The recent event formed the theme of conversation throughout
all Paris. Emmanuel and his wife conversed with natural
astonishment in their little apartment in the Rue Meslay
upon the three successive, sudden, and most unexpected
catastrophes of Morcerf, Danglars, and Villefort.
Maximilian, who was paying them a visit, listened to their
conversation, or rather was present at it, plunged in his
accustomed state of apathy. "Indeed," said Julie, "might we
not almost fancy, Emmanuel, that those people, so rich, so
happy but yesterday, had forgotten in their prosperity that
an evil genius -- like the wicked fairies in Perrault's
stories who present themselves unbidden at a wedding or
baptism -- hovered over them, and appeared all at once to
revenge himself for their fatal neglect?"
"What a dire misfortune!" said Emmanuel, thinking of Morcerf
"What dreadful sufferings!" said Julie, remembering
Valentine, but whom, with a delicacy natural to women, she
did not name before her brother.
"If the Supreme Being has directed the fatal blow," said
Emmanuel, "it must be that he in his great goodness has
perceived nothing in the past lives of these people to merit
mitigation of their awful punishment."
"Do you not form a very rash judgment, Emmanuel?" said
Julie. "When my father, with a pistol in his hand, was once
on the point of committing suicide, had any one then said,
`This man deserves his misery,' would not that person have
"Yes; but your father was not allowed to fall. A being was
commissioned to arrest the fatal hand of death about to
descend on him."
Emmanuel had scarcely uttered these words when the sound of
the bell was heard, the well-known signal given by the
porter that a visitor had arrived. Nearly at the same
instant the door was opened and the Count of Monte Cristo
appeared on the threshold. The young people uttered a cry of
joy, while Maximilian raised his head, but let it fall again
immediately. "Maximilian," said the count, without appearing
to notice the different impressions which his presence
produced on the little circle, "I come to seek you."
"To seek me?" repeated Morrel, as if awakening from a dream.
"Yes," said Monte Cristo; "has it not been agreed that I
should take you with me, and did I not tell you yesterday to
prepare for departure?"
"I am ready," said Maximilian; "I came expressly to wish
"Whither are you going, count?" asked Julie.
"In the first instance to Marseilles, madame."
"To Marseilles!" exclaimed the young couple.
"Yes, and I take your brother with me."
"Oh, count." said Julie, "will you restore him to us cured
of his melancholy?" -- Morrel turned away to conceal the
confusion of his countenance.
"You perceive, then, that he is not happy?" said the count.
"Yes," replied the young woman; "and fear much that he finds
our home but a dull one."
"I will undertake to divert him," replied the count.
"I am ready to accompany you, sir," said Maximilian. "Adieu,
my kind friends! Emmanuel -- Julie -- farewell!"
"How farewell?" exclaimed Julie; "do you leave us thus, so
suddenly, without any preparations for your journey, without
even a passport?"
"Needless delays but increase the grief of parting," said
Monte Cristo, "and Maximilian has doubtless provided himself
with everything requisite; at least, I advised him to do
"I have a passport, and my clothes are ready packed," said
Morrel in his tranquil but mournful manner.
"Good," said Monte Cristo, smiling; "in these prompt
arrangements we recognize the order of a well-disciplined
"And you leave us," said Julie, "at a moment's warning? you
do not give us a day -- no, not even an hour before your
"My carriage is at the door, madame, and I must be in Rome
in five days."
"But does Maximilian go to Rome?" exclaimed Emmanuel.
"I am going wherever it may please the count to take me,"
said Morrel, with a smile full of grief; "I am under his
orders for the next month."
"Oh, heavens, how strangely he expresses himself, count!"
"Maximilian goes with me," said the count, in his kindest
and most persuasive manner; "therefore do not make yourself
uneasy on your brother's account."
"Once more farewell, my dear sister; Emmanuel, adieu!"
"His carelessness and indifference touch me to the heart,"
said Julie. "Oh, Maximilian, Maximilian, you are certainly
concealing something from us."
"Pshaw!" said Monte Cristo, "you will see him return to you
gay, smiling, and joyful."
Maximilian cast a look of disdain, almost of anger, on the
"We must leave you," said Monte Cristo.
