"At what point shall I begin my story, your excellency?"
"Where you please," returned Monte Cristo, "since I know
nothing at all of it."
"I thought the Abbe Busoni had told your excellency."
"Some particulars, doubtless, but that is seven or eight
years ago, and I have forgotten them."
"Then I can speak without fear of tiring your excellency."
"Go on, M. Bertuccio; you will supply the want of the
"The story begins in 1815."
"Ah," said Monte Cristo, "1815 is not yesterday."
"No, monsieur, and yet I recollect all things as clearly as
if they had happened but then. I had a brother, an elder
brother, who was in the service of the emperor; he had
become lieutenant in a regiment composed entirely of
Corsicans. This brother was my only friend; we became
orphans -- I at five, he at eighteen. He brought me up as if
I had been his son, and in 1814 he married. When the emperor
returned from the Island of Elba, my brother instantly
joined the army, was slightly wounded at Waterloo, and
retired with the army beyond the Loire."
"But that is the history of the Hundred Days, M. Bertuccio,"
said the count; "unless I am mistaken, it has been already
"Excuse me, excellency, but these details are necessary, and
you promised to be patient."
"Go on; I will keep my word."
"One day we received a letter. I should tell you that we
lived in the little village of Rogliano, at the extremity of
Cape Corso. This letter was from my brother. He told us that
the army was disbanded, and that he should return by
Chateauroux, Clermont-Ferrand, Le Puy, and Nimes; and, if I
had any money, he prayed me to leave it for him at Nimes,
with an inn-keeper with whom I had dealings."
"In the smuggling line?" said Monte Cristo.
"Eh, your excellency? Every one must live."
"Certainly; go on."
"I loved my brother tenderly, as I told your excellency, and
I resolved not to send the money, but to take it to him
myself. I possessed a thousand francs. I left five hundred
with Assunta, my sister-in-law, and with the other five
hundred I set off for Nimes. It was easy to do so, and as I
had my boat and a lading to take in at sea, everything
favored my project. But, after we had taken in our cargo,
the wind became contrary, so that we were four or five days
without being able to enter the Rhone. At last, however, we
succeeded, and worked up to Arles. I left the boat between
Bellegarde and Beaucaire, and took the road to Nimes."
"We are getting to the story now?"
"Yes, your excellency; excuse me, but, as you will see, I
only tell you what is absolutely necessary. Just at this
time the famous massacres took place in the south of France.
Three brigands, called Trestaillon, Truphemy, and Graffan,
publicly assassinated everybody whom they suspected of
Bonapartism. You have doubtless heard of these massacres,
"Vaguely; I was far from France at that period. Go on."
"As I entered Nimes, I literally waded in blood; at every
step you encountered dead bodies and bands of murderers, who
killed, plundered, and burned. At the sight of this
slaughter and devastation I became terrified, not for myself
-- for I, a simple Corsican fisherman, had nothing to fear;
on the contrary, that time was most favorable for us
smugglers -- but for my brother, a soldier of the empire,
returning from the army of the Loire, with his uniform and
his epaulets, there was everything to apprehend. I hastened
to the inn-keeper. My misgivings had been but too true. My
brother had arrived the previous evening at Nimes, and, at
the very door of the house where he was about to demand
hospitality, he had been assassinated. I did all in my power
to discover the murderers, but no one durst tell me their
names, so much were they dreaded. I then thought of that
French justice of which I had heard so much, and which
feared nothing, and I went to the king's attorney."
"And this king's attorney was named Villefort?" asked Monte
"Yes, your excellency; he came from Marseilles, where he had
been deputy-procureur. His zeal had procured him
advancement, and he was said to be one of the first who had
informed the government of the departure from the Island of
"Then," said Monte Cristo "you went to him?"
"`Monsieur,' I said, `my brother was assassinated yesterday
in the streets of Nimes, I know not by whom, but it is your
duty to find out. You are the representative of justice
here, and it is for justice to avenge those she has been
unable to protect.' -- `Who was your brother?' asked he. --
`A lieutenant in the Corsican battalion.' -- `A soldier of
the usurper, then?' -- `A soldier of the French army.' --
`Well,' replied he, `he has smitten with the sword, and he
has perished by the sword.' -- `You are mistaken, monsieur,'
I replied; `he has perished by the poniard.' -- `What do you
want me to do?' asked the magistrate. -- `I have already
told you -- avenge him.' -- `On whom?' -- `On his
murderers.' -- `How should I know who they are?' -- `Order
them to be sought for.' -- `Why, your brother has been
involved in a quarrel, and killed in a duel. All these old
soldiers commit excesses which were tolerated in the time of
the emperor, but which are not suffered now, for the people
here do not like soldiers of such disorderly conduct.' --
`Monsieur,' I replied, `it is not for myself that I entreat
your interference -- I should grieve for him or avenge him,
but my poor brother had a wife, and were anything to happen
to me, the poor creature would perish from want, for my
brother's pay alone kept her. Pray, try and obtain a small
government pension for her.'
