then suddenly checking himself, he was silent; then he continued, “Your pardon, sire,” he said, bowing, “my zeal carried me away. Will your majesty deign to excuse me?”
        “Speak, sir, speak boldly,” replied Louis. “You alone forewarned us of the evil; now try and aid us with the remedy.”
        “Sire,” said Villefort, “the usurper is detested in the south; and it seems to me that if he ventured into the south, it would be easy to raise Languedoc and Provence against him.”
        “Yes, assuredly,” replied the minister; “but he is advancing by Gap and Sisteron.”
        “Advancing—he is advancing!” said Louis XVIII. “Is he then advancing on Paris?” The minister of police maintained a silence which was equivalent to a complete avowal.
        “And Dauphiné, sir?” inquired the king, of Villefort. “Do you think it possible to rouse that as well as Provence?”
        “Sire, I am sorry to tell your majesty a cruel fact; but the feeling in Dauphiné is quite the reverse of that in Provence or Languedoc. The mountaineers are Bonapartists, sire.”
        “Then,” murmured Louis, “he was well informed. And how many men had he with him?”
        “I do not know, sire,” answered the minister of police.
        “What, you do not know! Have you neglected to obtain information on that point? Of course it is of no consequence,” he added, with a withering smile.
        “Sire, it was impossible to learn; the despatch simply stated the fact of the landing and the route taken by the usurper.”
        “And how did this despatch reach you?” inquired the king. The minister bowed his head, and while a deep color overspread his cheeks, he stammered out,—
        “By the telegraph, sire.”—Louis XVIII. advanced a step, and folded his arms over his chest as Napoleon would have done.
        “So then,” he exclaimed, turning pale with anger, “seven conjoined and allied armies overthrew that man. A miracle of heaven replaced me on the throne of my fathers after five-and-twenty years of exile. I have, during those five-and-twenty years, spared no pains to understand the people of France and the interests which were confided to me; and now, when I see the fruition of my wishes almost within reach, the power I hold in my hands bursts and shatters me to atoms!”
        “Sire, it is fatality!” murmured the minister, feeling that the pressure of circumstances, however light a thing to destiny, was too much for any human strength to endure.
        “What our enemies say of us is then true. We have learnt nothing, forgotten nothing! If I were betrayed as he was, I would console myself; but to be in the midst of persons elevated by myself to places of honor, who ought to watch over me more carefully than over themselves,—for my fortune is theirs—before me they were nothing—after me they will be nothing, and perish miserably from incapacity—ineptitude! Oh, yes, sir, you are right—it is fatality!”
        The minister quailed before this outburst of sarcasm. M. de Blacas wiped the moisture from his brow. Villefort smiled within himself, for he felt his increased importance.
        “To fall,” continued King Louis, who at the first glance had sounded the abyss on which the monarchy hung suspended,—“to fall, and learn of that fall by telegraph! Oh, I would rather mount the scaffold of my brother, Louis XVI., than thus descend the staircase at the Tuileries driven away by ridicule. Ridicule, sir—why, you know not its power in France, and yet you ought to know it!”
        “Sire, sire,” murmured the minister, “for pity’s——”
        “Approach, M. de Villefort,” resumed the king, addressing the young man, who, motionless and breathless, was listening to a conversation on which depended the destiny of a kingdom. “Approach, and tell monsieur that it is possible to know beforehand all that he has not known.”
        “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 modest triumph.
        “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 hour before.
        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 Dandré 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 Dantès 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 Saint-Jacques?”
        “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 today 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, Villefort trembled.
        “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 known?”
        “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 moustache. 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-Héron.” Villefort leaned on the back of an armchair, 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 breathed again.
        “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 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 officer’s cross.”
        “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 quitted Paris.”
        “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, remain.”
        “Ah, sir,” said the minister of police to Villefort, as they left the Tuileries, “you entered by luck’s door—your fortune is made.”
        “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 ambition.
        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 someone speak his name.
        “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 for me?”
        “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.”
        “To me?”
        “Yes.”
        “Did he mention my name?”
        “Yes.”
        “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 eyebrows.”
        “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 Gérard, 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.
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Chapter 9 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Written by AlexandreDumas

The Evening of the Betrothal

         Villefort had, as we have said, hastened back to Madame de Saint-Méran's in the Place du Grand Cours, and on entering the house found that the guests whom he had left at table were taking coffee in the salon. Renée was, with all the rest of the company, anxiously awaiting him, and his entrance was followed by a general exclamation.

        "Well, Decapitator, Guardian of the State, Royalist, Brutus, what is the matter?" said one. "Speak out."

        "Are we threatened with a fresh Reign of Terror?" asked another.

        "Has the Corsican ogre broken loose?" cried a third.

        "Marquise," said Villefort, approaching his future mother-in-law, "I request your pardon for thus leaving you. Will the marquis honor me by a few moments' private conversation?"

        "Ah, it is really a serious matter, then?" asked the marquis, remarking the cloud on Villefort's brow.

        "So serious that I must take leave of you for a few days; so," added he, turning to Renée, "judge for yourself if it be not important."

        "You are going to leave us?" cried Renée, unable to hide her emotion at this unexpected announcement.

        "Alas," returned Villefort, "I must!"

        "Where, then, are you going?" asked the marquise.

        "That, madame, is an official secret; but if you have any commissions for Paris, a friend of mine is going there tonight, and will with pleasure undertake them." The guests looked at each other.

        "You wish to speak to me alone?" said the marquis.

        "Yes, let us go to the library, please." The marquis took his arm, and they left the salon.

        "Well," asked he, as soon as they were by themselves, "tell me what it is?"

        "An affair of the greatest importance, that demands my immediate presence in Paris. Now, excuse the indiscretion, marquis, but have you any landed property?"

        "All my fortune is in the funds; seven or eight hundred thousand francs."

        "Then sell out—sell out, marquis, or you will lose it all."

         "But how can I sell out here?"

        "You have a broker, have you not?"

        "Yes."

        "Then give me a letter to him, and tell him to sell out without an instant's delay, perhaps even now I shall arrive too late."

        "The deuce you say!" replied the marquis, "let us lose no time, then!"

        And, sitting down, he wrote a letter to his broker, ordering him to sell out at the market price.

        "Now, then," said Villefort, placing the letter in his pocketbook, "I must have another!"

        "To whom?"

        "To the king."

        "To the king?"

        "Yes."

        "I dare not write to his majesty."

        "I do not ask you to write to his majesty, but ask M. de Salvieux to do so. I want a letter that will enable me to reach the king's presence without all the formalities of demanding an audience; that would occasion a loss of precious time."

        "But address yourself to the keeper of the seals; he has the right of entry at the Tuileries, and can procure you audience at any hour of the day or night."

        "Doubtless; but there is no occasion to divide the honors of my discovery with him. The keeper would leave me in the background, and take all the glory to himself. I tell you, marquis, my fortune is made if I only reach the Tuileries the first, for the king will not forget the service I do him."

        "In that case go and get ready. I will call Salvieux and make him write the letter."

        "Be as quick as possible, I must be on the road in a quarter of an hour."

        "Tell your coachman to stop at the door."

        "You will present my excuses to the marquise and Mademoiselle Renée, whom I leave on such a day with great regret."

        "You will find them both here, and can make your farewells in person."

        "A thousand thanks—and now for the letter."

        The marquis rang, a servant entered.

        "Say to the Comte de Salvieux that I would like to see him."

        "Now, then, go," said the marquis.

        "I shall be gone only a few moments."

        Villefort hastily quitted the apartment, but reflecting that the sight of the deputy procureur running through the streets would be enough to throw the whole city into confusion, he resumed his ordinary pace. At his door he perceived a figure in the shadow that seemed to wait for him. It was Mercédès, who, hearing no news of her lover, had come unobserved to inquire after him.

        As Villefort drew near, she advanced and stood before him. Dantès had spoken of Mercédès, and Villefort instantly recognized her. Her beauty and high bearing surprised him, and when she inquired what had become of her lover, it seemed to him that she was the judge, and he the accused.

        "The young man you speak of," said Villefort abruptly, "is a great criminal, and I can do nothing for him, mademoiselle." Mercédès burst into tears, and, as Villefort strove to pass her, again addressed him.

        "But, at least, tell me where he is, that I may know whether he is alive or dead," said she.

        "I do not know; he is no longer in my hands," replied Villefort.

And desirous of putting an end to the interview, he pushed by her, and closed the door, as if to exclude the pain he felt. But remorse is not thus banished; like Virgil's wounded hero, he carried the arrow in his wound, and, arrived at the salon, Villefort uttered a sigh that was almost a sob, and sank into a chair.

        Then the first pangs of an unending torture seized upon his heart. The man he sacrificed to his ambition, that innocent victim immolated on the altar of his father's faults, appeared to him pale and threatening, leading his affianced bride by the hand, and bringing with him remorse, not such as the ancients figured, furious and terrible, but that slow and consuming agony whose pangs are intensified from hour to hour up to the very moment of death. Then he had a moment's hesitation. He had frequently called for capital punishment on criminals, and owing to his irresistible eloquence they had been condemned, and yet the slightest shadow of remorse had never clouded Villefort's brow, because they were guilty; at least, he believed so; but here was an innocent man whose happiness he had destroyed: in this case he was not the judge, but the executioner.

        As he thus reflected, he felt the sensation we have described, and which had hitherto been unknown to him, arise in his bosom, and fill him with vague apprehensions. It is thus that a wounded man trembles instinctively at the approach of the finger to his wound until it be healed, but Villefort's was one of those that never close, or if they do, only close to reopen more agonizing than ever. If at this moment the sweet voice of Renée had sounded in his ears pleading for mercy, or the fair Mercédès had entered and said, "In the name of God, I conjure you to restore me my affianced husband," his cold and trembling hands would have signed his release; but no voice broke the stillness of the chamber, and the door was opened only by Villefort's valet, who came to tell him that the travelling carriage was in readiness.

        Villefort rose, or rather sprang, from his chair, hastily opened one of the drawers of his desk, emptied all the gold it contained into his pocket, stood motionless an instant, his hand pressed to his head, muttered a few inarticulate sounds, and then, perceiving that his servant had placed his cloak on his shoulders, he sprang into the carriage, ordering the postilions to drive to M. de Saint-Méran's. The hapless Dantès was doomed.

        As the marquis had promised, Villefort found the marquise and Renée in waiting. He started when he saw Renée, for he fancied she was again about to plead for Dantès. Alas, her emotions were wholly personal: she was thinking only of Villefort's departure.

        She loved Villefort, and he left her at the moment he was about to become her husband. Villefort knew not when he should return, and Renée, far from pleading for Dantès, hated the man whose crime separated her from her lover.

         Meanwhile what of Mercédès? She had met Fernand at the corner of the Rue de la Loge; she had returned to the Catalans, and had despairingly cast herself on her couch. Fernand, kneeling by her side, took her hand, and covered it with kisses that Mercédès did not even feel. She passed the night thus. The lamp went out for want of oil, but she paid no heed to the darkness, and dawn came, but she knew not that it was day. Grief had made her blind to all but one object—that was Edmond.

        "Ah, you are there," said she, at length, turning towards Fernand.

        "I have not quitted you since yesterday," returned Fernand sorrowfully.

        M. Morrel had not readily given up the fight. He had learned that Dantès had been taken to prison, and he had gone to all his friends, and the influential persons of the city; but the report was already in circulation that Dantès was arrested as a Bonapartist agent; and as the most sanguine looked upon any attempt of Napoleon to remount the throne as impossible, he met with nothing but refusal, and had returned home in despair, declaring that the matter was serious and that nothing more could be done.

        Caderousse was equally restless and uneasy, but instead of seeking, like M. Morrel, to aid Dantès, he had shut himself up with two bottles of black currant brandy, in the hope of drowning reflection. But he did not succeed, and became too intoxicated to fetch any more drink, and yet not so intoxicated as to forget what had happened. With his elbows on the table he sat between the two empty bottles, while spectres danced in the light of the unsnuffed candle—spectres such as Hoffmann strews over his punch-drenched pages, like black, fantastic dust.

        Danglars alone was content and joyous—he had got rid of an enemy and made his own situation on the Pharaon secure. Danglars was one of those men born with a pen behind the ear, and an inkstand in place of a heart. Everything with him was multiplication or subtraction. The life of a man was to him of far less value than a numeral, especially when, by taking it away, he could increase the sum total of his own desires. He went to bed at his usual hour, and slept in peace.

        Villefort, after having received M. de Salvieux's letter, embraced Renée, kissed the marquise's hand, and shaken that of the marquis, started for Paris along the Aix road.

        Old Dantès was dying with anxiety to know what had become of Edmond. But we know very well what had become of Edmond.

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Chapter 9 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Written by AlexandreDumas
The Evening of the Betrothal
         Villefort had, as we have said, hastened back to Madame de Saint-Méran's in the Place du Grand Cours, and on entering the house found that the guests whom he had left at table were taking coffee in the salon. Renée was, with all the rest of the company, anxiously awaiting him, and his entrance was followed by a general exclamation.
        "Well, Decapitator, Guardian of the State, Royalist, Brutus, what is the matter?" said one. "Speak out."
        "Are we threatened with a fresh Reign of Terror?" asked another.
        "Has the Corsican ogre broken loose?" cried a third.
        "Marquise," said Villefort, approaching his future mother-in-law, "I request your pardon for thus leaving you. Will the marquis honor me by a few moments' private conversation?"
        "Ah, it is really a serious matter, then?" asked the marquis, remarking the cloud on Villefort's brow.
        "So serious that I must take leave of you for a few days; so," added he, turning to Renée, "judge for yourself if it be not important."
        "You are going to leave us?" cried Renée, unable to hide her emotion at this unexpected announcement.
        "Alas," returned Villefort, "I must!"
        "Where, then, are you going?" asked the marquise.
        "That, madame, is an official secret; but if you have any commissions for Paris, a friend of mine is going there tonight, and will with pleasure undertake them." The guests looked at each other.
        "You wish to speak to me alone?" said the marquis.
        "Yes, let us go to the library, please." The marquis took his arm, and they left the salon.
        "Well," asked he, as soon as they were by themselves, "tell me what it is?"
        "An affair of the greatest importance, that demands my immediate presence in Paris. Now, excuse the indiscretion, marquis, but have you any landed property?"
        "All my fortune is in the funds; seven or eight hundred thousand francs."
        "Then sell out—sell out, marquis, or you will lose it all."
         "But how can I sell out here?"
        "You have a broker, have you not?"
        "Yes."
        "Then give me a letter to him, and tell him to sell out without an instant's delay, perhaps even now I shall arrive too late."
        "The deuce you say!" replied the marquis, "let us lose no time, then!"
        And, sitting down, he wrote a letter to his broker, ordering him to sell out at the market price.
        "Now, then," said Villefort, placing the letter in his pocketbook, "I must have another!"
        "To whom?"
        "To the king."
        "To the king?"
        "Yes."
        "I dare not write to his majesty."
        "I do not ask you to write to his majesty, but ask M. de Salvieux to do so. I want a letter that will enable me to reach the king's presence without all the formalities of demanding an audience; that would occasion a loss of precious time."
        "But address yourself to the keeper of the seals; he has the right of entry at the Tuileries, and can procure you audience at any hour of the day or night."
        "Doubtless; but there is no occasion to divide the honors of my discovery with him. The keeper would leave me in the background, and take all the glory to himself. I tell you, marquis, my fortune is made if I only reach the Tuileries the first, for the king will not forget the service I do him."
        "In that case go and get ready. I will call Salvieux and make him write the letter."
        "Be as quick as possible, I must be on the road in a quarter of an hour."
        "Tell your coachman to stop at the door."
        "You will present my excuses to the marquise and Mademoiselle Renée, whom I leave on such a day with great regret."
        "You will find them both here, and can make your farewells in person."
        "A thousand thanks—and now for the letter."
        The marquis rang, a servant entered.
        "Say to the Comte de Salvieux that I would like to see him."
        "Now, then, go," said the marquis.
        "I shall be gone only a few moments."
        Villefort hastily quitted the apartment, but reflecting that the sight of the deputy procureur running through the streets would be enough to throw the whole city into confusion, he resumed his ordinary pace. At his door he perceived a figure in the shadow that seemed to wait for him. It was Mercédès, who, hearing no news of her lover, had come unobserved to inquire after him.
        As Villefort drew near, she advanced and stood before him. Dantès had spoken of Mercédès, and Villefort instantly recognized her. Her beauty and high bearing surprised him, and when she inquired what had become of her lover, it seemed to him that she was the judge, and he the accused.
        "The young man you speak of," said Villefort abruptly, "is a great criminal, and I can do nothing for him, mademoiselle." Mercédès burst into tears, and, as Villefort strove to pass her, again addressed him.
        "But, at least, tell me where he is, that I may know whether he is alive or dead," said she.
        "I do not know; he is no longer in my hands," replied Villefort.
And desirous of putting an end to the interview, he pushed by her, and closed the door, as if to exclude the pain he felt. But remorse is not thus banished; like Virgil's wounded hero, he carried the arrow in his wound, and, arrived at the salon, Villefort uttered a sigh that was almost a sob, and sank into a chair.
        Then the first pangs of an unending torture seized upon his heart. The man he sacrificed to his ambition, that innocent victim immolated on the altar of his father's faults, appeared to him pale and threatening, leading his affianced bride by the hand, and bringing with him remorse, not such as the ancients figured, furious and terrible, but that slow and consuming agony whose pangs are intensified from hour to hour up to the very moment of death. Then he had a moment's hesitation. He had frequently called for capital punishment on criminals, and owing to his irresistible eloquence they had been condemned, and yet the slightest shadow of remorse had never clouded Villefort's brow, because they were guilty; at least, he believed so; but here was an innocent man whose happiness he had destroyed: in this case he was not the judge, but the executioner.
        As he thus reflected, he felt the sensation we have described, and which had hitherto been unknown to him, arise in his bosom, and fill him with vague apprehensions. It is thus that a wounded man trembles instinctively at the approach of the finger to his wound until it be healed, but Villefort's was one of those that never close, or if they do, only close to reopen more agonizing than ever. If at this moment the sweet voice of Renée had sounded in his ears pleading for mercy, or the fair Mercédès had entered and said, "In the name of God, I conjure you to restore me my affianced husband," his cold and trembling hands would have signed his release; but no voice broke the stillness of the chamber, and the door was opened only by Villefort's valet, who came to tell him that the travelling carriage was in readiness.
        Villefort rose, or rather sprang, from his chair, hastily opened one of the drawers of his desk, emptied all the gold it contained into his pocket, stood motionless an instant, his hand pressed to his head, muttered a few inarticulate sounds, and then, perceiving that his servant had placed his cloak on his shoulders, he sprang into the carriage, ordering the postilions to drive to M. de Saint-Méran's. The hapless Dantès was doomed.
        As the marquis had promised, Villefort found the marquise and Renée in waiting. He started when he saw Renée, for he fancied she was again about to plead for Dantès. Alas, her emotions were wholly personal: she was thinking only of Villefort's departure.
        She loved Villefort, and he left her at the moment he was about to become her husband. Villefort knew not when he should return, and Renée, far from pleading for Dantès, hated the man whose crime separated her from her lover.
         Meanwhile what of Mercédès? She had met Fernand at the corner of the Rue de la Loge; she had returned to the Catalans, and had despairingly cast herself on her couch. Fernand, kneeling by her side, took her hand, and covered it with kisses that Mercédès did not even feel. She passed the night thus. The lamp went out for want of oil, but she paid no heed to the darkness, and dawn came, but she knew not that it was day. Grief had made her blind to all but one object—that was Edmond.
        "Ah, you are there," said she, at length, turning towards Fernand.
        "I have not quitted you since yesterday," returned Fernand sorrowfully.
        M. Morrel had not readily given up the fight. He had learned that Dantès had been taken to prison, and he had gone to all his friends, and the influential persons of the city; but the report was already in circulation that Dantès was arrested as a Bonapartist agent; and as the most sanguine looked upon any attempt of Napoleon to remount the throne as impossible, he met with nothing but refusal, and had returned home in despair, declaring that the matter was serious and that nothing more could be done.
        Caderousse was equally restless and uneasy, but instead of seeking, like M. Morrel, to aid Dantès, he had shut himself up with two bottles of black currant brandy, in the hope of drowning reflection. But he did not succeed, and became too intoxicated to fetch any more drink, and yet not so intoxicated as to forget what had happened. With his elbows on the table he sat between the two empty bottles, while spectres danced in the light of the unsnuffed candle—spectres such as Hoffmann strews over his punch-drenched pages, like black, fantastic dust.
        Danglars alone was content and joyous—he had got rid of an enemy and made his own situation on the Pharaon secure. Danglars was one of those men born with a pen behind the ear, and an inkstand in place of a heart. Everything with him was multiplication or subtraction. The life of a man was to him of far less value than a numeral, especially when, by taking it away, he could increase the sum total of his own desires. He went to bed at his usual hour, and slept in peace.
        Villefort, after having received M. de Salvieux's letter, embraced Renée, kissed the marquise's hand, and shaken that of the marquis, started for Paris along the Aix road.
        Old Dantès was dying with anxiety to know what had become of Edmond. But we know very well what had become of Edmond.
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Chapter 10 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Written by AlexandreDumas

The King's Closet at the Tuileries

        We will leave Villefort on the road to Paris, travelling—thanks to trebled fees—with all speed, and passing through two or three apartments, enter at the Tuileries the little room with the arched window, so well known as having been the favorite closet of Napoleon and Louis XVIII., and now of Louis Philippe.

        There, seated before a walnut table he had brought with him from Hartwell, and to which, from one of those fancies not uncommon to great people, he was particularly attached, the king, Louis XVIII., was carelessly listening to a man of fifty or fifty-two years of age, with gray hair, aristocratic bearing, and exceedingly gentlemanly attire, and meanwhile making a marginal note in a volume of Gryphius's rather inaccurate, but much sought-after, edition of Horace—a work which was much indebted to the sagacious observations of the philosophical monarch.

        "You say, sir"—said the king.

        "That I am exceedingly disquieted, sire."

        "Really, have you had a vision of the seven fat kine and the seven lean kine?"

        "No, sire, for that would only betoken for us seven years of plenty and seven years of scarcity; and with a king as full of foresight as your majesty, scarcity is not a thing to be feared."

        "Then of what other scourge are you afraid, my dear Blacas?"

        "Sire, I have every reason to believe that a storm is brewing in the south."

        "Well, my dear duke," replied Louis XVIII., "I think you are wrongly informed, and know positively that, on the contrary, it is very fine weather in that direction." Man of ability as he was, Louis XVIII. liked a pleasant jest.

        "Sire," continued M. de Blacas, "if it only be to reassure a faithful servant, will your majesty send into Languedoc, Provence, and Dauphiné, trusty men, who will bring you back a faithful report as to the feeling in these three provinces?"

        "Caninus surdis," replied the king, continuing the annotations in his Horace.

        "Sire," replied the courtier, laughing, in order that he might seem to comprehend the quotation, "your majesty may be perfectly right in relying on the good feeling of France, but I fear I am not altogether wrong in dreading some desperate attempt."

        "By whom?"

        "By Bonaparte, or, at least, by his adherents."

        "My dear Blacas," said the king, "you with your alarms prevent me from working."

        "And you, sire, prevent me from sleeping with your security."

        "Wait, my dear sir, wait a moment; for I have such a delightful note on the Pastor quum traheret—wait, and I will listen to you afterwards."

        There was a brief pause, during which Louis XVIII. wrote, in a hand as small as possible, another note on the margin of his Horace, and then looking at the duke with the air of a man who thinks he has an idea of his own, while he is only commenting upon the idea of another, said,—

        "Go on, my dear duke, go on—I listen."

        "Sire," said Blacas, who had for a moment the hope of sacrificing Villefort to his own profit, "I am compelled to tell you that these are not mere rumors destitute of foundation which thus disquiet me; but a serious-minded man, deserving all my confidence, and charged by me to watch over the south" (the duke hesitated as he pronounced these words), "has arrived by post to tell me that a great peril threatens the king, and so I hastened to you, sire."

        "Mala ducis avi domum," continued Louis XVIII., still annotating.

        "Does your majesty wish me to drop the subject?"

        "By no means, my dear duke; but just stretch out your hand."

        "Which?"

        "Whichever you please—there to the left."

        "Here, sire?"

        "I tell you to the left, and you are looking to the right; I mean on my left—yes, there. You will find yesterday's report of the minister of police. But here is M. Dandré himself;" and M. Dandré, announced by the chamberlain-in-waiting, entered.

        "Come in," said Louis XVIII., with repressed smile, "come in, Baron, and tell the duke all you know—the latest news of M. de Bonaparte; do not conceal anything, however serious,—let us see, the Island of Elba is a volcano, and we may expect to have issuing thence flaming and bristling war—bella, horrida bella." M. Dandré leaned very respectfully on the back of a chair with his two hands, and said,—

        "Has your majesty perused yesterday's report?"

        "Yes, yes; but tell the duke himself, who cannot find anything, what the report contains—give him the particulars of what the usurper is doing in his islet."

        "Monsieur," said the baron to the duke, "all the servants of his majesty must approve of the latest intelligence which we have from the Island of Elba. Bonaparte——"

        M. Dandré looked at Louis XVIII., who, employed in writing a note, did not even raise his head. "Bonaparte," continued the baron, "is mortally wearied, and passes whole days in watching his miners at work at Porto-Longone."

        "And scratches himself for amusement," added the king.

        "Scratches himself?" inquired the duke, "what does your majesty mean?"

        "Yes, indeed, my dear duke. Did you forget that this great man, this hero, this demigod, is attacked with a malady of the skin which worries him to death, prurigo?"

        "And, moreover, my dear duke," continued the minister of police, "we are almost assured that, in a very short time, the usurper will be insane."

        "Insane?"

        "Raving mad; his head becomes weaker. Sometimes he weeps bitterly, sometimes laughs boisterously, at other time he passes hours on the seashore, flinging stones in the water and when the flint makes 'duck-and-drake' five or six times, he appears as delighted as if he had gained another Marengo or Austerlitz. Now, you must agree that these are indubitable symptoms of insanity."

        "Or of wisdom, my dear baron—or of wisdom," said Louis XVIII., laughing; "the greatest captains of antiquity amused themselves by casting pebbles into the ocean—see Plutarch's life of Scipio Africanus."

        M. de Blacas pondered deeply between the confident monarch and the truthful minister. Villefort, who did not choose to reveal the whole secret, lest another should reap all the benefit of the disclosure, had yet communicated enough to cause him the greatest uneasiness.

        "Well, well, Dandré," said Louis XVIII., "Blacas is not yet convinced; let us proceed, therefore, to the usurper's conversion." The minister of police bowed.

        "The usurper's conversion!" murmured the duke, looking at the king and Dandré, who spoke alternately, like Virgil's shepherds. "The usurper converted!"

        "Decidedly, my dear duke."

        "In what way converted?"

        "To good principles. Tell him all about it, baron."

        "Why, this is the way of it," said the minister, with the gravest air in the world: "Napoleon lately had a review, and as two or three of his old veterans expressed a desire to return to France, he gave them their dismissal, and exhorted them to 'serve the good king.' These were his own words, of that I am certain."

        "Well, Blacas, what think you of this?" inquired the king triumphantly, and pausing for a moment from the voluminous scholiast before him.

        "I say, sire, that the minister of police is greatly deceived or I am; and as it is impossible it can be the minister of police as he has the guardianship of the safety and honor of your majesty, it is probable that I am in error. However, sire, if I might advise, your majesty will interrogate the person of whom I spoke to you, and I will urge your majesty to do him this honor."

        "Most willingly, duke; under your auspices I will receive any person you please, but you must not expect me to be too confiding. Baron, have you any report more recent than this dated the 20th February.—this is the 3rd of March?"

        "No, sire, but I am hourly expecting one; it may have arrived since I left my office."

        "Go thither, and if there be none—well, well," continued Louis XVIII., "make one; that is the usual way, is it not?" and the king laughed facetiously.

        "Oh, sire," replied the minister, "we have no occasion to invent any; every day our desks are loaded with most circumstantial denunciations, coming from hosts of people who hope for some return for services which they seek to render, but cannot; they trust to fortune, and rely upon some unexpected event in some way to justify their predictions."

        "Well, sir, go"; said Louis XVIII., "and remember that I am waiting for you."

        "I will but go and return, sire; I shall be back in ten minutes."

        "And I, sire," said M. de Blacas, "will go and find my messenger."

        "Wait, sir, wait," said Louis XVIII. "Really, M. de Blacas, I must change your armorial bearings; I will give you an eagle with outstretched wings, holding in its claws a prey which tries in vain to escape, and bearing this device—Tenax."

        "Sire, I listen," said De Blacas, biting his nails with impatience.

        "I wish to consult you on this passage, 'Molli fugiens anhelitu,' you know it refers to a stag flying from a wolf. Are you not a sportsman and a great wolf-hunter? Well, then, what do you think of the molli anhelitu?"

        "Admirable, sire; but my messenger is like the stag you refer to, for he has posted two hundred and twenty leagues in scarcely three days."

        "Which is undergoing great fatigue and anxiety, my dear duke, when we have a telegraph which transmits messages in three or four hours, and that without getting in the least out of breath."

        "Ah, sire, you recompense but badly this poor young man, who has come so far, and with so much ardor, to give your majesty useful information. If only for the sake of M. de Salvieux, who recommends him to me, I entreat your majesty to receive him graciously."

        "M. de Salvieux, my brother's chamberlain?"

        "Yes, sire."

        "He is at Marseilles."

        "And writes me thence."

        "Does he speak to you of this conspiracy?"

        "No; but strongly recommends M. de Villefort, and begs me to present him to your majesty."

        "M. de Villefort!" cried the king, "is the messenger's name M. de Villefort?"

        "Yes, sire."

        "And he comes from Marseilles?"

        "In person."

        "Why did you not mention his name at once?" replied the king, betraying some uneasiness.

        "Sire, I thought his name was unknown to your majesty."

        "No, no, Blacas; he is a man of strong and elevated understanding, ambitious, too, and, pardieu!, you know his father's name!"

        "His father?"

        "Yes, Noirtier."

        "Noirtier the Girondin?—Noirtier the senator?"

        "He himself."

        "And your majesty has employed the son of such a man?"

        "Blacas, my friend, you have but limited comprehension. I told you Villefort was ambitious, and to attain this ambition Villefort would sacrifice everything, even his father."