"Before you quit us, count," said Julie, "will you permit us
to express to you all that the other day" --
"Madame," interrupted the count, taking her two hands in
his, "all that you could say in words would never express
what I read in your eyes; the thoughts of your heart are
fully understood by mine. Like benefactors in romances, I
should have left you without seeing you again, but that
would have been a virtue beyond my strength, because I am a
weak and vain man, fond of the tender, kind, and thankful
glances of my fellow-creatures. On the eve of departure I
carry my egotism so far as to say, `Do not forget me, my
kind friends, for probably you will never see me again.'"
"Never see you again?" exclaimed Emmanuel, while two large
tears rolled down Julie's cheeks, "never behold you again?
It is not a man, then, but some angel that leaves us, and
this angel is on the point of returning to heaven after
having appeared on earth to do good."
"Say not so," quickly returned Monte Cristo -- "say not so,
my friends; angels never err, celestial beings remain where
they wish to be. Fate is not more powerful than they; it is
they who, on the contrary, overcome fate. No, Emmanuel, I am
but a man, and your admiration is as unmerited as your words
are sacrilegious." And pressing his lips on the hand of
Julie, who rushed into his arms, he extended his other hand
to Emmanuel; then tearing himself from this abode of peace
and happiness, he made a sign to Maximilian, who followed
him passively, with the indifference which had been
perceptible in him ever since the death of Valentine had so
stunned him. "Restore my brother to peace and happiness,"
whispered Julie to Monte Cristo. And the count pressed her
hand in reply, as he had done eleven years before on the
staircase leading to Morrel's study.
"You still confide, then, in Sinbad the Sailor?" asked he,
"Oh, yes," was the ready answer.
"Well, then, sleep in peace, and put your trust in heaven."
As we have before said, the postchaise was waiting; four
powerful horses were already pawing the ground with
impatience, while Ali, apparently just arrived from a long
walk, was standing at the foot of the steps, his face bathed
in perspiration. "Well," asked the count in Arabic, "have
you been to see the old man?" Ali made a sign in the
"And have you placed the letter before him, as I ordered you
The slave respectfully signalized that he had. "And what did
he say, or rather do?" Ali placed himself in the light, so
that his master might see him distinctly, and then imitating
in his intelligent manner the countenance of the old man, he
closed his eyes, as Noirtier was in the custom of doing when
"Good; he accepts," said Monte Cristo. "Now let us go."
These words had scarcely escaped him, when the carriage was
on its way, and the feet of the horses struck a shower of
sparks from the pavement. Maximilian settled himself in his
corner without uttering a word. Half an hour had passed when
the carriage stopped suddenly; the count had just pulled the
silken check-string, which was fastened to Ali's finger. The
Nubian immediately descended and opened the carriage door.
It was a lovely starlight night -- they had just reached the
top of the hill Villejuif, from whence Paris appears like a
sombre sea tossing its millions of phosphoric waves into
light -- waves indeed more noisy, more passionate, more
changeable, more furious, more greedy, than those of the
tempestuous ocean, -- waves which never rest as those of the
sea sometimes do, -- waves ever dashing, ever foaming, ever
ingulfing what falls within their grasp. The count stood
alone, and at a sign from his hand, the carriage went on for
a short distance. With folded arms, he gazed for some time
upon the great city. When he had fixed his piercing look on
this modern Babylon, which equally engages the contemplation
of the religious enthusiast, the materialist, and the
scoffer, -- "Great city," murmured he, inclining his head,
and joining his hands as if in prayer, "less than six months
have elapsed since first I entered thy gates. I believe that
the Spirit of God led my steps to thee and that he also
enables me to quit thee in triumph; the secret cause of my
presence within thy walls I have confided alone to him who
only has had the power to read my heart. God only knows that
I retire from thee without pride or hatred, but not without
many regrets; he only knows that the power confided to me
has never been made subservient to my personal good or to
any useless cause. Oh, great city, it is in thy palpitating
bosom that I have found that which I sought; like a patient
miner, I have dug deep into thy very entrails to root out
evil thence. Now my work is accomplished, my mission is
terminated, now thou canst neither afford me pain nor
pleasure. Adieu, Paris, adieu!"
