At eight o'clock in the morning Albert had arrived at
Beauchamp's door. The valet de chambre had received orders
to usher him in at once. Beauchamp was in his bath. "Here I
am," said Albert.
"Well, my poor friend," replied Beauchamp, "I expected you."
"I need not say I think you are too faithful and too kind to
have spoken of that painful circumstance. Your having sent
for me is another proof of your affection. So, without
losing time, tell me, have you the slightest idea whence
this terrible blow proceeds?"
"I think I have some clew."
"But first tell me all the particulars of this shameful
plot." Beauchamp proceeded to relate to the young man, who
was overwhelmed with shame and grief, the following facts.
Two days previously, the article had appeared in another
paper besides the Impartial, and, what was more serious, one
that was well known as a government paper. Beauchamp was
breakfasting when he read the paragraph. He sent immediately
for a cabriolet, and hastened to the publisher's office.
Although professing diametrically opposite principles from
those of the editor of the other paper, Beauchamp -- as it
sometimes, we may say often, happens -- was his intimate
friend. The editor was reading, with apparent delight, a
leading article in the same paper on beet-sugar, probably a
composition of his own.
"Ah, pardieu," said Beauchamp, "with the paper in your hand,
my friend, I need not tell you the cause of my visit."
"Are you interested in the sugar question?" asked the editor
of the ministerial paper.
"No," replied Beauchamp, "I have not considered the
question; a totally different subject interests me."
"What is it?"
"The article relative to Morcerf."
"Indeed? Is it not a curious affair?"
"So curious, that I think you are running a great risk of a
prosecution for defamation of character."
"Not at all; we have received with the information all the
requisite proofs, and we are quite sure M. de Morcerf will
not raise his voice against us; besides, it is rendering a
service to one's country to denounce these wretched
criminals who are unworthy of the honor bestowed on them."
Beauchamp was thunderstruck. "Who, then, has so correctly
informed you?" asked he; "for my paper, which gave the first
information on the subject, has been obliged to stop for
want of proof; and yet we are more interested than you in
exposing M. de Morcerf, as he is a peer of France, and we
are of the opposition."
"Oh, that is very simple; we have not sought to scandalize.
This news was brought to us. A man arrived yesterday from
Yanina, bringing a formidable array of documents; and when
we hesitated to publish the accusatory article, he told us
it should be inserted in some other paper."
Beauchamp understood that nothing remained but to submit,
and left the office to despatch a courier to Morcerf. But he
had been unable to send to Albert the following particulars,
as the events had transpired after the messenger's
departure; namely, that the same day a great agitation was
manifest in the House of Peers among the usually calm
members of that dignified assembly. Every one had arrived
almost before the usual hour, and was conversing on the
melancholy event which was to attract the attention of the
public towards one of their most illustrious colleagues.
Some were perusing the article, others making comments and
recalling circumstances which substantiated the charges
still more. The Count of Morcerf was no favorite with his
colleagues. Like all upstarts, he had had recourse to a
great deal of haughtiness to maintain his position. The true
nobility laughed at him, the talented repelled him, and the
honorable instinctively despised him. He was, in fact, in
the unhappy position of the victim marked for sacrifice; the
finger of God once pointed at him, every one was prepared to
raise the hue and cry.
The Count of Morcerf alone was ignorant of the news. He did
not take in the paper containing the defamatory article, and
had passed the morning in writing letters and in trying a
horse. He arrived at his usual hour, with a proud look and
insolent demeanor; he alighted, passed through the
corridors, and entered the house without observing the
hesitation of the door-keepers or the coolness of his
colleagues. Business had already been going on for half an
hour when he entered. Every one held the accusing paper,
but, as usual, no one liked to take upon himself the
responsibility of the attack. At length an honorable peer,
Morcerf's acknowledged enemy, ascended the tribune with that
solemnity which announced that the expected moment had
arrived. There was an impressive silence; Morcerf alone knew
not why such profound attention was given to an orator who
was not always listened to with so much complacency. The
count did not notice the introduction, in which the speaker
announced that his communication would be of that vital
importance that it demanded the undivided attention of the
House; but at the mention of Yanina and Colonel Fernand, he
turned so frightfully pale that every member shuddered and
fixed his eyes upon him. Moral wounds have this peculiarity,
-- they may be hidden, but they never close; always painful,
always ready to bleed when touched, they remain fresh and
open in the heart.
