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Chapter 84

The daring attempt to rob the count was the topic of
conversation throughout Paris for the next fortnight. The
dying man had signed a deposition declaring Benedetto to be
the assassin. The police had orders to make the strictest
search for the murderer. Caderousse's knife, dark lantern,
bunch of keys, and clothing, excepting the waistcoat, which
could not be found, were deposited at the registry; the
corpse was conveyed to the morgue. The count told every one
that this adventure had happened during his absence at
Auteuil, and that he only knew what was related by the Abbe
Busoni, who that evening, by mere chance, had requested to
pass the night in his house, to examine some valuable books
in his library. Bertuccio alone turned pale whenever
Benedetto's name was mentioned in his presence, but there
was no reason why any one should notice his doing so.
Villefort, being called on to prove the crime, was preparing
his brief with the same ardor that he was accustomed to
exercise when required to speak in criminal cases.

But three weeks had already passed, and the most diligent
search had been unsuccessful; the attempted robbery and the
murder of the robber by his comrade were almost forgotten in
anticipation of the approaching marriage of Mademoiselle
Danglars to the Count Andrea Cavalcanti. It was expected
that this wedding would shortly take place, as the young man
was received at the banker's as the betrothed. Letters had
been despatched to M. Cavalcanti, as the count's father, who
highly approved of the union, regretted his inability to
leave Parma at that time, and promised a wedding gift of a
hundred and fifty thousand livres. It was agreed that the
three millions should be intrusted to Danglars to invest;
some persons had warned the young man of the circumstances
of his future father-in-law, who had of late sustained
repeated losses; but with sublime disinterestedness and
confidence the young man refused to listen, or to express a
single doubt to the baron. The baron adored Count Andrea
Cavalcanti: not so Mademoiselle Eugenie Danglars. With an
instinctive hatred of matrimony, she suffered Andrea's
attentions in order to get rid of Morcerf; but when Andrea
urged his suit, she betrayed an entire dislike to him. The
baron might possibly have perceived it, but, attributing it
to a caprice, feigned ignorance.

The delay demanded by Beauchamp had nearly expired. Morcerf
appreciated the advice of Monte Cristo to let things die
away of their own accord. No one had taken up the remark
about the general, and no one had recognized in the officer
who betrayed the castle of Yanina the noble count in the
House of Peers. Albert, however felt no less insulted; the
few lines which had irritated him were certainly intended as
an insult. Besides, the manner in which Beauchamp had closed
the conference left a bitter recollection in his heart. He
cherished the thought of the duel, hoping to conceal its
true cause even from his seconds. Beauchamp had not been
seen since the day he visited Albert, and those of whom the
latter inquired always told him he was out on a journey
which would detain him some days. Where he was no one knew.

One morning Albert was awakened by his valet de chambre, who
announced Beauchamp. Albert rubbed his eyes, ordered his
servant to introduce him into the small smoking-room on the
ground-floor, dressed himself quickly, and went down. He
found Beauchamp pacing the room; on perceiving him Beauchamp
stopped. "Your arrival here, without waiting my visit at
your house to-day, looks well, sir," said Albert. "Tell me,
may I shake hands with you, saying, `Beauchamp, acknowledge
you have injured me, and retain my friendship,' or must I
simply propose to you a choice of arms?"

"Albert," said Beauchamp, with a look of sorrow which
stupefied the young man, "let us first sit down and talk."

"Rather, sir, before we sit down, I must demand your

"Albert," said the journalist, "these are questions which it
is difficult to answer."

"I will facilitate it by repeating the question, `Will you,
or will you not, retract?'"

"Morcerf, it is not enough to answer `yes' or `no' to
questions which concern the honor, the social interest, and
the life of such a man as Lieutenant-general the Count of
Morcerf, peer of France."

"What must then be done?"

"What I have done, Albert. I reasoned thus -- money, time,
and fatigue are nothing compared with the reputation and
interests of a whole family; probabilities will not suffice,
only facts will justify a deadly combat with a friend. If I
strike with the sword, or discharge the contents of a pistol
at man with whom, for three years, I have been on terms of
intimacy, I must, at least, know why I do so; I must meet
him with a heart at ease, and that quiet conscience which a
man needs when his own arm must save his life."

"Well," said Morcerf, impatiently, "what does all this

"It means that I have just returned from Yanina."

"From Yanina?"



"Here is my passport; examine the visa -- Geneva, Milan,
Venice, Trieste, Delvino, Yanina. Will you believe the
government of a republic, a kingdom, and an empire?" Albert
cast his eyes on the passport, then raised them in
astonishment to Beauchamp. "You have been to Yanina?" said

"Albert, had you been a stranger, a foreigner, a simple
lord, like that Englishman who came to demand satisfaction
three or four months since, and whom I killed to get rid of,
I should not have taken this trouble; but I thought this
mark of consideration due to you. I took a week to go,
another to return, four days of quarantine, and forty-eight
hours to stay there; that makes three weeks. I returned last
night, and here I am."

"What circumlocution! How long you are before you tell me
what I most wish to know?"

"Because, in truth, Albert" --

"You hesitate?"

"Yes, -- I fear."

"You fear to acknowledge that your correspondent his
deceived you? Oh, no self-love, Beauchamp. Acknowledge it,
Beauchamp; your courage cannot be doubted."

"Not so," murmured the journalist; "on the contrary" --

Albert turned frightfully pale; he endeavored to speak, but
the words died on his lips. "My friend," said Beauchamp, in
the most affectionate tone, "I should gladly make an
apology; but, alas," --

"But what?"