His look wandered over the vast plain like that of some
genius of the night; he passed his hand over his brow, got
into the carriage, the door was closed on him, and the
vehicle quickly disappeared down the other side of the hill
in a whirlwind of noise and dust.
Ten leagues were passed and not a single word was uttered.
Morrel was dreaming, and Monte Cristo was looking at the
"Morrel," said the count to him at length, "do you repent
having followed me?"
"No, count; but to leave Paris" --
"If I thought happiness might await you in Paris, Morrel, I
would have left you there."
"Valentine reposes within the walls of Paris, and to leave
Paris is like losing her a second time."
"Maximilian," said the count, "the friends that we have lost
do not repose in the bosom of the earth, but are buried deep
in our hearts, and it has been thus ordained that we may
always be accompanied by them. I have two friends, who in
this way never depart from me; the one who gave me being,
and the other who conferred knowledge and intelligence on
me. Their spirits live in me. I consult them when doubtful,
and if I ever do any good, it is due to their beneficent
counsels. Listen to the voice of your heart, Morrel, and ask
it whether you ought to preserve this melancholy exterior
"My friend," said Maximilian, "the voice of my heart is very
sorrowful, and promises me nothing but misfortune."
"It is the way of weakened minds to see everything through a
black cloud. The soul forms its own horizons; your soul is
darkened, and consequently the sky of the future appears
stormy and unpromising."
"That may possibly be true," said Maximilian, and he again
subsided into his thoughtful mood.
The journey was performed with that marvellous rapidity
which the unlimited power of the count ever commanded. Towns
fled from them like shadows on their path, and trees shaken
by the first winds of autumn seemed like giants madly
rushing on to meet them, and retreating as rapidly when once
reached. The following morning they arrived at Chalons,
where the count's steamboat waited for them. Without the
loss of an instant, the carriage was placed on board and the
two travellers embarked without delay. The boat was built
for speed; her two paddle-wheels were like two wings with
which she skimmed the water like a bird. Morrel was not
insensible to that sensation of delight which is generally
experienced in passing rapidly through the air, and the wind
which occasionally raised the hair from his forehead seemed
on the point of dispelling momentarily the clouds collected
As the distance increased between the travellers and Paris,
almost superhuman serenity appeared to surround the count;
he might have been taken for an exile about to revisit his
native land. Ere long Marseilles presented herself to view,
-- Marseilles, white, fervid, full of life and energy, --
Marseilles, the younger sister of Tyre and Carthage, the
successor to them in the empire of the Mediterranean, --
Marseilles, old, yet always young. Powerful memories were
stirred within them by the sight of the round tower, Fort
Saint-Nicolas, the City Hall designed by Puget,* the port
with its brick quays, where they had both played in
childhood, and it was with one accord that they stopped on
the Cannebiere. A vessel was setting sail for Algiers, on
board of which the bustle usually attending departure
prevailed. The passengers and their relations crowded on the
deck, friends taking a tender but sorrowful leave of each
other, some weeping, others noisy in their grief, the whole
forming a spectacle that might be exciting even to those who
witnessed similar sights daily, but which had no power to
disturb the current of thought that had taken possession of
the mind of Maximilian from the moment he had set foot on
the broad pavement of the quay.
* Pierre Puget, the sculptor-architect, was born at
Marseilles in 1622.
"Here," said he, leaning heavily on the arm of Monte Cristo,
-- "here is the spot where my father stopped, when the
Pharaon entered the port; it was here that the good old man,
whom you saved from death and dishonor, threw himself into
my arms. I yet feel his warm tears on my face, and his were
not the only tears shed, for many who witnessed our meeting
wept also." Monte Cristo gently smiled and said, -- "I was
there;" at the same time pointing to the corner of a street.
As he spoke, and in the very direction he indicated, a
groan, expressive of bitter grief, was heard, and a woman
was seen waving her hand to a passenger on board the vessel
about to sail. Monte Cristo looked at her with an emotion
that must have been remarked by Morrel had not his eyes been
fixed on the vessel.
"Oh, heavens!" exclaimed Morrel, "I do not deceive myself --
that young man who is waving his hat, that youth in the
uniform of a lieutenant, is Albert de Morcerf!"
"Yes," said Monte Cristo, "I recognized him."