"`Every revolution has its catastrophes,' returned M. de
Villefort; `your brother has been the victim of this. It is
a misfortune, and government owes nothing to his family. If
we are to judge by all the vengeance that the followers of
the usurper exercised on the partisans of the king, when, in
their turn, they were in power, your brother would be
to-day, in all probability, condemned to death. What has
happened is quite natural, and in conformity with the law of
reprisals.' -- `What,' cried I, `do you, a magistrate, speak
thus to me?' -- `All these Corsicans are mad, on my honor,'
replied M. de Villefort; `they fancy that their countryman
is still emperor. You have mistaken the time, you should
have told me this two months ago, it is too late now. Go
now, at once, or I shall have you put out.'
"I looked at him an instant to see if there was anything to
hope from further entreaty. But he was a man of stone. I
approached him, and said in a low voice, `Well, since you
know the Corsicans so well, you know that they always keep
their word. You think that it was a good deed to kill my
brother, who was a Bonapartist, because you are a royalist.
Well, I, who am a Bonapartist also, declare one thing to
you, which is, that I will kill you. From this moment I
declare the vendetta against you, so protect yourself as
well as you can, for the next time we meet your last hour
has come.' And before he had recovered from his surprise, I
opened the door and left the room."
"Well, well," said Monte Cristo, "such an innocent looking
person as you are to do those things, M. Bertuccio, and to a
king's attorney at that! But did he know what was meant by
the terrible word `vendetta'?"
"He knew so well, that from that moment he shut himself in
his house, and never went out unattended, seeking me high
and low. Fortunately, I was so well concealed that he could
not find me. Then he became alarmed, and dared not stay any
longer at Nimes, so he solicited a change of residence, and,
as he was in reality very influential, he was nominated to
Versailles. But, as you know, a Corsican who has sworn to
avenge himself cares not for distance, so his carriage, fast
as it went, was never above half a day's journey before me,
who followed him on foot. The most important thing was, not
to kill him only -- for I had an opportunity of doing so a
hundred times -- but to kill him without being discovered --
at least, without being arrested. I no longer belonged to
myself, for I had my sister-in-law to protect and provide
for. For three months I watched M. de Villefort, for three
months he took not a step out-of-doors without my following
him. At length I discovered that he went mysteriously to
Auteuil. I followed him thither, and I saw him enter the
house where we now are, only, instead of entering by the
great door that looks into the street, he came on horseback,
or in his carriage, left the one or the other at the little
inn, and entered by the gate you see there." Monte Cristo
made a sign with his head to show that he could discern in
the darkness the door to which Bertuccio alluded. "As I had
nothing more to do at Versailles, I went to Auteuil, and
gained all the information I could. If I wished to surprise
him, it was evident this was the spot to lie in wait for
him. The house belonged, as the concierge informed your
excellency, to M. de Saint-Meran, Villefort's father-in-law.
M. de Saint-Meran lived at Marseilles, so that this country
house was useless to him, and it was reported to be let to a
young widow, known only by the name of `the baroness.'
"One evening, as I was looking over the wall, I saw a young
and handsome woman who was walking alone in that garden,
which was not overlooked by any windows, and I guessed that
she was awaiting M. de Villefort. When she was sufficiently
near for me to distinguish her features, I saw she was from
eighteen to nineteen, tall and very fair. As she had a loose
muslin dress on and as nothing concealed her figure, I saw
she would ere long become a mother. A few moments after, the
little door was opened and a man entered. The young woman
hastened to meet him. They threw themselves into each
other's arms, embraced tenderly, and returned together to
the house. The man was M. de Villefort; I fully believed
that when he went out in the night he would be forced to
traverse the whole of the garden alone."
"And," asked the count, "did you ever know the name of this
"No, excellency," returned Bertuccio; "you will see that I
had no time to learn it."
"That evening," continued Bertuccio, "I could have killed
the procureur, but as I was not sufficiently acquainted with
the neighborhood, I was fearful of not killing him on the
spot, and that if his cries were overheard I might be taken;
so I put it off until the next occasion, and in order that
nothing should escape me, I took a chamber looking into the
street bordered by the wall of the garden. Three days after,
about seven o'clock in the evening, I saw a servant on
horseback leave the house at full gallop, and take the road
to Sevres. I concluded that he was going to Versailles, and
I was not deceived. Three hours later, the man returned
covered with dust, his errand was performed, and two minutes
after, another man on foot, muffled in a mantle, opened the
little door of the garden, which he closed after him. I
descended rapidly; although I had not seen Villefort's face,
I recognized him by the beating of my heart. I crossed the
street, and stopped at a post placed at the angle of the
wall, and by means of which I had once before looked into
the garden. This time I did not content myself with looking,
but I took my knife out of my pocket, felt that the point
was sharp, and sprang over the wall. My first care was to
run to the door; he had left the key in it, taking the
simple precaution of turning it twice in the lock. Nothing,
then, preventing my escape by this means, I examined the
grounds. The garden was long and narrow; a stretch of smooth
turf extended down the middle, and at the corners were
clumps of trees with thick and massy foliage, that made a
background for the shrubs and flowers. In order to go from
the door to the house, or from the house to the door, M. de
Villefort would be obliged to pass by one of these clumps of
"It was the end of September; the wind blew violently. The
faint glimpses of the pale moon, hidden momentarily by
masses of dark clouds that were sweeping across the sky,
whitened the gravel walks that led to the house, but were
unable to pierce the obscurity of the thick shrubberies, in
which a man could conceal himself without any fear of
discovery. I hid myself in the one nearest to the path
Villefort must take, and scarcely was I there when, amidst
the gusts of wind, I fancied I heard groans; but you know,
or rather you do not know, your excellency, that he who is
about to commit an assassination fancies that he hears low
cries perpetually ringing in his ears. Two hours passed
thus, during which I imagined I heard moans repeatedly.