"The paragraph was correct, my friend."

"What? That French officer" --




"The traitor who surrendered the castle of the man in whose
service he was" --

"Pardon me, my friend, that man was your father!" Albert
advanced furiously towards Beauchamp, but the latter
restrained him more by a mild look than by his extended

"My friend," said he, "here is a proof of it."

Albert opened the paper, it was an attestation of four
notable inhabitants of Yanina, proving that Colonel Fernand
Mondego, in the service of Ali Tepelini, had surrendered the
castle for two million crowns. The signatures were perfectly
legal. Albert tottered and fell overpowered in a chair. It
could no longer be doubted; the family name was fully given.
After a moment's mournful silence, his heart overflowed, and
he gave way to a flood of tears. Beauchamp, who had watched
with sincere pity the young man's paroxysm of grief,
approached him. "Now, Albert," said he, "you understand me
-- do you not? I wished to see all, and to judge of
everything for myself, hoping the explanation would be in
your father's favor, and that I might do him justice. But,
on the contrary, the particulars which are given prove that
Fernand Mondego, raised by Ali Pasha to the rank of
governor-general, is no other than Count Fernand of Morcerf;
then, recollecting the honor you had done me, in admitting
me to your friendship, I hastened to you."

Albert, still extended on the chair, covered his face with
both hands, as if to prevent the light from reaching him. "I
hastened to you," continued Beauchamp, "to tell you, Albert,
that in this changing age, the faults of a father cannot
revert upon his children. Few have passed through this
revolutionary period, in the midst of which we were born,
without some stain of infamy or blood to soil the uniform of
the soldier, or the gown of the magistrate. Now I have these
proofs, Albert, and I am in your confidence, no human power
can force me to a duel which your own conscience would
reproach you with as criminal, but I come to offer you what
you can no longer demand of me. Do you wish these proofs,
these attestations, which I alone possess, to be destroyed?
Do you wish this frightful secret to remain with us?
Confided to me, it shall never escape my lips; say, Albert,
my friend, do you wish it?"

Albert threw himself on Beauchamp's neck. "Ah, noble
fellow!" cried he.

"Take these," said Beauchamp, presenting the papers to

Albert seized them with a convulsive hand, tore them in
pieces, and trembling lest the least vestige should escape
and one day appear to confront him, he approached the
wax-light, always kept burning for cigars, and burned every
fragment. "Dear, excellent friend," murmured Albert, still
burning the papers.

"Let all be forgotten as a sorrowful dream," said Beauchamp;
"let it vanish as the last sparks from the blackened paper,
and disappear as the smoke from those silent ashes."

"Yes, yes," said Albert, "and may there remain only the
eternal friendship which I promised to my deliverer, which
shall be transmitted to our children's children, and shall
always remind me that I owe my life and the honor of my name
to you, -- for had this been known, oh, Beauchamp, I should
have destroyed myself; or, -- no, my poor mother! I could
not have killed her by the same blow, -- I should have fled
from my country."

"Dear Albert," said Beauchamp. But this sudden and
factitious joy soon forsook the young man, and was succeeded
by a still greater grief.

"Well," said Beauchamp, "what still oppresses you, my

"I am broken-hearted," said Albert. "Listen, Beauchamp! I
cannot thus, in a moment relinquish the respect, the
confidence, and pride with which a father's untarnished name
inspires a son. Oh, Beauchamp, Beauchamp, how shall I now
approach mine? Shall I draw back my forehead from his
embrace, or withhold my hand from his? I am the most
wretched of men. Ah, my mother, my poor mother!" said
Albert, gazing through his tears at his mother's portrait;
"if you know this, how much must you suffer!"

"Come," said Beauchamp, taking both his hands, "take
courage, my friend."

"But how came that first note to be inserted in your
journal? Some unknown enemy -- an invisible foe -- has done

"The more must you fortify yourself, Albert. Let no trace of
emotion be visible on your countenance, bear your grief as
the cloud bears within it ruin and death -- a fatal secret,
known only when the storm bursts. Go, my friend, reserve
your strength for the moment when the crash shall come."

"You think, then, all is not over yet?" said Albert,

"I think nothing, my friend; but all things are possible. By
the way" --

"What?" said Albert, seeing that Beauchamp hesitated.

"Are you going to marry Mademoiselle Danglars?"

"Why do you ask me now?"

"Because the rupture or fulfilment of this engagement is
connected with the person of whom we were speaking."

"How?" said Albert, whose brow reddened; "you think M.
Danglars" --

"I ask you only how your engagement stands? Pray put no
construction on my words I do not mean they should convey,
and give them no undue weight."

"No." said Albert, "the engagement is broken off."

"Well," said Beauchamp. Then, seeing the young man was about
to relapse into melancholy, "Let us go out, Albert," said
he; "a ride in the wood in the phaeton, or on horseback,
will refresh you; we will then return to breakfast, and you
shall attend to your affairs, and I to mine."

"Willingly," said Albert; "but let us walk. I think a little
exertion would do me good." The two friends walked out on
the fortress. When arrived at the Madeleine, -- "Since we
are out," said Beauchamp, "let us call on M. de Monte
Cristo; he is admirably adapted to revive one's spirits,
because he never interrogates, and in my opinion those who
ask no questions are the best comforters."

"Gladly," said Albert; "I love him -- let us call."

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
General Fiction
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