        "Then, sire, may I present him?"

        "This instant, duke! Where is he?"

        "Waiting below, in my carriage."

        "Seek him at once."

        "I hasten to do so." The duke left the royal presence with the speed of a young man; his really sincere royalism made him youthful again. Louis XVIII. remained alone, and turning his eyes on his half-opened Horace, muttered,—

        "Justum et tenacem propositi virum."

        M. de Blacas returned as speedily as he had departed, but in the antechamber he was forced to appeal to the king's authority. Villefort's dusty garb, his costume, which was not of courtly cut, excited the susceptibility of M. de Brezé, who was all astonishment at finding that this young man had the audacity to enter before the king in such attire. The duke, however, overcame all difficulties with a word—his majesty's order; and, in spite of the protestations which the master of ceremonies made for the honor of his office and principles, Villefort was introduced.

        The king was seated in the same place where the duke had left him. On opening the door, Villefort found himself facing him, and the young magistrate's first impulse was to pause.

        "Come in, M. de Villefort," said the king, "come in." Villefort bowed, and advancing a few steps, waited until the king should interrogate him.

        "M. de Villefort," said Louis XVIII., "the Duc de Blacas assures me you have some interesting information to communicate."

        "Sire, the duke is right, and I believe your majesty will think it equally important."

        "In the first place, and before everything else, sir, is the news as bad in your opinion as I am asked to believe?"

        "Sire, I believe it to be most urgent, but I hope, by the speed I have used, that it is not irreparable."

        "Speak as fully as you please, sir," said the king, who began to give way to the emotion which had showed itself in Blacas's face and affected Villefort's voice. "Speak, sir, and pray begin at the beginning; I like order in everything."

        "Sire," said Villefort, "I will render a faithful report to your majesty, but I must entreat your forgiveness if my anxiety leads to some obscurity in my language." A glance at the king after this discreet and subtle exordium, assured Villefort of the benignity of his august auditor, and he went on:—

        "Sire, I have come as rapidly to Paris as possible, to inform your majesty that I have discovered, in the exercise of my duties, not a commonplace and insignificant plot, such as is every day got up in the lower ranks of the people and in the army, but an actual conspiracy—a storm which menaces no less than your majesty's throne. Sire, the usurper is arming three ships, he meditates some project, which, however mad, is yet, perhaps, terrible. At this moment he will have left Elba, to go whither I know not, but assuredly to attempt a landing either at Naples, or on the coast of Tuscany, or perhaps on the shores of France. Your majesty is well aware that the sovereign of the Island of Elba has maintained his relations with Italy and France?"

        "I am, sir," said the king, much agitated; "and recently we have had information that the Bonapartist clubs have had meetings in the Rue Saint-Jacques. But proceed, I beg of you. How did you obtain these details?"

        "Sire, they are the results of an examination which I have made of a man of Marseilles, whom I have watched for some time, and arrested on the day of my departure.         This person, a sailor, of turbulent character, and whom I suspected of Bonapartism, has been secretly to the Island of Elba. There he saw the grand-marshal, who charged him with an oral message to a Bonapartist in Paris, whose name I could not extract from him; but this mission was to prepare men's minds for a return (it is the man who says this, sire)—a return which will soon occur."

        "And where is this man?"

        "In prison, sire."

        "And the matter seems serious to you?"

        "So serious, sire, that when the circumstance surprised me in the midst of a family festival, on the very day of my betrothal, I left my bride and friends, postponing everything, that I might hasten to lay at your majesty's feet the fears which impressed me, and the assurance of my devotion."

        "True," said Louis XVIII., "was there not a marriage engagement between you and Mademoiselle de Saint-Méran?"

        "Daughter of one of your majesty's most faithful servants."

        "Yes, yes; but let us talk of this plot, M. de Villefort."

        "Sire, I fear it is more than a plot; I fear it is a conspiracy."

        "A conspiracy in these times," said Louis XVIII., smiling, "is a thing very easy to meditate, but more difficult to conduct to an end, inasmuch as, re-established so recently on the throne of our ancestors, we have our eyes open at once upon the past, the present, and the future. For the last ten months my ministers have redoubled their vigilance, in order to watch the shore of the Mediterranean. If Bonaparte landed at Naples, the whole coalition would be on foot before he could even reach Piombino; if he land in Tuscany, he will be in an unfriendly territory; if he land in France, it must be with a handful of men, and the result of that is easily foretold, execrated as he is by the population. Take courage, sir; but at the same time rely on our royal gratitude."

        "Ah, here is M. Dandré!" cried de Blacas. At this instant the minister of police appeared at the door, pale, trembling, and as if ready to faint. Villefort was about to retire, but M. de Blacas, taking his hand, restrained him.

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Chapter 10 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Written by AlexandreDumas
The King's Closet at the Tuileries
        We will leave Villefort on the road to Paris, travelling—thanks to trebled fees—with all speed, and passing through two or three apartments, enter at the Tuileries the little room with the arched window, so well known as having been the favorite closet of Napoleon and Louis XVIII., and now of Louis Philippe.
        There, seated before a walnut table he had brought with him from Hartwell, and to which, from one of those fancies not uncommon to great people, he was particularly attached, the king, Louis XVIII., was carelessly listening to a man of fifty or fifty-two years of age, with gray hair, aristocratic bearing, and exceedingly gentlemanly attire, and meanwhile making a marginal note in a volume of Gryphius's rather inaccurate, but much sought-after, edition of Horace—a work which was much indebted to the sagacious observations of the philosophical monarch.
        "You say, sir"—said the king.
        "That I am exceedingly disquieted, sire."
        "Really, have you had a vision of the seven fat kine and the seven lean kine?"
        "No, sire, for that would only betoken for us seven years of plenty and seven years of scarcity; and with a king as full of foresight as your majesty, scarcity is not a thing to be feared."
        "Then of what other scourge are you afraid, my dear Blacas?"
        "Sire, I have every reason to believe that a storm is brewing in the south."
        "Well, my dear duke," replied Louis XVIII., "I think you are wrongly informed, and know positively that, on the contrary, it is very fine weather in that direction." Man of ability as he was, Louis XVIII. liked a pleasant jest.
        "Sire," continued M. de Blacas, "if it only be to reassure a faithful servant, will your majesty send into Languedoc, Provence, and Dauphiné, trusty men, who will bring you back a faithful report as to the feeling in these three provinces?"
        "Caninus surdis," replied the king, continuing the annotations in his Horace.
        "Sire," replied the courtier, laughing, in order that he might seem to comprehend the quotation, "your majesty may be perfectly right in relying on the good feeling of France, but I fear I am not altogether wrong in dreading some desperate attempt."
        "By whom?"
        "By Bonaparte, or, at least, by his adherents."
        "My dear Blacas," said the king, "you with your alarms prevent me from working."
        "And you, sire, prevent me from sleeping with your security."
        "Wait, my dear sir, wait a moment; for I have such a delightful note on the Pastor quum traheret—wait, and I will listen to you afterwards."
        There was a brief pause, during which Louis XVIII. wrote, in a hand as small as possible, another note on the margin of his Horace, and then looking at the duke with the air of a man who thinks he has an idea of his own, while he is only commenting upon the idea of another, said,—
        "Go on, my dear duke, go on—I listen."
        "Sire," said Blacas, who had for a moment the hope of sacrificing Villefort to his own profit, "I am compelled to tell you that these are not mere rumors destitute of foundation which thus disquiet me; but a serious-minded man, deserving all my confidence, and charged by me to watch over the south" (the duke hesitated as he pronounced these words), "has arrived by post to tell me that a great peril threatens the king, and so I hastened to you, sire."
        "Mala ducis avi domum," continued Louis XVIII., still annotating.
        "Does your majesty wish me to drop the subject?"
        "By no means, my dear duke; but just stretch out your hand."
        "Which?"
        "Whichever you please—there to the left."
        "Here, sire?"
        "I tell you to the left, and you are looking to the right; I mean on my left—yes, there. You will find yesterday's report of the minister of police. But here is M. Dandré himself;" and M. Dandré, announced by the chamberlain-in-waiting, entered.
        "Come in," said Louis XVIII., with repressed smile, "come in, Baron, and tell the duke all you know—the latest news of M. de Bonaparte; do not conceal anything, however serious,—let us see, the Island of Elba is a volcano, and we may expect to have issuing thence flaming and bristling war—bella, horrida bella." M. Dandré leaned very respectfully on the back of a chair with his two hands, and said,—
        "Has your majesty perused yesterday's report?"
        "Yes, yes; but tell the duke himself, who cannot find anything, what the report contains—give him the particulars of what the usurper is doing in his islet."
        "Monsieur," said the baron to the duke, "all the servants of his majesty must approve of the latest intelligence which we have from the Island of Elba. Bonaparte——"
        M. Dandré looked at Louis XVIII., who, employed in writing a note, did not even raise his head. "Bonaparte," continued the baron, "is mortally wearied, and passes whole days in watching his miners at work at Porto-Longone."
        "And scratches himself for amusement," added the king.
        "Scratches himself?" inquired the duke, "what does your majesty mean?"
        "Yes, indeed, my dear duke. Did you forget that this great man, this hero, this demigod, is attacked with a malady of the skin which worries him to death, prurigo?"
        "And, moreover, my dear duke," continued the minister of police, "we are almost assured that, in a very short time, the usurper will be insane."
        "Insane?"
        "Raving mad; his head becomes weaker. Sometimes he weeps bitterly, sometimes laughs boisterously, at other time he passes hours on the seashore, flinging stones in the water and when the flint makes 'duck-and-drake' five or six times, he appears as delighted as if he had gained another Marengo or Austerlitz. Now, you must agree that these are indubitable symptoms of insanity."
        "Or of wisdom, my dear baron—or of wisdom," said Louis XVIII., laughing; "the greatest captains of antiquity amused themselves by casting pebbles into the ocean—see Plutarch's life of Scipio Africanus."
        M. de Blacas pondered deeply between the confident monarch and the truthful minister. Villefort, who did not choose to reveal the whole secret, lest another should reap all the benefit of the disclosure, had yet communicated enough to cause him the greatest uneasiness.
        "Well, well, Dandré," said Louis XVIII., "Blacas is not yet convinced; let us proceed, therefore, to the usurper's conversion." The minister of police bowed.
        "The usurper's conversion!" murmured the duke, looking at the king and Dandré, who spoke alternately, like Virgil's shepherds. "The usurper converted!"
        "Decidedly, my dear duke."
        "In what way converted?"
        "To good principles. Tell him all about it, baron."
        "Why, this is the way of it," said the minister, with the gravest air in the world: "Napoleon lately had a review, and as two or three of his old veterans expressed a desire to return to France, he gave them their dismissal, and exhorted them to 'serve the good king.' These were his own words, of that I am certain."
        "Well, Blacas, what think you of this?" inquired the king triumphantly, and pausing for a moment from the voluminous scholiast before him.
        "I say, sire, that the minister of police is greatly deceived or I am; and as it is impossible it can be the minister of police as he has the guardianship of the safety and honor of your majesty, it is probable that I am in error. However, sire, if I might advise, your majesty will interrogate the person of whom I spoke to you, and I will urge your majesty to do him this honor."
        "Most willingly, duke; under your auspices I will receive any person you please, but you must not expect me to be too confiding. Baron, have you any report more recent than this dated the 20th February.—this is the 3rd of March?"
        "No, sire, but I am hourly expecting one; it may have arrived since I left my office."
        "Go thither, and if there be none—well, well," continued Louis XVIII., "make one; that is the usual way, is it not?" and the king laughed facetiously.
        "Oh, sire," replied the minister, "we have no occasion to invent any; every day our desks are loaded with most circumstantial denunciations, coming from hosts of people who hope for some return for services which they seek to render, but cannot; they trust to fortune, and rely upon some unexpected event in some way to justify their predictions."
        "Well, sir, go"; said Louis XVIII., "and remember that I am waiting for you."
        "I will but go and return, sire; I shall be back in ten minutes."
        "And I, sire," said M. de Blacas, "will go and find my messenger."
        "Wait, sir, wait," said Louis XVIII. "Really, M. de Blacas, I must change your armorial bearings; I will give you an eagle with outstretched wings, holding in its claws a prey which tries in vain to escape, and bearing this device—Tenax."
        "Sire, I listen," said De Blacas, biting his nails with impatience.
        "I wish to consult you on this passage, 'Molli fugiens anhelitu,' you know it refers to a stag flying from a wolf. Are you not a sportsman and a great wolf-hunter? Well, then, what do you think of the molli anhelitu?"
        "Admirable, sire; but my messenger is like the stag you refer to, for he has posted two hundred and twenty leagues in scarcely three days."
        "Which is undergoing great fatigue and anxiety, my dear duke, when we have a telegraph which transmits messages in three or four hours, and that without getting in the least out of breath."
        "Ah, sire, you recompense but badly this poor young man, who has come so far, and with so much ardor, to give your majesty useful information. If only for the sake of M. de Salvieux, who recommends him to me, I entreat your majesty to receive him graciously."
        "M. de Salvieux, my brother's chamberlain?"
        "Yes, sire."
        "He is at Marseilles."
        "And writes me thence."
        "Does he speak to you of this conspiracy?"
        "No; but strongly recommends M. de Villefort, and begs me to present him to your majesty."
        "M. de Villefort!" cried the king, "is the messenger's name M. de Villefort?"
        "Yes, sire."
        "And he comes from Marseilles?"
        "In person."
        "Why did you not mention his name at once?" replied the king, betraying some uneasiness.
        "Sire, I thought his name was unknown to your majesty."
        "No, no, Blacas; he is a man of strong and elevated understanding, ambitious, too, and, pardieu!, you know his father's name!"
        "His father?"
        "Yes, Noirtier."
        "Noirtier the Girondin?—Noirtier the senator?"
        "He himself."
        "And your majesty has employed the son of such a man?"
        "Blacas, my friend, you have but limited comprehension. I told you Villefort was ambitious, and to attain this ambition Villefort would sacrifice everything, even his father."
        "Then, sire, may I present him?"
        "This instant, duke! Where is he?"
        "Waiting below, in my carriage."
        "Seek him at once."
        "I hasten to do so." The duke left the royal presence with the speed of a young man; his really sincere royalism made him youthful again. Louis XVIII. remained alone, and turning his eyes on his half-opened Horace, muttered,—
        "Justum et tenacem propositi virum."
        M. de Blacas returned as speedily as he had departed, but in the antechamber he was forced to appeal to the king's authority. Villefort's dusty garb, his costume, which was not of courtly cut, excited the susceptibility of M. de Brezé, who was all astonishment at finding that this young man had the audacity to enter before the king in such attire. The duke, however, overcame all difficulties with a word—his majesty's order; and, in spite of the protestations which the master of ceremonies made for the honor of his office and principles, Villefort was introduced.
        The king was seated in the same place where the duke had left him. On opening the door, Villefort found himself facing him, and the young magistrate's first impulse was to pause.
        "Come in, M. de Villefort," said the king, "come in." Villefort bowed, and advancing a few steps, waited until the king should interrogate him.
        "M. de Villefort," said Louis XVIII., "the Duc de Blacas assures me you have some interesting information to communicate."
        "Sire, the duke is right, and I believe your majesty will think it equally important."
        "In the first place, and before everything else, sir, is the news as bad in your opinion as I am asked to believe?"
        "Sire, I believe it to be most urgent, but I hope, by the speed I have used, that it is not irreparable."
        "Speak as fully as you please, sir," said the king, who began to give way to the emotion which had showed itself in Blacas's face and affected Villefort's voice. "Speak, sir, and pray begin at the beginning; I like order in everything."
        "Sire," said Villefort, "I will render a faithful report to your majesty, but I must entreat your forgiveness if my anxiety leads to some obscurity in my language." A glance at the king after this discreet and subtle exordium, assured Villefort of the benignity of his august auditor, and he went on:—
        "Sire, I have come as rapidly to Paris as possible, to inform your majesty that I have discovered, in the exercise of my duties, not a commonplace and insignificant plot, such as is every day got up in the lower ranks of the people and in the army, but an actual conspiracy—a storm which menaces no less than your majesty's throne. Sire, the usurper is arming three ships, he meditates some project, which, however mad, is yet, perhaps, terrible. At this moment he will have left Elba, to go whither I know not, but assuredly to attempt a landing either at Naples, or on the coast of Tuscany, or perhaps on the shores of France. Your majesty is well aware that the sovereign of the Island of Elba has maintained his relations with Italy and France?"
        "I am, sir," said the king, much agitated; "and recently we have had information that the Bonapartist clubs have had meetings in the Rue Saint-Jacques. But proceed, I beg of you. How did you obtain these details?"
        "Sire, they are the results of an examination which I have made of a man of Marseilles, whom I have watched for some time, and arrested on the day of my departure.         This person, a sailor, of turbulent character, and whom I suspected of Bonapartism, has been secretly to the Island of Elba. There he saw the grand-marshal, who charged him with an oral message to a Bonapartist in Paris, whose name I could not extract from him; but this mission was to prepare men's minds for a return (it is the man who says this, sire)—a return which will soon occur."
        "And where is this man?"
        "In prison, sire."
        "And the matter seems serious to you?"
        "So serious, sire, that when the circumstance surprised me in the midst of a family festival, on the very day of my betrothal, I left my bride and friends, postponing everything, that I might hasten to lay at your majesty's feet the fears which impressed me, and the assurance of my devotion."
        "True," said Louis XVIII., "was there not a marriage engagement between you and Mademoiselle de Saint-Méran?"
        "Daughter of one of your majesty's most faithful servants."
        "Yes, yes; but let us talk of this plot, M. de Villefort."
        "Sire, I fear it is more than a plot; I fear it is a conspiracy."
        "A conspiracy in these times," said Louis XVIII., smiling, "is a thing very easy to meditate, but more difficult to conduct to an end, inasmuch as, re-established so recently on the throne of our ancestors, we have our eyes open at once upon the past, the present, and the future. For the last ten months my ministers have redoubled their vigilance, in order to watch the shore of the Mediterranean. If Bonaparte landed at Naples, the whole coalition would be on foot before he could even reach Piombino; if he land in Tuscany, he will be in an unfriendly territory; if he land in France, it must be with a handful of men, and the result of that is easily foretold, execrated as he is by the population. Take courage, sir; but at the same time rely on our royal gratitude."
        "Ah, here is M. Dandré!" cried de Blacas. At this instant the minister of police appeared at the door, pale, trembling, and as if ready to faint. Villefort was about to retire, but M. de Blacas, taking his hand, restrained him.

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Written by AlexandreDumas

The Evening of the Betrothal

        Villefort had, as we have said, hastened back to Madame de Saint-Méran's in the Place du Grand Cours, and on entering the house found that the guests whom he had left at table were taking coffee in the salon. Renée was, with all the rest of the company, anxiously awaiting him, and his entrance was followed by a general exclamation.

        "Well, Decapitator, Guardian of the State, Royalist, Brutus, what is the matter?" said one. "Speak out."

        "Are we threatened with a fresh Reign of Terror?" asked another.

        "Has the Corsican ogre broken loose?" cried a third.

        "Marquise," said Villefort, approaching his future mother-in-law, "I request your pardon for thus leaving you. Will the marquis honor me by a few moments' private conversation?"

        "Ah, it is really a serious matter, then?" asked the marquis, remarking the cloud on Villefort's brow.

        "So serious that I must take leave of you for a few days; so," added he, turning to Renée, "judge for yourself if it be not important."

        "You are going to leave us?" cried Renée, unable to hide her emotion at this unexpected announcement.

        "Alas," returned Villefort, "I must!"

        "Where, then, are you going?" asked the marquise.

        "That, madame, is an official secret; but if you have any commissions for Paris, a friend of mine is going there tonight, and will with pleasure undertake them." The guests looked at each other.

        "You wish to speak to me alone?" said the marquis.

        "Yes, let us go to the library, please." The marquis took his arm, and they left the salon.

        "Well," asked he, as soon as they were by themselves, "tell me what it is?"

        "An affair of the greatest importance, that demands my immediate presence in Paris. Now, excuse the indiscretion, marquis, but have you any landed property?"

        "All my fortune is in the funds; seven or eight hundred thousand francs."

        "Then sell out—sell out, marquis, or you will lose it all."

        "But how can I sell out here?"

        "You have a broker, have you not?"

        "Yes."

        "Then give me a letter to him, and tell him to sell out without an instant's delay, perhaps even now I shall arrive too late."

        "The deuce you say!" replied the marquis, "let us lose no time, then!"

        And, sitting down, he wrote a letter to his broker, ordering him to sell out at the market price.

        "Now, then," said Villefort, placing the letter in his pocketbook, "I must have another!"

        "To whom?"

        "To the king."

        "To the king?"

        "Yes."

        "I dare not write to his majesty."

        "I do not ask you to write to his majesty, but ask M. de Salvieux to do so. I want a letter that will enable me to reach the king's presence without all the formalities of demanding an audience; that would occasion a loss of precious time."

        "But address yourself to the keeper of the seals; he has the right of entry at the Tuileries, and can procure you audience at any hour of the day or night."

        "Doubtless; but there is no occasion to divide the honors of my discovery with him. The keeper would leave me in the background, and take all the glory to himself. I tell you, marquis, my fortune is made if I only reach the Tuileries the first, for the king will not forget the service I do him."

        "In that case go and get ready. I will call Salvieux and make him write the letter."

        "Be as quick as possible, I must be on the road in a quarter of an hour."

        "Tell your coachman to stop at the door."

        "You will present my excuses to the marquise and Mademoiselle Renée, whom I leave on such a day with great regret."

        "You will find them both here, and can make your farewells in person."

        "A thousand thanks—and now for the letter."

        The marquis rang, a servant entered.

        "Say to the Comte de Salvieux that I would like to see him."

        "Now, then, go," said the marquis.

        "I shall be gone only a few moments."

        Villefort hastily quitted the apartment, but reflecting that the sight of the deputy procureur running through the streets would be enough to throw the whole city into confusion, he resumed his ordinary pace. At his door he perceived a figure in the shadow that seemed to wait for him. It was Mercédès, who, hearing no news of her lover, had come unobserved to inquire after him.

        As Villefort drew near, she advanced and stood before him. Dantès had spoken of Mercédès, and Villefort instantly recognized her. Her beauty and high bearing surprised him, and when she inquired what had become of her lover, it seemed to him that she was the judge, and he the accused.

        "The young man you speak of," said Villefort abruptly, "is a great criminal, and I can do nothing for him, mademoiselle." Mercédès burst into tears, and, as Villefort strove to pass her, again addressed him.

        "But, at least, tell me where he is, that I may know whether he is alive or dead," said she.

        "I do not know; he is no longer in my hands," replied Villefort.

        And desirous of putting an end to the interview, he pushed by her, and closed the door, as if to exclude the pain he felt. But remorse is not thus banished; like Virgil's wounded hero, he carried the arrow in his wound, and, arrived at the salon, Villefort uttered a sigh that was almost a sob, and sank into a chair.

        Then the first pangs of an unending torture seized upon his heart. The man he sacrificed to his ambition, that innocent victim immolated on the altar of his father's faults, appeared to him pale and threatening, leading his affianced bride by the hand, and bringing with him remorse, not such as the ancients figured, furious and terrible, but that slow and consuming agony whose pangs are intensified from hour to hour up to the very moment of death. Then he had a moment's hesitation. He had frequently called for capital punishment on criminals, and owing to his irresistible eloquence they had been condemned, and yet the slightest shadow of remorse had never clouded Villefort's brow, because they were guilty; at least, he believed so; but here was an innocent man whose happiness he had destroyed: in this case he was not the judge, but the executioner.

        As he thus reflected, he felt the sensation we have described, and which had hitherto been unknown to him, arise in his bosom, and fill him with vague apprehensions. It is thus that a wounded man trembles instinctively at the approach of the finger to his wound until it be healed, but Villefort's was one of those that never close, or if they do, only close to reopen more agonizing than ever. If at this moment the sweet voice of Renée had sounded in his ears pleading for mercy, or the fair Mercédès had entered and said, "In the name of God, I conjure you to restore me my affianced husband," his cold and trembling hands would have signed his release; but no voice broke the stillness of the chamber, and the door was opened only by Villefort's valet, who came to tell him that the travelling carriage was in readiness.

        Villefort rose, or rather sprang, from his chair, hastily opened one of the drawers of his desk, emptied all the gold it contained into his pocket, stood motionless an instant, his hand pressed to his head, muttered a few inarticulate sounds, and then, perceiving that his servant had placed his cloak on his shoulders, he sprang into the carriage, ordering the postilions to drive to M. de Saint-Méran's. The hapless Dantès was doomed.

        As the marquis had promised, Villefort found the marquise and Renée in waiting. He started when he saw Renée, for he fancied she was again about to plead for Dantès. Alas, her emotions were wholly personal: she was thinking only of Villefort's departure.

        She loved Villefort, and he left her at the moment he was about to become her husband. Villefort knew not when he should return, and Renée, far from pleading for Dantès, hated the man whose crime separated her from her lover.

        Meanwhile what of Mercédès? She had met Fernand at the corner of the Rue de la Loge; she had returned to the Catalans, and had despairingly cast herself on her couch. Fernand, kneeling by her side, took her hand, and covered it with kisses that Mercédès did not even feel. She passed the night thus. The lamp went out for want of oil, but she paid no heed to the darkness, and dawn came, but she knew not that it was day. Grief had made her blind to all but one object—that was Edmond.

        "Ah, you are there," said she, at length, turning towards Fernand.

        "I have not quitted you since yesterday," returned Fernand sorrowfully.

        M. Morrel had not readily given up the fight. He had learned that Dantès had been taken to prison, and he had gone to all his friends, and the influential persons of the city; but the report was already in circulation that Dantès was arrested as a Bonapartist agent; and as the most sanguine looked upon any attempt of Napoleon to remount the throne as impossible, he met with nothing but refusal, and had returned home in despair, declaring that the matter was serious and that nothing more could be done.

        Caderousse was equally restless and uneasy, but instead of seeking, like M. Morrel, to aid Dantès, he had shut himself up with two bottles of black currant brandy, in the hope of drowning reflection. But he did not succeed, and became too intoxicated to fetch any more drink, and yet not so intoxicated as to forget what had happened. With his elbows on the table he sat between the two empty bottles, while spectres danced in the light of the unsnuffed candle—spectres such as Hoffmann strews over his punch-drenched pages, like black, fantastic dust.

        Danglars alone was content and joyous—he had got rid of an enemy and made his own situation on the Pharaon secure. Danglars was one of those men born with a pen behind the ear, and an inkstand in place of a heart. Everything with him was multiplication or subtraction. The life of a man was to him of far less value than a numeral, especially when, by taking it away, he could increase the sum total of his own desires. He went to bed at his usual hour, and slept in peace.

        Villefort, after having received M. de Salvieux's letter, embraced Renée, kissed the marquise's hand, and shaken that of the marquis, started for Paris along the Aix road.

Old Dantès was dying with anxiety to know what had become of Edmond. But we know very well what had become of Edmond.