Midnight struck. As the last stroke died away, I saw a faint
light shine through the windows of the private staircase by
which we have just descended. The door opened, and the man
in the mantle reappeared. The terrible moment had come, but
I had so long been prepared for it that my heart did not
fail in the least. I drew my knife from my pocket again,
opened it, and made ready to strike. The man in the mantle
advanced towards me, but as he drew near I saw that he had a
weapon in his hand. I was afraid, not of a struggle, but of
a failure. When he was only a few paces from me, I saw that
what I had taken for a weapon was only a spade. I was still
unable to divine for what reason M. de Villefort had this
spade in his hands, when he stopped close to the thicket
where I was, glanced round, and began to dig a hole in the
earth. I then perceived that he was hiding something under
his mantle, which he laid on the grass in order to dig more
freely. Then, I confess, curiosity mingled with hatred; I
wished to see what Villefort was going to do there, and I
remained motionless, holding my breath. Then an idea crossed
my mind, which was confirmed when I saw the procureur lift
from under his mantle a box, two feet long, and six or eight
inches deep. I let him place the box in the hole he had
made, then, while he stamped with his feet to remove all
traces of his occupation, I rushed on him and plunged my
knife into his breast, exclaiming, -- `I am Giovanni
Bertuccio; thy death for my brother's; thy treasure for his
widow; thou seest that my vengeance is more complete than I
had hoped.' I know not if he heard these words; I think he
did not, for he fell without a cry. I felt his blood gush
over my face, but I was intoxicated, I was delirious, and
the blood refreshed, instead of burning me. In a second I
had disinterred the box; then, that it might not be known I
had done so, I filled up the hole, threw the spade over the
wall, and rushed through the door, which I double-locked,
carrying off the key."
"Ah," said Monte Cristo "it seems to me this was nothing but
murder and robbery."
"No, your excellency," returned Bertuccio; "it was a
vendetta followed by restitution."
"And was the sum a large one?"
"It was not money."
"Ah, I recollect," replied the count; "did you not say
something of an infant?"
"Yes, excellency; I hastened to the river, sat down on the
bank, and with my knife forced open the lock of the box. In
a fine linen cloth was wrapped a new-born child. Its purple
visage, and its violet-colored hands showed that it had
perished from suffocation, but as it was not yet cold, I
hesitated to throw it into the water that ran at my feet.
After a moment I fancied that I felt a slight pulsation of
the heart, and as I had been assistant at the hospital at
Bastia, I did what a doctor would have done -- I inflated
the lungs by blowing air into them, and at the expiration of
a quarter of an hour, it began to breathe, and cried feebly.
In my turn I uttered a cry, but a cry of joy. `God has not
cursed me then,' I cried, `since he permits me to save the
life of a human creature, in exchange for the life I have
"And what did you do with the child?" asked Monte Cristo.
"It was an embarrassing load for a man seeking to escape."
"I had not for a moment the idea of keeping it, but I knew
that at Paris there was an asylum where they receive such
creatures. As I passed the city gates I declared that I had
found the child on the road, and I inquired where the asylum
was; the box confirmed my statement, the linen proved that
the infant belonged to wealthy parents, the blood with which
I was covered might have proceeded from the child as well as
from any one else. No objection was raised, but they pointed
out the asylum, which was situated at the upper end of the
Rue d'Enfer, and after having taken the precaution of
cutting the linen in two pieces, so that one of the two
letters which marked it was on the piece wrapped around the
child, while the other remained in my possession, I rang the
bell, and fled with all speed. A fortnight after I was at
Rogliano, and I said to Assunta, -- `Console thyself,
sister; Israel is dead, but he is avenged.' She demanded
what I meant, and when I had told her all, -- `Giovanni,'
said she, `you should have brought this child with you; we
would have replaced the parents it has lost, have called it
Benedetto, and then, in consequence of this good action, God
would have blessed us.' In reply I gave her the half of the
linen I had kept in order to reclaim him if we became rich."
"What letters were marked on the linen?" said Monte Cristo.
"An H and an N, surmounted by a baron's coronet."
"By heaven, M. Bertuccio, you make use of heraldic terms;
where did you study heraldry?"
"In your service, excellency, where everything is learned."
"Go on, I am curious to know two things."
"What are they, your excellency ?"
"What became of this little boy? for I think you told me it
was a boy, M. Bertuccio."
