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Chapter 50
The Morrel Family.

In a very few minutes the count reached No. 7 in the Rue
Meslay. The house was of white stone, and in a small court
before it were two small beds full of beautiful flowers. In
the concierge that opened the gate the count recognized
Cocles; but as he had but one eye, and that eye had become
somewhat dim in the course of nine years, Cocles did not
recognize the count. The carriages that drove up to the door
were compelled to turn, to avoid a fountain that played in a
basin of rockwork, -- an ornament that had excited the
jealousy of the whole quarter, and had gained for the place
the appellation of "The Little Versailles." It is needless
to add that there were gold and silver fish in the basin.
The house, with kitchens and cellars below, had above the
ground-floor, two stories and attics. The whole of the
property, consisting of an immense workshop, two pavilions
at the bottom of the garden, and the garden itself, had been
purchased by Emmanuel, who had seen at a glance that he
could make of it a profitable speculation. He had reserved
the house and half the garden, and building a wall between
the garden and the workshops, had let them upon lease with
the pavilions at the bottom of the garden. So that for a
trifling sum he was as well lodged, and as perfectly shut
out from observation, as the inhabitants of the finest
mansion in the Faubourg St. Germain. The breakfast-room was
finished in oak; the salon in mahogany, and the furnishings
were of blue velvet; the bedroom was in citronwood and green
damask. There was a study for Emmanuel, who never studied,
and a music-room for Julie, who never played. The whole of
the second story was set apart for Maximilian; it was
precisely similar to his sister's apartments, except that
for the breakfast-parlor he had a billiard-room, where he
received his friends. He was superintending the grooming of
his horse, and smoking his cigar at the entrance of the
garden, when the count's carriage stopped at the gate.

Cocles opened the gate, and Baptistin, springing from the
box, inquired whether Monsieur and Madame Herbault and
Monsieur Maximilian Morrel would see his excellency the
Count of Monte Cristo. "The Count of Monte Cristo?" cried
Morrel, throwing away his cigar and hastening to the
carriage; "I should think we would see him. Ah, a thousand
thanks, count, for not having forgotten your promise." And
the young officer shook the count's hand so warmly, that
Monte Cristo could not be mistaken as to the sincerity of
his joy, and he saw that he had been expected with
impatience, and was received with pleasure. "Come, come,"
said Maximilian, "I will serve as your guide; such a man as
you are ought not to be introduced by a servant. My sister
is in the garden plucking the dead roses; my brother is
reading his two papers, the Presse and the Debats, within
six steps of her; for wherever you see Madame Herbault, you
have only to look within a circle of four yards and you will
find M. Emmanuel, and `reciprocally,' as they say at the
Polytechnic School." At the sound of their steps a young
woman of twenty to five and twenty, dressed in a silk
morning gown, and busily engaged in plucking the dead leaves
off a noisette rose-tree, raised her head. This was Julie,
who had become, as the clerk of the house of Thomson &
French had predicted, Madame Emmanuel Herbault. She uttered
a cry of surprise at the sight of a stranger, and Maximilian
began to laugh. "Don't disturb yourself, Julie," said he.
"The count has only been two or three days in Paris, but he
already knows what a fashionable woman of the Marais is, and
if he does not, you will show him."

"Ah, monsieur," returned Julie, "it is treason in my brother
to bring you thus, but he never has any regard for his poor
sister. Penelon, Penelon!" An old man, who was digging
busily at one of the beds, stuck his spade in the earth, and
approached, cap in hand, striving to conceal a quid of
tobacco he had just thrust into his cheek. A few locks of
gray mingled with his hair, which was still thick and
matted, while his bronzed features and determined glance
well suited an old sailor who had braved the heat of the
equator and the storms of the tropics. "I think you hailed
me, Mademoiselle Julie?" said he. Penelon had still
preserved the habit of calling his master's daughter
"Mademoiselle Julie," and had never been able to change the
name to Madame Herbault. "Penelon," replied Julie, "go and
inform M. Emmanuel of this gentleman's visit, and Maximilian
will conduct him to the salon." Then, turning to Monte
Cristo, -- "I hope you will permit me to leave you for a few
minutes," continued she; and without awaiting any reply,
disappeared behind a clump of trees, and escaped to the
house by a lateral alley.

"I am sorry to see," observed Monte Cristo to Morrel, "that
I cause no small disturbance in your house."