The article having been read during the painful hush that
followed, a universal shudder pervaded the assembly, and
immediately the closest attention was given to the orator as
he resumed his remarks. He stated his scruples and the
difficulties of the case; it was the honor of M. de Morcerf,
and that of the whole House, he proposed to defend, by
provoking a debate on personal questions, which are always
such painful themes of discussion. He concluded by calling
for an investigation, which might dispose of the calumnious
report before it had time to spread, and restore M. de
Morcerf to the position he had long held in public opinion.
Morcerf was so completely overwhelmed by this great and
unexpected calamity that he could scarcely stammer a few
words as he looked around on the assembly. This timidity,
which might proceed from the astonishment of innocence as
well as the shame of guilt, conciliated some in his favor;
for men who are truly generous are always ready to
compassionate when the misfortune of their enemy surpasses
the limits of their hatred.
The president put it to the vote, and it was decided that
the investigation should take place. The count was asked
what time he required to prepare his defence. Morcerf's
courage had revived when he found himself alive after this
horrible blow. "My lords," answered he, "it is not by time I
could repel the attack made on me by enemies unknown to me,
and, doubtless, hidden in obscurity; it is immediately, and
by a thunderbolt, that I must repel the flash of lightning
which, for a moment, startled me. Oh, that I could, instead
of taking up this defence, shed my last drop of blood to
prove to my noble colleagues that I am their equal in
worth." These words made a favorable impression on behalf of
the accused. "I demand, then, that the examination shall
take place as soon as possible, and I will furnish the house
with all necessary information."
"What day do you fix?" asked the president.
"To-day I am at your service," replied the count. The
president rang the bell. "Does the House approve that the
examination should take place to-day?"
"Yes," was the unanimous answer.
A committee of twelve members was chosen to examine the
proofs brought forward by Morcerf. The investigation would
begin at eight o'clock that evening in the committee-room,
and if postponement were necessary, the proceedings would be
resumed each evening at the same hour. Morcerf asked leave
to retire; he had to collect the documents he had long been
preparing against this storm, which his sagacity had
Albert listened, trembling now with hope, then with anger,
and then again with shame, for from Beauchamp's confidence
he knew his father was guilty, and he asked himself how,
since he was guilty, he could prove his innocence. Beauchamp
hesitated to continue his narrative. "What next?" asked
"What next? My friend, you impose a painful task on me. Must
you know all?"
"Absolutely; and rather from your lips than another's."
"Muster up all your courage, then, for never have you
required it more." Albert passed his hand over his forehead,
as if to try his strength, as a man who is preparing to
defend his life proves his shield and bends his sword. He
thought himself strong enough, for he mistook fever for
energy. "Go on," said he.
"The evening arrived; all Paris was in expectation. Many
said your father had only to show himself to crush the
charge against him; many others said he would not appear;
while some asserted that they had seen him start for
Brussels; and others went to the police-office to inquire if
he had taken out a passport. I used all my influence with
one of the committee, a young peer of my acquaintance, to
get admission to one of the galleries. He called for me at
seven o'clock, and, before any one had arrived, asked one of
the door-keepers to place me in a box. I was concealed by a
column, and might witness the whole of the terrible scene
which was about to take place. At eight o'clock all were in
their places, and M. de Morcerf entered at the last stroke.
He held some papers in his hand; his countenance was calm,
and his step firm, and he was dressed with great care in his
military uniform, which was buttoned completely up to the
chin. His presence produced a good effect. The committee was
made up of Liberals, several of whom came forward to shake
hands with him."
Albert felt his heart bursting at these particulars, but
gratitude mingled with his sorrow: he would gladly have
embraced those who had given his father this proof of esteem
at a moment when his honor was so powerfully attacked. "At
this moment one of the door-keepers brought in a letter for
the president. `You are at liberty to speak, M. de Morcerf,'
said the president, as he unsealed the letter; and the count
began his defence, I assure you, Albert, in a most eloquent
and skilful manner. He produced documents proving that the
Vizier of Yanina had up to the last moment honored him with
his entire confidence, since he had interested him with a
negotiation of life and death with the emperor. He produced
the ring, his mark of authority, with which Ali Pasha
generally sealed his letters, and which the latter had given
him, that he might, on his return at any hour of the day or
night, gain access to the presence, even in the harem.
