At the banker's door Beauchamp stopped Morcerf. "Listen,"
said he; "just now I told you it was of M. de Monte Cristo
you must demand an explanation."
"Yes; and we are going to his house."
"Reflect, Morcerf, one moment before you go."
"On what shall I reflect?"
"On the importance of the step you are taking."
"Is it more serious than going to M. Danglars?"
"Yes; M. Danglars is a money-lover, and those who love
money, you know, think too much of what they risk to be
easily induced to fight a duel. The other is, on the
contrary, to all appearance a true nobleman; but do you not
fear to find him a bully?"
"I only fear one thing; namely, to find a man who will not
"Do not be alarmed," said Beauchamp; "he will meet you. My
only fear is that he will be too strong for you."
"My friend," said Morcerf, with a sweet smile, "that is what
I wish. The happiest thing that could occur to me, would be
to die in my father's stead; that would save us all."
"Your mother would die of grief."
"My poor mother!" said Albert, passing his hand across his
eyes, "I know she would; but better so than die of shame."
"Are you quite decided, Albert?"
"Yes; let us go."
"But do you think we shall find the count at home?"
"He intended returning some hours after me, and doubtless he
is now at home." They ordered the driver to take them to No.
30 Champs-Elysees. Beauchamp wished to go in alone, but
Albert observed that as this was an unusual circumstance he
might be allowed to deviate from the usual etiquette in
affairs of honor. The cause which the young man espoused was
one so sacred that Beauchamp had only to comply with all his
wishes; he yielded and contented himself with following
Morcerf. Albert sprang from the porter's lodge to the steps.
He was received by Baptistin. The count had, indeed, just
arrived, but he was in his bath, and had forbidden that any
one should be admitted. "But after his bath?" asked Morcerf.
"My master will go to dinner."
"And after dinner?"
"He will sleep an hour."
"He is going to the opera."
"Are you sure of it?" asked Albert.
"Quite, sir; my master has ordered his horses at eight
"Very good," replied Albert; "that is all I wished to know."
Then, turning towards Beauchamp, "If you have anything to
attend to, Beauchamp, do it directly; if you have any
appointment for this evening, defer it till tomorrow. I
depend on you to accompany me to the opera; and if you can,
bring Chateau-Renaud with you."
Beauchamp availed himself of Albert's permission, and left
him, promising to call for him at a quarter before eight. On
his return home, Albert expressed his wish to Franz Debray,
and Morrel, to see them at the opera that evening. Then he
went to see his mother, who since the events of the day
before had refused to see any one, and had kept her room. He
found her in bed, overwhelmed with grief at this public
humiliation. The sight of Albert produced the effect which
might naturally be expected on Mercedes; she pressed her
son's hand and sobbed aloud, but her tears relieved her.
Albert stood one moment speechless by the side of his
mother's bed. It was evident from his pale face and knit
brows that his resolution to revenge himself was growing
weaker. "My dear mother," said he, "do you know if M. de
Morcerf has any enemy?" Mercedes started; she noticed that
the young man did not say "my father." "My son," she said,
"persons in the count's situation have many secret enemies.
Those who are known are not the most dangerous."
"I know it, and appeal to your penetration. You are of so
superior a mind, nothing escapes you."
"Why do you say so?"
"Because, for instance, you noticed on the evening of the
ball we gave, that M. de Monte Cristo would eat nothing in
our house." Mercedes raised herself on her feverish arm. "M.
de Monte Cristo!" she exclaimed; "and how is he connected
with the question you asked me?"
"You know, mother, M. de Monte Cristo is almost an Oriental,
and it is customary with the Orientals to secure full
liberty for revenge by not eating or drinking in the houses
of their enemies."
"Do you say M. de Monte Cristo is our enemy?" replied
Mercedes, becoming paler than the sheet which covered her.
"Who told you so? Why, you are mad, Albert! M. de Monte
Cristo has only shown us kindness. M. de Monte Cristo saved
your life; you yourself presented him to us. Oh, I entreat
you, my son, if you had entertained such an idea, dispel it;
and my counsel to you -- nay, my prayer -- is to retain his
"Mother," replied the young man, "you have especial reasons
for telling me to conciliate that man."