"How so? -- you were looking the other way." the count
smiled, as he was in the habit of doing when he did not want
to make any reply, and he again turned towards the veiled
woman, who soon disappeared at the corner of the street.
Turning to his friend, -- "Dear Maximilian," said the count,
"have you nothing to do in this land?"
"I have to weep over the grave of my father," replied Morrel
in a broken voice.
"Well, then, go, -- wait for me there, and I will soon join
"You leave me, then?"
"Yes; I also have a pious visit to pay."
Morrel allowed his hand to fall into that which the count
extended to him; then with an inexpressibly sorrowful
inclination of the head he quitted the count and bent his
steps to the east of the city. Monte Cristo remained on the
same spot until Maximilian was out of sight; he then walked
slowly towards the Allees de Meillan to seek out a small
house with which our readers were made familiar at the
beginning of this story. It yet stood, under the shade of
the fine avenue of lime-trees, which forms one of the most
frequent walks of the idlers of Marseilles, covered by an
immense vine, which spreads its aged and blackened branches
over the stone front, burnt yellow by the ardent sun of the
south. Two stone steps worn away by the friction of many
feet led to the door, which was made of three planks; the
door had never been painted or varnished, so great cracks
yawned in it during the dry season to close again when the
rains came on. The house, with all its crumbling antiquity
and apparent misery, was yet cheerful and picturesque, and
was the same that old Dantes formerly inhabited -- the only
difference being that the old man occupied merely the
garret, while the whole house was now placed at the command
of Mercedes by the count.
The woman whom the count had seen leave the ship with so
much regret entered this house; she had scarcely closed the
door after her when Monte Cristo appeared at the corner of a
street, so that he found and lost her again almost at the
same instant. The worn out steps were old acquaintances of
his; he knew better than any one else how to open that
weather-beaten door with the large headed nail which served
to raise the latch within. He entered without knocking, or
giving any other intimation of his presence, as if he had
been a friend or the master of the place. At the end of a
passage paved with bricks, was a little garden, bathed in
sunshine, and rich in warmth and light. In this garden
Mercedes had found, at the place indicated by the count, the
sum of money which he, through a sense of delicacy, had
described as having been placed there twenty-four years
previously. The trees of the garden were easily seen from
the steps of the street-door. Monte Cristo, on stepping into
the house, heard a sigh that was almost a deep sob; he
looked in the direction whence it came, and there under an
arbor of Virginia jessamine,* with its thick foliage and
beautiful long purple flowers, he saw Mercedes seated, with
her head bowed, and weeping bitterly. She had raised her
veil, and with her face hidden by her hands was giving free
scope to the sighs and tears which had been so long
restrained by the presence of her son. Monte Cristo advanced
a few steps, which were heard on the gravel. Mercedes raised
her head, and uttered a cry of terror on beholding a man
* The Carolina -- not Virginia -- jessamine, gelsemium
sempervirens (properly speaking not a jessamine at all) has
yellow blossoms. The reference is no doubt to the Wistaria
frutescens. -- Ed.
"Madame," said the count, "it is no longer in my power to
restore you to happiness, but I offer you consolation; will
you deign to accept it as coming from a friend?"
"I am, indeed, most wretched," replied Mercedes. "Alone in
the world, I had but my son, and he has left me!"
"He possesses a noble heart, madame," replied the count,
"and he has acted rightly. He feels that every man owes a
tribute to his country; some contribute their talents,
others their industry; these devote their blood, those their
nightly labors, to the same cause. Had he remained with you,
his life must have become a hateful burden, nor would he
have participated in your griefs. He will increase in
strength and honor by struggling with adversity, which he
will convert into prosperity. Leave him to build up the
future for you, and I venture to say you will confide it to
"Oh," replied the wretched woman, mournfully shaking her
head, "the prosperity of which you speak, and which, from
the bottom of my heart, I pray God in his mercy to grant
him, I can never enjoy. The bitter cup of adversity has been
drained by me to the very dregs, and I feel that the grave
is not far distant. You have acted kindly, count, in
bringing me back to the place where I have enjoyed so much
bliss. I ought to meet death on the same spot where
happiness was once all my own."