"No excellency, I do not recollect telling you that."
"I thought you did; I must have been mistaken."
"No, you were not, for it was in reality a little boy. But
your excellency wished to know two things; what was the
"The second was the crime of which you were accused when you
asked for a confessor, and the Abbe Busoni came to visit you
at your request in the prison at Nimes."
"The story will be very long, excellency."
"What matter? you know I take but little sleep, and I do not
suppose you are very much inclined for it either." Bertuccio
bowed, and resumed his story.
"Partly to drown the recollections of the past that haunted
me, partly to supply the wants of the poor widow, I eagerly
returned to my trade of smuggler, which had become more easy
since that relaxation of the laws which always follows a
revolution. The southern districts were ill-watched in
particular, in consequence of the disturbances that were
perpetually breaking out in Avignon, Nimes, or Uzes. We
profited by this respite on the part of the government to
make friends everywhere. Since my brother's assassination in
the streets of Nimes, I had never entered the town; the
result was that the inn-keeper with whom we were connected,
seeing that we would no longer come to him, was forced to
come to us, and had established a branch to his inn, on the
road from Bellegarde to Beaucaire, at the sign of the Pont
du Gard. We had thus, at Aigues-Mortes, Martigues, or Bouc,
a dozen places where we left our goods, and where, in case
of necessity, we concealed ourselves from the gendarmes and
custom-house officers. Smuggling is a profitable trade, when
a certain degree of vigor and intelligence is employed; as
for myself, brought up in the mountains, I had a double
motive for fearing the gendarmes and custom-house officers,
as my appearance before the judges would cause an inquiry,
and an inquiry always looks back into the past. And in my
past life they might find something far more grave than the
selling of smuggled cigars, or barrels of brandy without a
permit. So, preferring death to capture, I accomplished the
most astonishing deeds, and which, more than once, showed me
that the too great care we take of our bodies is the only
obstacle to the success of those projects which require
rapid decision, and vigorous and determined execution. In
reality, when you have once devoted your life to your
enterprises, you are no longer the equal of other men, or,
rather, other men are no longer your equals, and whosoever
has taken this resolution, feels his strength and resources
"Philosophy, M. Bertuccio," interrupted the Count; "you have
done a little of everything in your life."
"No, no; but philosophy at half-past ten at night is
somewhat late; yet I have no other observation to make, for
what you say is correct, which is more than can be said for
"My journeys became more and more extensive and more
productive. Assunta took care of all, and our little fortune
increased. One day as I was setting off on an expedition,
`Go,' said she; `at your return I will give you a surprise.'
I questioned her, but in vain; she would tell me nothing,
and I departed. Our expedition lasted nearly six weeks; we
had been to Lucca to take in oil, to Leghorn for English
cottons, and we ran our cargo without opposition, and
returned home full of joy. When I entered the house, the
first thing I beheld in the middle of Assunta's chamber was
a cradle that might be called sumptuous compared with the
rest of the furniture, and in it a baby seven or eight
months old. I uttered a cry of joy; the only moments of
sadness I had known since the assassination of the procureur
were caused by the recollection that I had abandoned this
child. For the assassination itself I had never felt any
remorse. Poor Assunta had guessed all. She had profited by
my absence, and furnished with the half of the linen, and
having written down the day and hour at which I had
deposited the child at the asylum, had set off for Paris,
and had reclaimed it. No objection was raised, and the
infant was given up to her. Ah, I confess, your excellency,
when I saw this poor creature sleeping peacefully in its
cradle, I felt my eyes filled with tears. `Ah, Assunta,'
cried I, `you are an excellent woman, and heaven will bless
"This," said Monte Cristo, "is less correct than your
philosophy, -- it is only faith."
"Alas, your excellency is right," replied Bertuccio, "and
God made this infant the instrument of our punishment. Never
did a perverse nature declare itself more prematurely, and
yet it was not owing to any fault in his bringing up. He was
a most lovely child, with large blue eyes, of that deep
color that harmonizes so well with the blond complexion;
only his hair, which was too light, gave his face a most
singular expression, and added to the vivacity of his look,
and the malice of his smile. Unfortunately, there is a
proverb which says that `red is either altogether good or
altogether bad.' The proverb was but too correct as regarded
Benedetto, and even in his infancy he manifested the worst
disposition. It is true that the indulgence of his
foster-mother encouraged him. This child, for whom my poor
sister would go to the town, five or six leagues off, to
purchase the earliest fruits and the most tempting
sweetmeats, preferred to Palma grapes or Genoese preserves,
the chestnuts stolen from a neighbor's orchard, or the dried
apples in his loft, when he could eat as well of the nuts
and apples that grew in my garden. One day, when Benedetto
was about five or six, our neighbor Vasilio, who, according
to the custom of the country, never locked up his purse or
his valuables -- for, as your excellency knows, there are no
thieves in Corsica -- complained that he had lost a louis
out of his purse; we thought he must have made a mistake in
counting his money, but he persisted in the accuracy of his
statement. One day, Benedetto, who had been gone from the
house since morning, to our great anxiety, did not return
until late in the evening, dragging a monkey after him,
which he said he had found chained to the foot of a tree.