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Written by AlexandreDumas
The Evening of the Betrothal
        Villefort had, as we have said, hastened back to Madame de Saint-Méran's in the Place du Grand Cours, and on entering the house found that the guests whom he had left at table were taking coffee in the salon. Renée was, with all the rest of the company, anxiously awaiting him, and his entrance was followed by a general exclamation.
        "Well, Decapitator, Guardian of the State, Royalist, Brutus, what is the matter?" said one. "Speak out."
        "Are we threatened with a fresh Reign of Terror?" asked another.
        "Has the Corsican ogre broken loose?" cried a third.
        "Marquise," said Villefort, approaching his future mother-in-law, "I request your pardon for thus leaving you. Will the marquis honor me by a few moments' private conversation?"
        "Ah, it is really a serious matter, then?" asked the marquis, remarking the cloud on Villefort's brow.
        "So serious that I must take leave of you for a few days; so," added he, turning to Renée, "judge for yourself if it be not important."
        "You are going to leave us?" cried Renée, unable to hide her emotion at this unexpected announcement.
        "Alas," returned Villefort, "I must!"
        "Where, then, are you going?" asked the marquise.
        "That, madame, is an official secret; but if you have any commissions for Paris, a friend of mine is going there tonight, and will with pleasure undertake them." The guests looked at each other.
        "You wish to speak to me alone?" said the marquis.
        "Yes, let us go to the library, please." The marquis took his arm, and they left the salon.
        "Well," asked he, as soon as they were by themselves, "tell me what it is?"
        "An affair of the greatest importance, that demands my immediate presence in Paris. Now, excuse the indiscretion, marquis, but have you any landed property?"
        "All my fortune is in the funds; seven or eight hundred thousand francs."
        "Then sell out—sell out, marquis, or you will lose it all."
        "But how can I sell out here?"
        "You have a broker, have you not?"
        "Yes."
        "Then give me a letter to him, and tell him to sell out without an instant's delay, perhaps even now I shall arrive too late."
        "The deuce you say!" replied the marquis, "let us lose no time, then!"
        And, sitting down, he wrote a letter to his broker, ordering him to sell out at the market price.
        "Now, then," said Villefort, placing the letter in his pocketbook, "I must have another!"
        "To whom?"
        "To the king."
        "To the king?"
        "Yes."
        "I dare not write to his majesty."
        "I do not ask you to write to his majesty, but ask M. de Salvieux to do so. I want a letter that will enable me to reach the king's presence without all the formalities of demanding an audience; that would occasion a loss of precious time."
        "But address yourself to the keeper of the seals; he has the right of entry at the Tuileries, and can procure you audience at any hour of the day or night."
        "Doubtless; but there is no occasion to divide the honors of my discovery with him. The keeper would leave me in the background, and take all the glory to himself. I tell you, marquis, my fortune is made if I only reach the Tuileries the first, for the king will not forget the service I do him."
        "In that case go and get ready. I will call Salvieux and make him write the letter."
        "Be as quick as possible, I must be on the road in a quarter of an hour."
        "Tell your coachman to stop at the door."
        "You will present my excuses to the marquise and Mademoiselle Renée, whom I leave on such a day with great regret."
        "You will find them both here, and can make your farewells in person."
        "A thousand thanks—and now for the letter."
        The marquis rang, a servant entered.
        "Say to the Comte de Salvieux that I would like to see him."
        "Now, then, go," said the marquis.
        "I shall be gone only a few moments."
        Villefort hastily quitted the apartment, but reflecting that the sight of the deputy procureur running through the streets would be enough to throw the whole city into confusion, he resumed his ordinary pace. At his door he perceived a figure in the shadow that seemed to wait for him. It was Mercédès, who, hearing no news of her lover, had come unobserved to inquire after him.
        As Villefort drew near, she advanced and stood before him. Dantès had spoken of Mercédès, and Villefort instantly recognized her. Her beauty and high bearing surprised him, and when she inquired what had become of her lover, it seemed to him that she was the judge, and he the accused.
        "The young man you speak of," said Villefort abruptly, "is a great criminal, and I can do nothing for him, mademoiselle." Mercédès burst into tears, and, as Villefort strove to pass her, again addressed him.
        "But, at least, tell me where he is, that I may know whether he is alive or dead," said she.
        "I do not know; he is no longer in my hands," replied Villefort.
        And desirous of putting an end to the interview, he pushed by her, and closed the door, as if to exclude the pain he felt. But remorse is not thus banished; like Virgil's wounded hero, he carried the arrow in his wound, and, arrived at the salon, Villefort uttered a sigh that was almost a sob, and sank into a chair.
        Then the first pangs of an unending torture seized upon his heart. The man he sacrificed to his ambition, that innocent victim immolated on the altar of his father's faults, appeared to him pale and threatening, leading his affianced bride by the hand, and bringing with him remorse, not such as the ancients figured, furious and terrible, but that slow and consuming agony whose pangs are intensified from hour to hour up to the very moment of death. Then he had a moment's hesitation. He had frequently called for capital punishment on criminals, and owing to his irresistible eloquence they had been condemned, and yet the slightest shadow of remorse had never clouded Villefort's brow, because they were guilty; at least, he believed so; but here was an innocent man whose happiness he had destroyed: in this case he was not the judge, but the executioner.
        As he thus reflected, he felt the sensation we have described, and which had hitherto been unknown to him, arise in his bosom, and fill him with vague apprehensions. It is thus that a wounded man trembles instinctively at the approach of the finger to his wound until it be healed, but Villefort's was one of those that never close, or if they do, only close to reopen more agonizing than ever. If at this moment the sweet voice of Renée had sounded in his ears pleading for mercy, or the fair Mercédès had entered and said, "In the name of God, I conjure you to restore me my affianced husband," his cold and trembling hands would have signed his release; but no voice broke the stillness of the chamber, and the door was opened only by Villefort's valet, who came to tell him that the travelling carriage was in readiness.
        Villefort rose, or rather sprang, from his chair, hastily opened one of the drawers of his desk, emptied all the gold it contained into his pocket, stood motionless an instant, his hand pressed to his head, muttered a few inarticulate sounds, and then, perceiving that his servant had placed his cloak on his shoulders, he sprang into the carriage, ordering the postilions to drive to M. de Saint-Méran's. The hapless Dantès was doomed.
        As the marquis had promised, Villefort found the marquise and Renée in waiting. He started when he saw Renée, for he fancied she was again about to plead for Dantès. Alas, her emotions were wholly personal: she was thinking only of Villefort's departure.
        She loved Villefort, and he left her at the moment he was about to become her husband. Villefort knew not when he should return, and Renée, far from pleading for Dantès, hated the man whose crime separated her from her lover.
        Meanwhile what of Mercédès? She had met Fernand at the corner of the Rue de la Loge; she had returned to the Catalans, and had despairingly cast herself on her couch. Fernand, kneeling by her side, took her hand, and covered it with kisses that Mercédès did not even feel. She passed the night thus. The lamp went out for want of oil, but she paid no heed to the darkness, and dawn came, but she knew not that it was day. Grief had made her blind to all but one object—that was Edmond.
        "Ah, you are there," said she, at length, turning towards Fernand.
        "I have not quitted you since yesterday," returned Fernand sorrowfully.
        M. Morrel had not readily given up the fight. He had learned that Dantès had been taken to prison, and he had gone to all his friends, and the influential persons of the city; but the report was already in circulation that Dantès was arrested as a Bonapartist agent; and as the most sanguine looked upon any attempt of Napoleon to remount the throne as impossible, he met with nothing but refusal, and had returned home in despair, declaring that the matter was serious and that nothing more could be done.
        Caderousse was equally restless and uneasy, but instead of seeking, like M. Morrel, to aid Dantès, he had shut himself up with two bottles of black currant brandy, in the hope of drowning reflection. But he did not succeed, and became too intoxicated to fetch any more drink, and yet not so intoxicated as to forget what had happened. With his elbows on the table he sat between the two empty bottles, while spectres danced in the light of the unsnuffed candle—spectres such as Hoffmann strews over his punch-drenched pages, like black, fantastic dust.
        Danglars alone was content and joyous—he had got rid of an enemy and made his own situation on the Pharaon secure. Danglars was one of those men born with a pen behind the ear, and an inkstand in place of a heart. Everything with him was multiplication or subtraction. The life of a man was to him of far less value than a numeral, especially when, by taking it away, he could increase the sum total of his own desires. He went to bed at his usual hour, and slept in peace.
        Villefort, after having received M. de Salvieux's letter, embraced Renée, kissed the marquise's hand, and shaken that of the marquis, started for Paris along the Aix road.
Old Dantès was dying with anxiety to know what had become of Edmond. But we know very well what had become of Edmond.
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Chapter 8 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Written by AlexandreDumas

The Château d'If

        The commissary of police, as he traversed the antechamber, made a sign to two gendarmes, who placed themselves one on Dantès' right and the other on his left. A door that communicated with the Palais de Justice was opened, and they went through a long range of gloomy corridors, whose appearance might have made even the boldest shudder.         The Palais de Justice communicated with the prison,—a sombre edifice, that from its grated windows looks on the clock-tower of the Accoules. After numberless windings, Dantès saw a door with an iron wicket. The commissary took up an iron mallet and knocked thrice, every blow seeming to Dantès as if struck on his heart. The door opened, the two gendarmes gently pushed him forward, and the door closed with a loud sound behind him. The air he inhaled was no longer pure, but thick and mephitic,—he was in prison.

        He was conducted to a tolerably neat chamber, but grated and barred, and its appearance, therefore, did not greatly alarm him; besides, the words of Villefort, who seemed to interest himself so much, resounded still in his ears like a promise of freedom. It was four o'clock when Dantès was placed in this chamber. It was, as we have said, the 1st of March, and the prisoner was soon buried in darkness. The obscurity augmented the acuteness of his hearing; at the slightest sound he rose and hastened to the door, convinced they were about to liberate him, but the sound died away, and Dantès sank again into his seat. At last, about ten o'clock, and just as Dantès began to despair, steps were heard in the corridor, a key turned in the lock, the bolts creaked, the massy oaken door flew open, and a flood of light from two torches pervaded the apartment.

        By the torchlight Dantès saw the glittering sabres and carbines of four gendarmes. He had advanced at first, but stopped at the sight of this display of force.

        "Are you come to fetch me?" asked he.

        "Yes," replied a gendarme.

        "By the orders of the deputy procureur?"

        "I believe so." The conviction that they came from M. de Villefort relieved all Dantès' apprehensions; he advanced calmly, and placed himself in the centre of the escort.         A carriage waited at the door, the coachman was on the box, and a police officer sat beside him.

        "Is this carriage for me?" said Dantès.

        "It is for you," replied a gendarme.

        Dantès was about to speak; but feeling himself urged forward, and having neither the power nor the intention to resist, he mounted the steps, and was in an instant seated inside between two gendarmes; the two others took their places opposite, and the carriage rolled heavily over the stones.

        The prisoner glanced at the windows—they were grated; he had changed his prison for another that was conveying him he knew not whither. Through the grating, however, Dantès saw they were passing through the Rue Caisserie, and by the Rue Saint-Laurent and the Rue Taramis, to the quay. Soon he saw the lights of La Consigne.

        The carriage stopped, the officer descended, approached the guardhouse, a dozen soldiers came out and formed themselves in order; Dantès saw the reflection of their muskets by the light of the lamps on the quay.

        "Can all this force be summoned on my account?" thought he.

        The officer opened the door, which was locked, and, without speaking a word, answered Dantès' question; for he saw between the ranks of the soldiers a passage formed from the carriage to the port. The two gendarmes who were opposite to him descended first, then he was ordered to alight and the gendarmes on each side of him followed his example. They advanced towards a boat, which a custom-house officer held by a chain, near the quay.

        The soldiers looked at Dantès with an air of stupid curiosity. In an instant he was placed in the stern-sheets of the boat, between the gendarmes, while the officer stationed himself at the bow; a shove sent the boat adrift, and four sturdy oarsmen impelled it rapidly towards the Pilon. At a shout from the boat, the chain that closes the mouth of the port was lowered and in a second they were, as Dantès knew, in the Frioul and outside the inner harbor.

        The prisoner's first feeling was of joy at again breathing the pure air—for air is freedom; but he soon sighed, for he passed before La Réserve, where he had that morning been so happy, and now through the open windows came the laughter and revelry of a ball. Dantès folded his hands, raised his eyes to heaven, and prayed fervently.

        The boat continued her voyage. They had passed the Tête de Morte, were now off the Anse du Pharo, and about to double the battery. This manœuvre was incomprehensible to Dantès.

        "Whither are you taking me?" asked he.

        "You will soon know."

        "But still——"

        "We are forbidden to give you any explanation." Dantès, trained in discipline, knew that nothing would be more absurd than to question subordinates, who were forbidden to reply; and so he remained silent.

        The most vague and wild thoughts passed through his mind. The boat they were in could not make a long voyage; there was no vessel at anchor outside the harbor; he thought, perhaps, they were going to leave him on some distant point. He was not bound, nor had they made any attempt to handcuff him; this seemed a good augury. Besides, had not the deputy, who had been so kind to him, told him that provided he did not pronounce the dreaded name of Noirtier, he had nothing to apprehend? Had not Villefort in his presence destroyed the fatal letter, the only proof against him?

        He waited silently, striving to pierce through the darkness.

        They had left the Ile Ratonneau, where the lighthouse stood, on the right, and were now opposite the Point des Catalans. It seemed to the prisoner that he could distinguish a feminine form on the beach, for it was there Mercédès dwelt. How was it that a presentiment did not warn Mercédès that her lover was within three hundred yards of her?

        One light alone was visible; and Dantès saw that it came from Mercédès' chamber. Mercédès was the only one awake in the whole settlement. A loud cry could be heard by her. But pride restrained him and he did not utter it. What would his guards think if they heard him shout like a madman?

        He remained silent, his eyes fixed upon the light; the boat went on, but the prisoner thought only of Mercédès. An intervening elevation of land hid the light. Dantès turned and perceived that they had got out to sea. While he had been absorbed in thought, they had shipped their oars and hoisted sail; the boat was now moving with the wind.

        In spite of his repugnance to address the guards, Dantès turned to the nearest gendarme, and taking his hand,—

        "Comrade," said he, "I adjure you, as a Christian and a soldier, to tell me where we are going. I am Captain Dantès, a loyal Frenchman, thought accused of treason; tell me where you are conducting me, and I promise you on my honor I will submit to my fate."

        The gendarme looked irresolutely at his companion, who returned for answer a sign that said, "I see no great harm in telling him now," and the gendarme replied,—

        "You are a native of Marseilles, and a sailor, and yet you do not know where you are going?"

        "On my honor, I have no idea."

        "Have you no idea whatever?"

        "None at all."

        "That is impossible."

        "I swear to you it is true. Tell me, I entreat."

        "But my orders."

        "Your orders do not forbid your telling me what I must know in ten minutes, in half an hour, or an hour. You see I cannot escape, even if I intended."

        "Unless you are blind, or have never been outside the harbor, you must know."

        "I do not."

        "Look round you then." Dantès rose and looked forward, when he saw rise within a hundred yards of him the black and frowning rock on which stands the Château d'If. This gloomy fortress, which has for more than three hundred years furnished food for so many wild legends, seemed to Dantès like a scaffold to a malefactor.

        "The Château d'If?" cried he, "what are we going there for?" The gendarme smiled.

        "I am not going there to be imprisoned," said Dantès; "it is only used for political prisoners. I have committed no crime. Are there any magistrates or judges at the Château d'If?"

        "There are only," said the gendarme, "a governor, a garrison, turnkeys, and good thick walls. Come, come, do not look so astonished, or you will make me think you are laughing at me in return for my good nature." Dantès pressed the gendarme's hand as though he would crush it.

        "You think, then," said he, "that I am taken to the Château d'If to be imprisoned there?"

        "It is probable; but there is no occasion to squeeze so hard."

        "Without any inquiry, without any formality?"

        "All the formalities have been gone through; the inquiry is already made."

        "And so, in spite of M. de Villefort's promises?"

        "I do not know what M. de Villefort promised you," said the gendarme, "but I know we are taking you to the Château d'If. But what are you doing? Help, comrades, help!"

        By a rapid movement, which the gendarme's practiced eye had perceived, Dantès sprang forward to precipitate himself into the sea; but four vigorous arms seized him as his feet quitted the bottom of the boat. He fell back cursing with rage.

        "Good!" said the gendarme, placing his knee on his chest; "believe soft-spoken gentlemen again! Hark ye, my friend, I have disobeyed my first order, but I will not disobey the second; and if you move, I will blow your brains out." And he levelled his carbine at Dantès, who felt the muzzle against his temple.

        For a moment the idea of struggling crossed his mind, and of so ending the unexpected evil that had overtaken him. But he bethought him of M. de Villefort's promise; and, besides, death in a boat from the hand of a gendarme seemed too terrible. He remained motionless, but gnashing his teeth and wringing his hands with fury.

        At this moment the boat came to a landing with a violent shock. One of the sailors leaped on shore, a cord creaked as it ran through a pulley, and Dantès guessed they were at the end of the voyage, and that they were mooring the boat.

        His guards, taking him by the arms and coat-collar, forced him to rise, and dragged him towards the steps that lead to the gate of the fortress, while the police officer carrying a musket with fixed bayonet followed behind.

        Dantès made no resistance; he was like a man in a dream: he saw soldiers drawn up on the embankment; he knew vaguely that he was ascending a flight of steps; he was conscious that he passed through a door, and that the door closed behind him; but all this indistinctly as through a mist. He did not even see the ocean, that terrible barrier against freedom, which the prisoners look upon with utter despair.

        They halted for a minute, during which he strove to collect his thoughts. He looked around; he was in a court surrounded by high walls; he heard the measured tread of sentinels, and as they passed before the light he saw the barrels of their muskets shine.

        They waited upwards of ten minutes. Certain Dantès could not escape, the gendarmes released him. They seemed awaiting orders. The orders came.

        "Where is the prisoner?" said a voice.

        "Here," replied the gendarmes.

        "Let him follow me; I will take him to his cell."

        "Go!" said the gendarmes, thrusting Dantès forward.

        The prisoner followed his guide, who led him into a room almost under ground, whose bare and reeking walls seemed as though impregnated with tears; a lamp placed on a stool illumined the apartment faintly, and showed Dantès the features of his conductor, an under-jailer, ill-clothed, and of sullen appearance.

        "Here is your chamber for tonight," said he. "It is late, and the governor is asleep. Tomorrow, perhaps, he may change you. In the meantime there is bread, water, and fresh straw; and that is all a prisoner can wish for. Goodnight." And before Dantès could open his mouth—before he had noticed where the jailer placed his bread or the water—before he had glanced towards the corner where the straw was, the jailer disappeared, taking with him the lamp and closing the door, leaving stamped upon the prisoner's mind the dim reflection of the dripping walls of his dungeon.

        Dantès was alone in darkness and in silence—cold as the shadows that he felt breathe on his burning forehead. With the first dawn of day the jailer returned, with orders to leave Dantès where he was. He found the prisoner in the same position, as if fixed there, his eyes swollen with weeping. He had passed the night standing, and without sleep. The jailer advanced; Dantès appeared not to perceive him. He touched him on the shoulder. Edmond started.

        "Have you not slept?" said the jailer.

        "I do not know," replied Dantès. The jailer stared.

        "Are you hungry?" continued he.

        "I do not know."

        "Do you wish for anything?"

        "I wish to see the governor." The jailer shrugged his shoulders and left the chamber.

        Dantès followed him with his eyes, and stretched forth his hands towards the open door; but the door closed. All his emotion then burst forth; he cast himself on the ground, weeping bitterly, and asking himself what crime he had committed that he was thus punished.

        The day passed thus; he scarcely tasted food, but walked round and round the cell like a wild beast in its cage. One thought in particular tormented him: namely, that during his journey hither he had sat so still, whereas he might, a dozen times, have plunged into the sea, and, thanks to his powers of swimming, for which he was famous, have gained the shore, concealed himself until the arrival of a Genoese or Spanish vessel, escaped to Spain or Italy, where Mercédès and his father could have joined him. He had no fears as to how he should live—good seamen are welcome everywhere. He spoke Italian like a Tuscan, and Spanish like a Castilian; he would have been free, and happy with Mercédès and his father, whereas he was now confined in the Château d'If, that impregnable fortress, ignorant of the future destiny of his father and Mercédès; and all this because he had trusted to Villefort's promise. The thought was maddening, and Dantès threw himself furiously down on his straw. The next morning at the same hour, the jailer came again.

        "Well," said the jailer, "are you more reasonable today?" Dantès made no reply.

        "Come, cheer up; is there anything that I can do for you?"

        "I wish to see the governor."

        "I have already told you it was impossible."

        "Why so?"

        "Because it is against prison rules, and prisoners must not even ask for it."

        "What is allowed, then?"

        "Better fare, if you pay for it, books, and leave to walk about."

        "I do not want books, I am satisfied with my food, and do not care to walk about; but I wish to see the governor."

        "If you worry me by repeating the same thing, I will not bring you any more to eat."

        "Well, then," said Edmond, "if you do not, I shall die of hunger—that is all."

        The jailer saw by his tone he would be happy to die; and as every prisoner is worth ten sous a day to his jailer, he replied in a more subdued tone.

        "What you ask is impossible; but if you are very well behaved you will be allowed to walk about, and some day you will meet the governor, and if he chooses to reply, that is his affair."

        "But," asked Dantès, "how long shall I have to wait?"

        "Ah, a month—six months—a year."

        "It is too long a time. I wish to see him at once."

        "Ah," said the jailer, "do not always brood over what is impossible, or you will be mad in a fortnight."

        "You think so?"

        "Yes; we have an instance here; it was by always offering a million of francs to the governor for his liberty that an abbé became mad, who was in this chamber before you."

        "How long has he left it?"

        "Two years."

        "Was he liberated, then?"

        "No; he was put in a dungeon."

        "Listen!" said Dantès. "I am not an abbé, I am not mad; perhaps I shall be, but at present, unfortunately, I am not. I will make you another offer."

        "What is that?"

        "I do not offer you a million, because I have it not; but I will give you a hundred crowns if, the first time you go to Marseilles, you will seek out a young girl named Mercédès, at the Catalans, and give her two lines from me."

        "If I took them, and were detected, I should lose my place, which is worth two thousand francs a year; so that I should be a great fool to run such a risk for three hundred."

        "Well," said Dantès, "mark this; if you refuse at least to tell Mercédès I am here, I will some day hide myself behind the door, and when you enter I will dash out your brains with this stool."

        "Threats!" cried the jailer, retreating and putting himself on the defensive; "you are certainly going mad. The abbé began like you, and in three days you will be like him, mad enough to tie up; but, fortunately, there are dungeons here." Dantès whirled the stool round his head.

        "All right, all right," said the jailer; "all right, since you will have it so. I will send word to the governor."

        "Very well," returned Dantès, dropping the stool and sitting on it as if he were in reality mad. The jailer went out, and returned in an instant with a corporal and four soldiers.

        "By the governor's orders," said he, "conduct the prisoner to the tier beneath."

        "To the dungeon, then," said the corporal.

        "Yes; we must put the madman with the madmen." The soldiers seized Dantès, who followed passively.

        He descended fifteen steps, and the door of a dungeon was opened, and he was thrust in. The door closed, and Dantès advanced with outstretched hands until he touched the wall; he then sat down in the corner until his eyes became accustomed to the darkness. The jailer was right; Dantès wanted but little of being utterly mad.

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Chapter 8 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Written by AlexandreDumas
The Château d'If
        The commissary of police, as he traversed the antechamber, made a sign to two gendarmes, who placed themselves one on Dantès' right and the other on his left. A door that communicated with the Palais de Justice was opened, and they went through a long range of gloomy corridors, whose appearance might have made even the boldest shudder.         The Palais de Justice communicated with the prison,—a sombre edifice, that from its grated windows looks on the clock-tower of the Accoules. After numberless windings, Dantès saw a door with an iron wicket. The commissary took up an iron mallet and knocked thrice, every blow seeming to Dantès as if struck on his heart. The door opened, the two gendarmes gently pushed him forward, and the door closed with a loud sound behind him. The air he inhaled was no longer pure, but thick and mephitic,—he was in prison.
        He was conducted to a tolerably neat chamber, but grated and barred, and its appearance, therefore, did not greatly alarm him; besides, the words of Villefort, who seemed to interest himself so much, resounded still in his ears like a promise of freedom. It was four o'clock when Dantès was placed in this chamber. It was, as we have said, the 1st of March, and the prisoner was soon buried in darkness. The obscurity augmented the acuteness of his hearing; at the slightest sound he rose and hastened to the door, convinced they were about to liberate him, but the sound died away, and Dantès sank again into his seat. At last, about ten o'clock, and just as Dantès began to despair, steps were heard in the corridor, a key turned in the lock, the bolts creaked, the massy oaken door flew open, and a flood of light from two torches pervaded the apartment.
        By the torchlight Dantès saw the glittering sabres and carbines of four gendarmes. He had advanced at first, but stopped at the sight of this display of force.
        "Are you come to fetch me?" asked he.
        "Yes," replied a gendarme.
        "By the orders of the deputy procureur?"
        "I believe so." The conviction that they came from M. de Villefort relieved all Dantès' apprehensions; he advanced calmly, and placed himself in the centre of the escort.         A carriage waited at the door, the coachman was on the box, and a police officer sat beside him.
        "Is this carriage for me?" said Dantès.
        "It is for you," replied a gendarme.
        Dantès was about to speak; but feeling himself urged forward, and having neither the power nor the intention to resist, he mounted the steps, and was in an instant seated inside between two gendarmes; the two others took their places opposite, and the carriage rolled heavily over the stones.
        The prisoner glanced at the windows—they were grated; he had changed his prison for another that was conveying him he knew not whither. Through the grating, however, Dantès saw they were passing through the Rue Caisserie, and by the Rue Saint-Laurent and the Rue Taramis, to the quay. Soon he saw the lights of La Consigne.
        The carriage stopped, the officer descended, approached the guardhouse, a dozen soldiers came out and formed themselves in order; Dantès saw the reflection of their muskets by the light of the lamps on the quay.
        "Can all this force be summoned on my account?" thought he.
        The officer opened the door, which was locked, and, without speaking a word, answered Dantès' question; for he saw between the ranks of the soldiers a passage formed from the carriage to the port. The two gendarmes who were opposite to him descended first, then he was ordered to alight and the gendarmes on each side of him followed his example. They advanced towards a boat, which a custom-house officer held by a chain, near the quay.
        The soldiers looked at Dantès with an air of stupid curiosity. In an instant he was placed in the stern-sheets of the boat, between the gendarmes, while the officer stationed himself at the bow; a shove sent the boat adrift, and four sturdy oarsmen impelled it rapidly towards the Pilon. At a shout from the boat, the chain that closes the mouth of the port was lowered and in a second they were, as Dantès knew, in the Frioul and outside the inner harbor.
        The prisoner's first feeling was of joy at again breathing the pure air—for air is freedom; but he soon sighed, for he passed before La Réserve, where he had that morning been so happy, and now through the open windows came the laughter and revelry of a ball. Dantès folded his hands, raised his eyes to heaven, and prayed fervently.
        The boat continued her voyage. They had passed the Tête de Morte, were now off the Anse du Pharo, and about to double the battery. This manœuvre was incomprehensible to Dantès.
        "Whither are you taking me?" asked he.
        "You will soon know."
        "But still——"
        "We are forbidden to give you any explanation." Dantès, trained in discipline, knew that nothing would be more absurd than to question subordinates, who were forbidden to reply; and so he remained silent.
        The most vague and wild thoughts passed through his mind. The boat they were in could not make a long voyage; there was no vessel at anchor outside the harbor; he thought, perhaps, they were going to leave him on some distant point. He was not bound, nor had they made any attempt to handcuff him; this seemed a good augury. Besides, had not the deputy, who had been so kind to him, told him that provided he did not pronounce the dreaded name of Noirtier, he had nothing to apprehend? Had not Villefort in his presence destroyed the fatal letter, the only proof against him?
        He waited silently, striving to pierce through the darkness.
        They had left the Ile Ratonneau, where the lighthouse stood, on the right, and were now opposite the Point des Catalans. It seemed to the prisoner that he could distinguish a feminine form on the beach, for it was there Mercédès dwelt. How was it that a presentiment did not warn Mercédès that her lover was within three hundred yards of her?
        One light alone was visible; and Dantès saw that it came from Mercédès' chamber. Mercédès was the only one awake in the whole settlement. A loud cry could be heard by her. But pride restrained him and he did not utter it. What would his guards think if they heard him shout like a madman?
        He remained silent, his eyes fixed upon the light; the boat went on, but the prisoner thought only of Mercédès. An intervening elevation of land hid the light. Dantès turned and perceived that they had got out to sea. While he had been absorbed in thought, they had shipped their oars and hoisted sail; the boat was now moving with the wind.
        In spite of his repugnance to address the guards, Dantès turned to the nearest gendarme, and taking his hand,—
        "Comrade," said he, "I adjure you, as a Christian and a soldier, to tell me where we are going. I am Captain Dantès, a loyal Frenchman, thought accused of treason; tell me where you are conducting me, and I promise you on my honor I will submit to my fate."
        The gendarme looked irresolutely at his companion, who returned for answer a sign that said, "I see no great harm in telling him now," and the gendarme replied,—
        "You are a native of Marseilles, and a sailor, and yet you do not know where you are going?"
        "On my honor, I have no idea."
        "Have you no idea whatever?"
        "None at all."
        "That is impossible."
        "I swear to you it is true. Tell me, I entreat."
        "But my orders."
        "Your orders do not forbid your telling me what I must know in ten minutes, in half an hour, or an hour. You see I cannot escape, even if I intended."
        "Unless you are blind, or have never been outside the harbor, you must know."
        "I do not."
        "Look round you then." Dantès rose and looked forward, when he saw rise within a hundred yards of him the black and frowning rock on which stands the Château d'If. This gloomy fortress, which has for more than three hundred years furnished food for so many wild legends, seemed to Dantès like a scaffold to a malefactor.
        "The Château d'If?" cried he, "what are we going there for?" The gendarme smiled.
        "I am not going there to be imprisoned," said Dantès; "it is only used for political prisoners. I have committed no crime. Are there any magistrates or judges at the Château d'If?"
        "There are only," said the gendarme, "a governor, a garrison, turnkeys, and good thick walls. Come, come, do not look so astonished, or you will make me think you are laughing at me in return for my good nature." Dantès pressed the gendarme's hand as though he would crush it.
        "You think, then," said he, "that I am taken to the Château d'If to be imprisoned there?"
        "It is probable; but there is no occasion to squeeze so hard."
        "Without any inquiry, without any formality?"
        "All the formalities have been gone through; the inquiry is already made."
        "And so, in spite of M. de Villefort's promises?"
        "I do not know what M. de Villefort promised you," said the gendarme, "but I know we are taking you to the Château d'If. But what are you doing? Help, comrades, help!"
        By a rapid movement, which the gendarme's practiced eye had perceived, Dantès sprang forward to precipitate himself into the sea; but four vigorous arms seized him as his feet quitted the bottom of the boat. He fell back cursing with rage.
        "Good!" said the gendarme, placing his knee on his chest; "believe soft-spoken gentlemen again! Hark ye, my friend, I have disobeyed my first order, but I will not disobey the second; and if you move, I will blow your brains out." And he levelled his carbine at Dantès, who felt the muzzle against his temple.
        For a moment the idea of struggling crossed his mind, and of so ending the unexpected evil that had overtaken him. But he bethought him of M. de Villefort's promise; and, besides, death in a boat from the hand of a gendarme seemed too terrible. He remained motionless, but gnashing his teeth and wringing his hands with fury.
        At this moment the boat came to a landing with a violent shock. One of the sailors leaped on shore, a cord creaked as it ran through a pulley, and Dantès guessed they were at the end of the voyage, and that they were mooring the boat.
        His guards, taking him by the arms and coat-collar, forced him to rise, and dragged him towards the steps that lead to the gate of the fortress, while the police officer carrying a musket with fixed bayonet followed behind.
        Dantès made no resistance; he was like a man in a dream: he saw soldiers drawn up on the embankment; he knew vaguely that he was ascending a flight of steps; he was conscious that he passed through a door, and that the door closed behind him; but all this indistinctly as through a mist. He did not even see the ocean, that terrible barrier against freedom, which the prisoners look upon with utter despair.
        They halted for a minute, during which he strove to collect his thoughts. He looked around; he was in a court surrounded by high walls; he heard the measured tread of sentinels, and as they passed before the light he saw the barrels of their muskets shine.
        They waited upwards of ten minutes. Certain Dantès could not escape, the gendarmes released him. They seemed awaiting orders. The orders came.
        "Where is the prisoner?" said a voice.
        "Here," replied the gendarmes.
        "Let him follow me; I will take him to his cell."
        "Go!" said the gendarmes, thrusting Dantès forward.
        The prisoner followed his guide, who led him into a room almost under ground, whose bare and reeking walls seemed as though impregnated with tears; a lamp placed on a stool illumined the apartment faintly, and showed Dantès the features of his conductor, an under-jailer, ill-clothed, and of sullen appearance.
        "Here is your chamber for tonight," said he. "It is late, and the governor is asleep. Tomorrow, perhaps, he may change you. In the meantime there is bread, water, and fresh straw; and that is all a prisoner can wish for. Goodnight." And before Dantès could open his mouth—before he had noticed where the jailer placed his bread or the water—before he had glanced towards the corner where the straw was, the jailer disappeared, taking with him the lamp and closing the door, leaving stamped upon the prisoner's mind the dim reflection of the dripping walls of his dungeon.
        Dantès was alone in darkness and in silence—cold as the shadows that he felt breathe on his burning forehead. With the first dawn of day the jailer returned, with orders to leave Dantès where he was. He found the prisoner in the same position, as if fixed there, his eyes swollen with weeping. He had passed the night standing, and without sleep. The jailer advanced; Dantès appeared not to perceive him. He touched him on the shoulder. Edmond started.
        "Have you not slept?" said the jailer.
        "I do not know," replied Dantès. The jailer stared.
        "Are you hungry?" continued he.
        "I do not know."
        "Do you wish for anything?"
        "I wish to see the governor." The jailer shrugged his shoulders and left the chamber.
        Dantès followed him with his eyes, and stretched forth his hands towards the open door; but the door closed. All his emotion then burst forth; he cast himself on the ground, weeping bitterly, and asking himself what crime he had committed that he was thus punished.
        The day passed thus; he scarcely tasted food, but walked round and round the cell like a wild beast in its cage. One thought in particular tormented him: namely, that during his journey hither he had sat so still, whereas he might, a dozen times, have plunged into the sea, and, thanks to his powers of swimming, for which he was famous, have gained the shore, concealed himself until the arrival of a Genoese or Spanish vessel, escaped to Spain or Italy, where Mercédès and his father could have joined him. He had no fears as to how he should live—good seamen are welcome everywhere. He spoke Italian like a Tuscan, and Spanish like a Castilian; he would have been free, and happy with Mercédès and his father, whereas he was now confined in the Château d'If, that impregnable fortress, ignorant of the future destiny of his father and Mercédès; and all this because he had trusted to Villefort's promise. The thought was maddening, and Dantès threw himself furiously down on his straw. The next morning at the same hour, the jailer came again.
        "Well," said the jailer, "are you more reasonable today?" Dantès made no reply.
        "Come, cheer up; is there anything that I can do for you?"
        "I wish to see the governor."
        "I have already told you it was impossible."
        "Why so?"
        "Because it is against prison rules, and prisoners must not even ask for it."
        "What is allowed, then?"
        "Better fare, if you pay for it, books, and leave to walk about."
        "I do not want books, I am satisfied with my food, and do not care to walk about; but I wish to see the governor."
        "If you worry me by repeating the same thing, I will not bring you any more to eat."
        "Well, then," said Edmond, "if you do not, I shall die of hunger—that is all."
        The jailer saw by his tone he would be happy to die; and as every prisoner is worth ten sous a day to his jailer, he replied in a more subdued tone.
        "What you ask is impossible; but if you are very well behaved you will be allowed to walk about, and some day you will meet the governor, and if he chooses to reply, that is his affair."
        "But," asked Dantès, "how long shall I have to wait?"
        "Ah, a month—six months—a year."
        "It is too long a time. I wish to see him at once."
        "Ah," said the jailer, "do not always brood over what is impossible, or you will be mad in a fortnight."
        "You think so?"
        "Yes; we have an instance here; it was by always offering a million of francs to the governor for his liberty that an abbé became mad, who was in this chamber before you."
        "How long has he left it?"
        "Two years."
        "Was he liberated, then?"
        "No; he was put in a dungeon."
        "Listen!" said Dantès. "I am not an abbé, I am not mad; perhaps I shall be, but at present, unfortunately, I am not. I will make you another offer."
        "What is that?"
        "I do not offer you a million, because I have it not; but I will give you a hundred crowns if, the first time you go to Marseilles, you will seek out a young girl named Mercédès, at the Catalans, and give her two lines from me."
        "If I took them, and were detected, I should lose my place, which is worth two thousand francs a year; so that I should be a great fool to run such a risk for three hundred."
        "Well," said Dantès, "mark this; if you refuse at least to tell Mercédès I am here, I will some day hide myself behind the door, and when you enter I will dash out your brains with this stool."
        "Threats!" cried the jailer, retreating and putting himself on the defensive; "you are certainly going mad. The abbé began like you, and in three days you will be like him, mad enough to tie up; but, fortunately, there are dungeons here." Dantès whirled the stool round his head.
        "All right, all right," said the jailer; "all right, since you will have it so. I will send word to the governor."
        "Very well," returned Dantès, dropping the stool and sitting on it as if he were in reality mad. The jailer went out, and returned in an instant with a corporal and four soldiers.
        "By the governor's orders," said he, "conduct the prisoner to the tier beneath."
        "To the dungeon, then," said the corporal.
        "Yes; we must put the madman with the madmen." The soldiers seized Dantès, who followed passively.
        He descended fifteen steps, and the door of a dungeon was opened, and he was thrust in. The door closed, and Dantès advanced with outstretched hands until he touched the wall; he then sat down in the corner until his eyes became accustomed to the darkness. The jailer was right; Dantès wanted but little of being utterly mad.