"I?" said Mercedes, blushing as rapidly as she had turned
pale, and again becoming paler than ever.
"Yes, doubtless; and is it not that he may never do us any
harm?" Mercedes shuddered, and, fixing on her son a
scrutinizing gaze, "You speak strangely," said she to
Albert, "and you appear to have some singular prejudices.
What has the count done? Three days since you were with him
in Normandy; only three days since we looked on him as our
An ironical smile passed over Albert's lips. Mercedes saw it
and with the double instinct of woman and mother guessed
all; but as she was prudent and strong-minded she concealed
both her sorrows and her fears. Albert was silent; an
instant after, the countess resumed: "You came to inquire
after my health; I will candidly acknowledge that I am not
well. You should install yourself here, and cheer my
solitude. I do not wish to be left alone."
"Mother," said the young man, "you know how gladly I would
obey your wish, but an urgent and important affair obliges
me to leave you for the whole evening."
"Well," replied Mercedes, sighing, "go, Albert; I will not
make you a slave to your filial piety." Albert pretended he
did not hear, bowed to his mother, and quitted her. Scarcely
had he shut her door, when Mercedes called a confidential
servant, and ordered him to follow Albert wherever he should
go that evening, and to come and tell her immediately what
he observed. Then she rang for her lady's maid, and, weak as
she was, she dressed, in order to be ready for whatever
might happen. The footman's mission was an easy one. Albert
went to his room, and dressed with unusual care. At ten
minutes to eight Beauchamp arrived; he had seen
Chateau-Renaud, who had promised to be in the orchestra
before the curtain was raised. Both got into Albert's coupe;
and, as the young man had no reason to conceal where he was
going, he called aloud, "To the opera." In his impatience he
arrived before the beginning of the performance.
Chateau-Renaud was at his post; apprised by Beauchamp of the
circumstances, he required no explanation from Albert. The
conduct of the son in seeking to avenge his father was so
natural that Chateau-Renaud did not seek to dissuade him,
and was content with renewing his assurances of devotion.
Debray was not yet come, but Albert knew that he seldom lost
a scene at the opera. Albert wandered about the theatre
until the curtain was drawn up. He hoped to meet with M. de
Monte Cristo either in the lobby or on the stairs. The bell
summoned him to his seat, and he entered the orchestra with
Chateau-Renaud and Beauchamp. But his eyes scarcely quitted
the box between the columns, which remained obstinately
closed during the whole of the first act. At last, as Albert
was looking at his watch for about the hundredth time, at
the beginning of the second act the door opened, and Monte
Cristo entered, dressed in black, and, leaning over the
front of the box, looked around the pit. Morrel followed
him, and looked also for his sister and brother in-law; he
soon discovered them in another box, and kissed his hand to
The count, in his survey of the pit, encountered a pale face
and threatening eyes, which evidently sought to gain his
attention. He recognized Albert, but thought it better not
to notice him, as he looked so angry and discomposed.
Without communicating his thoughts to his companion, he sat
down, drew out his opera-glass, and looked another way.
Although apparently not noticing Albert, he did not,
however, lose sight of him, and when the curtain fell at the
end of the second act, he saw him leave the orchestra with
his two friends. Then his head was seen passing at the back
of the boxes, and the count knew that the approaching storm
was intended to fall on him. He was at the moment conversing
cheerfully with Morrel, but he was well prepared for what
might happen. The door opened, and Monte Cristo, turning
round, saw Albert, pale and trembling, followed by Beauchamp
"Well," cried he, with that benevolent politeness which
distinguished his salutation from the common civilities of
the world, "my cavalier has attained his object.
Good-evening, M. de Morcerf." The countenance of this man,
who possessed such extraordinary control over his feelings,
expressed the most perfect cordiality. Morrel only then
recollected the letter he had received from the viscount, in
which, without assigning any reason, he begged him to go to
the opera, but he understood that something terrible was
"We are not come here, sir, to exchange hypocritical
expressions of politeness, or false professions of
friendship," said Albert, "but to demand an explanation."