"Alas," said Monte Cristo, "your words sear and embitter my
heart, the more so as you have every reason to hate me. I
have been the cause of all your misfortunes; but why do you
pity, instead of blaming me? You render me still more
"Hate you, blame you -- you, Edmond! Hate, reproach, the man
that has spared my son's life! For was it not your fatal and
sanguinary intention to destroy that son of whom M. de
Morcerf was so proud? Oh, look at me closely, and discover
if you can even the semblance of a reproach in me." The
count looked up and fixed his eyes on Mercedes, who arose
partly from her seat and extended both her hands towards
him. "Oh, look at me," continued she, with a feeling of
profound melancholy, "my eyes no longer dazzle by their
brilliancy, for the time has long fled since I used to smile
on Edmond Dantes, who anxiously looked out for me from the
window of yonder garret, then inhabited by his old father.
Years of grief have created an abyss between those days and
the present. I neither reproach you nor hate you, my friend.
Oh, no, Edmond, it is myself that I blame, myself that I
hate! Oh, miserable creature that I am!" cried she, clasping
her hands, and raising her eyes to heaven. "I once possessed
piety, innocence, and love, the three ingredients of the
happiness of angels, and now what am I?" Monte Cristo
approached her, and silently took her hand. "No," said she,
withdrawing it gently -- "no, my friend, touch me not. You
have spared me, yet of all those who have fallen under your
vengeance I was the most guilty. They were influenced by
hatred, by avarice, and by self-love; but I was base, and
for want of courage acted against my judgment. Nay, do not
press my hand, Edmond; you are thinking, I am sure, of some
kind speech to console me, but do not utter it to me,
reserve it for others more worthy of your kindness. See"
(and she exposed her face completely to view) -- "see,
misfortune has silvered my hair, my eyes have shed so many
tears that they are encircled by a rim of purple, and my
brow is wrinkled. You, Edmond, on the contrary, -- you are
still young, handsome, dignified; it is because you have had
faith; because you have had strength, because you have had
trust in God, and God has sustained you. But as for me, I
have been a coward; I have denied God and he has abandoned
Mercedes burst into tears; her woman's heart was breaking
under its load of memories. Monte Cristo took her hand and
imprinted a kiss on it; but she herself felt that it was a
kiss of no greater warmth than he would have bestowed on the
hand of some marble statue of a saint. "It often happens,"
continued she, "that a first fault destroys the prospects of
a whole life. I believed you dead; why did I survive you?
What good has it done me to mourn for you eternally in the
secret recesses of my heart? -- only to make a woman of
thirty-nine look like a woman of fifty. Why, having
recognized you, and I the only one to do so -- why was I
able to save my son alone? Ought I not also to have rescued
the man that I had accepted for a husband, guilty though he
were? Yet I let him die! What do I say? Oh, merciful
heavens, was I not accessory to his death by my supine
insensibility, by my contempt for him, not remembering, or
not willing to remember, that it was for my sake he had
become a traitor and a perjurer? In what am I benefited by
accompanying my son so far, since I now abandon him, and
allow him to depart alone to the baneful climate of Africa?
Oh, I have been base, cowardly, I tell you; I have abjured
my affections, and like all renegades I am of evil omen to
those who surround me!"
"No, Mercedes," said Monte Cristo, "no; you judge yourself
with too much severity. You are a noble-minded woman, and it
was your grief that disarmed me. Still I was but an agent,
led on by an invisible and offended Deity, who chose not to
withhold the fatal blow that I was destined to hurl. I take
that God to witness, at whose feet I have prostrated myself
daily for the last ten years, that I would have sacrificed
my life to you, and with my life the projects that were
indissolubly linked with it. But -- and I say it with some
pride, Mercedes -- God needed me, and I lived. Examine the
past and the present, and endeavor to dive into futurity,
and then say whether I am not a divine instrument. The most
dreadful misfortunes, the most frightful sufferings, the
abandonment of all those who loved me, the persecution of
those who did not know me, formed the trials of my youth;
when suddenly, from captivity, solitude, misery, I was
restored to light and liberty, and became the possessor of a
fortune so brilliant, so unbounded, so unheard-of, that I
must have been blind not to be conscious that God had
endowed me with it to work out his own great designs. From
that time I looked upon this fortune as something confided
to me for an especial purpose. Not a thought was given to a
life which you once, Mercedes, had the power to render
blissful; not one hour of peaceful calm was mine; but I felt
myself driven on like an exterminating angel. Like
adventurous captains about to embark on some enterprise full
of danger, I laid in my provisions, I loaded my weapons, I
collected every means of attack and defence; I inured my
body to the most violent exercises, my soul to the bitterest
trials; I taught my arm to slay, my eyes to behold
excruciating sufferings, and my mouth to smile at the most
horrid spectacles. Good-natured, confiding, and forgiving as
I had been, I became revengeful, cunning, and wicked, or
rather, immovable as fate. Then I launched out into the path
that was opened to me. I overcame every obstacle, and
reached the goal; but woe to those who stood in my pathway!"