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Chapter 7 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Written by AlexandreDumas

The Examination

        No sooner had Villefort left the salon, than he assumed the grave air of a man who holds the balance of life and death in his hands. Now, in spite of the nobility of his countenance, the command of which, like a finished actor, he had carefully studied before the glass, it was by no means easy for him to assume an air of judicial severity. Except the recollection of the line of politics his father had adopted, and which might interfere, unless he acted with the greatest prudence, with his own career, Gérard de Villefort was as happy as a man could be. Already rich, he held a high official situation, though only twenty-seven. He was about to marry a young and charming woman, whom he loved, not passionately, but reasonably, as became a deputy attorney of the king; and besides her personal attractions, which were very great, Mademoiselle de Saint-Méran's family possessed considerable political influence, which they would, of course, exert in his favor.         The dowry of his wife amounted to fifty thousand crowns, and he had, besides, the prospect of seeing her fortune increased to half a million at her father's death. These considerations naturally gave Villefort a feeling of such complete felicity that his mind was fairly dazzled in its contemplation.

        At the door he met the commissary of police, who was waiting for him. The sight of this officer recalled Villefort from the third heaven to earth; he composed his face, as we have before described, and said, "I have read the letter, sir, and you have acted rightly in arresting this man; now inform me what you have discovered concerning him and the conspiracy."

        "We know nothing as yet of the conspiracy, monsieur; all the papers found have been sealed up and placed on your desk. The prisoner himself is named Edmond Dantès, mate on board the three-master the Pharaon, trading in cotton with Alexandria and Smyrna, and belonging to Morrel & Son, of Marseilles."

        "Before he entered the merchant service, had he ever served in the marines?"

        "Oh, no, monsieur, he is very young."

        "How old?"

        "Nineteen or twenty at the most."

        At this moment, and as Villefort had arrived at the corner of the Rue des Conseils, a man, who seemed to have been waiting for him, approached; it was M. Morrel.

        "Ah, M. de Villefort," cried he, "I am delighted to see you. Some of your people have committed the strangest mistake—they have just arrested Edmond Dantès, mate of my vessel."

        "I know it, monsieur," replied Villefort, "and I am now going to examine him."

        "Oh," said Morrel, carried away by his friendship, "you do not know him, and I do. He is the most estimable, the most trustworthy creature in the world, and I will venture to say, there is not a better seaman in all the merchant service. Oh, M. de Villefort, I beseech your indulgence for him."

        Villefort, as we have seen, belonged to the aristocratic party at Marseilles, Morrel to the plebeian; the first was a royalist, the other suspected of Bonapartism. Villefort looked disdainfully at Morrel, and replied,—

        "You are aware, monsieur, that a man may be estimable and trustworthy in private life, and the best seaman in the merchant service, and yet be, politically speaking, a great criminal. Is it not true?"

        The magistrate laid emphasis on these words, as if he wished to apply them to the owner himself, while his eyes seemed to plunge into the heart of one who, interceding for another, had himself need of indulgence. Morrel reddened, for his own conscience was not quite clear on politics; besides, what Dantès had told him of his interview with the grand-marshal, and what the emperor had said to him, embarrassed him. He replied, however,—

        "I entreat you, M. de Villefort, be, as you always are, kind and equitable, and give him back to us soon." This give us sounded revolutionary in the deputy's ears.

        "Ah, ah," murmured he, "is Dantès then a member of some Carbonari society, that his protector thus employs the collective form? He was, if I recollect, arrested in a tavern, in company with a great many others." Then he added, "Monsieur, you may rest assured I shall perform my duty impartially, and that if he be innocent you shall not have appealed to me in vain; should he, however, be guilty, in this present epoch, impunity would furnish a dangerous example, and I must do my duty."

        As he had now arrived at the door of his own house, which adjoined the Palais de Justice, he entered, after having, coldly saluted the shipowner, who stood, as if petrified, on the spot where Villefort had left him. The antechamber was full of police agents and gendarmes, in the midst of whom, carefully watched, but calm and smiling, stood the prisoner. Villefort traversed the antechamber, cast a side glance at Dantès, and taking a packet which a gendarme offered him, disappeared, saying, "Bring in the prisoner."

        Rapid as had been Villefort's glance, it had served to give him an idea of the man he was about to interrogate. He had recognized intelligence in the high forehead, courage in the dark eye and bent brow, and frankness in the thick lips that showed a set of pearly teeth. Villefort's first impression was favorable; but he had been so often warned to mistrust first impulses, that he applied the maxim to the impression, forgetting the difference between the two words. He stifled, therefore, the feelings of compassion that were rising, composed his features, and sat down, grim and sombre, at his desk. An instant after Dantès entered. He was pale, but calm and collected, and saluting his judge with easy politeness, looked round for a seat, as if he had been in M. Morrel's salon. It was then that he encountered for the first time Villefort's look,—that look peculiar to the magistrate, who, while seeming to read the thoughts of others, betrays nothing of his own.

        "Who and what are you?" demanded Villefort, turning over a pile of papers, containing information relative to the prisoner, that a police agent had given to him on his entry, and that, already, in an hour's time, had swelled to voluminous proportions, thanks to the corrupt espionage of which "the accused" is always made the victim.

        "My name is Edmond Dantès," replied the young man calmly; "I am mate of the Pharaon, belonging to Messrs. Morrel & Son."

        "Your age?" continued Villefort.

        "Nineteen," returned Dantès.

        "What were you doing at the moment you were arrested?"

        "I was at the festival of my marriage, monsieur," said the young man, his voice slightly tremulous, so great was the contrast between that happy moment and the painful ceremony he was now undergoing; so great was the contrast between the sombre aspect of M. de Villefort and the radiant face of Mercédès.

        "You were at the festival of your marriage?" said the deputy, shuddering in spite of himself.

        "Yes, monsieur; I am on the point of marrying a young girl I have been attached to for three years." Villefort, impassive as he was, was struck with this coincidence; and the tremulous voice of Dantès, surprised in the midst of his happiness, struck a sympathetic chord in his own bosom—he also was on the point of being married, and he was summoned from his own happiness to destroy that of another. "This philosophic reflection," thought he, "will make a great sensation at M. de Saint-Méran's;" and he arranged mentally, while Dantès awaited further questions, the antithesis by which orators often create a reputation for eloquence. When this speech was arranged, Villefort turned to Dantès.

        "Go on, sir," said he.

        "What would you have me say?"

        "Give all the information in your power."

        "Tell me on which point you desire information, and I will tell all I know; only," added he, with a smile, "I warn you I know very little."

        "Have you served under the usurper?"

        "I was about to be mustered into the Royal Marines when he fell."

        "It is reported your political opinions are extreme," said Villefort, who had never heard anything of the kind, but was not sorry to make this inquiry, as if it were an accusation.

        "My political opinions!" replied Dantès. "Alas, sir, I never had any opinions. I am hardly nineteen; I know nothing; I have no part to play. If I obtain the situation I desire, I shall owe it to M. Morrel. Thus all my opinions—I will not say public, but private—are confined to these three sentiments,—I love my father, I respect M. Morrel, and I adore Mercédès. This, sir, is all I can tell you, and you see how uninteresting it is." As Dantès spoke, Villefort gazed at his ingenuous and open countenance, and recollected the words of Renée, who, without knowing who the culprit was, had besought his indulgence for him. With the deputy's knowledge of crime and criminals, every word the young man uttered convinced him more and more of his innocence. This lad, for he was scarcely a man,—simple, natural, eloquent with that eloquence of the heart never found when sought for; full of affection for everybody, because he was happy, and because happiness renders even the wicked good—extended his affection even to his judge, spite of Villefort's severe look and stern accent. Dantès seemed full of kindness.

        "Pardieu!" said Villefort, "he is a noble fellow. I hope I shall gain Renée's favor easily by obeying the first command she ever imposed on me. I shall have at least a pressure of the hand in public, and a sweet kiss in private." Full of this idea, Villefort's face became so joyous, that when he turned to Dantès, the latter, who had watched the change on his physiognomy, was smiling also.

        "Sir," said Villefort, "have you any enemies, at least, that you know."

        "I have enemies?" replied Dantès; "my position is not sufficiently elevated for that. As for my disposition, that is, perhaps, somewhat too hasty; but I have striven to repress it. I have had ten or twelve sailors under me, and if you question them, they will tell you that they love and respect me, not as a father, for I am too young, but as an elder brother."

        "But you may have excited jealousy. You are about to become captain at nineteen—an elevated post; you are about to marry a pretty girl, who loves you; and these two pieces of good fortune may have excited the envy of someone."

        "You are right; you know men better than I do, and what you say may possibly be the case, I confess; but if such persons are among my acquaintances I prefer not to know it, because then I should be forced to hate them."

        "You are wrong; you should always strive to see clearly around you. You seem a worthy young man; I will depart from the strict line of my duty to aid you in discovering the author of this accusation. Here is the paper; do you know the writing?" As he spoke, Villefort drew the letter from his pocket, and presented it to Dantès. Dantès read it. A cloud passed over his brow as he said,—

        "No, monsieur, I do not know the writing, and yet it is tolerably plain. Whoever did it writes well. I am very fortunate," added he, looking gratefully at Villefort, "to be examined by such a man as you; for this envious person is a real enemy." And by the rapid glance that the young man's eyes shot forth, Villefort saw how much energy lay hid beneath this mildness.

        "Now," said the deputy, "answer me frankly, not as a prisoner to a judge, but as one man to another who takes an interest in him, what truth is there in the accusation contained in this anonymous letter?" And Villefort threw disdainfully on his desk the letter Dantès had just given back to him.

        "None at all. I will tell you the real facts. I swear by my honor as a sailor, by my love for Mercédès, by the life of my father——"

        "Speak, monsieur," said Villefort. Then, internally, "If Renée could see me, I hope she would be satisfied, and would no longer call me a decapitator."

        "Well, when we quitted Naples, Captain Leclere was attacked with a brain fever. As we had no doctor on board, and he was so anxious to arrive at Elba, that he would not touch at any other port, his disorder rose to such a height, that at the end of the third day, feeling he was dying, he called me to him. 'My dear Dantès,' said he, 'swear to perform what I am going to tell you, for it is a matter of the deepest importance.'

        "'I swear, captain,' replied I.

        "'Well, as after my death the command devolves on you as mate, assume the command, and bear up for the Island of Elba, disembark at Porto-Ferrajo, ask for the grand-marshal, give him this letter—perhaps they will give you another letter, and charge you with a commission. You will accomplish what I was to have done, and derive all the honor and profit from it.'

        "'I will do it, captain; but perhaps I shall not be admitted to the grand-marshal's presence as easily as you expect?'

        "'Here is a ring that will obtain audience of him, and remove every difficulty,' said the captain. At these words he gave me a ring. It was time—two hours after he was delirious; the next day he died."

        "And what did you do then?"

        "What I ought to have done, and what everyone would have done in my place. Everywhere the last requests of a dying man are sacred; but with a sailor the last requests of his superior are commands. I sailed for the Island of Elba, where I arrived the next day; I ordered everybody to remain on board, and went on shore alone. As I had expected, I found some difficulty in obtaining access to the grand-marshal; but I sent the ring I had received from the captain to him, and was instantly admitted. He questioned me concerning Captain Leclere's death; and, as the latter had told me, gave me a letter to carry on to a person in Paris. I undertook it because it was what my captain had bade me do. I landed here, regulated the affairs of the vessel, and hastened to visit my affianced bride, whom I found more lovely than ever. Thanks to M. Morrel, all the forms were got over; in a word I was, as I told you, at my marriage feast; and I should have been married in an hour, and tomorrow I intended to start for Paris, had I not been arrested on this charge which you as well as I now see to be unjust."

        "Ah," said Villefort, "this seems to me the truth. If you have been culpable, it was imprudence, and this imprudence was in obedience to the orders of your captain. Give up this letter you have brought from Elba, and pass your word you will appear should you be required, and go and rejoin your friends.

        "I am free, then, sir?" cried Dantès joyfully.

        "Yes; but first give me this letter."

        "You have it already, for it was taken from me with some others which I see in that packet."

        "Stop a moment," said the deputy, as Dantès took his hat and gloves. "To whom is it addressed?"

        "To Monsieur Noirtier, Rue Coq-Héron, Paris." Had a thunderbolt fallen into the room, Villefort could not have been more stupefied. He sank into his seat, and hastily turning over the packet, drew forth the fatal letter, at which he glanced with an expression of terror.

        "M. Noirtier, Rue Coq-Héron, No. 13," murmured he, growing still paler.

        "Yes," said Dantès; "do you know him?"

        "No," replied Villefort; "a faithful servant of the king does not know conspirators."

        "It is a conspiracy, then?" asked Dantès, who after believing himself free, now began to feel a tenfold alarm. "I have, however, already told you, sir, I was entirely ignorant of the contents of the letter."

        "Yes; but you knew the name of the person to whom it was addressed," said Villefort.

        "I was forced to read the address to know to whom to give it."

        "Have you shown this letter to anyone?" asked Villefort, becoming still more pale.

        "To no one, on my honor."

        "Everybody is ignorant that you are the bearer of a letter from the Island of Elba, and addressed to M. Noirtier?"

        "Everybody, except the person who gave it to me."

        "And that was too much, far too much," murmured Villefort. Villefort's brow darkened more and more, his white lips and clenched teeth filled Dantès with apprehension. After reading the letter, Villefort covered his face with his hands.

        "Oh," said Dantès timidly, "what is the matter?" Villefort made no answer, but raised his head at the expiration of a few seconds, and again perused the letter.

        "And you say that you are ignorant of the contents of this letter?"

        "I give you my word of honor, sir," said Dantès; "but what is the matter? You are ill—shall I ring for assistance?—shall I call?"

        "No," said Villefort, rising hastily; "stay where you are. It is for me to give orders here, and not you."

        "Monsieur," replied Dantès proudly, "it was only to summon assistance for you."

        "I want none; it was a temporary indisposition. Attend to yourself; answer me." Dantès waited, expecting a question, but in vain. Villefort fell back on his chair, passed his hand over his brow, moist with perspiration, and, for the third time, read the letter.

        "Oh, if he knows the contents of this!" murmured he, "and that Noirtier is the father of Villefort, I am lost!" And he fixed his eyes upon Edmond as if he would have penetrated his thoughts.

        "Oh, it is impossible to doubt it," cried he, suddenly.

        "In heaven's name!" cried the unhappy young man, "if you doubt me, question me; I will answer you." Villefort made a violent effort, and in a tone he strove to render firm,—

        "Sir," said he, "I am no longer able, as I had hoped, to restore you immediately to liberty; before doing so, I must consult the trial justice; what my own feeling is you already know."

        "Oh, monsieur," cried Dantès, "you have been rather a friend than a judge."

        "Well, I must detain you some time longer, but I will strive to make it as short as possible. The principal charge against you is this letter, and you see——" Villefort approached the fire, cast it in, and waited until it was entirely consumed.

        "You see, I destroy it?"

        "Oh," exclaimed Dantès, "you are goodness itself."

        "Listen," continued Villefort; "you can now have confidence in me after what I have done."

        "Oh, command, and I will obey."

        "Listen; this is not a command, but advice I give you."

        "Speak, and I will follow your advice."

        "I shall detain you until this evening in the Palais de Justice. Should anyone else interrogate you, say to him what you have said to me, but do not breathe a word of this letter."

        "I promise." It was Villefort who seemed to entreat, and the prisoner who reassured him.

        "You see," continued he, glancing toward the grate, where fragments of burnt paper fluttered in the flames, "the letter is destroyed; you and I alone know of its existence; should you, therefore, be questioned, deny all knowledge of it—deny it boldly, and you are saved."

        "Be satisfied; I will deny it."

        "It was the only letter you had?"

        "It was."

        "Swear it."

        "I swear it."

        Villefort rang. A police agent entered. Villefort whispered some words in his ear, to which the officer replied by a motion of his head.

        "Follow him," said Villefort to Dantès. Dantès saluted Villefort and retired. Hardly had the door closed when Villefort threw himself half-fainting into a chair.

        "Alas, alas," murmured he, "if the procureur himself had been at Marseilles I should have been ruined. This accursed letter would have destroyed all my hopes. Oh, my father, must your past career always interfere with my successes?" Suddenly a light passed over his face, a smile played round his set mouth, and his haggard eyes were fixed in thought.

        "This will do," said he, "and from this letter, which might have ruined me, I will make my fortune. Now to the work I have in hand." And after having assured himself that the prisoner was gone, the deputy procureur hastened to the house of his betrothed.

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Chapter 7 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Written by AlexandreDumas
The Examination
        No sooner had Villefort left the salon, than he assumed the grave air of a man who holds the balance of life and death in his hands. Now, in spite of the nobility of his countenance, the command of which, like a finished actor, he had carefully studied before the glass, it was by no means easy for him to assume an air of judicial severity. Except the recollection of the line of politics his father had adopted, and which might interfere, unless he acted with the greatest prudence, with his own career, Gérard de Villefort was as happy as a man could be. Already rich, he held a high official situation, though only twenty-seven. He was about to marry a young and charming woman, whom he loved, not passionately, but reasonably, as became a deputy attorney of the king; and besides her personal attractions, which were very great, Mademoiselle de Saint-Méran's family possessed considerable political influence, which they would, of course, exert in his favor.         The dowry of his wife amounted to fifty thousand crowns, and he had, besides, the prospect of seeing her fortune increased to half a million at her father's death. These considerations naturally gave Villefort a feeling of such complete felicity that his mind was fairly dazzled in its contemplation.
        At the door he met the commissary of police, who was waiting for him. The sight of this officer recalled Villefort from the third heaven to earth; he composed his face, as we have before described, and said, "I have read the letter, sir, and you have acted rightly in arresting this man; now inform me what you have discovered concerning him and the conspiracy."
        "We know nothing as yet of the conspiracy, monsieur; all the papers found have been sealed up and placed on your desk. The prisoner himself is named Edmond Dantès, mate on board the three-master the Pharaon, trading in cotton with Alexandria and Smyrna, and belonging to Morrel & Son, of Marseilles."
        "Before he entered the merchant service, had he ever served in the marines?"
        "Oh, no, monsieur, he is very young."
        "How old?"
        "Nineteen or twenty at the most."
        At this moment, and as Villefort had arrived at the corner of the Rue des Conseils, a man, who seemed to have been waiting for him, approached; it was M. Morrel.
        "Ah, M. de Villefort," cried he, "I am delighted to see you. Some of your people have committed the strangest mistake—they have just arrested Edmond Dantès, mate of my vessel."
        "I know it, monsieur," replied Villefort, "and I am now going to examine him."
        "Oh," said Morrel, carried away by his friendship, "you do not know him, and I do. He is the most estimable, the most trustworthy creature in the world, and I will venture to say, there is not a better seaman in all the merchant service. Oh, M. de Villefort, I beseech your indulgence for him."
        Villefort, as we have seen, belonged to the aristocratic party at Marseilles, Morrel to the plebeian; the first was a royalist, the other suspected of Bonapartism. Villefort looked disdainfully at Morrel, and replied,—
        "You are aware, monsieur, that a man may be estimable and trustworthy in private life, and the best seaman in the merchant service, and yet be, politically speaking, a great criminal. Is it not true?"
        The magistrate laid emphasis on these words, as if he wished to apply them to the owner himself, while his eyes seemed to plunge into the heart of one who, interceding for another, had himself need of indulgence. Morrel reddened, for his own conscience was not quite clear on politics; besides, what Dantès had told him of his interview with the grand-marshal, and what the emperor had said to him, embarrassed him. He replied, however,—
        "I entreat you, M. de Villefort, be, as you always are, kind and equitable, and give him back to us soon." This give us sounded revolutionary in the deputy's ears.
        "Ah, ah," murmured he, "is Dantès then a member of some Carbonari society, that his protector thus employs the collective form? He was, if I recollect, arrested in a tavern, in company with a great many others." Then he added, "Monsieur, you may rest assured I shall perform my duty impartially, and that if he be innocent you shall not have appealed to me in vain; should he, however, be guilty, in this present epoch, impunity would furnish a dangerous example, and I must do my duty."
        As he had now arrived at the door of his own house, which adjoined the Palais de Justice, he entered, after having, coldly saluted the shipowner, who stood, as if petrified, on the spot where Villefort had left him. The antechamber was full of police agents and gendarmes, in the midst of whom, carefully watched, but calm and smiling, stood the prisoner. Villefort traversed the antechamber, cast a side glance at Dantès, and taking a packet which a gendarme offered him, disappeared, saying, "Bring in the prisoner."
        Rapid as had been Villefort's glance, it had served to give him an idea of the man he was about to interrogate. He had recognized intelligence in the high forehead, courage in the dark eye and bent brow, and frankness in the thick lips that showed a set of pearly teeth. Villefort's first impression was favorable; but he had been so often warned to mistrust first impulses, that he applied the maxim to the impression, forgetting the difference between the two words. He stifled, therefore, the feelings of compassion that were rising, composed his features, and sat down, grim and sombre, at his desk. An instant after Dantès entered. He was pale, but calm and collected, and saluting his judge with easy politeness, looked round for a seat, as if he had been in M. Morrel's salon. It was then that he encountered for the first time Villefort's look,—that look peculiar to the magistrate, who, while seeming to read the thoughts of others, betrays nothing of his own.
        "Who and what are you?" demanded Villefort, turning over a pile of papers, containing information relative to the prisoner, that a police agent had given to him on his entry, and that, already, in an hour's time, had swelled to voluminous proportions, thanks to the corrupt espionage of which "the accused" is always made the victim.
        "My name is Edmond Dantès," replied the young man calmly; "I am mate of the Pharaon, belonging to Messrs. Morrel & Son."
        "Your age?" continued Villefort.
        "Nineteen," returned Dantès.
        "What were you doing at the moment you were arrested?"
        "I was at the festival of my marriage, monsieur," said the young man, his voice slightly tremulous, so great was the contrast between that happy moment and the painful ceremony he was now undergoing; so great was the contrast between the sombre aspect of M. de Villefort and the radiant face of Mercédès.
        "You were at the festival of your marriage?" said the deputy, shuddering in spite of himself.
        "Yes, monsieur; I am on the point of marrying a young girl I have been attached to for three years." Villefort, impassive as he was, was struck with this coincidence; and the tremulous voice of Dantès, surprised in the midst of his happiness, struck a sympathetic chord in his own bosom—he also was on the point of being married, and he was summoned from his own happiness to destroy that of another. "This philosophic reflection," thought he, "will make a great sensation at M. de Saint-Méran's;" and he arranged mentally, while Dantès awaited further questions, the antithesis by which orators often create a reputation for eloquence. When this speech was arranged, Villefort turned to Dantès.
        "Go on, sir," said he.
        "What would you have me say?"
        "Give all the information in your power."
        "Tell me on which point you desire information, and I will tell all I know; only," added he, with a smile, "I warn you I know very little."
        "Have you served under the usurper?"
        "I was about to be mustered into the Royal Marines when he fell."
        "It is reported your political opinions are extreme," said Villefort, who had never heard anything of the kind, but was not sorry to make this inquiry, as if it were an accusation.
        "My political opinions!" replied Dantès. "Alas, sir, I never had any opinions. I am hardly nineteen; I know nothing; I have no part to play. If I obtain the situation I desire, I shall owe it to M. Morrel. Thus all my opinions—I will not say public, but private—are confined to these three sentiments,—I love my father, I respect M. Morrel, and I adore Mercédès. This, sir, is all I can tell you, and you see how uninteresting it is." As Dantès spoke, Villefort gazed at his ingenuous and open countenance, and recollected the words of Renée, who, without knowing who the culprit was, had besought his indulgence for him. With the deputy's knowledge of crime and criminals, every word the young man uttered convinced him more and more of his innocence. This lad, for he was scarcely a man,—simple, natural, eloquent with that eloquence of the heart never found when sought for; full of affection for everybody, because he was happy, and because happiness renders even the wicked good—extended his affection even to his judge, spite of Villefort's severe look and stern accent. Dantès seemed full of kindness.
        "Pardieu!" said Villefort, "he is a noble fellow. I hope I shall gain Renée's favor easily by obeying the first command she ever imposed on me. I shall have at least a pressure of the hand in public, and a sweet kiss in private." Full of this idea, Villefort's face became so joyous, that when he turned to Dantès, the latter, who had watched the change on his physiognomy, was smiling also.
        "Sir," said Villefort, "have you any enemies, at least, that you know."
        "I have enemies?" replied Dantès; "my position is not sufficiently elevated for that. As for my disposition, that is, perhaps, somewhat too hasty; but I have striven to repress it. I have had ten or twelve sailors under me, and if you question them, they will tell you that they love and respect me, not as a father, for I am too young, but as an elder brother."
        "But you may have excited jealousy. You are about to become captain at nineteen—an elevated post; you are about to marry a pretty girl, who loves you; and these two pieces of good fortune may have excited the envy of someone."
        "You are right; you know men better than I do, and what you say may possibly be the case, I confess; but if such persons are among my acquaintances I prefer not to know it, because then I should be forced to hate them."
        "You are wrong; you should always strive to see clearly around you. You seem a worthy young man; I will depart from the strict line of my duty to aid you in discovering the author of this accusation. Here is the paper; do you know the writing?" As he spoke, Villefort drew the letter from his pocket, and presented it to Dantès. Dantès read it. A cloud passed over his brow as he said,—
        "No, monsieur, I do not know the writing, and yet it is tolerably plain. Whoever did it writes well. I am very fortunate," added he, looking gratefully at Villefort, "to be examined by such a man as you; for this envious person is a real enemy." And by the rapid glance that the young man's eyes shot forth, Villefort saw how much energy lay hid beneath this mildness.
        "Now," said the deputy, "answer me frankly, not as a prisoner to a judge, but as one man to another who takes an interest in him, what truth is there in the accusation contained in this anonymous letter?" And Villefort threw disdainfully on his desk the letter Dantès had just given back to him.
        "None at all. I will tell you the real facts. I swear by my honor as a sailor, by my love for Mercédès, by the life of my father——"
        "Speak, monsieur," said Villefort. Then, internally, "If Renée could see me, I hope she would be satisfied, and would no longer call me a decapitator."
        "Well, when we quitted Naples, Captain Leclere was attacked with a brain fever. As we had no doctor on board, and he was so anxious to arrive at Elba, that he would not touch at any other port, his disorder rose to such a height, that at the end of the third day, feeling he was dying, he called me to him. 'My dear Dantès,' said he, 'swear to perform what I am going to tell you, for it is a matter of the deepest importance.'
        "'I swear, captain,' replied I.
        "'Well, as after my death the command devolves on you as mate, assume the command, and bear up for the Island of Elba, disembark at Porto-Ferrajo, ask for the grand-marshal, give him this letter—perhaps they will give you another letter, and charge you with a commission. You will accomplish what I was to have done, and derive all the honor and profit from it.'
        "'I will do it, captain; but perhaps I shall not be admitted to the grand-marshal's presence as easily as you expect?'
        "'Here is a ring that will obtain audience of him, and remove every difficulty,' said the captain. At these words he gave me a ring. It was time—two hours after he was delirious; the next day he died."
        "And what did you do then?"
        "What I ought to have done, and what everyone would have done in my place. Everywhere the last requests of a dying man are sacred; but with a sailor the last requests of his superior are commands. I sailed for the Island of Elba, where I arrived the next day; I ordered everybody to remain on board, and went on shore alone. As I had expected, I found some difficulty in obtaining access to the grand-marshal; but I sent the ring I had received from the captain to him, and was instantly admitted. He questioned me concerning Captain Leclere's death; and, as the latter had told me, gave me a letter to carry on to a person in Paris. I undertook it because it was what my captain had bade me do. I landed here, regulated the affairs of the vessel, and hastened to visit my affianced bride, whom I found more lovely than ever. Thanks to M. Morrel, all the forms were got over; in a word I was, as I told you, at my marriage feast; and I should have been married in an hour, and tomorrow I intended to start for Paris, had I not been arrested on this charge which you as well as I now see to be unjust."
        "Ah," said Villefort, "this seems to me the truth. If you have been culpable, it was imprudence, and this imprudence was in obedience to the orders of your captain. Give up this letter you have brought from Elba, and pass your word you will appear should you be required, and go and rejoin your friends.
        "I am free, then, sir?" cried Dantès joyfully.
        "Yes; but first give me this letter."
        "You have it already, for it was taken from me with some others which I see in that packet."
        "Stop a moment," said the deputy, as Dantès took his hat and gloves. "To whom is it addressed?"
        "To Monsieur Noirtier, Rue Coq-Héron, Paris." Had a thunderbolt fallen into the room, Villefort could not have been more stupefied. He sank into his seat, and hastily turning over the packet, drew forth the fatal letter, at which he glanced with an expression of terror.
        "M. Noirtier, Rue Coq-Héron, No. 13," murmured he, growing still paler.
        "Yes," said Dantès; "do you know him?"
        "No," replied Villefort; "a faithful servant of the king does not know conspirators."
        "It is a conspiracy, then?" asked Dantès, who after believing himself free, now began to feel a tenfold alarm. "I have, however, already told you, sir, I was entirely ignorant of the contents of the letter."
        "Yes; but you knew the name of the person to whom it was addressed," said Villefort.
        "I was forced to read the address to know to whom to give it."
        "Have you shown this letter to anyone?" asked Villefort, becoming still more pale.
        "To no one, on my honor."
        "Everybody is ignorant that you are the bearer of a letter from the Island of Elba, and addressed to M. Noirtier?"
        "Everybody, except the person who gave it to me."
        "And that was too much, far too much," murmured Villefort. Villefort's brow darkened more and more, his white lips and clenched teeth filled Dantès with apprehension. After reading the letter, Villefort covered his face with his hands.
        "Oh," said Dantès timidly, "what is the matter?" Villefort made no answer, but raised his head at the expiration of a few seconds, and again perused the letter.
        "And you say that you are ignorant of the contents of this letter?"
        "I give you my word of honor, sir," said Dantès; "but what is the matter? You are ill—shall I ring for assistance?—shall I call?"
        "No," said Villefort, rising hastily; "stay where you are. It is for me to give orders here, and not you."
        "Monsieur," replied Dantès proudly, "it was only to summon assistance for you."
        "I want none; it was a temporary indisposition. Attend to yourself; answer me." Dantès waited, expecting a question, but in vain. Villefort fell back on his chair, passed his hand over his brow, moist with perspiration, and, for the third time, read the letter.
        "Oh, if he knows the contents of this!" murmured he, "and that Noirtier is the father of Villefort, I am lost!" And he fixed his eyes upon Edmond as if he would have penetrated his thoughts.
        "Oh, it is impossible to doubt it," cried he, suddenly.
        "In heaven's name!" cried the unhappy young man, "if you doubt me, question me; I will answer you." Villefort made a violent effort, and in a tone he strove to render firm,—
        "Sir," said he, "I am no longer able, as I had hoped, to restore you immediately to liberty; before doing so, I must consult the trial justice; what my own feeling is you already know."
        "Oh, monsieur," cried Dantès, "you have been rather a friend than a judge."
        "Well, I must detain you some time longer, but I will strive to make it as short as possible. The principal charge against you is this letter, and you see——" Villefort approached the fire, cast it in, and waited until it was entirely consumed.
        "You see, I destroy it?"
        "Oh," exclaimed Dantès, "you are goodness itself."
        "Listen," continued Villefort; "you can now have confidence in me after what I have done."
        "Oh, command, and I will obey."
        "Listen; this is not a command, but advice I give you."
        "Speak, and I will follow your advice."
        "I shall detain you until this evening in the Palais de Justice. Should anyone else interrogate you, say to him what you have said to me, but do not breathe a word of this letter."
        "I promise." It was Villefort who seemed to entreat, and the prisoner who reassured him.
        "You see," continued he, glancing toward the grate, where fragments of burnt paper fluttered in the flames, "the letter is destroyed; you and I alone know of its existence; should you, therefore, be questioned, deny all knowledge of it—deny it boldly, and you are saved."
        "Be satisfied; I will deny it."
        "It was the only letter you had?"
        "It was."
        "Swear it."
        "I swear it."
        Villefort rang. A police agent entered. Villefort whispered some words in his ear, to which the officer replied by a motion of his head.
        "Follow him," said Villefort to Dantès. Dantès saluted Villefort and retired. Hardly had the door closed when Villefort threw himself half-fainting into a chair.
        "Alas, alas," murmured he, "if the procureur himself had been at Marseilles I should have been ruined. This accursed letter would have destroyed all my hopes. Oh, my father, must your past career always interfere with my successes?" Suddenly a light passed over his face, a smile played round his set mouth, and his haggard eyes were fixed in thought.
        "This will do," said he, "and from this letter, which might have ruined me, I will make my fortune. Now to the work I have in hand." And after having assured himself that the prisoner was gone, the deputy procureur hastened to the house of his betrothed.
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Chapter 6 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Written by AlexandreDumas