The young man's trembling voice was scarcely audible. "An
explanation at the opera?" said the count, with that calm
tone and penetrating eye which characterize the man who
knows his cause is good. "Little acquainted as I am with the
habits of Parisians, I should not have thought this the
place for such a demand."
"Still, if people will shut themselves up," said Albert,
"and cannot be seen because they are bathing, dining, or
asleep, we must avail ourselves of the opportunity whenever
they are to be seen."
"I am not difficult of access, sir; for yesterday, if my
memory does not deceive me, you were at my house."
"Yesterday I was at your house, sir," said the young man;
"because then I knew not who you were." In pronouncing these
words Albert had raised his voice so as to be heard by those
in the adjoining boxes and in the lobby. Thus the attention
of many was attracted by this altercation. "Where are you
come from, sir? You do not appear to be in the possession of
"Provided I understand your perfidy, sir, and succeed in
making you understand that I will be revenged, I shall be
reasonable enough," said Albert furiously.
"I do not understand you, sir," replied Monte Cristo; "and
if I did, your tone is too high. I am at home here, and I
alone have a right to raise my voice above another's. Leave
the box, sir!" Monte Cristo pointed towards the door with
the most commanding dignity. "Ah, I shall know how to make
you leave your home!" replied Albert, clasping in his
convulsed grasp the glove, which Monte Cristo did not lose
"Well, well," said Monte Cristo quietly, "I see you wish to
quarrel with me; but I would give you one piece of advice,
which you will do well to keep in mind. It is in poor taste
to make a display of a challenge. Display is not becoming to
every one, M. de Morcerf."
At this name a murmur of astonishment passed around the
group of spectators of this scene. They had talked of no one
but Morcerf the whole day. Albert understood the allusion in
a moment, and was about to throw his glove at the count,
when Morrel seized his hand, while Beauchamp and
Chateau-Renaud, fearing the scene would surpass the limits
of a challenge, held him back. But Monte Cristo, without
rising, and leaning forward in his chair, merely stretched
out his arm and, taking the damp, crushed glove from the
clinched hand of the young man, "Sir," said he in a solemn
tone, "I consider your glove thrown, and will return it to
you wrapped around a bullet. Now leave me or I will summon
my servants to throw you out at the door."
Wild, almost unconscious, and with eyes inflamed, Albert
stepped back, and Morrel closed the door. Monte Cristo took
up his glass again as if nothing had happened; his face was
like marble, and his heart was like bronze. Morrel
whispered, "What have you done to him?"
"I? Nothing -- at least personally," said Monte Cristo.
"But there must be some cause for this strange scene."
"The Count of Morcerf's adventure exasperates the young
"Have you anything to do with it?"
"It was through Haidee that the Chamber was informed of his
"Indeed?" said Morrel. "I had been told, but would not
credit it, that the Grecian slave I have seen with you here
in this very box was the daughter of Ali Pasha."
"It is true, nevertheless."
"Then," said Morrel, "I understand it all, and this scene
"Yes. Albert wrote to request me to come to the opera,
doubtless that I might be a witness to the insult he meant
to offer you."
"Probably," said Monte Cristo with his imperturbable
"But what shall you do with him?"
"What shall I do with Albert? As certainly, Maximilian, as I
now press your hand, I shall kill him before ten o'clock
to-morrow morning." Morrel, in his turn, took Monte Cristo's
hand in both of his, and he shuddered to feel how cold and
steady it was.
"Ah, Count," said he, "his father loves him so much!"
"Do not speak to me of that," said Monte Cristo, with the
first movement of anger he had betrayed; "I will make him
suffer." Morrel, amazed, let fall Monte Cristo's hand.
"Count, count!" said he.
"Dear Maximilian," interrupted the count, "listen how
adorably Duprez is singing that line, --
`O Mathilde! idole de mon ame!'
"I was the first to discover Duprez at Naples, and the first
to applaud him. Bravo, bravo!" Morrel saw it was useless to
say more, and refrained. The curtain, which had risen at the
close of the scene with Albert, again fell, and a rap was
heard at the door.