"Enough," said Mercedes; "enough, Edmond! Believe me, that
she who alone recognized you has been the only one to
comprehend you; and had she crossed your path, and you had
crushed her like glass, still, Edmond, still she must have
admired you! Like the gulf between me and the past, there is
an abyss between you, Edmond, and the rest of mankind; and I
tell you freely that the comparison I draw between you and
other men will ever be one of my greatest tortures. No,
there is nothing in the world to resemble you in worth and
goodness! But we must say farewell, Edmond, and let us
"Before I leave you, Mercedes, have you no request to make?"
said the count.
"I desire but one thing in this world, Edmond, -- the
happiness of my son."
"Pray to the Almighty to spare his life, and I will take
upon myself to promote his happiness."
"Thank you, Edmond."
"But have you no request to make for yourself, Mercedes?"
"For myself I want nothing. I live, as it were, between two
graves. One is that of Edmond Dantes, lost to me long, long
since. He had my love! That word ill becomes my faded lip
now, but it is a memory dear to my heart, and one that I
would not lose for all that the world contains. The other
grave is that of the man who met his death from the hand of
Edmond Dantes. I approve of the deed, but I must pray for
"Your son shall be happy, Mercedes," repeated the count.
"Then I shall enjoy as much happiness as this world can
"But what are your intentions?"
"To say that I shall live here, like the Mercedes of other
times, gaining my bread by labor, would not be true, nor
would you believe me. I have no longer the strength to do
anything but to spend my days in prayer. However, I shall
have no occasion to work, for the little sum of money buried
by you, and which I found in the place you mentioned, will
be sufficient to maintain me. Rumor will probably be busy
respecting me, my occupations, my manner of living -- that
will signify but little."
"Mercedes," said the count, "I do not say it to blame you,
but you made an unnecessary sacrifice in relinquishing the
whole of the fortune amassed by M. de Morcerf; half of it at
least by right belonged to you, in virtue of your vigilance
"I perceive what you are intending to propose to me; but I
cannot accept it, Edmond -- my son would not permit it."
"Nothing shall be done without the full approbation of
Albert de Morcerf. I will make myself acquainted with his
intentions and will submit to them. But if he be willing to
accept my offers, will you oppose them?"
"You well know, Edmond, that I am no longer a reasoning
creature; I have no will, unless it be the will never to
decide. I have been so overwhelmed by the many storms that
have broken over my head, that I am become passive in the
hands of the Almighty, like a sparrow in the talons of an
eagle. I live, because it is not ordained for me to die. If
succor be sent to me, I will accept it."
"Ah, madame," said Monte Cristo, "you should not talk thus!
It is not so we should evince our resignation to the will of
heaven; on the contrary, we are all free agents."
"Alas!" exclaimed Mercedes, "if it were so, if I possessed
free-will, but without the power to render that will
efficacious, it would drive me to despair." Monte Cristo
dropped his head and shrank from the vehemence of her grief.
"Will you not even say you will see me again?" he asked.
"On the contrary, we shall meet again," said Mercedes,
pointing to heaven with solemnity. "I tell you so to prove
to you that I still hope." And after pressing her own
trembling hand upon that of the count, Mercedes rushed up
the stairs and disappeared. Monte Cristo slowly left the
house and turned towards the quay. But Mercedes did not
witness his departure, although she was seated at the little
window of the room which had been occupied by old Dantes.
Her eyes were straining to see the ship which was carrying
her son over the vast sea; but still her voice involuntarily
murmured softly, "Edmond, Edmond, Edmond!"