The Deputy Procureur du Roi

        In one of the aristocratic mansions built by Puget in the Rue du Grand Cours opposite the Medusa fountain, a second marriage feast was being celebrated, almost at the same hour with the nuptial repast given by Dantès. In this case, however, although the occasion of the entertainment was similar, the company was strikingly dissimilar. Instead of a rude mixture of sailors, soldiers, and those belonging to the humblest grade of life, the present assembly was composed of the very flower of Marseilles society,—magistrates who had resigned their office during the usurper's reign; officers who had deserted from the imperial army and joined forces with Condé; and younger members of families, brought up to hate and execrate the man whom five years of exile would convert into a martyr, and fifteen of restoration elevate to the rank of a god.

        The guests were still at table, and the heated and energetic conversation that prevailed betrayed the violent and vindictive passions that then agitated each dweller of the South, where unhappily, for five centuries religious strife had long given increased bitterness to the violence of party feeling.

        The emperor, now king of the petty Island of Elba, after having held sovereign sway over one-half of the world, counting as his subjects a small population of five or six thousand souls,—after having been accustomed to hear the "Vive Napoléons" of a hundred and twenty millions of human beings, uttered in ten different languages,—was looked upon here as a ruined man, separated forever from any fresh connection with France or claim to her throne.

        The magistrates freely discussed their political views; the military part of the company talked unreservedly of Moscow and Leipsic, while the women commented on the divorce of Josephine. It was not over the downfall of the man, but over the defeat of the Napoleonic idea, that they rejoiced, and in this they foresaw for themselves the bright and cheering prospect of a revivified political existence.

        An old man, decorated with the cross of Saint Louis, now rose and proposed the health of King Louis XVIII. It was the Marquis de Saint-Méran. This toast, recalling at once the patient exile of Hartwell and the peace-loving King of France, excited universal enthusiasm; glasses were elevated in the air à l'Anglaise, and the ladies, snatching their bouquets from their fair bosoms, strewed the table with their floral treasures. In a word, an almost poetical fervor prevailed.

        "Ah," said the Marquise de Saint-Méran, a woman with a stern, forbidding eye, though still noble and distinguished in appearance, despite her fifty years—"ah, these revolutionists, who have driven us from those very possessions they afterwards purchased for a mere trifle during the Reign of Terror, would be compelled to own, were they here, that all true devotion was on our side, since we were content to follow the fortunes of a falling monarch, while they, on the contrary, made their fortune by worshipping the rising sun; yes, yes, they could not help admitting that the king, for whom we sacrificed rank, wealth, and station was truly our 'Louis the well-beloved,' while their wretched usurper has been, and ever will be, to them their evil genius, their 'Napoleon the accursed.' Am I not right, Villefort?"

        "I beg your pardon, madame. I really must pray you to excuse me, but—in truth—I was not attending to the conversation."

        "Marquise, marquise!" interposed the old nobleman who had proposed the toast, "let the young people alone; let me tell you, on one's wedding day there are more agreeable subjects of conversation than dry politics."

        "Never mind, dearest mother," said a young and lovely girl, with a profusion of light brown hair, and eyes that seemed to float in liquid crystal, "'tis all my fault for seizing upon M. de Villefort, so as to prevent his listening to what you said. But there—now take him—he is your own for as long as you like. M. Villefort, I beg to remind you my mother speaks to you."

        "If the marquise will deign to repeat the words I but imperfectly caught, I shall be delighted to answer," said M. de Villefort.

        "Never mind, Renée," replied the marquise, with a look of tenderness that seemed out of keeping with her harsh dry features; but, however all other feelings may be withered in a woman's nature, there is always one bright smiling spot in the desert of her heart, and that is the shrine of maternal love. "I forgive you. What I was saying, Villefort, was, that the Bonapartists had not our sincerity, enthusiasm, or devotion."

        "They had, however, what supplied the place of those fine qualities," replied the young man, "and that was fanaticism. Napoleon is the Mahomet of the West, and is worshipped by his commonplace but ambitious followers, not only as a leader and lawgiver, but also as the personification of equality."

        "He!" cried the marquise: "Napoleon the type of equality! For mercy's sake, then, what would you call Robespierre? Come, come, do not strip the latter of his just rights to bestow them on the Corsican, who, to my mind, has usurped quite enough."

        "Nay, madame; I would place each of these heroes on his right pedestal—that of Robespierre on his scaffold in the Place Louis Quinze; that of Napoleon on the column of the Place Vendôme. The only difference consists in the opposite character of the equality advocated by these two men; one is the equality that elevates, the other is the equality that degrades; one brings a king within reach of the guillotine, the other elevates the people to a level with the throne. Observe," said Villefort, smiling, "I do not mean to deny that both these men were revolutionary scoundrels, and that the 9th Thermidor and the 4th of April, in the year 1814, were lucky days for France, worthy of being gratefully remembered by every friend to monarchy and civil order; and that explains how it comes to pass that, fallen, as I trust he is forever, Napoleon has still retained a train of parasitical satellites. Still, marquise, it has been so with other usurpers—Cromwell, for instance, who was not half so bad as Napoleon, had his partisans and advocates."

        "Do you know, Villefort, that you are talking in a most dreadfully revolutionary strain? But I excuse it, it is impossible to expect the son of a Girondin to be free from a small spice of the old leaven." A deep crimson suffused the countenance of Villefort.

        "'Tis true, madame," answered he, "that my father was a Girondin, but he was not among the number of those who voted for the king's death; he was an equal sufferer with yourself during the Reign of Terror, and had well-nigh lost his head on the same scaffold on which your father perished."

        "True," replied the marquise, without wincing in the slightest degree at the tragic remembrance thus called up; "but bear in mind, if you please, that our respective parents underwent persecution and proscription from diametrically opposite principles; in proof of which I may remark, that while my family remained among the staunchest adherents of the exiled princes, your father lost no time in joining the new government; and that while the Citizen Noirtier was a Girondin, the Count Noirtier became a senator."

        "Dear mother," interposed Renée, "you know very well it was agreed that all these disagreeable reminiscences should forever be laid aside."

        "Suffer me, also, madame," replied Villefort, "to add my earnest request to Mademoiselle de Saint-Méran's, that you will kindly allow the veil of oblivion to cover and conceal the past. What avails recrimination over matters wholly past recall? For my own part, I have laid aside even the name of my father, and altogether disown his political principles. He was—nay, probably may still be—a Bonapartist, and is called Noirtier; I, on the contrary, am a staunch royalist, and style myself de Villefort. Let what may remain of revolutionary sap exhaust itself and die away with the old trunk, and condescend only to regard the young shoot which has started up at a distance from the parent tree, without having the power, any more than the wish, to separate entirely from the stock from which it sprung."

        "Bravo, Villefort!" cried the marquis; "excellently well said! Come, now, I have hopes of obtaining what I have been for years endeavoring to persuade the marquise to promise; namely, a perfect amnesty and forgetfulness of the past."

        "With all my heart," replied the marquise; "let the past be forever forgotten. I promise you it affords me as little pleasure to revive it as it does you. All I ask is, that Villefort will be firm and inflexible for the future in his political principles. Remember, also, Villefort, that we have pledged ourselves to his majesty for your fealty and strict loyalty, and that at our recommendation the king consented to forget the past, as I do" (and here she extended to him her hand)—"as I now do at your entreaty. But bear in mind, that should there fall in your way anyone guilty of conspiring against the government, you will be so much the more bound to visit the offence with rigorous punishment, as it is known you belong to a suspected family."

        "Alas, madame," returned Villefort, "my profession, as well as the times in which we live, compels me to be severe. I have already successfully conducted several public prosecutions, and brought the offenders to merited punishment. But we have not done with the thing yet."

        "Do you, indeed, think so?" inquired the marquise.

        "I am, at least, fearful of it. Napoleon, in the Island of Elba, is too near France, and his proximity keeps up the hopes of his partisans. Marseilles is filled with half-pay officers, who are daily, under one frivolous pretext or other, getting up quarrels with the royalists; from hence arise continual and fatal duels among the higher classes of persons, and assassinations in the lower."

        "You have heard, perhaps," said the Comte de Salvieux, one of M. de Saint-Méran's oldest friends, and chamberlain to the Comte d'Artois, "that the Holy Alliance purpose removing him from thence?"

        "Yes; they were talking about it when we left Paris," said M. de Saint-Méran; "and where is it decided to transfer him?"

        "To Saint Helena."

        "For heaven's sake, where is that?" asked the marquise.

        "An island situated on the other side of the equator, at least two thousand leagues from here," replied the count.

        "So much the better. As Villefort observes, it is a great act of folly to have left such a man between Corsica, where he was born, and Naples, of which his brother-in-law is king, and face to face with Italy, the sovereignty of which he coveted for his son."

        "Unfortunately," said Villefort, "there are the treaties of 1814, and we cannot molest Napoleon without breaking those compacts."

        "Oh, well, we shall find some way out of it," responded M. de Salvieux. "There wasn't any trouble over treaties when it was a question of shooting the poor Duc d'Enghien."

        "Well," said the marquise, "it seems probable that, by the aid of the Holy Alliance, we shall be rid of Napoleon; and we must trust to the vigilance of M. de Villefort to purify Marseilles of his partisans. The king is either a king or no king; if he be acknowledged as sovereign of France, he should be upheld in peace and tranquillity; and this can best be effected by employing the most inflexible agents to put down every attempt at conspiracy—'tis the best and surest means of preventing mischief."

        "Unfortunately, madame," answered Villefort, "the strong arm of the law is not called upon to interfere until the evil has taken place."

        "Then all he has got to do is to endeavor to repair it."

        "Nay, madame, the law is frequently powerless to effect this; all it can do is to avenge the wrong done."

        "Oh, M. de Villefort," cried a beautiful young creature, daughter to the Comte de Salvieux, and the cherished friend of Mademoiselle de Saint-Méran, "do try and get up some famous trial while we are at Marseilles. I never was in a law-court; I am told it is so very amusing!"

        "Amusing, certainly," replied the young man, "inasmuch as, instead of shedding tears as at the fictitious tale of woe produced at a theatre, you behold in a law-court a case of real and genuine distress—a drama of life. The prisoner whom you there see pale, agitated, and alarmed, instead of—as is the case when a curtain falls on a tragedy—going home to sup peacefully with his family, and then retiring to rest, that he may recommence his mimic woes on the morrow,—is removed from your sight merely to be reconducted to his prison and delivered up to the executioner. I leave you to judge how far your nerves are calculated to bear you through such a scene. Of this, however, be assured, that should any favorable opportunity present itself, I will not fail to offer you the choice of being present."

        "For shame, M. de Villefort!" said Renée, becoming quite pale; "don't you see how you are frightening us?—and yet you laugh."

        "What would you have? 'Tis like a duel. I have already recorded sentence of death, five or six times, against the movers of political conspiracies, and who can say how many daggers may be ready sharpened, and only waiting a favorable opportunity to be buried in my heart?"

        "Gracious heavens, M. de Villefort," said Renée, becoming more and more terrified; "you surely are not in earnest."

        "Indeed I am," replied the young magistrate with a smile; "and in the interesting trial that young lady is anxious to witness, the case would only be still more aggravated. Suppose, for instance, the prisoner, as is more than probable, to have served under Napoleon—well, can you expect for an instant, that one accustomed, at the word of his commander, to rush fearlessly on the very bayonets of his foe, will scruple more to drive a stiletto into the heart of one he knows to be his personal enemy, than to slaughter his fellow-creatures, merely because bidden to do so by one he is bound to obey? Besides, one requires the excitement of being hateful in the eyes of the accused, in order to lash one's self into a state of sufficient vehemence and power. I would not choose to see the man against whom I pleaded smile, as though in mockery of my words. No; my pride is to see the accused pale, agitated, and as though beaten out of all composure by the fire of my eloquence." Renée uttered a smothered exclamation.

        "Bravo!" cried one of the guests; "that is what I call talking to some purpose."

        "Just the person we require at a time like the present," said a second.

        "What a splendid business that last case of yours was, my dear Villefort!" remarked a third; "I mean the trial of the man for murdering his father. Upon my word, you killed him ere the executioner had laid his hand upon him."

        "Oh, as for parricides, and such dreadful people as that," interposed Renée, "it matters very little what is done to them; but as regards poor unfortunate creatures whose only crime consists in having mixed themselves up in political intrigues"—

        "Why, that is the very worst offence they could possibly commit; for, don't you see, Renée, the king is the father of his people, and he who shall plot or contrive aught against the life and safety of the parent of thirty-two millions of souls, is a parricide upon a fearfully great scale?"

        "I don't know anything about that," replied Renée; "but, M. de Villefort, you have promised me—have you not?—always to show mercy to those I plead for."

        "Make yourself quite easy on that point," answered Villefort, with one of his sweetest smiles; "you and I will always consult upon our verdicts."

        "My love," said the marquise, "attend to your doves, your lap-dogs, and embroidery, but do not meddle with what you do not understand. Nowadays the military profession is in abeyance and the magisterial robe is the badge of honor. There is a wise Latin proverb that is very much in point."

        "Cedant arma togæ," said Villefort with a bow.

        "I cannot speak Latin," responded the marquise.

        "Well," said Renée, "I cannot help regretting you had not chosen some other profession than your own—a physician, for instance. Do you know I always felt a shudder at the idea of even a destroying angel?"

        "Dear, good Renée," whispered Villefort, as he gazed with unutterable tenderness on the lovely speaker.

        "Let us hope, my child," cried the marquis, "that M. de Villefort may prove the moral and political physician of this province; if so, he will have achieved a noble work."

        "And one which will go far to efface the recollection of his father's conduct," added the incorrigible marquise.

        "Madame," replied Villefort, with a mournful smile, "I have already had the honor to observe that my father has—at least, I hope so—abjured his past errors, and that he is, at the present moment, a firm and zealous friend to religion and order—a better royalist, possibly, than his son; for he has to atone for past dereliction, while I have no other impulse than warm, decided preference and conviction." Having made this well-turned speech, Villefort looked carefully around to mark the effect of his oratory, much as he would have done had he been addressing the bench in open court.

        "Do you know, my dear Villefort," cried the Comte de Salvieux, "that is exactly what I myself said the other day at the Tuileries, when questioned by his majesty's principal chamberlain touching the singularity of an alliance between the son of a Girondin and the daughter of an officer of the Duc de Condé; and I assure you he seemed fully to comprehend that this mode of reconciling political differences was based upon sound and excellent principles. Then the king, who, without our suspecting it, had overheard our conversation, interrupted us by saying, 'Villefort'—observe that the king did not pronounce the word Noirtier, but, on the contrary, placed considerable emphasis on that of Villefort—'Villefort,' said his majesty, 'is a young man of great judgment and discretion, who will be sure to make a figure in his profession; I like him much, and it gave me great pleasure to hear that he was about to become the son-in-law of the Marquis and Marquise de Saint-Méran. I should myself have recommended the match, had not the noble marquis anticipated my wishes by requesting my consent to it.'"

        "Is it possible the king could have condescended so far as to express himself so favorably of me?" asked the enraptured Villefort.

        "I give you his very words; and if the marquis chooses to be candid, he will confess that they perfectly agree with what his majesty said to him, when he went six months ago to consult him upon the subject of your espousing his daughter."

        "That is true," answered the marquis.

        "How much do I owe this gracious prince! What is there I would not do to evince my earnest gratitude!"

        "That is right," cried the marquise. "I love to see you thus. Now, then, were a conspirator to fall into your hands, he would be most welcome."

        "For my part, dear mother," interposed Renée, "I trust your wishes will not prosper, and that Providence will only permit petty offenders, poor debtors, and miserable cheats to fall into M. de Villefort's hands,—then I shall be contented."

        "Just the same as though you prayed that a physician might only be called upon to prescribe for headaches, measles, and the stings of wasps, or any other slight affection of the epidermis. If you wish to see me the king's attorney, you must desire for me some of those violent and dangerous diseases from the cure of which so much honor redounds to the physician."

        At this moment, and as though the utterance of Villefort's wish had sufficed to effect its accomplishment, a servant entered the room, and whispered a few words in his ear. Villefort immediately rose from table and quitted the room upon the plea of urgent business; he soon, however, returned, his whole face beaming with delight. Renée regarded him with fond affection; and certainly his handsome features, lit up as they then were with more than usual fire and animation, seemed formed to excite the innocent admiration with which she gazed on her graceful and intelligent lover.

        "You were wishing just now," said Villefort, addressing her, "that I were a doctor instead of a lawyer. Well, I at least resemble the disciples of Esculapius in one thing [people spoke in this style in 1815], that of not being able to call a day my own, not even that of my betrothal."

        "And wherefore were you called away just now?" asked Mademoiselle de Saint-Méran, with an air of deep interest.

        "For a very serious matter, which bids fair to make work for the executioner."

        "How dreadful!" exclaimed Renée, turning pale.

        "Is it possible?" burst simultaneously from all who were near enough to the magistrate to hear his words.

        "Why, if my information prove correct, a sort of Bonapartist conspiracy has just been discovered."

        "Can I believe my ears?" cried the marquise.

        "I will read you the letter containing the accusation, at least," said Villefort:—"'The king's attorney is informed by a friend to the throne and the religions institutions of his country, that one named Edmond Dantès, mate of the ship Pharaon, this day arrived from Smyrna, after having touched at Naples and Porto-Ferrajo, has been the bearer of a letter from Murat to the usurper, and again taken charge of another letter from the usurper to the Bonapartist club in Paris. Ample corroboration of this statement may be obtained by arresting the above-mentioned Edmond Dantès, who either carries the letter for Paris about with him, or has it at his father's abode. Should it not be found in the possession of father or son, then it will assuredly be discovered in the cabin belonging to the said Dantès on board the Pharaon.'"

        "But," said Renée, "this letter, which, after all, is but an anonymous scrawl, is not even addressed to you, but to the king's attorney."

        "True; but that gentleman being absent, his secretary, by his orders, opened his letters; thinking this one of importance, he sent for me, but not finding me, took upon himself to give the necessary orders for arresting the accused party."

        "Then the guilty person is absolutely in custody?" said the marquise.

        "Nay, dear mother, say the accused person. You know we cannot yet pronounce him guilty."

        "He is in safe custody," answered Villefort; "and rely upon it, if the letter is found, he will not be likely to be trusted abroad again, unless he goes forth under the especial protection of the headsman."

        "And where is the unfortunate being?" asked Renée.

        "He is at my house."

        "Come, come, my friend," interrupted the marquise, "do not neglect your duty to linger with us. You are the king's servant, and must go wherever that service calls you."

        "O Villefort!" cried Renée, clasping her hands, and looking towards her lover with piteous earnestness, "be merciful on this the day of our betrothal."

        The young man passed round to the side of the table where the fair pleader sat, and leaning over her chair said tenderly,—

        "To give you pleasure, my sweet Renée, I promise to show all the lenity in my power; but if the charges brought against this Bonapartist hero prove correct, why, then, you really must give me leave to order his head to be cut off." Renée shuddered.

        "Never mind that foolish girl, Villefort," said the marquise. "She will soon get over these things." So saying, Madame de Saint-Méran extended her dry bony hand to Villefort, who, while imprinting a son-in-law's respectful salute on it, looked at Renée, as much as to say, "I must try and fancy 'tis your dear hand I kiss, as it should have been."

        "These are mournful auspices to accompany a betrothal," sighed poor Renée.

        "Upon my word, child!" exclaimed the angry marquise, "your folly exceeds all bounds. I should be glad to know what connection there can possibly be between your sickly sentimentality and the affairs of the state!"

        "O mother!" murmured Renée.

        "Nay, madame, I pray you pardon this little traitor. I promise you that to make up for her want of loyalty, I will be most inflexibly severe;" then casting an expressive glance at his betrothed, which seemed to say, "Fear not, for your dear sake my justice shall be tempered with mercy," and receiving a sweet and approving smile in return, Villefort quitted the room.

