The next day Danglars was again hungry; certainly the air of
that dungeon was very provocative of appetite. The prisoner
expected that he would be at no expense that day, for like
an economical man he had concealed half of his fowl and a
piece of the bread in the corner of his cell. But he had no
sooner eaten than he felt thirsty; he had forgotten that. He
struggled against his thirst till his tongue clave to the
roof of his mouth; then, no longer able to resist, he called
out. The sentinel opened the door; it was a new face. He
thought it would be better to transact business with his old
acquaintance, so he sent for Peppino. "Here I am, your
excellency," said Peppino, with an eagerness which Danglars
thought favorable to him. "What do you want?"
"Something to drink."
"Your excellency knows that wine is beyond all price near
"Then give me water," cried Danglars, endeavoring to parry
"Oh, water is even more scarce than wine, your excellency,
-- there has been such a drought."
"Come," thought Danglars, "it is the same old story." And
while he smiled as he attempted to regard the affair as a
joke, he felt his temples get moist with perspiration.
"Come, my friend," said Danglars, seeing that he made no
impression on Peppino, "you will not refuse me a glass of
"I have already told you that we do not sell at retail."
"Well, then, let me have a bottle of the least expensive."
"They are all the same price."
"And what is that?"
"Twenty-five thousand francs a bottle."
"Tell me," cried Danglars, in a tone whose bitterness
Harpagon* alone has been capable of revealing -- "tell me
that you wish to despoil me of all; it will be sooner over
than devouring me piecemeal."
* The miser in Moliere's comedy of "L'Avare." -- Ed.
"It is possible such may be the master's intention."
"The master? -- who is he?"
"The person to whom you were conducted yesterday."
"Where is he?"
"Let me see him."
"Certainly." And the next moment Luigi Vampa appeared before
"You sent for me?" he said to the prisoner.
"Are you, sir, the chief of the people who brought me here?"
"Yes, your excellency. What then?"
"How much do you require for my ransom?"
"Merely the 5,000,000 you have about you." Danglars felt a
dreadful spasm dart through his heart. "But this is all I
have left in the world," he said, "out of an immense
fortune. If you deprive me of that, take away my life also."
"We are forbidden to shed your blood."
"And by whom are you forbidden?"
"By him we obey."
"You do, then, obey some one?"
"Yes, a chief."
"I thought you said you were the chief?"
"So I am of these men; but there is another over me."
"And did your superior order you to treat me in this way?"
"But my purse will be exhausted."
"Come," said Danglars, "will you take a million?"
"Two millions? -- three? -- four? Come, four? I will give
them to you on condition that you let me go."
"Why do you offer me 4,000,000 for what is worth 5,000,000?
This is a kind of usury, banker, that I do not understand."
"Take all, then -- take all, I tell you, and kill me!"
"Come, come, calm yourself. You will excite your blood, and
that would produce an appetite it would require a million a
day to satisfy. Be more economical."
"But when I have no more money left to pay you?" asked the
"Then you must suffer hunger."
"Suffer hunger?" said Danglars, becoming pale.
"Most likely," replied Vampa coolly.
"But you say you do not wish to kill me?"
"And yet you will let me perish with hunger?"
"Ah, that is a different thing."
"Well, then, wretches," cried Danglars, "I will defy your
infamous calculations -- I would rather die at once! You may
torture, torment, kill me, but you shall not have my
"As your excellency pleases," said Vampa, as he left the
cell. Danglars, raving, threw himself on the goat-skin. Who
could these men be? Who was the invisible chief? What could
be his intentions towards him? And why, when every one else
was allowed to be ransomed, might he not also be? Oh, yes;
certainly a speedy, violent death would be a fine means of
deceiving these remorseless enemies, who appeared to pursue
him with such incomprehensible vengeance. But to die? For
the first time in his life, Danglars contemplated death with
a mixture of dread and desire; the time had come when the
implacable spectre, which exists in the mind of every human
creature, arrested his attention and called out with every
pulsation of his heart, "Thou shalt die!"
Danglars resembled a timid animal excited in the chase;
first it flies, then despairs, and at last, by the very
force of desperation, sometimes succeeds in eluding its
pursuers. Danglars meditated an escape; but the walls were
solid rock, a man was sitting reading at the only outlet to
the cell, and behind that man shapes armed with guns
continually passed. His resolution not to sign lasted two
days, after which he offered a million for some food. They
sent him a magnificent supper, and took his million.