Unfortunately, the negotiation failed, and when he returned
to defend his benefactor, he was dead. `But,' said the
count, `so great was Ali Pasha's confidence, that on his
death-bed he resigned his favorite mistress and her daughter
to my care.'" Albert started on hearing these words; the
history of Haidee recurred to him, and he remembered what
she had said of that message and the ring, and the manner in
which she had been sold and made a slave. "And what effect
did this discourse produce?" anxiously inquired Albert. "I
acknowledge it affected me, and, indeed, all the committee
also," said Beauchamp.
"Meanwhile, the president carelessly opened the letter which
had been brought to him; but the first lines aroused his
attention; he read them again and again, and fixing his eyes
on M. de Morcerf, `Count,' said he, `you have said that the
Vizier of Yanina confided his wife and daughter to your
care?' -- `Yes, sir,' replied Morcerf; `but in that, like
all the rest, misfortune pursued me. On my return, Vasiliki
and her daughter Haidee had disappeared.' -- `Did you know
them?' -- `My intimacy with the pasha and his unlimited
confidence had gained me an introduction to them, and I had
seen them above twenty times.'
"`Have you any idea what became of them?' -- `Yes, sir; I
heard they had fallen victims to their sorrow, and, perhaps,
to their poverty. I was not rich; my life was in constant
danger; I could not seek them, to my great regret.' The
president frowned imperceptibly. `Gentlemen,' said he, `you
have heard the Comte de Morcerf's defence. Can you, sir,
produce any witnesses to the truth of what you have
asserted?' -- `Alas, no, monsieur,' replied the count; `all
those who surrounded the vizier, or who knew me at his
court, are either dead or gone away, I know not where. I
believe that I alone, of all my countrymen, survived that
dreadful war. I have only the letters of Ali Tepelini, which
I have placed before you; the ring, a token of his
good-will, which is here; and, lastly, the most convincing
proof I can offer, after an anonymous attack, and that is
the absence of any witness against my veracity and the
purity of my military life.' A murmur of approbation ran
through the assembly; and at this moment, Albert, had
nothing more transpired, your father's cause had been
gained. It only remained to put it to the vote, when the
president resumed: `Gentlemen and you, monsieur, -- you will
not be displeased, I presume, to listen to one who calls
himself a very important witness, and who has just presented
himself. He is, doubtless, come to prove the perfect
innocence of our colleague. Here is a letter I have just
received on the subject; shall it be read, or shall it be
passed over? and shall we take no notice of this incident?'
M. de Morcerf turned pale, and clinched his hands on the
papers he held. The committee decided to hear the letter;
the count was thoughtful and silent. The president read: --
"`Mr. President, -- I can furnish the committee of inquiry
into the conduct of the Lieutenant-General the Count of
Morcerf in Epirus and in Macedonia with important
"The president paused, and the count turned pale. The
president looked at his auditors. `Proceed,' was heard on
all sides. The president resumed: --
"`I was on the spot at the death of Ali Pasha. I was present
during his last moments. I know what is become of Vasiliki
and Haidee. I am at the command of the committee, and even
claim the honor of being heard. I shall be in the lobby when
this note is delivered to you.'
"`And who is this witness, or rather this enemy?' asked the
count, in a tone in which there was a visible alteration.
`We shall know, sir,' replied the president. `Is the
committee willing to hear this witness?' -- `Yes, yes,' they
all said at once. The door-keeper was called. `Is there any
one in the lobby?' said the president.
"`Yes, sir.' -- `Who is it?' -- `A woman, accompanied by a
servant.' Every one looked at his neighbor. `Bring her in,'
said the president. Five minutes after the door-keeper again
appeared; all eyes were fixed on the door, and I," said
Beauchamp, "shared the general expectation and anxiety.
Behind the door-keeper walked a woman enveloped in a large
veil, which completely concealed her. It was evident, from
her figure and the perfumes she had about her, that she was
young and fastidious in her tastes, but that was all. The
president requested her to throw aside her veil, and it was
then seen that she was dressed in the Grecian costume, and
was remarkably beautiful."
"Ah," said Albert, "it was she."
"Who told you that?"
"Alas, I guess it. But go on, Beauchamp. You see I am calm
and strong. And yet we must be drawing near the disclosure."
"M. de Morcerf," continued Beauchamp, "looked at this woman
with surprise and terror. Her lips were about to pass his
sentence of life or death. To the committee the adventure
was so extraordinary and curious, that the interest they had
felt for the count's safety became now quite a secondary
matter. The president himself advanced to place a seat for
the young lady; but she declined availing herself of it. As
for the count, he had fallen on his chair; it was evident
that his legs refused to support him.