"Look there," said Maximilian, laughing; "there is her
husband changing his jacket for a coat. I assure you, you
are well known in the Rue Meslay."

"Your family appears to be a very happy one," said the
count, as if speaking to himself.

"Oh, yes, I assure you, count, they want nothing that can
render them happy; they are young and cheerful, they are
tenderly attached to each other, and with twenty-five
thousand francs a year they fancy themselves as rich as
Rothschild."

"Five and twenty thousand francs is not a large sum,
however," replied Monte Cristo, with a tone so sweet and
gentle, that it went to Maximilian's heart like the voice of
a father; "but they will not be content with that. Your
brother-in-law is a barrister? a doctor?"

"He was a merchant, monsieur, and had succeeded to the
business of my poor father. M. Morrel, at his death, left
500,000 francs, which were divided between my sister and
myself, for we were his only children. Her husband, who,
when he married her, had no other patrimony than his noble
probity, his first-rate ability, and his spotless
reputation, wished to possess as much as his wife. He
labored and toiled until he had amassed 250,000 francs; six
years sufficed to achieve this object. Oh, I assure you,
sir, it was a touching spectacle to see these young
creatures, destined by their talents for higher stations,
toiling together, and through their unwillingness to change
any of the customs of their paternal house, taking six years
to accomplish what less scrupulous people would have
effected in two or three. Marseilles resounded with their
well-earned praises. At last, one day, Emmanuel came to his
wife, who had just finished making up the accounts. `Julie,'
said he to her, `Cocles has just given me the last rouleau
of a hundred francs; that completes the 250,000 francs we
had fixed as the limits of our gains. Can you content
yourself with the small fortune which we shall possess for
the future? Listen to me. Our house transacts business to
the amount of a million a year, from which we derive an
income of 40,000 francs. We can dispose of the business, if
we please, in an hour, for I have received a letter from M.
Delaunay, in which he offers to purchase the good-will of
the house, to unite with his own, for 300,000 francs. Advise
me what I had better do.' -- `Emmanuel,' returned my sister,
`the house of Morrel can only be carried on by a Morrel. Is
it not worth 300,000 francs to save our father's name from
the chances of evil fortune and failure?' -- `I thought so,'
replied Emmanuel; `but I wished to have your advice.' --
`This is my counsel: -- Our accounts are made up and our
bills paid; all we have to do is to stop the issue of any
more, and close our office.' This was done instantly. It was
three o'clock; at a quarter past, a merchant presented
himself to insure two ships; it was a clear profit of 15,000
francs. `Monsieur,' said Emmanuel, `have the goodness to
address yourself to M. Delaunay. We have quitted business.'
-- `How long?' inquired the astonished merchant. `A quarter
of an hour,' was the reply. And this is the reason,
monsieur," continued Maximilian, "of my sister and
brother-in-law having only 25,000 francs a year."

Maximilian had scarcely finished his story, during which the
count's heart had swelled within him, when Emmanuel entered
wearing a hat and coat. He saluted the count with the air of
a man who is aware of the rank of his guest; then, after
having led Monte Cristo around the little garden, he
returned to the house. A large vase of Japan porcelain,
filled with flowers that loaded the air with their perfume,
stood in the salon. Julie, suitably dressed, and her hair
arranged (she had accomplished this feat in less than ten
minutes), received the count on his entrance. The songs of
the birds were heard in an aviary hard by, and the branches
of laburnums and rose acacias formed an exquisite framework
to the blue velvet curtains. Everything in this charming
retreat, from the warble of the birds to the smile of the
mistress, breathed tranquillity and repose. The count had
felt the influence of this happiness from the moment he
entered the house, and he remained silent and pensive,
forgetting that he was expected to renew the conversation,
which had ceased after the first salutations had been
exchanged. The silence became almost painful when, by a
violent effort, tearing himself from his pleasing reverie --
"Madame," said he at length, "I pray you to excuse my
emotion, which must astonish you who are only accustomed to
the happiness I meet here; but contentment is so new a sight
to me, that I could never be weary of looking at yourself
and your husband."

"We are very happy, monsieur," replied Julie; "but we have
also known unhappiness, and few have ever undergone more
bitter sufferings than ourselves." The Count's features
displayed an expression of the most intense curiosity.