From this time the prisoner resolved to suffer no longer,
but to have everything he wanted. At the end of twelve days,
after having made a splendid dinner, he reckoned his
accounts, and found that he had only 50,000 francs left.
Then a strange reaction took place; he who had just
abandoned 5,000,000 endeavored to save the 50,000 francs he
had left, and sooner than give them up he resolved to enter
again upon a life of privation -- he was deluded by the
hopefulness that is a premonition of madness. He who for so
long a time had forgotten God, began to think that miracles
were possible -- that the accursed cavern might be
discovered by the officers of the Papal States, who would
release him; that then he would have 50,000 remaining, which
would be sufficient to save him from starvation; and finally
he prayed that this sum might be preserved to him, and as he
prayed he wept. Three days passed thus, during which his
prayers were frequent, if not heartfelt. Sometimes he was
delirious, and fancied he saw an old man stretched on a
pallet; he, also, was dying of hunger.
On the fourth, he was no longer a man, but a living corpse.
He had picked up every crumb that had been left from his
former meals, and was beginning to eat the matting which
covered the floor of his cell. Then he entreated Peppino, as
he would a guardian angel, to give him food; he offered him
1,000 francs for a mouthful of bread. But Peppino did not
answer. On the fifth day he dragged himself to the door of
"Are you not a Christian?" he said, falling on his knees.
"Do you wish to assassinate a man who, in the eyes of
heaven, is a brother? Oh, my former friends, my former
friends!" he murmured, and fell with his face to the ground.
Then rising in despair, he exclaimed, "The chief, the
"Here I am," said Vampa, instantly appearing; "what do you
"Take my last gold," muttered Danglars, holding out his
pocket-book, "and let me live here; I ask no more for
liberty -- I only ask to live!"
"Then you suffer a great deal?"
"Oh, yes, yes, cruelly!"
"Still, there have been men who suffered more than you."
"I do not think so."
"Yes; those who have died of hunger."
Danglars thought of the old man whom, in his hours of
delirium, he had seen groaning on his bed. He struck his
forehead on the ground and groaned. "Yes," he said, "there
have been some who have suffered more than I have, but then
they must have been martyrs at least."
"Do you repent?" asked a deep, solemn voice, which caused
Danglars' hair to stand on end. His feeble eyes endeavored
to distinguish objects, and behind the bandit he saw a man
enveloped in a cloak, half lost in the shadow of a stone
"Of what must I repent?" stammered Danglars.
"Of the evil you have done," said the voice.
"Oh, yes; oh, yes, I do indeed repent." And he struck his
breast with his emaciated fist.
"Then I forgive you," said the man, dropping his cloak, and
advancing to the light.
"The Count of Monte Cristo!" said Danglars, more pale from
terror than he had been just before from hunger and misery.
"You are mistaken -- I am not the Count of Monte Cristo."
"Then who are you?"
"I am he whom you sold and dishonored -- I am he whose
betrothed you prostituted -- I am he upon whom you trampled
that you might raise yourself to fortune -- I am he whose
father you condemned to die of hunger -- I am he whom you
also condemned to starvation, and who yet forgives you,
because he hopes to be forgiven -- I am Edmond Dantes!"
Danglars uttered a cry, and fell prostrate. "Rise," said the
count, "your life is safe; the same good fortune has not
happened to your accomplices -- one is mad, the other dead.
Keep the 50,000 francs you have left -- I give them to you.
The 5,000,000 you stole from the hospitals has been restored
to them by an unknown hand. And now eat and drink; I will
entertain you to-night. Vampa, when this man is satisfied,
let him be free." Danglars remained prostrate while the
count withdrew; when he raised his head he saw disappearing
down the passage nothing but a shadow, before which the
bandits bowed. According to the count's directions, Danglars
was waited on by Vampa, who brought him the best wine and
fruits of Italy; then, having conducted him to the road, and
pointed to the post-chaise, left him leaning against a tree.
He remained there all night, not knowing where he was. When
daylight dawned he saw that he was near a stream; he was
thirsty, and dragged himself towards it. As he stooped down
to drink, he saw that his hair had become entirely white.