"`Madame,' said the president, `you have engaged to furnish
the committee with some important particulars respecting the
affair at Yanina, and you have stated that you were an
eyewitness of the event.' -- `I was, indeed,' said the
stranger, with a tone of sweet melancholy, and with the
sonorous voice peculiar to the East.
"`But allow me to say that you must have been very young
then.' -- `I was four years old; but as those events deeply
concerned me, not a single detail has escaped my memory.' --
`In what manner could these events concern you? and who are
you, that they should have made so deep an impression on
you?' -- `On them depended my father's life,' replied she.
`I am Haidee, the daughter of Ali Tepelini, pasha of Yanina,
and of Vasiliki, his beloved wife.'
"The blush of mingled pride and modesty which suddenly
suffused the cheeks of the young woman, the brilliancy of
her eye, and her highly important communication, produced an
indescribable effect on the assembly. As for the count, he
could not have been more overwhelmed if a thunderbolt had
fallen at his feet and opened an immense gulf before him.
`Madame,' replied the president, bowing with profound
respect, `allow me to ask one question; it shall be the
last: Can you prove the authenticity of what you have now
stated?' -- `I can, sir,' said Haidee, drawing from under
her veil a satin satchel highly perfumed; `for here is the
register of my birth, signed by my father and his principal
officers, and that of my baptism, my father having consented
to my being brought up in my mother's faith, -- this latter
has been sealed by the grand primate of Macedonia and
Epirus; and lastly (and perhaps the most important), the
record of the sale of my person and that of my mother to the
Armenian merchant El-Kobbir, by the French officer, who, in
his infamous bargain with the Porte, had reserved as his
part of the booty the wife and daughter of his benefactor,
whom he sold for the sum of four hundred thousand francs.' A
greenish pallor spread over the count's cheeks, and his eyes
became bloodshot at these terrible imputations, which were
listened to by the assembly with ominous silence.
"Haidee, still calm, but with a calmness more dreadful than
the anger of another would have been, handed to the
president the record of her sale, written in Arabic. It had
been supposed some of the papers might be in the Arabian,
Romaic, or Turkish language, and the interpreter of the
House was in attendance. One of the noble peers, who was
familiar with the Arabic language, having studied it during
the famous Egyptian campaign, followed with his eye as the
translator read aloud: --
"`I, El-Kobbir, a slave-merchant, and purveyor of the harem
of his highness, acknowledge having received for
transmission to the sublime emperor, from the French lord,
the Count of Monte Cristo, an emerald valued at eight
hundred thousand francs; as the ransom of a young Christian
slave of eleven years of age, named Haidee, the acknowledged
daughter of the late lord Ali Tepelini, pasha of Yanina, and
of Vasiliki, his favorite; she having been sold to me seven
years previously, with her mother, who had died on arriving
at Constantinople, by a French colonel in the service of the
Vizier Ali Tepelini, named Fernand Mondego. The
above-mentioned purchase was made on his highness's account,
whose mandate I had, for the sum of four hundred thousand
"`Given at Constantinople, by authority of his highness, in
the year 1247 of the Hegira.
"`That this record should have all due authority, it shall
bear the imperial seal, which the vendor is bound to have
affixed to it.'
"Near the merchant's signature there was, indeed, the seal
of the sublime emperor. A dreadful silence followed the
reading of this document; the count could only stare, and
his gaze, fixed as if unconsciously on Haidee, seemed one of
fire and blood. `Madame,' said the president, `may reference
be made to the Count of Monte Cristo, who is now, I believe,
in Paris?' -- `Sir,' replied Haidee, `the Count of Monte
Cristo, my foster-father, has been in Normandy the last
"`Who, then, has counselled you to take this step, one for
which the court is deeply indebted to you, and which is
perfectly natural, considering your birth and your
misfortunes?' -- `Sir,' replied Haidee, `I have been led to
take this step from a feeling of respect and grief. Although
a Christian, may God forgive me, I have always sought to
revenge my illustrious father. Since I set my foot in
France, and knew the traitor lived in Paris, I have watched
carefully. I live retired in the house of my noble
protector, but I do it from choice. I love retirement and
silence, because I can live with my thoughts and
recollections of past days. But the Count of Monte Cristo
surrounds me with every paternal care, and I am ignorant of
nothing which passes in the world. I learn all in the
silence of my apartments, -- for instance, I see all the
newspapers, every periodical, as well as every new piece of
music; and by thus watching the course of the life of
others, I learned what had transpired this morning in the
House of Peers, and what was to take place this evening;
then I wrote.'