For more than a month past, the mischievous child, who knew
not what to wish for, had taken it into his head to have a
monkey. A boatman, who had passed by Rogliano, and who had
several of these animals, whose tricks had greatly diverted
him, had, doubtless, suggested this idea to him. `Monkeys
are not found in our woods chained to trees,' said I;
`confess how you obtained this animal.' Benedetto maintained
the truth of what he had said, and accompanied it with
details that did more honor to his imagination than to his
veracity. I became angry; he began to laugh, I threatened to
strike him, and he made two steps backwards. `You cannot
beat me,' said he; `you have no right, for you are not my
"We never knew who had revealed this fatal secret, which we
had so carefully concealed from him; however, it was this
answer, in which the child's whole character revealed
itself, that almost terrified me, and my arm fell without
touching him. The boy triumphed, and this victory rendered
him so audacious, that all the money of Assunta, whose
affection for him seemed to increase as he became more
unworthy of it, was spent in caprices she knew not how to
contend against, and follies she had not the courage to
prevent. When I was at Rogliano everything went on properly,
but no sooner was my back turned than Benedetto became
master, and everything went ill. When he was only eleven, he
chose his companions from among the young men of eighteen or
twenty, the worst characters in Bastia, or, indeed, in
Corsica, and they had already, for some mischievous pranks,
been several times threatened with a prosecution. I became
alarmed, as any prosecution might be attended with serious
consequences. I was compelled, at this period, to leave
Corsica on an important expedition; I reflected for a long
time, and with the hope of averting some impending
misfortune, I resolved that Benedetto should accompany me. I
hoped that the active and laborious life of a smuggler, with
the severe discipline on board, would have a salutary effect
on his character, which was now well-nigh, if not quite,
corrupt. I spoke to Benedetto alone, and proposed to him to
accompany me, endeavoring to tempt him by all the promises
most likely to dazzle the imagination of a child of twelve.
He heard me patiently, and when I had finished, burst out
"`Are you mad, uncle?' (he called me by this name when he
was in good humor); `do you think I am going to change the
life I lead for your mode of existence -- my agreeable
indolence for the hard and precarious toil you impose on
yourself, exposed to the bitter frost at night, and the
scorching heat by day, compelled to conceal yourself, and
when you are perceived, receive a volley of bullets, all to
earn a paltry sum? Why, I have as much money as I want;
mother Assunta always furnishes me when I ask for it! You
see that I should be a fool to accept your offer.' The
arguments, and his audacity, perfectly stupefied me.
Benedetto rejoined his associates, and I saw him from a
distance point me out to them as a fool."
"Sweet child," murmured Monte Cristo.
"Oh, had he been my own son," replied Bertuccio, "or even my
nephew, I would have brought him back to the right road, for
the knowledge that you are doing your duty gives you
strength, but the idea that I was striking a child whose
father I had killed, made it impossible for me to punish
him. I gave my sister, who constantly defended the
unfortunate boy, good advice, and as she confessed that she
had several times missed money to a considerable amount, I
showed her a safe place in which to conceal our little
treasure for the future. My mind was already made up.
Benedetto could read, write, and cipher perfectly, for when
the fit seized him, he learned more in a day than others in
a week. My intention was to enter him as a clerk in some
ship, and without letting him know anything of my plan, to
convey him some morning on board; by this means his future
treatment would depend upon his own conduct. I set off for
France, after having fixed upon the plan. Our cargo was to
be landed in the Gulf of Lyons, and this was a difficult
thing to do because it was then the year 1829. The most
perfect tranquillity was restored, and the vigilance of the
custom-house officers was redoubled, and their strictness
was increased at this time, in consequence of the fair at
"Our expedition made a favorable beginning. We anchored our
vessel -- which had a double hold, where our goods were
concealed -- amidst a number of other vessels that bordered
the banks of the Rhone from Beaucaire to Arles. On our
arrival we began to discharge our cargo in the night, and to
convey it into the town, by the help of the inn-keeper with
whom we were connected. Whether success rendered us
imprudent, or whether we were betrayed, I know not; but one
evening, about five o'clock, our little cabin-boy came
breathlessly, to inform us that he had seen a detachment of
custom-house officers advancing in our direction. It was not
their proximity that alarmed us, for detachments were
constantly patrolling along the banks of the Rhone, but the
care, according to the boy's account, that they took to
avoid being seen. In an instant we were on the alert, but it
was too late; our vessel was surrounded, and amongst the
custom-house officers I observed several gendarmes, and, as
terrified at the sight of their uniforms as I was brave at
the sight of any other, I sprang into the hold, opened a
port, and dropped into the river, dived, and only rose at
intervals to breathe, until I reached a ditch that had
recently been made from the Rhone to the canal that runs
from Beaucaire to Aigues-Mortes. I was now safe, for I could
swim along the ditch without being seen, and I reached the
canal in safety. I had designedly taken this direction. I
have already told your excellency of an inn-keeper from
Nimes who had set up a little tavern on the road from
Bellegarde to Beaucaire."