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Chapter 6 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Written by AlexandreDumas
The Deputy Procureur du Roi
        In one of the aristocratic mansions built by Puget in the Rue du Grand Cours opposite the Medusa fountain, a second marriage feast was being celebrated, almost at the same hour with the nuptial repast given by Dantès. In this case, however, although the occasion of the entertainment was similar, the company was strikingly dissimilar. Instead of a rude mixture of sailors, soldiers, and those belonging to the humblest grade of life, the present assembly was composed of the very flower of Marseilles society,—magistrates who had resigned their office during the usurper's reign; officers who had deserted from the imperial army and joined forces with Condé; and younger members of families, brought up to hate and execrate the man whom five years of exile would convert into a martyr, and fifteen of restoration elevate to the rank of a god.
        The guests were still at table, and the heated and energetic conversation that prevailed betrayed the violent and vindictive passions that then agitated each dweller of the South, where unhappily, for five centuries religious strife had long given increased bitterness to the violence of party feeling.
        The emperor, now king of the petty Island of Elba, after having held sovereign sway over one-half of the world, counting as his subjects a small population of five or six thousand souls,—after having been accustomed to hear the "Vive Napoléons" of a hundred and twenty millions of human beings, uttered in ten different languages,—was looked upon here as a ruined man, separated forever from any fresh connection with France or claim to her throne.
        The magistrates freely discussed their political views; the military part of the company talked unreservedly of Moscow and Leipsic, while the women commented on the divorce of Josephine. It was not over the downfall of the man, but over the defeat of the Napoleonic idea, that they rejoiced, and in this they foresaw for themselves the bright and cheering prospect of a revivified political existence.
        An old man, decorated with the cross of Saint Louis, now rose and proposed the health of King Louis XVIII. It was the Marquis de Saint-Méran. This toast, recalling at once the patient exile of Hartwell and the peace-loving King of France, excited universal enthusiasm; glasses were elevated in the air à l'Anglaise, and the ladies, snatching their bouquets from their fair bosoms, strewed the table with their floral treasures. In a word, an almost poetical fervor prevailed.
        "Ah," said the Marquise de Saint-Méran, a woman with a stern, forbidding eye, though still noble and distinguished in appearance, despite her fifty years—"ah, these revolutionists, who have driven us from those very possessions they afterwards purchased for a mere trifle during the Reign of Terror, would be compelled to own, were they here, that all true devotion was on our side, since we were content to follow the fortunes of a falling monarch, while they, on the contrary, made their fortune by worshipping the rising sun; yes, yes, they could not help admitting that the king, for whom we sacrificed rank, wealth, and station was truly our 'Louis the well-beloved,' while their wretched usurper has been, and ever will be, to them their evil genius, their 'Napoleon the accursed.' Am I not right, Villefort?"
        "I beg your pardon, madame. I really must pray you to excuse me, but—in truth—I was not attending to the conversation."
        "Marquise, marquise!" interposed the old nobleman who had proposed the toast, "let the young people alone; let me tell you, on one's wedding day there are more agreeable subjects of conversation than dry politics."
        "Never mind, dearest mother," said a young and lovely girl, with a profusion of light brown hair, and eyes that seemed to float in liquid crystal, "'tis all my fault for seizing upon M. de Villefort, so as to prevent his listening to what you said. But there—now take him—he is your own for as long as you like. M. Villefort, I beg to remind you my mother speaks to you."
        "If the marquise will deign to repeat the words I but imperfectly caught, I shall be delighted to answer," said M. de Villefort.
        "Never mind, Renée," replied the marquise, with a look of tenderness that seemed out of keeping with her harsh dry features; but, however all other feelings may be withered in a woman's nature, there is always one bright smiling spot in the desert of her heart, and that is the shrine of maternal love. "I forgive you. What I was saying, Villefort, was, that the Bonapartists had not our sincerity, enthusiasm, or devotion."
        "They had, however, what supplied the place of those fine qualities," replied the young man, "and that was fanaticism. Napoleon is the Mahomet of the West, and is worshipped by his commonplace but ambitious followers, not only as a leader and lawgiver, but also as the personification of equality."
        "He!" cried the marquise: "Napoleon the type of equality! For mercy's sake, then, what would you call Robespierre? Come, come, do not strip the latter of his just rights to bestow them on the Corsican, who, to my mind, has usurped quite enough."
        "Nay, madame; I would place each of these heroes on his right pedestal—that of Robespierre on his scaffold in the Place Louis Quinze; that of Napoleon on the column of the Place Vendôme. The only difference consists in the opposite character of the equality advocated by these two men; one is the equality that elevates, the other is the equality that degrades; one brings a king within reach of the guillotine, the other elevates the people to a level with the throne. Observe," said Villefort, smiling, "I do not mean to deny that both these men were revolutionary scoundrels, and that the 9th Thermidor and the 4th of April, in the year 1814, were lucky days for France, worthy of being gratefully remembered by every friend to monarchy and civil order; and that explains how it comes to pass that, fallen, as I trust he is forever, Napoleon has still retained a train of parasitical satellites. Still, marquise, it has been so with other usurpers—Cromwell, for instance, who was not half so bad as Napoleon, had his partisans and advocates."
        "Do you know, Villefort, that you are talking in a most dreadfully revolutionary strain? But I excuse it, it is impossible to expect the son of a Girondin to be free from a small spice of the old leaven." A deep crimson suffused the countenance of Villefort.
        "'Tis true, madame," answered he, "that my father was a Girondin, but he was not among the number of those who voted for the king's death; he was an equal sufferer with yourself during the Reign of Terror, and had well-nigh lost his head on the same scaffold on which your father perished."
        "True," replied the marquise, without wincing in the slightest degree at the tragic remembrance thus called up; "but bear in mind, if you please, that our respective parents underwent persecution and proscription from diametrically opposite principles; in proof of which I may remark, that while my family remained among the staunchest adherents of the exiled princes, your father lost no time in joining the new government; and that while the Citizen Noirtier was a Girondin, the Count Noirtier became a senator."
        "Dear mother," interposed Renée, "you know very well it was agreed that all these disagreeable reminiscences should forever be laid aside."
        "Suffer me, also, madame," replied Villefort, "to add my earnest request to Mademoiselle de Saint-Méran's, that you will kindly allow the veil of oblivion to cover and conceal the past. What avails recrimination over matters wholly past recall? For my own part, I have laid aside even the name of my father, and altogether disown his political principles. He was—nay, probably may still be—a Bonapartist, and is called Noirtier; I, on the contrary, am a staunch royalist, and style myself de Villefort. Let what may remain of revolutionary sap exhaust itself and die away with the old trunk, and condescend only to regard the young shoot which has started up at a distance from the parent tree, without having the power, any more than the wish, to separate entirely from the stock from which it sprung."
        "Bravo, Villefort!" cried the marquis; "excellently well said! Come, now, I have hopes of obtaining what I have been for years endeavoring to persuade the marquise to promise; namely, a perfect amnesty and forgetfulness of the past."
        "With all my heart," replied the marquise; "let the past be forever forgotten. I promise you it affords me as little pleasure to revive it as it does you. All I ask is, that Villefort will be firm and inflexible for the future in his political principles. Remember, also, Villefort, that we have pledged ourselves to his majesty for your fealty and strict loyalty, and that at our recommendation the king consented to forget the past, as I do" (and here she extended to him her hand)—"as I now do at your entreaty. But bear in mind, that should there fall in your way anyone guilty of conspiring against the government, you will be so much the more bound to visit the offence with rigorous punishment, as it is known you belong to a suspected family."
        "Alas, madame," returned Villefort, "my profession, as well as the times in which we live, compels me to be severe. I have already successfully conducted several public prosecutions, and brought the offenders to merited punishment. But we have not done with the thing yet."
        "Do you, indeed, think so?" inquired the marquise.
        "I am, at least, fearful of it. Napoleon, in the Island of Elba, is too near France, and his proximity keeps up the hopes of his partisans. Marseilles is filled with half-pay officers, who are daily, under one frivolous pretext or other, getting up quarrels with the royalists; from hence arise continual and fatal duels among the higher classes of persons, and assassinations in the lower."
        "You have heard, perhaps," said the Comte de Salvieux, one of M. de Saint-Méran's oldest friends, and chamberlain to the Comte d'Artois, "that the Holy Alliance purpose removing him from thence?"
        "Yes; they were talking about it when we left Paris," said M. de Saint-Méran; "and where is it decided to transfer him?"
        "To Saint Helena."
        "For heaven's sake, where is that?" asked the marquise.
        "An island situated on the other side of the equator, at least two thousand leagues from here," replied the count.
        "So much the better. As Villefort observes, it is a great act of folly to have left such a man between Corsica, where he was born, and Naples, of which his brother-in-law is king, and face to face with Italy, the sovereignty of which he coveted for his son."
        "Unfortunately," said Villefort, "there are the treaties of 1814, and we cannot molest Napoleon without breaking those compacts."
        "Oh, well, we shall find some way out of it," responded M. de Salvieux. "There wasn't any trouble over treaties when it was a question of shooting the poor Duc d'Enghien."
        "Well," said the marquise, "it seems probable that, by the aid of the Holy Alliance, we shall be rid of Napoleon; and we must trust to the vigilance of M. de Villefort to purify Marseilles of his partisans. The king is either a king or no king; if he be acknowledged as sovereign of France, he should be upheld in peace and tranquillity; and this can best be effected by employing the most inflexible agents to put down every attempt at conspiracy—'tis the best and surest means of preventing mischief."
        "Unfortunately, madame," answered Villefort, "the strong arm of the law is not called upon to interfere until the evil has taken place."
        "Then all he has got to do is to endeavor to repair it."
        "Nay, madame, the law is frequently powerless to effect this; all it can do is to avenge the wrong done."
        "Oh, M. de Villefort," cried a beautiful young creature, daughter to the Comte de Salvieux, and the cherished friend of Mademoiselle de Saint-Méran, "do try and get up some famous trial while we are at Marseilles. I never was in a law-court; I am told it is so very amusing!"
        "Amusing, certainly," replied the young man, "inasmuch as, instead of shedding tears as at the fictitious tale of woe produced at a theatre, you behold in a law-court a case of real and genuine distress—a drama of life. The prisoner whom you there see pale, agitated, and alarmed, instead of—as is the case when a curtain falls on a tragedy—going home to sup peacefully with his family, and then retiring to rest, that he may recommence his mimic woes on the morrow,—is removed from your sight merely to be reconducted to his prison and delivered up to the executioner. I leave you to judge how far your nerves are calculated to bear you through such a scene. Of this, however, be assured, that should any favorable opportunity present itself, I will not fail to offer you the choice of being present."
        "For shame, M. de Villefort!" said Renée, becoming quite pale; "don't you see how you are frightening us?—and yet you laugh."
        "What would you have? 'Tis like a duel. I have already recorded sentence of death, five or six times, against the movers of political conspiracies, and who can say how many daggers may be ready sharpened, and only waiting a favorable opportunity to be buried in my heart?"
        "Gracious heavens, M. de Villefort," said Renée, becoming more and more terrified; "you surely are not in earnest."
        "Indeed I am," replied the young magistrate with a smile; "and in the interesting trial that young lady is anxious to witness, the case would only be still more aggravated. Suppose, for instance, the prisoner, as is more than probable, to have served under Napoleon—well, can you expect for an instant, that one accustomed, at the word of his commander, to rush fearlessly on the very bayonets of his foe, will scruple more to drive a stiletto into the heart of one he knows to be his personal enemy, than to slaughter his fellow-creatures, merely because bidden to do so by one he is bound to obey? Besides, one requires the excitement of being hateful in the eyes of the accused, in order to lash one's self into a state of sufficient vehemence and power. I would not choose to see the man against whom I pleaded smile, as though in mockery of my words. No; my pride is to see the accused pale, agitated, and as though beaten out of all composure by the fire of my eloquence." Renée uttered a smothered exclamation.
        "Bravo!" cried one of the guests; "that is what I call talking to some purpose."
        "Just the person we require at a time like the present," said a second.
        "What a splendid business that last case of yours was, my dear Villefort!" remarked a third; "I mean the trial of the man for murdering his father. Upon my word, you killed him ere the executioner had laid his hand upon him."
        "Oh, as for parricides, and such dreadful people as that," interposed Renée, "it matters very little what is done to them; but as regards poor unfortunate creatures whose only crime consists in having mixed themselves up in political intrigues"—
        "Why, that is the very worst offence they could possibly commit; for, don't you see, Renée, the king is the father of his people, and he who shall plot or contrive aught against the life and safety of the parent of thirty-two millions of souls, is a parricide upon a fearfully great scale?"
        "I don't know anything about that," replied Renée; "but, M. de Villefort, you have promised me—have you not?—always to show mercy to those I plead for."
        "Make yourself quite easy on that point," answered Villefort, with one of his sweetest smiles; "you and I will always consult upon our verdicts."
        "My love," said the marquise, "attend to your doves, your lap-dogs, and embroidery, but do not meddle with what you do not understand. Nowadays the military profession is in abeyance and the magisterial robe is the badge of honor. There is a wise Latin proverb that is very much in point."
        "Cedant arma togæ," said Villefort with a bow.
        "I cannot speak Latin," responded the marquise.
        "Well," said Renée, "I cannot help regretting you had not chosen some other profession than your own—a physician, for instance. Do you know I always felt a shudder at the idea of even a destroying angel?"
        "Dear, good Renée," whispered Villefort, as he gazed with unutterable tenderness on the lovely speaker.
        "Let us hope, my child," cried the marquis, "that M. de Villefort may prove the moral and political physician of this province; if so, he will have achieved a noble work."
        "And one which will go far to efface the recollection of his father's conduct," added the incorrigible marquise.
        "Madame," replied Villefort, with a mournful smile, "I have already had the honor to observe that my father has—at least, I hope so—abjured his past errors, and that he is, at the present moment, a firm and zealous friend to religion and order—a better royalist, possibly, than his son; for he has to atone for past dereliction, while I have no other impulse than warm, decided preference and conviction." Having made this well-turned speech, Villefort looked carefully around to mark the effect of his oratory, much as he would have done had he been addressing the bench in open court.
        "Do you know, my dear Villefort," cried the Comte de Salvieux, "that is exactly what I myself said the other day at the Tuileries, when questioned by his majesty's principal chamberlain touching the singularity of an alliance between the son of a Girondin and the daughter of an officer of the Duc de Condé; and I assure you he seemed fully to comprehend that this mode of reconciling political differences was based upon sound and excellent principles. Then the king, who, without our suspecting it, had overheard our conversation, interrupted us by saying, 'Villefort'—observe that the king did not pronounce the word Noirtier, but, on the contrary, placed considerable emphasis on that of Villefort—'Villefort,' said his majesty, 'is a young man of great judgment and discretion, who will be sure to make a figure in his profession; I like him much, and it gave me great pleasure to hear that he was about to become the son-in-law of the Marquis and Marquise de Saint-Méran. I should myself have recommended the match, had not the noble marquis anticipated my wishes by requesting my consent to it.'"
        "Is it possible the king could have condescended so far as to express himself so favorably of me?" asked the enraptured Villefort.
        "I give you his very words; and if the marquis chooses to be candid, he will confess that they perfectly agree with what his majesty said to him, when he went six months ago to consult him upon the subject of your espousing his daughter."
        "That is true," answered the marquis.
        "How much do I owe this gracious prince! What is there I would not do to evince my earnest gratitude!"
        "That is right," cried the marquise. "I love to see you thus. Now, then, were a conspirator to fall into your hands, he would be most welcome."
        "For my part, dear mother," interposed Renée, "I trust your wishes will not prosper, and that Providence will only permit petty offenders, poor debtors, and miserable cheats to fall into M. de Villefort's hands,—then I shall be contented."
        "Just the same as though you prayed that a physician might only be called upon to prescribe for headaches, measles, and the stings of wasps, or any other slight affection of the epidermis. If you wish to see me the king's attorney, you must desire for me some of those violent and dangerous diseases from the cure of which so much honor redounds to the physician."
        At this moment, and as though the utterance of Villefort's wish had sufficed to effect its accomplishment, a servant entered the room, and whispered a few words in his ear. Villefort immediately rose from table and quitted the room upon the plea of urgent business; he soon, however, returned, his whole face beaming with delight. Renée regarded him with fond affection; and certainly his handsome features, lit up as they then were with more than usual fire and animation, seemed formed to excite the innocent admiration with which she gazed on her graceful and intelligent lover.
        "You were wishing just now," said Villefort, addressing her, "that I were a doctor instead of a lawyer. Well, I at least resemble the disciples of Esculapius in one thing [people spoke in this style in 1815], that of not being able to call a day my own, not even that of my betrothal."
        "And wherefore were you called away just now?" asked Mademoiselle de Saint-Méran, with an air of deep interest.
        "For a very serious matter, which bids fair to make work for the executioner."
        "How dreadful!" exclaimed Renée, turning pale.
        "Is it possible?" burst simultaneously from all who were near enough to the magistrate to hear his words.
        "Why, if my information prove correct, a sort of Bonapartist conspiracy has just been discovered."
        "Can I believe my ears?" cried the marquise.
        "I will read you the letter containing the accusation, at least," said Villefort:—"'The king's attorney is informed by a friend to the throne and the religions institutions of his country, that one named Edmond Dantès, mate of the ship Pharaon, this day arrived from Smyrna, after having touched at Naples and Porto-Ferrajo, has been the bearer of a letter from Murat to the usurper, and again taken charge of another letter from the usurper to the Bonapartist club in Paris. Ample corroboration of this statement may be obtained by arresting the above-mentioned Edmond Dantès, who either carries the letter for Paris about with him, or has it at his father's abode. Should it not be found in the possession of father or son, then it will assuredly be discovered in the cabin belonging to the said Dantès on board the Pharaon.'"
        "But," said Renée, "this letter, which, after all, is but an anonymous scrawl, is not even addressed to you, but to the king's attorney."
        "True; but that gentleman being absent, his secretary, by his orders, opened his letters; thinking this one of importance, he sent for me, but not finding me, took upon himself to give the necessary orders for arresting the accused party."
        "Then the guilty person is absolutely in custody?" said the marquise.
        "Nay, dear mother, say the accused person. You know we cannot yet pronounce him guilty."
        "He is in safe custody," answered Villefort; "and rely upon it, if the letter is found, he will not be likely to be trusted abroad again, unless he goes forth under the especial protection of the headsman."
        "And where is the unfortunate being?" asked Renée.
        "He is at my house."
        "Come, come, my friend," interrupted the marquise, "do not neglect your duty to linger with us. You are the king's servant, and must go wherever that service calls you."
        "O Villefort!" cried Renée, clasping her hands, and looking towards her lover with piteous earnestness, "be merciful on this the day of our betrothal."
        The young man passed round to the side of the table where the fair pleader sat, and leaning over her chair said tenderly,—
        "To give you pleasure, my sweet Renée, I promise to show all the lenity in my power; but if the charges brought against this Bonapartist hero prove correct, why, then, you really must give me leave to order his head to be cut off." Renée shuddered.
        "Never mind that foolish girl, Villefort," said the marquise. "She will soon get over these things." So saying, Madame de Saint-Méran extended her dry bony hand to Villefort, who, while imprinting a son-in-law's respectful salute on it, looked at Renée, as much as to say, "I must try and fancy 'tis your dear hand I kiss, as it should have been."
        "These are mournful auspices to accompany a betrothal," sighed poor Renée.
        "Upon my word, child!" exclaimed the angry marquise, "your folly exceeds all bounds. I should be glad to know what connection there can possibly be between your sickly sentimentality and the affairs of the state!"
        "O mother!" murmured Renée.
        "Nay, madame, I pray you pardon this little traitor. I promise you that to make up for her want of loyalty, I will be most inflexibly severe;" then casting an expressive glance at his betrothed, which seemed to say, "Fear not, for your dear sake my justice shall be tempered with mercy," and receiving a sweet and approving smile in return, Villefort quitted the room.
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Chapter 5 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Written by AlexandreDumas

The Marriage Feast

        The morning's sun rose clear and resplendent, touching the foamy waves into a network of ruby-tinted light.

        The feast had been made ready on the second floor at La Réserve, with whose arbor the reader is already familiar. The apartment destined for the purpose was spacious and lighted by a number of windows, over each of which was written in golden letters for some inexplicable reason the name of one of the principal cities of France; beneath these windows a wooden balcony extended the entire length of the house. And although the entertainment was fixed for twelve o'clock, an hour previous to that time the balcony was filled with impatient and expectant guests, consisting of the favored part of the crew of the Pharaon, and other personal friends of the bridegroom, the whole of whom had arrayed themselves in their choicest costumes, in order to do greater honor to the occasion.

        Various rumors were afloat to the effect that the owners of the Pharaon had promised to attend the nuptial feast; but all seemed unanimous in doubting that an act of such rare and exceeding condescension could possibly be intended.

        Danglars, however, who now made his appearance, accompanied by Caderousse, effectually confirmed the report, stating that he had recently conversed with M. Morrel, who had himself assured him of his intention to dine at La Réserve.

        In fact, a moment later M. Morrel appeared and was saluted with an enthusiastic burst of applause from the crew of the Pharaon, who hailed the visit of the shipowner as a sure indication that the man whose wedding feast he thus delighted to honor would ere long be first in command of the ship; and as Dantès was universally beloved on board his vessel, the sailors put no restraint on their tumultuous joy at finding that the opinion and choice of their superiors so exactly coincided with their own.

        With the entrance of M. Morrel, Danglars and Caderousse were dispatched in search of the bridegroom to convey to him the intelligence of the arrival of the important personage whose coming had created such a lively sensation, and to beseech him to make haste.

        Danglars and Caderousse set off upon their errand at full speed; but ere they had gone many steps they perceived a group advancing towards them, composed of the betrothed pair, a party of young girls in attendance on the bride, by whose side walked Dantès' father; the whole brought up by Fernand, whose lips wore their usual sinister smile.

        Neither Mercédès nor Edmond observed the strange expression of his countenance; they were so happy that they were conscious only of the sunshine and the presence of each other.

        Having acquitted themselves of their errand, and exchanged a hearty shake of the hand with Edmond, Danglars and Caderousse took their places beside Fernand and old Dantès,—the latter of whom attracted universal notice. The old man was attired in a suit of glistening watered silk, trimmed with steel buttons, beautifully cut and polished. His thin but wiry legs were arrayed in a pair of richly embroidered clocked stockings, evidently of English manufacture, while from his three-cornered hat depended a long streaming knot of white and blue ribbons. Thus he came along, supporting himself on a curiously carved stick, his aged countenance lit up with happiness, looking for all the world like one of the aged dandies of 1796, parading the newly opened gardens of the Tuileries and Luxembourg. Beside him glided Caderousse, whose desire to partake of the good things provided for the wedding-party had induced him to become reconciled to the Dantès, father and son, although there still lingered in his mind a faint and imperfect recollection of the events of the preceding night; just as the brain retains on waking in the morning the dim and misty outline of a dream.

        As Danglars approached the disappointed lover, he cast on him a look of deep meaning, while Fernand, as he slowly paced behind the happy pair, who seemed, in their own unmixed content, to have entirely forgotten that such a being as himself existed, was pale and abstracted; occasionally, however, a deep flush would overspread his countenance, and a nervous contraction distort his features, while, with an agitated and restless gaze, he would glance in the direction of Marseilles, like one who either anticipated or foresaw some great and important event.

        Dantès himself was simply, but becomingly, clad in the dress peculiar to the merchant service—a costume somewhat between a military and a civil garb; and with his fine countenance, radiant with joy and happiness, a more perfect specimen of manly beauty could scarcely be imagined.

        Lovely as the Greek girls of Cyprus or Chios, Mercédès boasted the same bright flashing eyes of jet, and ripe, round, coral lips. She moved with the light, free step of an Arlesienne or an Andalusian. One more practiced in the arts of great cities would have hid her blushes beneath a veil, or, at least, have cast down her thickly fringed lashes, so as to have concealed the liquid lustre of her animated eyes; but, on the contrary, the delighted girl looked around her with a smile that seemed to say: "If you are my friends, rejoice with me, for I am very happy."

        As soon as the bridal party came in sight of La Réserve, M. Morrel descended and came forth to meet it, followed by the soldiers and sailors there assembled, to whom he had repeated the promise already given, that Dantès should be the successor to the late Captain Leclere. Edmond, at the approach of his patron, respectfully placed the arm of his affianced bride within that of M. Morrel, who, forthwith conducting her up the flight of wooden steps leading to the chamber in which the feast was prepared, was gayly followed by the guests, beneath whose heavy tread the slight structure creaked and groaned for the space of several minutes.

        "Father," said Mercédès, stopping when she had reached the centre of the table, "sit, I pray you, on my right hand; on my left I will place him who has ever been as a brother to me," pointing with a soft and gentle smile to Fernand; but her words and look seemed to inflict the direst torture on him, for his lips became ghastly pale, and even beneath the dark hue of his complexion the blood might be seen retreating as though some sudden pang drove it back to the heart.

        During this time, Dantès, at the opposite side of the table, had been occupied in similarly placing his most honored guests. M. Morrel was seated at his right hand, Danglars at his left; while, at a sign from Edmond, the rest of the company ranged themselves as they found it most agreeable.

        Then they began to pass around the dusky, piquant, Arlesian sausages, and lobsters in their dazzling red cuirasses, prawns of large size and brilliant color, the echinus with its prickly outside and dainty morsel within, the clovis, esteemed by the epicures of the South as more than rivalling the exquisite flavor of the oyster,—all the delicacies, in fact, that are cast up by the wash of waters on the sandy beach, and styled by the grateful fishermen "fruits of the sea."

        "A pretty silence truly!" said the old father of the bridegroom, as he carried to his lips a glass of wine of the hue and brightness of the topaz, and which had just been placed before Mercédès herself. "Now, would anybody think that this room contained a happy, merry party, who desire nothing better than to laugh and dance the hours away?"

        "Ah," sighed Caderousse, "a man cannot always feel happy because he is about to be married."

        "The truth is," replied Dantès, "that I am too happy for noisy mirth; if that is what you meant by your observation, my worthy friend, you are right; joy takes a strange effect at times, it seems to oppress us almost the same as sorrow."

        Danglars looked towards Fernand, whose excitable nature received and betrayed each fresh impression.

        "Why, what ails you?" asked he of Edmond. "Do you fear any approaching evil? I should say that you were the happiest man alive at this instant."

        "And that is the very thing that alarms me," returned Dantès. "Man does not appear to me to be intended to enjoy felicity so unmixed; happiness is like the enchanted palaces we read of in our childhood, where fierce, fiery dragons defend the entrance and approach; and monsters of all shapes and kinds, requiring to be overcome ere victory is ours. I own that I am lost in wonder to find myself promoted to an honor of which I feel myself unworthy—that of being the husband of Mercédès."

        "Nay, nay!" cried Caderousse, smiling, "you have not attained that honor yet. Mercédès is not yet your wife. Just assume the tone and manner of a husband, and see how she will remind you that your hour is not yet come!"

        The bride blushed, while Fernand, restless and uneasy, seemed to start at every fresh sound, and from time to time wiped away the large drops of perspiration that gathered on his brow.

        "Well, never mind that, neighbor Caderousse; it is not worthwhile to contradict me for such a trifle as that. 'Tis true that Mercédès is not actually my wife; but," added he, drawing out his watch, "in an hour and a half she will be."

        A general exclamation of surprise ran round the table, with the exception of the elder Dantès, whose laugh displayed the still perfect beauty of his large white teeth. Mercédès looked pleased and gratified, while Fernand grasped the handle of his knife with a convulsive clutch.

        "In an hour?" inquired Danglars, turning pale. "How is that, my friend?"

        "Why, thus it is," replied Dantès. "Thanks to the influence of M. Morrel, to whom, next to my father, I owe every blessing I enjoy, every difficulty has been removed. We have purchased permission to waive the usual delay; and at half-past two o'clock the mayor of Marseilles will be waiting for us at the city hall. Now, as a quarter-past one has already struck, I do not consider I have asserted too much in saying, that, in another hour and thirty minutes Mercédès will have become Madame Dantès."

        Fernand closed his eyes, a burning sensation passed across his brow, and he was compelled to support himself by the table to prevent his falling from his chair; but in spite of all his efforts, he could not refrain from uttering a deep groan, which, however, was lost amid the noisy felicitations of the company.

        "Upon my word," cried the old man, "you make short work of this kind of affair. Arrived here only yesterday morning, and married today at three o'clock! Commend me to a sailor for going the quick way to work!"

        "But," asked Danglars, in a timid tone, "how did you manage about the other formalities—the contract—the settlement?"

        "The contract," answered Dantès, laughingly, "it didn't take long to fix that. Mercédès has no fortune; I have none to settle on her. So, you see, our papers were quickly written out, and certainly do not come very expensive." This joke elicited a fresh burst of applause.

        "So that what we presumed to be merely the betrothal feast turns out to be the actual wedding dinner!" said Danglars.

        "No, no," answered Dantès; "don't imagine I am going to put you off in that shabby manner. Tomorrow morning I start for Paris; four days to go, and the same to return, with one day to discharge the commission entrusted to me, is all the time I shall be absent. I shall be back here by the first of March, and on the second I give my real marriage feast."

        This prospect of fresh festivity redoubled the hilarity of the guests to such a degree, that the elder Dantès, who, at the commencement of the repast, had commented upon the silence that prevailed, now found it difficult, amid the general din of voices, to obtain a moment's tranquility in which to drink to the health and prosperity of the bride and bridegroom.

        Dantès, perceiving the affectionate eagerness of his father, responded by a look of grateful pleasure; while Mercédès glanced at the clock and made an expressive gesture to Edmond.

        Around the table reigned that noisy hilarity which usually prevails at such a time among people sufficiently free from the demands of social position not to feel the trammels of etiquette. Such as at the commencement of the repast had not been able to seat themselves according to their inclination rose unceremoniously, and sought out more agreeable companions. Everybody talked at once, without waiting for a reply and each one seemed to be contented with expressing his or her own thoughts.

        Fernand's paleness appeared to have communicated itself to Danglars. As for Fernand himself, he seemed to be enduring the tortures of the damned; unable to rest, he was among the first to quit the table, and, as though seeking to avoid the hilarious mirth that rose in such deafening sounds, he continued, in utter silence, to pace the farther end of the salon.

        Caderousse approached him just as Danglars, whom Fernand seemed most anxious to avoid, had joined him in a corner of the room.

        "Upon my word," said Caderousse, from whose mind the friendly treatment of Dantès, united with the effect of the excellent wine he had partaken of, had effaced every feeling of envy or jealousy at Dantès' good fortune,—"upon my word, Dantès is a downright good fellow, and when I see him sitting there beside his pretty wife that is so soon to be. I cannot help thinking it would have been a great pity to have served him that trick you were planning yesterday."

        "Oh, there was no harm meant," answered Danglars; "at first I certainly did feel somewhat uneasy as to what Fernand might be tempted to do; but when I saw how completely he had mastered his feelings, even so far as to become one of his rival's attendants, I knew there was no further cause for apprehension." Caderousse looked full at Fernand—he was ghastly pale.

        "Certainly," continued Danglars, "the sacrifice was no trifling one, when the beauty of the bride is concerned. Upon my soul, that future captain of mine is a lucky dog! Gad, I only wish he would let me take his place."

        "Shall we not set forth?" asked the sweet, silvery voice of Mercédès; "two o'clock has just struck, and you know we are expected in a quarter of an hour."

        "To be sure!—to be sure!" cried Dantès, eagerly quitting the table; "let us go directly!"

        His words were re-echoed by the whole party, with vociferous cheers.

        At this moment Danglars, who had been incessantly observing every change in Fernand's look and manner, saw him stagger and fall back, with an almost convulsive spasm, against a seat placed near one of the open windows. At the same instant his ear caught a sort of indistinct sound on the stairs, followed by the measured tread of soldiery, with the clanking of swords and military accoutrements; then came a hum and buzz as of many voices, so as to deaden even the noisy mirth of the bridal party, among whom a vague feeling of curiosity and apprehension quelled every disposition to talk, and almost instantaneously the most deathlike stillness prevailed.

        The sounds drew nearer. Three blows were struck upon the panel of the door. The company looked at each other in consternation.

        "I demand admittance," said a loud voice outside the room, "in the name of the law!" As no attempt was made to prevent it, the door was opened, and a magistrate, wearing his official scarf, presented himself, followed by four soldiers and a corporal. Uneasiness now yielded to the most extreme dread on the part of those present.

        "May I venture to inquire the reason of this unexpected visit?" said M. Morrel, addressing the magistrate, whom he evidently knew; "there is doubtless some mistake easily explained."

        "If it be so," replied the magistrate, "rely upon every reparation being made; meanwhile, I am the bearer of an order of arrest, and although I most reluctantly perform the task assigned me, it must, nevertheless, be fulfilled. Who among the persons here assembled answers to the name of Edmond Dantès?" Every eye was turned towards the young man who, spite of the agitation he could not but feel, advanced with dignity, and said, in a firm voice, "I am he; what is your pleasure with me?"

        "Edmond Dantès," replied the magistrate, "I arrest you in the name of the law!"

        "Me!" repeated Edmond, slightly changing color, "and wherefore, I pray?"

        "I cannot inform you, but you will be duly acquainted with the reasons that have rendered such a step necessary at the preliminary examination."

        M. Morrel felt that further resistance or remonstrance was useless. He saw before him an officer delegated to enforce the law, and perfectly well knew that it would be as unavailing to seek pity from a magistrate decked with his official scarf, as to address a petition to some cold marble effigy. Old Dantès, however, sprang forward. There are situations which the heart of a father or a mother cannot be made to understand. He prayed and supplicated in terms so moving, that even the officer was touched, and, although firm in his duty, he kindly said, "My worthy friend, let me beg of you to calm your apprehensions. Your son has probably neglected some prescribed form or attention in registering his cargo, and it is more than probable he will be set at liberty directly he has given the information required, whether touching the health of his crew, or the value of his freight."