"`Then,' remarked the president, `the Count of Monte Cristo
knows nothing of your present proceedings?' -- `He is quite
unaware of them, and I have but one fear, which is that he
should disapprove of what I have done. But it is a glorious
day for me,' continued the young girl, raising her ardent
gaze to heaven, `that on which I find at last an opportunity
of avenging my father!'
"The count had not uttered one word the whole of this time.
His colleagues looked at him, and doubtless pitied his
prospects, blighted under the perfumed breath of a woman.
His misery was depicted in sinister lines on his
countenance. `M. de Morcerf,' said the president, `do you
recognize this lady as the daughter of Ali Tepelini, pasha
of Yanina?' -- `No,' said Morcerf, attempting to rise, `it
is a base plot, contrived by my enemies.' Haidee, whose eyes
had been fixed on the door, as if expecting some one, turned
hastily, and, seeing the count standing, shrieked, `You do
not know me?' said she. `Well, I fortunately recognize you!
You are Fernand Mondego, the French officer who led the
troops of my noble father! It is you who surrendered the
castle of Yanina! It is you who, sent by him to
Constantinople, to treat with the emperor for the life or
death of your benefactor, brought back a false mandate
granting full pardon! It is you who, with that mandate,
obtained the pasha's ring, which gave you authority over
Selim, the fire-keeper! It is you who stabbed Selim. It is
you who sold us, my mother and me, to the merchant,
El-Kobbir! Assassin, assassin, assassin, you have still on
your brow your master's blood! Look, gentlemen, all!'
"These words had been pronounced with such enthusiasm and
evident truth, that every eye was fixed on the count's
forehead, and he himself passed his hand across it, as if he
felt Ali's blood still lingering there. `You positively
recognize M. de Morcerf as the officer, Fernand Mondego?' --
`Indeed I do!' cried Haidee. `Oh, my mother, it was you who
said, "You were free, you had a beloved father, you were
destined to be almost a queen. Look well at that man; it is
he who raised your father's head on the point of a spear; it
is he who sold us; it is he who forsook us! Look well at his
right hand, on which he has a large wound; if you forgot his
features, you would know him by that hand, into which fell,
one by one, the gold pieces of the merchant El-Kobbir!" I
know him! Ah, let him say now if he does not recognize me!'
Each word fell like a dagger on Morcerf, and deprived him of
a portion of his energy; as she uttered the last, he hid his
mutilated hand hastily in his bosom, and fell back on his
seat, overwhelmed by wretchedness and despair. This scene
completely changed the opinion of the assembly respecting
the accused count.
"`Count of Morcerf,' said the president, `do not allow
yourself to be cast down; answer. The justice of the court
is supreme and impartial as that of God; it will not suffer
you to be trampled on by your enemies without giving you an
opportunity of defending yourself. Shall further inquiries
be made? Shall two members of the House be sent to Yanina?
Speak!' Morcerf did not reply. Then all the members looked
at each other with terror. They knew the count's energetic
and violent temper; it must be, indeed, a dreadful blow
which would deprive him of courage to defend himself. They
expected that his stupefied silence would be followed by a
fiery outburst. `Well,' asked the president, `what is your
"`I have no reply to make,' said the count in a low tone.
"`Has the daughter of Ali Tepelini spoken the truth?' said
the president. `Is she, then, the terrible witness to whose
charge you dare not plead "Not guilty"? Have you really
committed the crimes of which you are accused?' The count
looked around him with an expression which might have
softened tigers, but which could not disarm his judges. Then
he raised his eyes towards the ceiling, but withdrew then,
immediately, as if he feared the roof would open and reveal
to his distressed view that second tribunal called heaven,
and that other judge named God. Then, with a hasty movement,
he tore open his coat, which seemed to stifle him, and flew
from the room like a madman; his footstep was heard one
moment in the corridor, then the rattling of his
carriage-wheels as he was driven rapidly away. `Gentlemen,'
said the president, when silence was restored, `is the Count
of Morcerf convicted of felony, treason, and conduct
unbecoming a member of this House?' -- `Yes,' replied all
the members of the committee of inquiry with a unanimous
"Haidee had remained until the close of the meeting. She
heard the count's sentence pronounced without betraying an
expression of joy or pity; then drawing her veil over her
face she bowed majestically to the councillors, and left
with that dignified step which Virgil attributes to his