"Yes," said Monte Cristo "I perfectly recollect him; I think
he was your colleague."
"Precisely," answered Bertuccio; "but he had, seven or eight
years before this period, sold his establishment to a tailor
at Marseilles, who, having almost ruined himself in his old
trade, wished to make his fortune in another. Of course, we
made the same arrangements with the new landlord that we had
with the old; and it was of this man that I intended to ask
"What was his name?" inquired the count, who seemed to
become somewhat interested in Bertuccio's story.
"Gaspard Caderousse; he had married a woman from the village
of Carconte, and whom we did not know by any other name than
that of her village. She was suffering from malarial fever,
and seemed dying by inches. As for her husband, he was a
strapping fellow of forty, or five and forty, who had more
than once, in time of danger, given ample proof of his
presence of mind and courage."
"And you say," interrupted Monte Cristo "that this took
place towards the year" --
"1829, your excellency."
"In what month?"
"The beginning or the end?"
"The evening of the 3d."
"Ah," said Monte Cristo "the evening of the 3d of June,
1829. Go on."
"It was from Caderousse that I intended demanding shelter,
and, as we never entered by the door that opened onto the
road, I resolved not to break through the rule, so climbing
over the garden-hedge, I crept amongst the olive and wild
fig trees, and fearing that Caderousse might have some
guest, I entered a kind of shed in which I had often passed
the night, and which was only separated from the inn by a
partition, in which holes had been made in order to enable
us to watch an opportunity of announcing our presence. My
intention was, if Caderousse was alone, to acquaint him with
my presence, finish the meal the custom-house officers had
interrupted, and profit by the threatened storm to return to
the Rhone, and ascertain the state of our vessel and its
crew. I stepped into the shed, and it was fortunate I did
so, for at that moment Caderousse entered with a stranger.
"I waited patiently, not to overhear what they said, but
because I could do nothing else; besides, the same thing had
occurred often before. The man who was with Caderousse was
evidently a stranger to the South of France; he was one of
those merchants who come to sell jewellery at the Beaucaire
fair, and who during the month the fair lasts, and during
which there is so great an influx of merchants and customers
from all parts of Europe, often have dealings to the amount
of 100,000 to 150,000 francs. Caderousse entered hastily.
Then, seeing that the room was, as usual, empty, and only
guarded by the dog, he called to his wife, `Hello,
Carconte,' said he, `the worthy priest has not deceived us;
the diamond is real.' An exclamation of joy was heard, and
the staircase creaked beneath a feeble step. `What do you
say?' asked his wife, pale as death.
"`I say that the diamond is real, and that this gentleman,
one of the first jewellers of Paris, will give us 50,000
francs for it. Only, in order to satisfy himself that it
really belongs to us, he wishes you to relate to him, as I
have done already, the miraculous manner in which the
diamond came into our possession. In the meantime please to
sit down, monsieur, and I will fetch you some refreshment.'
The jeweller examined attentively the interior of the inn
and the apparent poverty of the persons who were about to
sell him a diamond that seemed to have come from the casket
of a prince. `Relate your story, madame,' said he, wishing,
no doubt, to profit by the absence of the husband, so that
the latter could not influence the wife's story, to see if
the two recitals tallied.
"`Oh,' returned she, `it was a gift of heaven. My husband
was a great friend, in 1814 or 1815, of a sailor named
Edmond Dantes. This poor fellow, whom Caderousse had
forgotten, had not forgotten him, and at his death he
bequeathed this diamond to him.' -- `But how did he obtain
it?' asked the jeweller; `had he it before he was
imprisoned?' -- `No, monsieur; but it appears that in prison
he made the acquaintance of a rich Englishman, and as in
prison he fell sick, and Dantes took the same care of him as
if he had been his brother, the Englishman, when he was set
free, gave this stone to Dantes, who, less fortunate, died,
and, in his turn, left it to us, and charged the excellent
abbe, who was here this morning, to deliver it.' -- `The
same story,' muttered the jeweller; `and improbable as it
seemed at first, it may be true. There's only the price we
are not agreed about.' -- `How not agreed about?' said
Caderousse. `I thought we agreed for the price I asked.' --
`That is,' replied the jeweller, `I offered 40,000 francs.'
-- `Forty thousand,' cried La Carconte; `we will not part
with it for that sum. The abbe told us it was worth 50,000
without the setting.'
"`What was the abbe's name?' asked the indefatigable
questioner. -- `The Abbe Busoni,' said La Carconte. -- `He
was a foreigner?' -- `An Italian, from the neighborhood of
Mantua, I believe.' -- `Let me see this diamond again,'
replied the jeweller; `the first time you are often mistaken
as to the value of a stone.' Caderousse took from his pocket
a small case of black shagreen, opened, and gave it to the
jeweller. At the sight of the diamond, which was as large as
a hazel-nut, La Carconte's eyes sparkled with cupidity."
"And what did you think of this fine story, eavesdropper?"
said Monte Cristo; "did you credit it?"
"Yes, your excellency. I did not look on Caderousse as a bad
man, and I thought him incapable of committing a crime, or
even a theft."