"Oh, all this is a family history, as Chateau-Renaud told
you the other day," observed Maximilian. "This humble
picture would have but little interest for you, accustomed
as you are to behold the pleasures and the misfortunes of
the wealthy and industrious; but such as we are, we have
experienced bitter sorrows."

"And God has poured balm into your wounds, as he does into
those of all who are in affliction?" said Monte Cristo
inquiringly.

"Yes, count," returned Julie, "we may indeed say he has, for
he has done for us what he grants only to his chosen; he
sent us one of his angels." The count's cheeks became
scarlet, and he coughed, in order to have an excuse for
putting his handkerchief to his mouth. "Those born to
wealth, and who have the means of gratifying every wish,"
said Emmanuel, "know not what is the real happiness of life,
just as those who have been tossed on the stormy waters of
the ocean on a few frail planks can alone realize the
blessings of fair weather."

Monte Cristo rose, and without making any answer (for the
tremulousness of his voice would have betrayed his emotion)
walked up and down the apartment with a slow step.

"Our magnificence makes you smile, count," said Maximilian,
who had followed him with his eyes. "No, no," returned Monte
Cristo, pale as death, pressing one hand on his heart to
still its throbbings, while with the other he pointed to a
crystal cover, beneath which a silken purse lay on a black
velvet cushion. "I was wondering what could be the
significance of this purse, with the paper at one end and
the large diamond at the other."

"Count," replied Maximilian, with an air of gravity, "those
are our most precious family treasures."

"The stone seems very brilliant," answered the count.

"Oh, my brother does not allude to its value, although it
has been estimated at 100,000 francs; he means, that the
articles contained in this purse are the relics of the angel
I spoke of just now."

"This I do not comprehend; and yet I may not ask for an
explanation, madame," replied Monte Cristo bowing. "Pardon
me, I had no intention of committing an indiscretion."

"Indiscretion, -- oh, you make us happy by giving us an
excuse for expatiating on this subject. If we wanted to
conceal the noble action this purse commemorates, we should
not expose it thus to view. Oh, would we could relate it
everywhere, and to every one, so that the emotion of our
unknown benefactor might reveal his presence."

"Ah, really," said Monte Cristo in a half-stifled voice.

"Monsieur," returned Maximilian, raising the glass cover,
and respectfully kissing the silken purse, "this has touched
the hand of a man who saved my father from suicide, us from
ruin, and our name from shame and disgrace, -- a man by
whose matchless benevolence we poor children, doomed to want
and wretchedness, can at present hear every one envying our
happy lot. This letter" (as he spoke, Maximilian drew a
letter from the purse and gave it to the count) -- "this
letter was written by him the day that my father had taken a
desperate resolution, and this diamond was given by the
generous unknown to my sister as her dowry." Monte Cristo
opened the letter, and read it with an indescribable feeling
of delight. It was the letter written (as our readers know)
to Julie, and signed "Sinbad the Sailor." "Unknown you say,
is the man who rendered you this service -- unknown to you?"

"Yes; we have never had the happiness of pressing his hand,"
continued Maximilian. "We have supplicated heaven in vain to
grant us this favor, but the whole affair has had a
mysterious meaning that we cannot comprehend -- we have been
guided by an invisible hand, -- a hand as powerful as that
of an enchanter."

"Oh," cried Julie, "I have not lost all hope of some day
kissing that hand, as I now kiss the purse which he has
touched. Four years ago, Penelon was at Trieste -- Penelon,
count, is the old sailor you saw in the garden, and who,
from quartermaster, has become gardener -- Penelon, when he
was at Trieste, saw on the quay an Englishman, who was on
the point of embarking on board a yacht, and he recognized
him as the person who called on my father the fifth of June,
1829, and who wrote me this letter on the fifth of
September. He felt convinced of his identity, but he did not
venture to address him."

"An Englishman," said Monte Cristo, who grew uneasy at the
attention with which Julie looked at him. "An Englishman you
say?"

"Yes," replied Maximilian, "an Englishman, who represented
himself as the confidential clerk of the house of Thomson &
French, at Rome. It was this that made me start when you
said the other day, at M. de Morcerf's, that Messrs. Thomson
& French were your bankers. That happened, as I told you, in
1829. For God's sake, tell me, did you know this
Englishman?"

"But you tell me, also, that the house of Thomson & French
have constantly denied having rendered you this service?"

"Yes."