        "What is the meaning of all this?" inquired Caderousse, frowningly, of Danglars, who had assumed an air of utter surprise.

        "How can I tell you?" replied he; "I am, like yourself, utterly bewildered at all that is going on, and cannot in the least make out what it is about." Caderousse then looked around for Fernand, but he had disappeared.

        The scene of the previous night now came back to his mind with startling clearness. The painful catastrophe he had just witnessed appeared effectually to have rent away the veil which the intoxication of the evening before had raised between himself and his memory.

        "So, so," said he, in a hoarse and choking voice, to Danglars, "this, then, I suppose, is a part of the trick you were concerting yesterday? All I can say is, that if it be so, 'tis an ill turn, and well deserves to bring double evil on those who have projected it."

        "Nonsense," returned Danglars, "I tell you again I have nothing whatever to do with it; besides, you know very well that I tore the paper to pieces."

        "No, you did not!" answered Caderousse, "you merely threw it by—I saw it lying in a corner."

        "Hold your tongue, you fool!—what should you know about it?—why, you were drunk!"

        "Where is Fernand?" inquired Caderousse.

        "How do I know?" replied Danglars; "gone, as every prudent man ought to be, to look after his own affairs, most likely. Never mind where he is, let you and I go and see what is to be done for our poor friends."

        During this conversation, Dantès, after having exchanged a cheerful shake of the hand with all his sympathizing friends, had surrendered himself to the officer sent to arrest him, merely saying, "Make yourselves quite easy, my good fellows, there is some little mistake to clear up, that's all, depend upon it; and very likely I may not have to go so far as the prison to effect that.

        "Oh, to be sure!" responded Danglars, who had now approached the group, "nothing more than a mistake, I feel quite certain."

        Dantès descended the staircase, preceded by the magistrate, and followed by the soldiers. A carriage awaited him at the door; he got in, followed by two soldiers and the magistrate, and the vehicle drove off towards Marseilles.

        "Adieu, adieu, dearest Edmond!" cried Mercédès, stretching out her arms to him from the balcony.

        The prisoner heard the cry, which sounded like the sob of a broken heart, and leaning from the coach he called out, "Good-bye, Mercédès—we shall soon meet again!" Then the vehicle disappeared round one of the turnings of Fort Saint Nicholas.

        "Wait for me here, all of you!" cried M. Morrel; "I will take the first conveyance I find, and hurry to Marseilles, whence I will bring you word how all is going on."

        "That's right!" exclaimed a multitude of voices, "go, and return as quickly as you can!"

        This second departure was followed by a long and fearful state of terrified silence on the part of those who were left behind. The old father and Mercédès remained for some time apart, each absorbed in grief; but at length the two poor victims of the same blow raised their eyes, and with a simultaneous burst of feeling rushed into each other's arms.

Meanwhile Fernand made his appearance, poured out for himself a glass of water with a trembling hand; then hastily swallowing it, went to sit down at the first vacant place, and this was, by mere chance, placed next to the seat on which poor Mercédès had fallen half fainting, when released from the warm and affectionate embrace of old Dantès. Instinctively Fernand drew back his chair.

        "He is the cause of all this misery—I am quite sure of it," whispered Caderousse, who had never taken his eyes off Fernand, to Danglars.

        "I don't think so," answered the other; "he's too stupid to imagine such a scheme. I only hope the mischief will fall upon the head of whoever wrought it."

        "You don't mention those who aided and abetted the deed," said Caderousse.

        "Surely," answered Danglars, "one cannot be held responsible for every chance arrow shot into the air."

        "You can, indeed, when the arrow lights point downward on somebody's head."

        Meantime the subject of the arrest was being canvassed in every different form.

        "What think you, Danglars," said one of the party, turning towards him, "of this event?"

        "Why," replied he, "I think it just possible Dantès may have been detected with some trifling article on board ship considered here as contraband."

        "But how could he have done so without your knowledge, Danglars, since you are the ship's supercargo?"

        "Why, as for that, I could only know what I was told respecting the merchandise with which the vessel was laden. I know she was loaded with cotton, and that she took in her freight at Alexandria from Pastret's warehouse, and at Smyrna from Pascal's; that is all I was obliged to know, and I beg I may not be asked for any further particulars."

        "Now I recollect," said the afflicted old father; "my poor boy told me yesterday he had got a small case of coffee, and another of tobacco for me!"

        "There, you see," exclaimed Danglars. "Now the mischief is out; depend upon it the custom-house people went rummaging about the ship in our absence, and discovered poor Dantès' hidden treasures."

        Mercédès, however, paid no heed to this explanation of her lover's arrest. Her grief, which she had hitherto tried to restrain, now burst out in a violent fit of hysterical sobbing.

        "Come, come," said the old man, "be comforted, my poor child; there is still hope!"

        "Hope!" repeated Danglars.

        "Hope!" faintly murmured Fernand, but the word seemed to die away on his pale agitated lips, and a convulsive spasm passed over his countenance.

        "Good news! good news!" shouted forth one of the party stationed in the balcony on the lookout. "Here comes M. Morrel back. No doubt, now, we shall hear that our friend is released!"

        Mercédès and the old man rushed to meet the shipowner and greeted him at the door. He was very pale.

        "What news?" exclaimed a general burst of voices.

        "Alas, my friends," replied M. Morrel, with a mournful shake of his head, "the thing has assumed a more serious aspect than I expected."

        "Oh, indeed—indeed, sir, he is innocent!" sobbed forth Mercédès.

        "That I believe!" answered M. Morrel; "but still he is charged"—

        "With what?" inquired the elder Dantès.

        "With being an agent of the Bonapartist faction!" Many of our readers may be able to recollect how formidable such an accusation became in the period at which our story is dated.

        A despairing cry escaped the pale lips of Mercédès; the old man sank into a chair.

        "Ah, Danglars!" whispered Caderousse, "you have deceived me—the trick you spoke of last night has been played; but I cannot suffer a poor old man or an innocent girl to die of grief through your fault. I am determined to tell them all about it."

        "Be silent, you simpleton!" cried Danglars, grasping him by the arm, "or I will not answer even for your own safety. Who can tell whether Dantès be innocent or guilty? The vessel did touch at Elba, where he quitted it, and passed a whole day in the island. Now, should any letters or other documents of a compromising character be found upon him, will it not be taken for granted that all who uphold him are his accomplices?"

        With the rapid instinct of selfishness, Caderousse readily perceived the solidity of this mode of reasoning; he gazed, doubtfully, wistfully, on Danglars, and then caution supplanted generosity.

        "Suppose we wait a while, and see what comes of it," said he, casting a bewildered look on his companion.

        "To be sure!" answered Danglars. "Let us wait, by all means. If he be innocent, of course he will be set at liberty; if guilty, why, it is no use involving ourselves in a conspiracy."

        "Let us go, then. I cannot stay here any longer."

        "With all my heart!" replied Danglars, pleased to find the other so tractable. "Let us take ourselves out of the way, and leave things for the present to take their course."

        After their departure, Fernand, who had now again become the friend and protector of Mercédès, led the girl to her home, while the friends of Dantès conducted the now half-fainting man back to his abode.

        The rumor of Edmond's arrest as a Bonapartist agent was not slow in circulating throughout the city.

        "Could you ever have credited such a thing, my dear Danglars?" asked M. Morrel, as, on his return to the port for the purpose of gleaning fresh tidings of Dantès, from M. de Villefort, the assistant procureur, he overtook his supercargo and Caderousse. "Could you have believed such a thing possible?"

        "Why, you know I told you," replied Danglars, "that I considered the circumstance of his having anchored at the Island of Elba as a very suspicious circumstance."

        "And did you mention these suspicions to any person beside myself?"

        "Certainly not!" returned Danglars. Then added in a low whisper, "You understand that, on account of your uncle, M. Policar Morrel, who served under the other government, and who does not altogether conceal what he thinks on the subject, you are strongly suspected of regretting the abdication of Napoleon. I should have feared to injure both Edmond and yourself, had I divulged my own apprehensions to a soul. I am too well aware that though a subordinate, like myself, is bound to acquaint the shipowner with everything that occurs, there are many things he ought most carefully to conceal from all else."

        "'Tis well, Danglars—'tis well!" replied M. Morrel. "You are a worthy fellow; and I had already thought of your interests in the event of poor Edmond having become captain of the Pharaon."

        "Is it possible you were so kind?"

        "Yes, indeed; I had previously inquired of Dantès what was his opinion of you, and if he should have any reluctance to continue you in your post, for somehow I have perceived a sort of coolness between you."

        "And what was his reply?"

        "That he certainly did think he had given you offence in an affair which he merely referred to without entering into particulars, but that whoever possessed the good opinion and confidence of the ship's owner would have his preference also."

        "The hypocrite!" murmured Danglars.

        "Poor Dantès!" said Caderousse. "No one can deny his being a noble-hearted young fellow."

        "But meanwhile," continued M. Morrel, "here is the Pharaon without a captain."

        "Oh," replied Danglars, "since we cannot leave this port for the next three months, let us hope that ere the expiration of that period Dantès will be set at liberty."

        "No doubt; but in the meantime?"

        "I am entirely at your service, M. Morrel," answered Danglars. "You know that I am as capable of managing a ship as the most experienced captain in the service; and it will be so far advantageous to you to accept my services, that upon Edmond's release from prison no further change will be requisite on board the Pharaon than for Dantès and myself each to resume our respective posts."

        "Thanks, Danglars—that will smooth over all difficulties. I fully authorize you at once to assume the command of the Pharaon, and look carefully to the unloading of her freight. Private misfortunes must never be allowed to interfere with business."

        "Be easy on that score, M. Morrel; but do you think we shall be permitted to see our poor Edmond?"

        "I will let you know that directly I have seen M. de Villefort, whom I shall endeavor to interest in Edmond's favor. I am aware he is a furious royalist; but, in spite of that, and of his being king's attorney, he is a man like ourselves, and I fancy not a bad sort of one."

        "Perhaps not," replied Danglars; "but I hear that he is ambitious, and that's rather against him."

        "Well, well," returned M. Morrel, "we shall see. But now hasten on board, I will join you there ere long." So saying, the worthy shipowner quitted the two allies, and proceeded in the direction of the Palais de Justice.

        "You see," said Danglars, addressing Caderousse, "the turn things have taken. Do you still feel any desire to stand up in his defence?"

        "Not the slightest, but yet it seems to me a shocking thing that a mere joke should lead to such consequences."

        "But who perpetrated that joke, let me ask? neither you nor myself, but Fernand; you knew very well that I threw the paper into a corner of the room—indeed, I fancied I had destroyed it."

        "Oh, no," replied Caderousse, "that I can answer for, you did not. I only wish I could see it now as plainly as I saw it lying all crushed and crumpled in a corner of the arbor."

        "Well, then, if you did, depend upon it, Fernand picked it up, and either copied it or caused it to be copied; perhaps, even, he did not take the trouble of recopying it. And now I think of it, by Heavens, he may have sent the letter itself! Fortunately, for me, the handwriting was disguised."

        "Then you were aware of Dantès being engaged in a conspiracy?"

        "Not I. As I before said, I thought the whole thing was a joke, nothing more. It seems, however, that I have unconsciously stumbled upon the truth."

        "Still," argued Caderousse, "I would give a great deal if nothing of the kind had happened; or, at least, that I had had no hand in it. You will see, Danglars, that it will turn out an unlucky job for both of us."

        "Nonsense! If any harm come of it, it should fall on the guilty person; and that, you know, is Fernand. How can we be implicated in any way? All we have got to do is, to keep our own counsel, and remain perfectly quiet, not breathing a word to any living soul; and you will see that the storm will pass away without in the least affecting us."

        "Amen!" responded Caderousse, waving his hand in token of adieu to Danglars, and bending his steps towards the Allées de Meillan, moving his head to and fro, and muttering as he went, after the manner of one whose mind was overcharged with one absorbing idea.

        "So far, then," said Danglars, mentally, "all has gone as I would have it. I am, temporarily, commander of the Pharaon, with the certainty of being permanently so, if that fool of a Caderousse can be persuaded to hold his tongue. My only fear is the chance of Dantès being released. But, there, he is in the hands of Justice; and," added he with a smile, "she will take her own." So saying, he leaped into a boat, desiring to be rowed on board the Pharaon, where M. Morrel had agreed to meet him.

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Chapter 5 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Written by AlexandreDumas
The Marriage Feast
        The morning's sun rose clear and resplendent, touching the foamy waves into a network of ruby-tinted light.
        The feast had been made ready on the second floor at La Réserve, with whose arbor the reader is already familiar. The apartment destined for the purpose was spacious and lighted by a number of windows, over each of which was written in golden letters for some inexplicable reason the name of one of the principal cities of France; beneath these windows a wooden balcony extended the entire length of the house. And although the entertainment was fixed for twelve o'clock, an hour previous to that time the balcony was filled with impatient and expectant guests, consisting of the favored part of the crew of the Pharaon, and other personal friends of the bridegroom, the whole of whom had arrayed themselves in their choicest costumes, in order to do greater honor to the occasion.
        Various rumors were afloat to the effect that the owners of the Pharaon had promised to attend the nuptial feast; but all seemed unanimous in doubting that an act of such rare and exceeding condescension could possibly be intended.
        Danglars, however, who now made his appearance, accompanied by Caderousse, effectually confirmed the report, stating that he had recently conversed with M. Morrel, who had himself assured him of his intention to dine at La Réserve.
        In fact, a moment later M. Morrel appeared and was saluted with an enthusiastic burst of applause from the crew of the Pharaon, who hailed the visit of the shipowner as a sure indication that the man whose wedding feast he thus delighted to honor would ere long be first in command of the ship; and as Dantès was universally beloved on board his vessel, the sailors put no restraint on their tumultuous joy at finding that the opinion and choice of their superiors so exactly coincided with their own.
        With the entrance of M. Morrel, Danglars and Caderousse were dispatched in search of the bridegroom to convey to him the intelligence of the arrival of the important personage whose coming had created such a lively sensation, and to beseech him to make haste.
        Danglars and Caderousse set off upon their errand at full speed; but ere they had gone many steps they perceived a group advancing towards them, composed of the betrothed pair, a party of young girls in attendance on the bride, by whose side walked Dantès' father; the whole brought up by Fernand, whose lips wore their usual sinister smile.
        Neither Mercédès nor Edmond observed the strange expression of his countenance; they were so happy that they were conscious only of the sunshine and the presence of each other.
        Having acquitted themselves of their errand, and exchanged a hearty shake of the hand with Edmond, Danglars and Caderousse took their places beside Fernand and old Dantès,—the latter of whom attracted universal notice. The old man was attired in a suit of glistening watered silk, trimmed with steel buttons, beautifully cut and polished. His thin but wiry legs were arrayed in a pair of richly embroidered clocked stockings, evidently of English manufacture, while from his three-cornered hat depended a long streaming knot of white and blue ribbons. Thus he came along, supporting himself on a curiously carved stick, his aged countenance lit up with happiness, looking for all the world like one of the aged dandies of 1796, parading the newly opened gardens of the Tuileries and Luxembourg. Beside him glided Caderousse, whose desire to partake of the good things provided for the wedding-party had induced him to become reconciled to the Dantès, father and son, although there still lingered in his mind a faint and imperfect recollection of the events of the preceding night; just as the brain retains on waking in the morning the dim and misty outline of a dream.
        As Danglars approached the disappointed lover, he cast on him a look of deep meaning, while Fernand, as he slowly paced behind the happy pair, who seemed, in their own unmixed content, to have entirely forgotten that such a being as himself existed, was pale and abstracted; occasionally, however, a deep flush would overspread his countenance, and a nervous contraction distort his features, while, with an agitated and restless gaze, he would glance in the direction of Marseilles, like one who either anticipated or foresaw some great and important event.
        Dantès himself was simply, but becomingly, clad in the dress peculiar to the merchant service—a costume somewhat between a military and a civil garb; and with his fine countenance, radiant with joy and happiness, a more perfect specimen of manly beauty could scarcely be imagined.
        Lovely as the Greek girls of Cyprus or Chios, Mercédès boasted the same bright flashing eyes of jet, and ripe, round, coral lips. She moved with the light, free step of an Arlesienne or an Andalusian. One more practiced in the arts of great cities would have hid her blushes beneath a veil, or, at least, have cast down her thickly fringed lashes, so as to have concealed the liquid lustre of her animated eyes; but, on the contrary, the delighted girl looked around her with a smile that seemed to say: "If you are my friends, rejoice with me, for I am very happy."
        As soon as the bridal party came in sight of La Réserve, M. Morrel descended and came forth to meet it, followed by the soldiers and sailors there assembled, to whom he had repeated the promise already given, that Dantès should be the successor to the late Captain Leclere. Edmond, at the approach of his patron, respectfully placed the arm of his affianced bride within that of M. Morrel, who, forthwith conducting her up the flight of wooden steps leading to the chamber in which the feast was prepared, was gayly followed by the guests, beneath whose heavy tread the slight structure creaked and groaned for the space of several minutes.
        "Father," said Mercédès, stopping when she had reached the centre of the table, "sit, I pray you, on my right hand; on my left I will place him who has ever been as a brother to me," pointing with a soft and gentle smile to Fernand; but her words and look seemed to inflict the direst torture on him, for his lips became ghastly pale, and even beneath the dark hue of his complexion the blood might be seen retreating as though some sudden pang drove it back to the heart.
        During this time, Dantès, at the opposite side of the table, had been occupied in similarly placing his most honored guests. M. Morrel was seated at his right hand, Danglars at his left; while, at a sign from Edmond, the rest of the company ranged themselves as they found it most agreeable.
        Then they began to pass around the dusky, piquant, Arlesian sausages, and lobsters in their dazzling red cuirasses, prawns of large size and brilliant color, the echinus with its prickly outside and dainty morsel within, the clovis, esteemed by the epicures of the South as more than rivalling the exquisite flavor of the oyster,—all the delicacies, in fact, that are cast up by the wash of waters on the sandy beach, and styled by the grateful fishermen "fruits of the sea."
        "A pretty silence truly!" said the old father of the bridegroom, as he carried to his lips a glass of wine of the hue and brightness of the topaz, and which had just been placed before Mercédès herself. "Now, would anybody think that this room contained a happy, merry party, who desire nothing better than to laugh and dance the hours away?"
        "Ah," sighed Caderousse, "a man cannot always feel happy because he is about to be married."
        "The truth is," replied Dantès, "that I am too happy for noisy mirth; if that is what you meant by your observation, my worthy friend, you are right; joy takes a strange effect at times, it seems to oppress us almost the same as sorrow."
        Danglars looked towards Fernand, whose excitable nature received and betrayed each fresh impression.
        "Why, what ails you?" asked he of Edmond. "Do you fear any approaching evil? I should say that you were the happiest man alive at this instant."
        "And that is the very thing that alarms me," returned Dantès. "Man does not appear to me to be intended to enjoy felicity so unmixed; happiness is like the enchanted palaces we read of in our childhood, where fierce, fiery dragons defend the entrance and approach; and monsters of all shapes and kinds, requiring to be overcome ere victory is ours. I own that I am lost in wonder to find myself promoted to an honor of which I feel myself unworthy—that of being the husband of Mercédès."
        "Nay, nay!" cried Caderousse, smiling, "you have not attained that honor yet. Mercédès is not yet your wife. Just assume the tone and manner of a husband, and see how she will remind you that your hour is not yet come!"
        The bride blushed, while Fernand, restless and uneasy, seemed to start at every fresh sound, and from time to time wiped away the large drops of perspiration that gathered on his brow.
        "Well, never mind that, neighbor Caderousse; it is not worthwhile to contradict me for such a trifle as that. 'Tis true that Mercédès is not actually my wife; but," added he, drawing out his watch, "in an hour and a half she will be."
        A general exclamation of surprise ran round the table, with the exception of the elder Dantès, whose laugh displayed the still perfect beauty of his large white teeth. Mercédès looked pleased and gratified, while Fernand grasped the handle of his knife with a convulsive clutch.
        "In an hour?" inquired Danglars, turning pale. "How is that, my friend?"
        "Why, thus it is," replied Dantès. "Thanks to the influence of M. Morrel, to whom, next to my father, I owe every blessing I enjoy, every difficulty has been removed. We have purchased permission to waive the usual delay; and at half-past two o'clock the mayor of Marseilles will be waiting for us at the city hall. Now, as a quarter-past one has already struck, I do not consider I have asserted too much in saying, that, in another hour and thirty minutes Mercédès will have become Madame Dantès."
        Fernand closed his eyes, a burning sensation passed across his brow, and he was compelled to support himself by the table to prevent his falling from his chair; but in spite of all his efforts, he could not refrain from uttering a deep groan, which, however, was lost amid the noisy felicitations of the company.
        "Upon my word," cried the old man, "you make short work of this kind of affair. Arrived here only yesterday morning, and married today at three o'clock! Commend me to a sailor for going the quick way to work!"
        "But," asked Danglars, in a timid tone, "how did you manage about the other formalities—the contract—the settlement?"
        "The contract," answered Dantès, laughingly, "it didn't take long to fix that. Mercédès has no fortune; I have none to settle on her. So, you see, our papers were quickly written out, and certainly do not come very expensive." This joke elicited a fresh burst of applause.
        "So that what we presumed to be merely the betrothal feast turns out to be the actual wedding dinner!" said Danglars.
        "No, no," answered Dantès; "don't imagine I am going to put you off in that shabby manner. Tomorrow morning I start for Paris; four days to go, and the same to return, with one day to discharge the commission entrusted to me, is all the time I shall be absent. I shall be back here by the first of March, and on the second I give my real marriage feast."
        This prospect of fresh festivity redoubled the hilarity of the guests to such a degree, that the elder Dantès, who, at the commencement of the repast, had commented upon the silence that prevailed, now found it difficult, amid the general din of voices, to obtain a moment's tranquility in which to drink to the health and prosperity of the bride and bridegroom.
        Dantès, perceiving the affectionate eagerness of his father, responded by a look of grateful pleasure; while Mercédès glanced at the clock and made an expressive gesture to Edmond.
        Around the table reigned that noisy hilarity which usually prevails at such a time among people sufficiently free from the demands of social position not to feel the trammels of etiquette. Such as at the commencement of the repast had not been able to seat themselves according to their inclination rose unceremoniously, and sought out more agreeable companions. Everybody talked at once, without waiting for a reply and each one seemed to be contented with expressing his or her own thoughts.
        Fernand's paleness appeared to have communicated itself to Danglars. As for Fernand himself, he seemed to be enduring the tortures of the damned; unable to rest, he was among the first to quit the table, and, as though seeking to avoid the hilarious mirth that rose in such deafening sounds, he continued, in utter silence, to pace the farther end of the salon.
        Caderousse approached him just as Danglars, whom Fernand seemed most anxious to avoid, had joined him in a corner of the room.
        "Upon my word," said Caderousse, from whose mind the friendly treatment of Dantès, united with the effect of the excellent wine he had partaken of, had effaced every feeling of envy or jealousy at Dantès' good fortune,—"upon my word, Dantès is a downright good fellow, and when I see him sitting there beside his pretty wife that is so soon to be. I cannot help thinking it would have been a great pity to have served him that trick you were planning yesterday."
        "Oh, there was no harm meant," answered Danglars; "at first I certainly did feel somewhat uneasy as to what Fernand might be tempted to do; but when I saw how completely he had mastered his feelings, even so far as to become one of his rival's attendants, I knew there was no further cause for apprehension." Caderousse looked full at Fernand—he was ghastly pale.
        "Certainly," continued Danglars, "the sacrifice was no trifling one, when the beauty of the bride is concerned. Upon my soul, that future captain of mine is a lucky dog! Gad, I only wish he would let me take his place."
        "Shall we not set forth?" asked the sweet, silvery voice of Mercédès; "two o'clock has just struck, and you know we are expected in a quarter of an hour."
        "To be sure!—to be sure!" cried Dantès, eagerly quitting the table; "let us go directly!"
        His words were re-echoed by the whole party, with vociferous cheers.
        At this moment Danglars, who had been incessantly observing every change in Fernand's look and manner, saw him stagger and fall back, with an almost convulsive spasm, against a seat placed near one of the open windows. At the same instant his ear caught a sort of indistinct sound on the stairs, followed by the measured tread of soldiery, with the clanking of swords and military accoutrements; then came a hum and buzz as of many voices, so as to deaden even the noisy mirth of the bridal party, among whom a vague feeling of curiosity and apprehension quelled every disposition to talk, and almost instantaneously the most deathlike stillness prevailed.
        The sounds drew nearer. Three blows were struck upon the panel of the door. The company looked at each other in consternation.
        "I demand admittance," said a loud voice outside the room, "in the name of the law!" As no attempt was made to prevent it, the door was opened, and a magistrate, wearing his official scarf, presented himself, followed by four soldiers and a corporal. Uneasiness now yielded to the most extreme dread on the part of those present.
        "May I venture to inquire the reason of this unexpected visit?" said M. Morrel, addressing the magistrate, whom he evidently knew; "there is doubtless some mistake easily explained."
        "If it be so," replied the magistrate, "rely upon every reparation being made; meanwhile, I am the bearer of an order of arrest, and although I most reluctantly perform the task assigned me, it must, nevertheless, be fulfilled. Who among the persons here assembled answers to the name of Edmond Dantès?" Every eye was turned towards the young man who, spite of the agitation he could not but feel, advanced with dignity, and said, in a firm voice, "I am he; what is your pleasure with me?"
        "Edmond Dantès," replied the magistrate, "I arrest you in the name of the law!"
        "Me!" repeated Edmond, slightly changing color, "and wherefore, I pray?"
        "I cannot inform you, but you will be duly acquainted with the reasons that have rendered such a step necessary at the preliminary examination."
        M. Morrel felt that further resistance or remonstrance was useless. He saw before him an officer delegated to enforce the law, and perfectly well knew that it would be as unavailing to seek pity from a magistrate decked with his official scarf, as to address a petition to some cold marble effigy. Old Dantès, however, sprang forward. There are situations which the heart of a father or a mother cannot be made to understand. He prayed and supplicated in terms so moving, that even the officer was touched, and, although firm in his duty, he kindly said, "My worthy friend, let me beg of you to calm your apprehensions. Your son has probably neglected some prescribed form or attention in registering his cargo, and it is more than probable he will be set at liberty directly he has given the information required, whether touching the health of his crew, or the value of his freight."
        "What is the meaning of all this?" inquired Caderousse, frowningly, of Danglars, who had assumed an air of utter surprise.
        "How can I tell you?" replied he; "I am, like yourself, utterly bewildered at all that is going on, and cannot in the least make out what it is about." Caderousse then looked around for Fernand, but he had disappeared.
        The scene of the previous night now came back to his mind with startling clearness. The painful catastrophe he had just witnessed appeared effectually to have rent away the veil which the intoxication of the evening before had raised between himself and his memory.
        "So, so," said he, in a hoarse and choking voice, to Danglars, "this, then, I suppose, is a part of the trick you were concerting yesterday? All I can say is, that if it be so, 'tis an ill turn, and well deserves to bring double evil on those who have projected it."
        "Nonsense," returned Danglars, "I tell you again I have nothing whatever to do with it; besides, you know very well that I tore the paper to pieces."
        "No, you did not!" answered Caderousse, "you merely threw it by—I saw it lying in a corner."
        "Hold your tongue, you fool!—what should you know about it?—why, you were drunk!"
        "Where is Fernand?" inquired Caderousse.
        "How do I know?" replied Danglars; "gone, as every prudent man ought to be, to look after his own affairs, most likely. Never mind where he is, let you and I go and see what is to be done for our poor friends."
        During this conversation, Dantès, after having exchanged a cheerful shake of the hand with all his sympathizing friends, had surrendered himself to the officer sent to arrest him, merely saying, "Make yourselves quite easy, my good fellows, there is some little mistake to clear up, that's all, depend upon it; and very likely I may not have to go so far as the prison to effect that.
        "Oh, to be sure!" responded Danglars, who had now approached the group, "nothing more than a mistake, I feel quite certain."
        Dantès descended the staircase, preceded by the magistrate, and followed by the soldiers. A carriage awaited him at the door; he got in, followed by two soldiers and the magistrate, and the vehicle drove off towards Marseilles.
        "Adieu, adieu, dearest Edmond!" cried Mercédès, stretching out her arms to him from the balcony.
        The prisoner heard the cry, which sounded like the sob of a broken heart, and leaning from the coach he called out, "Good-bye, Mercédès—we shall soon meet again!" Then the vehicle disappeared round one of the turnings of Fort Saint Nicholas.
        "Wait for me here, all of you!" cried M. Morrel; "I will take the first conveyance I find, and hurry to Marseilles, whence I will bring you word how all is going on."
        "That's right!" exclaimed a multitude of voices, "go, and return as quickly as you can!"
        This second departure was followed by a long and fearful state of terrified silence on the part of those who were left behind. The old father and Mercédès remained for some time apart, each absorbed in grief; but at length the two poor victims of the same blow raised their eyes, and with a simultaneous burst of feeling rushed into each other's arms.
Meanwhile Fernand made his appearance, poured out for himself a glass of water with a trembling hand; then hastily swallowing it, went to sit down at the first vacant place, and this was, by mere chance, placed next to the seat on which poor Mercédès had fallen half fainting, when released from the warm and affectionate embrace of old Dantès. Instinctively Fernand drew back his chair.
        "He is the cause of all this misery—I am quite sure of it," whispered Caderousse, who had never taken his eyes off Fernand, to Danglars.
        "I don't think so," answered the other; "he's too stupid to imagine such a scheme. I only hope the mischief will fall upon the head of whoever wrought it."
        "You don't mention those who aided and abetted the deed," said Caderousse.
        "Surely," answered Danglars, "one cannot be held responsible for every chance arrow shot into the air."
        "You can, indeed, when the arrow lights point downward on somebody's head."
        Meantime the subject of the arrest was being canvassed in every different form.
        "What think you, Danglars," said one of the party, turning towards him, "of this event?"
        "Why," replied he, "I think it just possible Dantès may have been detected with some trifling article on board ship considered here as contraband."
        "But how could he have done so without your knowledge, Danglars, since you are the ship's supercargo?"
        "Why, as for that, I could only know what I was told respecting the merchandise with which the vessel was laden. I know she was loaded with cotton, and that she took in her freight at Alexandria from Pastret's warehouse, and at Smyrna from Pascal's; that is all I was obliged to know, and I beg I may not be asked for any further particulars."
        "Now I recollect," said the afflicted old father; "my poor boy told me yesterday he had got a small case of coffee, and another of tobacco for me!"
        "There, you see," exclaimed Danglars. "Now the mischief is out; depend upon it the custom-house people went rummaging about the ship in our absence, and discovered poor Dantès' hidden treasures."
        Mercédès, however, paid no heed to this explanation of her lover's arrest. Her grief, which she had hitherto tried to restrain, now burst out in a violent fit of hysterical sobbing.
        "Come, come," said the old man, "be comforted, my poor child; there is still hope!"
        "Hope!" repeated Danglars.
        "Hope!" faintly murmured Fernand, but the word seemed to die away on his pale agitated lips, and a convulsive spasm passed over his countenance.
        "Good news! good news!" shouted forth one of the party stationed in the balcony on the lookout. "Here comes M. Morrel back. No doubt, now, we shall hear that our friend is released!"
        Mercédès and the old man rushed to meet the shipowner and greeted him at the door. He was very pale.
        "What news?" exclaimed a general burst of voices.
        "Alas, my friends," replied M. Morrel, with a mournful shake of his head, "the thing has assumed a more serious aspect than I expected."
        "Oh, indeed—indeed, sir, he is innocent!" sobbed forth Mercédès.
        "That I believe!" answered M. Morrel; "but still he is charged"—
        "With what?" inquired the elder Dantès.
        "With being an agent of the Bonapartist faction!" Many of our readers may be able to recollect how formidable such an accusation became in the period at which our story is dated.
        A despairing cry escaped the pale lips of Mercédès; the old man sank into a chair.
        "Ah, Danglars!" whispered Caderousse, "you have deceived me—the trick you spoke of last night has been played; but I cannot suffer a poor old man or an innocent girl to die of grief through your fault. I am determined to tell them all about it."
        "Be silent, you simpleton!" cried Danglars, grasping him by the arm, "or I will not answer even for your own safety. Who can tell whether Dantès be innocent or guilty? The vessel did touch at Elba, where he quitted it, and passed a whole day in the island. Now, should any letters or other documents of a compromising character be found upon him, will it not be taken for granted that all who uphold him are his accomplices?"
        With the rapid instinct of selfishness, Caderousse readily perceived the solidity of this mode of reasoning; he gazed, doubtfully, wistfully, on Danglars, and then caution supplanted generosity.
        "Suppose we wait a while, and see what comes of it," said he, casting a bewildered look on his companion.
        "To be sure!" answered Danglars. "Let us wait, by all means. If he be innocent, of course he will be set at liberty; if guilty, why, it is no use involving ourselves in a conspiracy."
        "Let us go, then. I cannot stay here any longer."
        "With all my heart!" replied Danglars, pleased to find the other so tractable. "Let us take ourselves out of the way, and leave things for the present to take their course."
        After their departure, Fernand, who had now again become the friend and protector of Mercédès, led the girl to her home, while the friends of Dantès conducted the now half-fainting man back to his abode.
        The rumor of Edmond's arrest as a Bonapartist agent was not slow in circulating throughout the city.
        "Could you ever have credited such a thing, my dear Danglars?" asked M. Morrel, as, on his return to the port for the purpose of gleaning fresh tidings of Dantès, from M. de Villefort, the assistant procureur, he overtook his supercargo and Caderousse. "Could you have believed such a thing possible?"
        "Why, you know I told you," replied Danglars, "that I considered the circumstance of his having anchored at the Island of Elba as a very suspicious circumstance."
        "And did you mention these suspicions to any person beside myself?"
        "Certainly not!" returned Danglars. Then added in a low whisper, "You understand that, on account of your uncle, M. Policar Morrel, who served under the other government, and who does not altogether conceal what he thinks on the subject, you are strongly suspected of regretting the abdication of Napoleon. I should have feared to injure both Edmond and yourself, had I divulged my own apprehensions to a soul. I am too well aware that though a subordinate, like myself, is bound to acquaint the shipowner with everything that occurs, there are many things he ought most carefully to conceal from all else."
        "'Tis well, Danglars—'tis well!" replied M. Morrel. "You are a worthy fellow; and I had already thought of your interests in the event of poor Edmond having become captain of the Pharaon."
        "Is it possible you were so kind?"
        "Yes, indeed; I had previously inquired of Dantès what was his opinion of you, and if he should have any reluctance to continue you in your post, for somehow I have perceived a sort of coolness between you."
        "And what was his reply?"
        "That he certainly did think he had given you offence in an affair which he merely referred to without entering into particulars, but that whoever possessed the good opinion and confidence of the ship's owner would have his preference also."
        "The hypocrite!" murmured Danglars.
        "Poor Dantès!" said Caderousse. "No one can deny his being a noble-hearted young fellow."
        "But meanwhile," continued M. Morrel, "here is the Pharaon without a captain."
        "Oh," replied Danglars, "since we cannot leave this port for the next three months, let us hope that ere the expiration of that period Dantès will be set at liberty."
        "No doubt; but in the meantime?"
        "I am entirely at your service, M. Morrel," answered Danglars. "You know that I am as capable of managing a ship as the most experienced captain in the service; and it will be so far advantageous to you to accept my services, that upon Edmond's release from prison no further change will be requisite on board the Pharaon than for Dantès and myself each to resume our respective posts."
        "Thanks, Danglars—that will smooth over all difficulties. I fully authorize you at once to assume the command of the Pharaon, and look carefully to the unloading of her freight. Private misfortunes must never be allowed to interfere with business."
        "Be easy on that score, M. Morrel; but do you think we shall be permitted to see our poor Edmond?"
        "I will let you know that directly I have seen M. de Villefort, whom I shall endeavor to interest in Edmond's favor. I am aware he is a furious royalist; but, in spite of that, and of his being king's attorney, he is a man like ourselves, and I fancy not a bad sort of one."
        "Perhaps not," replied Danglars; "but I hear that he is ambitious, and that's rather against him."
        "Well, well," returned M. Morrel, "we shall see. But now hasten on board, I will join you there ere long." So saying, the worthy shipowner quitted the two allies, and proceeded in the direction of the Palais de Justice.
        "You see," said Danglars, addressing Caderousse, "the turn things have taken. Do you still feel any desire to stand up in his defence?"
        "Not the slightest, but yet it seems to me a shocking thing that a mere joke should lead to such consequences."
        "But who perpetrated that joke, let me ask? neither you nor myself, but Fernand; you knew very well that I threw the paper into a corner of the room—indeed, I fancied I had destroyed it."
        "Oh, no," replied Caderousse, "that I can answer for, you did not. I only wish I could see it now as plainly as I saw it lying all crushed and crumpled in a corner of the arbor."
        "Well, then, if you did, depend upon it, Fernand picked it up, and either copied it or caused it to be copied; perhaps, even, he did not take the trouble of recopying it. And now I think of it, by Heavens, he may have sent the letter itself! Fortunately, for me, the handwriting was disguised."
        "Then you were aware of Dantès being engaged in a conspiracy?"
        "Not I. As I before said, I thought the whole thing was a joke, nothing more. It seems, however, that I have unconsciously stumbled upon the truth."
        "Still," argued Caderousse, "I would give a great deal if nothing of the kind had happened; or, at least, that I had had no hand in it. You will see, Danglars, that it will turn out an unlucky job for both of us."
        "Nonsense! If any harm come of it, it should fall on the guilty person; and that, you know, is Fernand. How can we be implicated in any way? All we have got to do is, to keep our own counsel, and remain perfectly quiet, not breathing a word to any living soul; and you will see that the storm will pass away without in the least affecting us."
        "Amen!" responded Caderousse, waving his hand in token of adieu to Danglars, and bending his steps towards the Allées de Meillan, moving his head to and fro, and muttering as he went, after the manner of one whose mind was overcharged with one absorbing idea.
        "So far, then," said Danglars, mentally, "all has gone as I would have it. I am, temporarily, commander of the Pharaon, with the certainty of being permanently so, if that fool of a Caderousse can be persuaded to hold his tongue. My only fear is the chance of Dantès being released. But, there, he is in the hands of Justice; and," added he with a smile, "she will take her own." So saying, he leaped into a boat, desiring to be rowed on board the Pharaon, where M. Morrel had agreed to meet him.
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Chapter 4 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Written by AlexandreDumas