"Come in," said Monte Cristo with a voice that betrayed not
the least emotion; and immediately Beauchamp appeared.
"Good-evening, M. Beauchamp," said Monte Cristo, as if this
was the first time he had seen the journalist that evening;
Beauchamp bowed, and, sitting down, "Sir," said he, "I just
now accompanied M. de Morcerf, as you saw."
"And that means," replied Monte Cristo, laughing, "that you
had, probably, just dined together. I am happy to see, M.
Beauchamp, that you are more sober than he was."
"Sir," said M. Beauchamp, "Albert was wrong, I acknowledge,
to betray so much anger, and I come, on my own account, to
apologize for him. And having done so, entirely on my own
account, be it understood, I would add that I believe you
too gentlemanly to refuse giving him some explanation
concerning your connection with Yanina. Then I will add two
words about the young Greek girl." Monte Cristo motioned him
to be silent. "Come," said he, laughing, "there are all my
hopes about to be destroyed."
"How so?" asked Beauchamp.
"Doubtless you wish to make me appear a very eccentric
character. I am, in your opinion, a Lara, a Manfred, a Lord
Ruthven; then, just as I am arriving at the climax, you
defeat your own end, and seek to make an ordinary man of me.
You bring me down to your own level, and demand
explanations! Indeed, M. Beauchamp, it is quite laughable."
"Yet," replied Beauchamp haughtily, "there are occasions
when probity commands" --
"M. Beauchamp," interposed this strange man, "the Count of
Monte Cristo bows to none but the Count of Monte Cristo
himself. Say no more, I entreat you. I do what I please, M.
Beauchamp, and it is always well done."
"Sir," replied the young man, "honest men are not to be paid
with such coin. I require honorable guaranties."
"I am, sir, a living guaranty," replied Monte Cristo,
motionless, but with a threatening look; "we have both blood
in our veins which we wish to shed -- that is our mutual
guaranty. Tell the viscount so, and that to-morrow, before
ten o'clock, I shall see what color his is."
"Then I have only to make arrangements for the duel," said
"It is quite immaterial to me," said Monte Cristo, "and it
was very unnecessary to disturb me at the opera for such a
trifle. In France people fight with the sword or pistol, in
the colonies with the carbine, in Arabia with the dagger.
Tell your client that, although I am the insulted party, in
order to carry out my eccentricity, I leave him the choice
of arms, and will accept without discussion, without
dispute, anything, even combat by drawing lots, which is
always stupid, but with me different from other people, as I
am sure to gain."
"Sure to gain!" repeated Beauchamp, looking with amazement
at the count.
"Certainly," said Monte Cristo, slightly shrugging his
shoulders; "otherwise I would not fight with M. de Morcerf.
I shall kill him -- I cannot help it. Only by a single line
this evening at my house let me know the arms and the hour;
I do not like to be kept waiting."
"Pistols, then, at eight o'clock, in the Bois de Vincennes,"
said Beauchamp, quite disconcerted, not knowing if he was
dealing with an arrogant braggadocio or a supernatural
"Very well, sir," said Monte Cristo. "Now all that is
settled, do let me see the performance, and tell your friend
Albert not to come any more this evening; he will hurt
himself with all his ill-chosen barbarisms: let him go home
and go to sleep." Beauchamp left the box, perfectly amazed.
"Now," said Monte Cristo, turning towards Morrel, "I may
depend upon you, may I not?"
"Certainly," said Morrel, "I am at your service, count;
"It is desirable I should know the real cause."
"That is to say, you would rather not?"
"The young man himself is acting blindfolded, and knows not
the true cause, which is known only to God and to me; but I
give you my word, Morrel, that God, who does know it, will
be on our side."
"Enough," said Morrel; "who is your second witness?"
"I know no one in Paris, Morrel, on whom I could confer that
honor besides you and your brother Emmanuel. Do you think
Emmanuel would oblige me?"
"I will answer for him, count."
"Well? that is all I require. To-morrow morning, at seven
o'clock, you will be with me, will you not?"
"Hush, the curtain is rising. Listen! I never lose a note of
this opera if I can avoid it; the music of William Tell is