"That did more honor to your heart than to your experience,
M. Bertuccio. Had you known this Edmond Dantes, of whom they
"No, your excellency, I had never heard of him before, and
never but once afterwards, and that was from the Abbe Busoni
himself, when I saw him in the prison at Nimes."
"The jeweller took the ring, and drawing from his pocket a
pair of steel pliers and a small set of copper scales, he
took the stone out of its setting, and weighed it carefully.
`I will give you 45,000,' said he, `but not a sou more;
besides, as that is the exact value of the stone, I brought
just that sum with me.' -- `Oh, that's no matter,' replied
Caderousse, `I will go back with you to fetch the other
5,000 francs.' -- `No,' returned the jeweller, giving back
the diamond and the ring to Caderousse -- `no, it is worth
no more, and I am sorry I offered so much, for the stone has
a flaw in it, which I had not seen. However, I will not go
back on my word, and I will give 45,000.' -- `At least,
replace the diamond in the ring,' said La Carconte sharply.
-- `Ah, true,' replied the jeweller, and he reset the stone.
-- `No matter,' observed Caderousse, replacing the box in
his pocket, `some one else will purchase it.' -- `Yes,'
continued the jeweller; `but some one else will not be so
easy as I am, or content himself with the same story. It is
not natural that a man like you should possess such a
diamond. He will inform against you. You will have to find
the Abbe Busoni; and abbes who give diamonds worth two
thousand louis are rare. The law would seize it, and put you
in prison; if at the end of three or four months you are set
at liberty, the ring will be lost, or a false stone, worth
three francs, will be given you, instead of a diamond worth
50,000 or perhaps 55,000 francs; from which you must allow
that one runs considerable risk in purchasing.' Caderousse
and his wife looked eagerly at each other. -- `No,' said
Caderousse, `we are not rich enough to lose 5,000 francs.'
-- `As you please, my dear sir,' said the, jeweller; `I had,
however, as you see, brought you the money in bright coin.'
And he drew from his pocket a handful of gold, and held it
sparkling before the dazzled eyes of the innkeeper, and in
the other hand he held a packet of bank-notes.
"There was evidently a severe struggle in the mind of
Caderousse; it was plain that the small shagreen case, which
he turned over and over in his hand, did not seem to him
commensurate in value to the enormous sum which fascinated
his gaze. He turned towards his wife. `What do you think of
this?' he asked in a low voice. -- `Let him have it -- let
him have it,' she said. `If he returns to Beaucaire without
the diamond, he will inform against us, and, as he says, who
knows if we shall ever again see the Abbe Busoni? -- in all
probability we shall never see him.' -- `Well, then, so I
will!' said Caderousse; `so you may have the diamond for
45,000 francs. But my wife wants a gold chain, and I want a
pair of silver buckles.' The jeweller drew from his pocket a
long flat box, which contained several samples of the
articles demanded. `Here,' he said, `I am very
straightforward in my dealings -- take your choice.' The
woman selected a gold chain worth about five louis, and the
husband a pair of buckles. worth perhaps fifteen francs. --
`I hope you will not complain now?' said the jeweller.
"`The abbe told me it was worth 50,000 francs,' muttered
Caderousse. `Come, come -- give it to me! What a strange
fellow you are,' said the jeweller, taking the diamond from
his hand. `I give you 45,000 francs -- that is, 2,500 livres
of income, -- a fortune such as I wish I had myself, and you
are not satisfied!' -- `And the five and forty thousand
francs,' inquired Caderousse in a hoarse voice, `where are
they? Come -- let us see them.' -- `Here they are,' replied
the jeweller, and he counted out upon the table 15,000
francs in gold, and 30,000 francs in bank-notes.
"`Wait while I light the lamp,' said La Carconte; `it is
growing dark, and there may be some mistake.' In fact, night
had come on during this conversation, and with night the
storm which had been threatening for the last half-hour. The
thunder growled in the distance; but it was apparently not
heard by the jeweller, Caderousse, or La Carconte, absorbed
as they were all three with the demon of gain. I myself
felt; a strange kind of fascination at the sight of all this
gold and all these bank-notes; it seemed to me that I was in
a dream, and, as it always happens in a dream, I felt myself
riveted to the spot. Caderousse counted and again counted
the gold and the notes, then handed them to his wife, who
counted and counted them again in her turn. During this
time, the jeweller made the diamond play and sparkle in the
lamplight, and the gem threw out jets of light which made
him unmindful of those which -- precursors of the storm --
began to play in at the windows. `Well,' inquired the
jeweller, `is the cash all right?'
"`Yes,' said Caderousse. `Give me the pocket-book, La
Carconte, and find a bag somewhere.'
"La Carconte went to a cupboard, and returned with an old
leathern pocket-book and a bag. From the former she took
some greasy letters, and put in their place the bank-notes,
and from the bag took two or three crowns of six livres
each, which, in all probability, formed the entire fortune
of the miserable couple. `There,' said Caderousse; `and now,
although you have wronged us of perhaps 10,000 francs, will
you have your supper with us? I invite you with good-will.'