"Then is it not probable that this Englishman may be some
one who, grateful for a kindness your father had shown him,
and which he himself had forgotten, has taken this method of
requiting the obligation?"

"Everything is possible in this affair, even a miracle."

"What was his name?" asked Monte Cristo.

"He gave no other name," answered Julie, looking earnestly
at the count, "than that at the end of his letter -- `Sinbad
the Sailor.'"

"Which is evidently not his real name, but a fictitious
one."

Then, noticing that Julie was struck with the sound of his
voice, --

"Tell me," continued he, "was he not about my height,
perhaps a little taller, with his chin imprisoned, as it
were, in a high cravat; his coat closely buttoned up, and
constantly taking out his pencil?"

"Oh, do you then know him?" cried Julie, whose eyes sparkled
with joy.

"No," returned Monte Cristo "I only guessed. I knew a Lord
Wilmore, who was constantly doing actions of this kind."

"Without revealing himself?"

"He was an eccentric being, and did not believe in the
existence of gratitude."

"Oh, heaven," exclaimed Julie, clasping her hands, "in what
did he believe, then?"

"He did not credit it at the period which I knew him," said
Monte Cristo, touched to the heart by the accents of Julie's
voice; "but, perhaps, since then he has had proofs that
gratitude does exist."

"And do you know this gentleman, monsieur?" inquired
Emmanuel.

"Oh, if you do know him," cried Julie, "can you tell us
where he is -- where we can find him? Maximilian -- Emmanuel
-- if we do but discover him, he must believe in the
gratitude of the heart!" Monte Cristo felt tears start into
his eyes, and he again walked hastily up and down the room.

"In the name of heaven," said Maximilian, "if you know
anything of him, tell us what it is."

"Alas," cried Monte Cristo, striving to repress his emotion,
"if Lord Wilmore was your unknown benefactor, I fear you
will never see him again. I parted from him two years ago at
Palermo, and he was then on the point of setting out for the
most remote regions; so that I fear he will never return."

"Oh, monsieur, this is cruel of you," said Julie, much
affected; and the young lady's eyes swam with tears.

"Madame," replied Monte Cristo gravely, and gazing earnestly
on the two liquid pearls that trickled down Julie's cheeks,
"had Lord Wilmore seen what I now see, he would become
attached to life, for the tears you shed would reconcile him
to mankind;" and he held out his hand to Julie, who gave him
hers, carried away by the look and accent of the count.
"But," continued she, "Lord Wilmore had a family or friends,
he must have known some one, can we not -- "

"Oh, it is useless to inquire," returned the count;
"perhaps, after all, he was not the man you seek for. He was
my friend: he had no secrets from me, and if this had been
so he would have confided in me."

"And he told you nothing?"

"Not a word."

"Nothing that would lead you to suppose?"

"Nothing."

"And yet you spoke of him at once."

"Ah, in such a case one supposes" --

"Sister, sister," said Maximilian, coming to the count's
aid, "monsieur is quite right. Recollect what our excellent
father so often told us, `It was no Englishman that thus
saved us.'" Monte Cristo started. "What did your father tell
you, M. Morrel?" said he eagerly.

"My father thought that this action had been miraculously
performed -- he believed that a benefactor had arisen from
the grave to save us. Oh, it was a touching superstition,
monsieur, and although I did not myself believe it, I would
not for the world have destroyed my father's faith. How
often did he muse over it and pronounce the name of a dear
friend -- a friend lost to him forever; and on his
death-bed, when the near approach of eternity seemed to have
illumined his mind with supernatural light, this thought,
which had until then been but a doubt, became a conviction,
and his last words were, `Maximilian, it was Edmond
Dantes!'" At these words the count's paleness, which had for
some time been increasing, became alarming; he could not
speak; he looked at his watch like a man who has forgotten
the hour, said a few hurried words to Madame Herbault, and
pressing the hands of Emmanuel and Maximilian, -- "Madame,"
said he, "I trust you will allow me to visit you
occasionally; I value your friendship, and feel grateful to
you for your welcome, for this is the first time for many
years that I have thus yielded to my feelings;" and he
hastily quitted the apartment.

"This Count of Monte Cristo is a strange man," said
Emmanuel.

"Yes," answered Maximilian, "but I feel sure he has an
excellent heart, and that he likes us."

"His voice went to my heart," observed Julie; "and two or
three times I fancied that I had heard it before."



The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Category:
General Fiction
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