Conspiracy

        Danglars followed Edmond and Mercédès with his eyes until the two lovers disappeared behind one of the angles of Fort Saint Nicolas, then turning round, he perceived Fernand, who had fallen, pale and trembling, into his chair, while Caderousse stammered out the words of a drinking-song.

        "Well, my dear sir," said Danglars to Fernand, "here is a marriage which does not appear to make everybody happy."

        "It drives me to despair," said Fernand.

        "Do you, then, love Mercédès?"

        "I adore her!"

        "For long?"

        "As long as I have known her—always."

        "And you sit there, tearing your hair, instead of seeking to remedy your condition; I did not think that was the way of your people."

        "What would you have me do?" said Fernand.

        "How do I know? Is it my affair? I am not in love with Mademoiselle Mercédès; but for you—in the words of the gospel, seek, and you shall find."

        "I have found already."

        "What?"

        "I would stab the man, but the woman told me that if any misfortune happened to her betrothed, she would kill herself."

        "Pooh! Women say those things, but never do them."

        "You do not know Mercédès; what she threatens she will do."

        "Idiot!" muttered Danglars; "whether she kill herself or not, what matter, provided Dantès is not captain?"

        "Before Mercédès should die," replied Fernand, with the accents of unshaken resolution, "I would die myself!"

        "That's what I call love!" said Caderousse with a voice more tipsy than ever. "That's love, or I don't know what love is."

        "Come," said Danglars, "you appear to me a good sort of fellow, and hang me, I should like to help you, but"—

        "Yes," said Caderousse, "but how?"

        "My dear fellow," replied Danglars, "you are three parts drunk; finish the bottle, and you will be completely so. Drink then, and do not meddle with what we are discussing, for that requires all one's wit and cool judgment."

        "I—drunk!" said Caderousse; "well that's a good one! I could drink four more such bottles; they are no bigger than cologne flasks. Père Pamphile, more wine!" and Caderousse rattled his glass upon the table.

        "You were saying, sir"—said Fernand, awaiting with great anxiety the end of this interrupted remark.

        "What was I saying? I forget. This drunken Caderousse has made me lose the thread of my sentence."

        "Drunk, if you like; so much the worse for those who fear wine, for it is because they have bad thoughts which they are afraid the liquor will extract from their hearts;" and Caderousse began to sing the two last lines of a song very popular at the time,—

'Tous les méchants sont beuveurs d'eau; C'est bien prouvé par le déluge.'

        "You said, sir, you would like to help me, but"—

        "Yes; but I added, to help you it would be sufficient that Dantès did not marry her you love; and the marriage may easily be thwarted, methinks, and yet Dantès need not die."

        "Death alone can separate them," remarked Fernand.

        "You talk like a noodle, my friend," said Caderousse; "and here is Danglars, who is a wide-awake, clever, deep fellow, who will prove to you that you are wrong. Prove it, Danglars. I have answered for you. Say there is no need why Dantès should die; it would, indeed, be a pity he should. Dantès is a good fellow; I like Dantès. Dantès, your health."

Fernand rose impatiently. "Let him run on," said Danglars, restraining the young man; "drunk as he is, he is not much out in what he says. Absence severs as well as death, and if the walls of a prison were between Edmond and Mercédès they would be as effectually separated as if he lay under a tombstone."

        "Yes; but one gets out of prison," said Caderousse, who, with what sense was left him, listened eagerly to the conversation, "and when one gets out and one's name is Edmond Dantès, one seeks revenge"—

        "What matters that?" muttered Fernand.

        "And why, I should like to know," persisted Caderousse, "should they put Dantès in prison? he has not robbed or killed or murdered."

        "Hold your tongue!" said Danglars.

        "I won't hold my tongue!" replied Caderousse; "I say I want to know why they should put Dantès in prison; I like Dantès; Dantès, your health!" and he swallowed another glass of wine.

        Danglars saw in the muddled look of the tailor the progress of his intoxication, and turning towards Fernand, said, "Well, you understand there is no need to kill him."

        "Certainly not, if, as you said just now, you have the means of having Dantès arrested. Have you that means?"

        "It is to be found for the searching. But why should I meddle in the matter? it is no affair of mine."

        "I know not why you meddle," said Fernand, seizing his arm; "but this I know, you have some motive of personal hatred against Dantès, for he who himself hates is never mistaken in the sentiments of others."

        "I!—motives of hatred against Dantès? None, on my word! I saw you were unhappy, and your unhappiness interested me; that's all; but since you believe I act for my own account, adieu, my dear friend, get out of the affair as best you may;" and Danglars rose as if he meant to depart.

        "No, no," said Fernand, restraining him, "stay! It is of very little consequence to me at the end of the matter whether you have any angry feeling or not against Dantès. I hate him! I confess it openly. Do you find the means, I will execute it, provided it is not to kill the man, for Mercédès has declared she will kill herself if Dantès is killed."

        Caderousse, who had let his head drop on the table, now raised it, and looking at Fernand with his dull and fishy eyes, he said,—"Kill Dantès! who talks of killing Dantès? I won't have him killed—I won't! He's my friend, and this morning offered to share his money with me, as I shared mine with him. I won't have Dantès killed—I won't!"

"And who has said a word about killing him, muddlehead?" replied Danglars. "We were merely joking; drink to his health," he added, filling Caderousse's glass, "and do not interfere with us."

        "Yes, yes, Dantès' good health!" said Caderousse, emptying his glass, "here's to his health! his health—hurrah!"

        "But the means—the means?" said Fernand.

        "Have you not hit upon any?" asked Danglars.

        "No!—you undertook to do so."

        "True," replied Danglars; "the French have the superiority over the Spaniards, that the Spaniards ruminate, while the French invent."

        "Do you invent, then," said Fernand impatiently.

        "Waiter," said Danglars, "pen, ink, and paper."

        "Pen, ink, and paper," muttered Fernand.

        "Yes; I am a supercargo; pen, ink, and paper are my tools, and without my tools I am fit for nothing."

        "Pen, ink, and paper, then," called Fernand loudly.

        "There's what you want on that table," said the waiter.

        "Bring them here." The waiter did as he was desired.

        "When one thinks," said Caderousse, letting his hand drop on the paper, "there is here wherewithal to kill a man more sure than if we waited at the corner of a wood to assassinate him! I have always had more dread of a pen, a bottle of ink, and a sheet of paper, than of a sword or pistol."

        "The fellow is not so drunk as he appears to be," said Danglars. "Give him some more wine, Fernand." Fernand filled Caderousse's glass, who, like the confirmed toper he was, lifted his hand from the paper and seized the glass.

        The Catalan watched him until Caderousse, almost overcome by this fresh assault on his senses, rested, or rather dropped, his glass upon the table.

        "Well!" resumed the Catalan, as he saw the final glimmer of Caderousse's reason vanishing before the last glass of wine.

        "Well, then, I should say, for instance," resumed Danglars, "that if after a voyage such as Dantès has just made, in which he touched at the Island of Elba, someone were to denounce him to the king's procureur as a Bonapartist agent"—

        "I will denounce him!" exclaimed the young man hastily.

        "Yes, but they will make you then sign your declaration, and confront you with him you have denounced; I will supply you with the means of supporting your accusation, for I know the fact well. But Dantès cannot remain forever in prison, and one day or other he will leave it, and the day when he comes out, woe betide him who was the cause of his incarceration!"

        "Oh, I should wish nothing better than that he would come and seek a quarrel with me."

        "Yes, and Mercédès! Mercédès, who will detest you if you have only the misfortune to scratch the skin of her dearly beloved Edmond!"

        "True!" said Fernand.

        "No, no," continued Danglars; "if we resolve on such a step, it would be much better to take, as I now do, this pen, dip it into this ink, and write with the left hand (that the writing may not be recognized) the denunciation we propose." And Danglars, uniting practice with theory, wrote with his left hand, and in a writing reversed from his usual style, and totally unlike it, the following lines, which he handed to Fernand, and which Fernand read in an undertone:—

        "The honorable, the king's attorney, is informed by a friend of the throne and religion, that one Edmond Dantès, mate of the ship Pharaon, arrived this morning from Smyrna, after having touched at Naples and Porto-Ferrajo, has been intrusted by Murat with a letter for the usurper, and by the usurper with a letter for the Bonapartist committee in Paris. Proof of this crime will be found on arresting him, for the letter will be found upon him, or at his father's, or in his cabin on board the Pharaon."

        "Very good," resumed Danglars; "now your revenge looks like common sense, for in no way can it revert to yourself, and the matter will thus work its own way; there is nothing to do now but fold the letter as I am doing, and write upon it, 'To the king's attorney,' and that's all settled." And Danglars wrote the address as he spoke.

        "Yes, and that's all settled!" exclaimed Caderousse, who, by a last effort of intellect, had followed the reading of the letter, and instinctively comprehended all the misery which such a denunciation must entail. "Yes, and that's all settled; only it will be an infamous shame;" and he stretched out his hand to reach the letter.

        "Yes," said Danglars, taking it from beyond his reach; "and as what I say and do is merely in jest, and I, amongst the first and foremost, should be sorry if anything happened to Dantès—the worthy Dantès—look here!" And taking the letter, he squeezed it up in his hands and threw it into a corner of the arbor.

        "All right!" said Caderousse. "Dantès is my friend, and I won't have him ill-used."

        "And who thinks of using him ill? Certainly neither I nor Fernand," said Danglars, rising and looking at the young man, who still remained seated, but whose eye was fixed on the denunciatory sheet of paper flung into the corner.

        "In this case," replied Caderousse, "let's have some more wine. I wish to drink to the health of Edmond and the lovely Mercédès."

        "You have had too much already, drunkard," said Danglars; "and if you continue, you will be compelled to sleep here, because unable to stand on your legs."

        "I?" said Caderousse, rising with all the offended dignity of a drunken man, "I can't keep on my legs? Why, I'll wager I can go up into the belfry of the Accoules, and without staggering, too!"

        "Done!" said Danglars, "I'll take your bet; but tomorrow—today it is time to return.         Give me your arm, and let us go."

        "Very well, let us go," said Caderousse; "but I don't want your arm at all. Come, Fernand, won't you return to Marseilles with us?"

        "No," said Fernand; "I shall return to the Catalans."

        "You're wrong. Come with us to Marseilles—come along."

        "I will not."

        "What do you mean? you will not? Well, just as you like, my prince; there's liberty for all the world. Come along, Danglars, and let the young gentleman return to the Catalans if he chooses."

        Danglars took advantage of Caderousse's temper at the moment, to take him off towards Marseilles by the Porte Saint-Victor, staggering as he went.

        When they had advanced about twenty yards, Danglars looked back and saw Fernand stoop, pick up the crumpled paper, and putting it into his pocket then rush out of the arbor towards Pillon.

        "Well," said Caderousse, "why, what a lie he told! He said he was going to the Catalans, and he is going to the city. Hallo, Fernand!"

        "Oh, you don't see straight," said Danglars; "he's gone right enough."

        "Well," said Caderousse, "I should have said not—how treacherous wine is!"

        "Come, come," said Danglars to himself, "now the thing is at work and it will effect its purpose unassisted."

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Chapter 4 of The Count of Monte Cristo
Written by AlexandreDumas
Conspiracy
        Danglars followed Edmond and Mercédès with his eyes until the two lovers disappeared behind one of the angles of Fort Saint Nicolas, then turning round, he perceived Fernand, who had fallen, pale and trembling, into his chair, while Caderousse stammered out the words of a drinking-song.
        "Well, my dear sir," said Danglars to Fernand, "here is a marriage which does not appear to make everybody happy."
        "It drives me to despair," said Fernand.
        "Do you, then, love Mercédès?"
        "I adore her!"
        "For long?"
        "As long as I have known her—always."
        "And you sit there, tearing your hair, instead of seeking to remedy your condition; I did not think that was the way of your people."
        "What would you have me do?" said Fernand.
        "How do I know? Is it my affair? I am not in love with Mademoiselle Mercédès; but for you—in the words of the gospel, seek, and you shall find."
        "I have found already."
        "What?"
        "I would stab the man, but the woman told me that if any misfortune happened to her betrothed, she would kill herself."
        "Pooh! Women say those things, but never do them."
        "You do not know Mercédès; what she threatens she will do."
        "Idiot!" muttered Danglars; "whether she kill herself or not, what matter, provided Dantès is not captain?"
        "Before Mercédès should die," replied Fernand, with the accents of unshaken resolution, "I would die myself!"
        "That's what I call love!" said Caderousse with a voice more tipsy than ever. "That's love, or I don't know what love is."
        "Come," said Danglars, "you appear to me a good sort of fellow, and hang me, I should like to help you, but"—
        "Yes," said Caderousse, "but how?"
        "My dear fellow," replied Danglars, "you are three parts drunk; finish the bottle, and you will be completely so. Drink then, and do not meddle with what we are discussing, for that requires all one's wit and cool judgment."
        "I—drunk!" said Caderousse; "well that's a good one! I could drink four more such bottles; they are no bigger than cologne flasks. Père Pamphile, more wine!" and Caderousse rattled his glass upon the table.
        "You were saying, sir"—said Fernand, awaiting with great anxiety the end of this interrupted remark.
        "What was I saying? I forget. This drunken Caderousse has made me lose the thread of my sentence."
        "Drunk, if you like; so much the worse for those who fear wine, for it is because they have bad thoughts which they are afraid the liquor will extract from their hearts;" and Caderousse began to sing the two last lines of a song very popular at the time,—
'Tous les méchants sont beuveurs d'eau; C'est bien prouvé par le déluge.'
        "You said, sir, you would like to help me, but"—
        "Yes; but I added, to help you it would be sufficient that Dantès did not marry her you love; and the marriage may easily be thwarted, methinks, and yet Dantès need not die."
        "Death alone can separate them," remarked Fernand.
        "You talk like a noodle, my friend," said Caderousse; "and here is Danglars, who is a wide-awake, clever, deep fellow, who will prove to you that you are wrong. Prove it, Danglars. I have answered for you. Say there is no need why Dantès should die; it would, indeed, be a pity he should. Dantès is a good fellow; I like Dantès. Dantès, your health."
Fernand rose impatiently. "Let him run on," said Danglars, restraining the young man; "drunk as he is, he is not much out in what he says. Absence severs as well as death, and if the walls of a prison were between Edmond and Mercédès they would be as effectually separated as if he lay under a tombstone."
        "Yes; but one gets out of prison," said Caderousse, who, with what sense was left him, listened eagerly to the conversation, "and when one gets out and one's name is Edmond Dantès, one seeks revenge"—
        "What matters that?" muttered Fernand.
        "And why, I should like to know," persisted Caderousse, "should they put Dantès in prison? he has not robbed or killed or murdered."
        "Hold your tongue!" said Danglars.
        "I won't hold my tongue!" replied Caderousse; "I say I want to know why they should put Dantès in prison; I like Dantès; Dantès, your health!" and he swallowed another glass of wine.
        Danglars saw in the muddled look of the tailor the progress of his intoxication, and turning towards Fernand, said, "Well, you understand there is no need to kill him."
        "Certainly not, if, as you said just now, you have the means of having Dantès arrested. Have you that means?"
        "It is to be found for the searching. But why should I meddle in the matter? it is no affair of mine."
        "I know not why you meddle," said Fernand, seizing his arm; "but this I know, you have some motive of personal hatred against Dantès, for he who himself hates is never mistaken in the sentiments of others."
        "I!—motives of hatred against Dantès? None, on my word! I saw you were unhappy, and your unhappiness interested me; that's all; but since you believe I act for my own account, adieu, my dear friend, get out of the affair as best you may;" and Danglars rose as if he meant to depart.
        "No, no," said Fernand, restraining him, "stay! It is of very little consequence to me at the end of the matter whether you have any angry feeling or not against Dantès. I hate him! I confess it openly. Do you find the means, I will execute it, provided it is not to kill the man, for Mercédès has declared she will kill herself if Dantès is killed."
        Caderousse, who had let his head drop on the table, now raised it, and looking at Fernand with his dull and fishy eyes, he said,—"Kill Dantès! who talks of killing Dantès? I won't have him killed—I won't! He's my friend, and this morning offered to share his money with me, as I shared mine with him. I won't have Dantès killed—I won't!"
"And who has said a word about killing him, muddlehead?" replied Danglars. "We were merely joking; drink to his health," he added, filling Caderousse's glass, "and do not interfere with us."
        "Yes, yes, Dantès' good health!" said Caderousse, emptying his glass, "here's to his health! his health—hurrah!"
        "But the means—the means?" said Fernand.
        "Have you not hit upon any?" asked Danglars.
        "No!—you undertook to do so."
        "True," replied Danglars; "the French have the superiority over the Spaniards, that the Spaniards ruminate, while the French invent."
        "Do you invent, then," said Fernand impatiently.
        "Waiter," said Danglars, "pen, ink, and paper."
        "Pen, ink, and paper," muttered Fernand.
        "Yes; I am a supercargo; pen, ink, and paper are my tools, and without my tools I am fit for nothing."
        "Pen, ink, and paper, then," called Fernand loudly.
        "There's what you want on that table," said the waiter.
        "Bring them here." The waiter did as he was desired.
        "When one thinks," said Caderousse, letting his hand drop on the paper, "there is here wherewithal to kill a man more sure than if we waited at the corner of a wood to assassinate him! I have always had more dread of a pen, a bottle of ink, and a sheet of paper, than of a sword or pistol."
        "The fellow is not so drunk as he appears to be," said Danglars. "Give him some more wine, Fernand." Fernand filled Caderousse's glass, who, like the confirmed toper he was, lifted his hand from the paper and seized the glass.
        The Catalan watched him until Caderousse, almost overcome by this fresh assault on his senses, rested, or rather dropped, his glass upon the table.
        "Well!" resumed the Catalan, as he saw the final glimmer of Caderousse's reason vanishing before the last glass of wine.
        "Well, then, I should say, for instance," resumed Danglars, "that if after a voyage such as Dantès has just made, in which he touched at the Island of Elba, someone were to denounce him to the king's procureur as a Bonapartist agent"—
        "I will denounce him!" exclaimed the young man hastily.
        "Yes, but they will make you then sign your declaration, and confront you with him you have denounced; I will supply you with the means of supporting your accusation, for I know the fact well. But Dantès cannot remain forever in prison, and one day or other he will leave it, and the day when he comes out, woe betide him who was the cause of his incarceration!"
        "Oh, I should wish nothing better than that he would come and seek a quarrel with me."
        "Yes, and Mercédès! Mercédès, who will detest you if you have only the misfortune to scratch the skin of her dearly beloved Edmond!"
        "True!" said Fernand.
        "No, no," continued Danglars; "if we resolve on such a step, it would be much better to take, as I now do, this pen, dip it into this ink, and write with the left hand (that the writing may not be recognized) the denunciation we propose." And Danglars, uniting practice with theory, wrote with his left hand, and in a writing reversed from his usual style, and totally unlike it, the following lines, which he handed to Fernand, and which Fernand read in an undertone:—
        "The honorable, the king's attorney, is informed by a friend of the throne and religion, that one Edmond Dantès, mate of the ship Pharaon, arrived this morning from Smyrna, after having touched at Naples and Porto-Ferrajo, has been intrusted by Murat with a letter for the usurper, and by the usurper with a letter for the Bonapartist committee in Paris. Proof of this crime will be found on arresting him, for the letter will be found upon him, or at his father's, or in his cabin on board the Pharaon."
        "Very good," resumed Danglars; "now your revenge looks like common sense, for in no way can it revert to yourself, and the matter will thus work its own way; there is nothing to do now but fold the letter as I am doing, and write upon it, 'To the king's attorney,' and that's all settled." And Danglars wrote the address as he spoke.
        "Yes, and that's all settled!" exclaimed Caderousse, who, by a last effort of intellect, had followed the reading of the letter, and instinctively comprehended all the misery which such a denunciation must entail. "Yes, and that's all settled; only it will be an infamous shame;" and he stretched out his hand to reach the letter.
        "Yes," said Danglars, taking it from beyond his reach; "and as what I say and do is merely in jest, and I, amongst the first and foremost, should be sorry if anything happened to Dantès—the worthy Dantès—look here!" And taking the letter, he squeezed it up in his hands and threw it into a corner of the arbor.
        "All right!" said Caderousse. "Dantès is my friend, and I won't have him ill-used."
        "And who thinks of using him ill? Certainly neither I nor Fernand," said Danglars, rising and looking at the young man, who still remained seated, but whose eye was fixed on the denunciatory sheet of paper flung into the corner.
        "In this case," replied Caderousse, "let's have some more wine. I wish to drink to the health of Edmond and the lovely Mercédès."
        "You have had too much already, drunkard," said Danglars; "and if you continue, you will be compelled to sleep here, because unable to stand on your legs."
        "I?" said Caderousse, rising with all the offended dignity of a drunken man, "I can't keep on my legs? Why, I'll wager I can go up into the belfry of the Accoules, and without staggering, too!"
        "Done!" said Danglars, "I'll take your bet; but tomorrow—today it is time to return.         Give me your arm, and let us go."
        "Very well, let us go," said Caderousse; "but I don't want your arm at all. Come, Fernand, won't you return to Marseilles with us?"
        "No," said Fernand; "I shall return to the Catalans."
        "You're wrong. Come with us to Marseilles—come along."
        "I will not."
        "What do you mean? you will not? Well, just as you like, my prince; there's liberty for all the world. Come along, Danglars, and let the young gentleman return to the Catalans if he chooses."
        Danglars took advantage of Caderousse's temper at the moment, to take him off towards Marseilles by the Porte Saint-Victor, staggering as he went.
        When they had advanced about twenty yards, Danglars looked back and saw Fernand stoop, pick up the crumpled paper, and putting it into his pocket then rush out of the arbor towards Pillon.
        "Well," said Caderousse, "why, what a lie he told! He said he was going to the Catalans, and he is going to the city. Hallo, Fernand!"
        "Oh, you don't see straight," said Danglars; "he's gone right enough."
        "Well," said Caderousse, "I should have said not—how treacherous wine is!"
        "Come, come," said Danglars to himself, "now the thing is at work and it will effect its purpose unassisted."
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