-- `Thank you,' replied the jeweller, `it must be getting
late, and I must return to Beaucaire -- my wife will be
getting uneasy.' He drew out his watch, and exclaimed,
`Morbleu, nearly nine o'clock -- why, I shall not get back
to Beaucaire before midnight! Good-night, my friends. If the
Abbe Busoni should by any accident return, think of me.' --
`In another week you will have left Beaucaire.' remarked
Caderousse, `for the fair ends in a few days.' -- `True, but
that makes no difference. Write to me at Paris, to M.
Joannes, in the Palais Royal, arcade Pierre, No. 45. I will
make the journey on purpose to see him, if it is worth
while.' At this moment there was a tremendous clap of
thunder, accompanied by a flash of lightning so vivid, that
it quite eclipsed the light of the lamp.
"`See here,' exclaimed Caderousse. `You cannot think of
going out in such weather as this.' -- `Oh, I am not afraid
of thunder,' said the jeweller. -- `And then there are
robbers,' said La Carconte. `The road is never very safe
during fair time.' -- `Oh, as to the robbers,' said Joannes,
`here is something for them,' and he drew from his pocket a
pair of small pistols, loaded to the muzzle. `Here,' said
he, `are dogs who bark and bite at the same time, they are
for the two first who shall have a longing for your diamond,
"Caderousse and his wife again interchanged a meaning look.
It seemed as though they were both inspired at the same time
with some horrible thought. `Well, then, a good journey to
you,' said Caderousse. -- `Thanks,' replied the jeweller. He
then took his cane, which he had placed against an old
cupboard, and went out. At the moment when he opened the
door, such a gust of wind came in that the lamp was nearly
extinguished. `Oh,' said he, `this is very nice weather, and
two leagues to go in such a storm.' -- `Remain,' said
Caderousse. `You can sleep here.' -- `Yes; do stay,' added
La Carconte in a tremulous voice; `we will take every care
of you.' -- `No; I must sleep at Beaucaire. So, once more,
good-night.' Caderousse followed him slowly to the
threshold. `I can see neither heaven nor earth,' said the
jeweller, who was outside the door. `Do I turn to the right,
or to the left hand?' -- `To the right,' said Caderousse.
`You cannot go wrong -- the road is bordered by trees on
both sides.' -- `Good -- all right,' said a voice almost
lost in the distance. `Close the door,' said La Carconte; `I
do not like open doors when it thunders.' -- `Particularly
when there is money in the house, eh?' answered Caderousse,
double-locking the door.
"He came into the room, went to the cupboard, took out the
bag and pocket-book, and both began, for the third time, to
count their gold and bank-notes. I never saw such an
expression of cupidity as the flickering lamp revealed in
those two countenances. The woman, especially, was hideous;
her usual feverish tremulousness was intensified, her
countenance had become livid, and her eyes resembled burning
coals. `Why,' she inquired in a hoarse voice, `did you
invite him to sleep here to-night?' -- `Why?' said
Caderousse with a shudder; `why, that he might not have the
trouble of returning to Beaucaire.' -- `Ah,' responded the
woman, with an expression impossible to describe; `I thought
it was for something else.' -- `Woman, woman -- why do you
have such ideas?' cried Caderousse; `or, if you have them,
why don't you keep them to yourself?' -- `Well,' said La
Carconte, after a moment's pause, `you are not a man.' --
`What do you mean?' added Caderousse. -- `If you had been a
man, you would not have let him go from here.' -- `Woman!'
-- `Or else he should not have reached Beaucaire.' --
`Woman!' -- `The road takes a turn -- he is obliged to
follow it -- while alongside of the canal there is a shorter
road.' -- `Woman! -- you offend the good God. There --
listen!' And at this moment there was a tremendous peal of
thunder, while the livid lightning illumined the room, and
the thunder, rolling away in the distance, seemed to
withdraw unwillingly from the cursed abode. `Mercy!' said
Caderousse, crossing himself.
"At the same moment, and in the midst of the terrifying
silence which usually follows a clap of thunder, they heard
a knocking at the door. Caderousse and his wife started and
looked aghast at each other. `Who's there?' cried
Caderousse, rising, and drawing up in a heap the gold and
notes scattered over the table, and which he covered with
his two hands. -- `It is I,' shouted a voice. -- `And who
are you?' -- `Eh, pardieu, Joannes, the jeweller.' -- `Well,
and you said I offended the good God,' said La Carconte with
a horrid smile. `Why, the good God sends him back again.'
Caderousse sank pale and breathless into his chair. La
Carconte, on the contrary, rose, and going with a firm step
towards the door, opened it, saying, as she did so -- `Come
in, dear M. Joannes.' -- `Ma foi,' said the jeweller,
drenched with rain, `I am not destined to return to
Beaucaire to-night. The shortest follies are best, my dear
Caderousse. You offered me hospitality, and I accept it, and
have returned to sleep beneath your friendly roof.'
Caderousse stammered out something, while he wiped away the
sweat that started to his brow. La Carconte doubled-locked
the door behind the jeweller.