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The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

Update: 2020-04-22

Chapter 1 Marseilles — The Arrival.

  • On the 24th of February, 1810, the look-out at Notre-Dame de la Gard_ignalled the three-master, the Pharaon from Smyrna, Trieste, and Naples.
  • As usual, a pilot put off immediately, and rounding the Chateau d'If, got o_oard the vessel between Cape Morgion and Rion island.
  • Immediately, and according to custom, the ramparts of Fort Saint-Jean wer_overed with spectators; it is always an event at Marseilles for a ship t_ome into port, especially when this ship, like the Pharaon, has been built, rigged, and laden at the old Phocee docks, and belongs to an owner of th_ity.
  • The ship drew on and had safely passed the strait, which some volcanic shoc_as made between the Calasareigne and Jaros islands; had doubled Pomegue, an_pproached the harbor under topsails, jib, and spanker, but so slowly an_edately that the idlers, with that instinct which is the forerunner of evil, asked one another what misfortune could have happened on board. However, thos_xperienced in navigation saw plainly that if any accident had occurred, i_as not to the vessel herself, for she bore down with all the evidence o_eing skilfully handled, the anchor a-cockbill, the jib-boom guys alread_ased off, and standing by the side of the pilot, who was steering the Pharao_owards the narrow entrance of the inner port, was a young man, who, wit_ctivity and vigilant eye, watched every motion of the ship, and repeated eac_irection of the pilot.
  • The vague disquietude which prevailed among the spectators had so muc_ffected one of the crowd that he did not await the arrival of the vessel i_arbor, but jumping into a small skiff, desired to be pulled alongside th_haraon, which he reached as she rounded into La Reserve basin.
  • When the young man on board saw this person approach, he left his station b_he pilot, and, hat in hand, leaned over the ship's bulwarks.
  • He was a fine, tall, slim young fellow of eighteen or twenty, with black eyes, and hair as dark as a raven's wing; and his whole appearance bespoke tha_almness and resolution peculiar to men accustomed from their cradle t_ontend with danger.
  • "Ah, is it you, Dantes?" cried the man in the skiff. "What's the matter? an_hy have you such an air of sadness aboard?"
  • "A great misfortune, M. Morrel," replied the young man, — "a great misfortune, for me especially! Off Civita Vecchia we lost our brave Captain Leclere."
  • "And the cargo?" inquired the owner, eagerly.
  • "Is all safe, M. Morrel; and I think you will be satisfied on that head. Bu_oor Captain Leclere — "
  • "What happened to him?" asked the owner, with an air of considerabl_esignation. "What happened to the worthy captain?"
  • "He died."
  • "Fell into the sea?"
  • "No, sir, he died of brain-fever in dreadful agony." Then turning to the crew, he said, "Bear a hand there, to take in sail!"
  • All hands obeyed, and at once the eight or ten seamen who composed the crew, sprang to their respective stations at the spanker brails and outhaul, topsai_heets and halyards, the jib downhaul, and the topsail clewlines an_untlines. The young sailor gave a look to see that his orders were promptl_nd accurately obeyed, and then turned again to the owner.
  • "And how did this misfortune occur?" inquired the latter, resuming th_nterrupted conversation.
  • "Alas, sir, in the most unexpected manner. After a long talk with the harbor- master, Captain Leclere left Naples greatly disturbed in mind. In twenty-fou_ours he was attacked by a fever, and died three days afterwards. We performe_he usual burial service, and he is at his rest, sewn up in his hammock with _hirty-six pound shot at his head and his heels, off El Giglio island. W_ring to his widow his sword and cross of honor. It was worth while, truly,"
  • added the young man with a melancholy smile, "to make war against the Englis_or ten years, and to die in his bed at last, like everybody else."
  • "Why, you see, Edmond," replied the owner, who appeared more comforted a_very moment, "we are all mortal, and the old must make way for the young. I_ot, why, there would be no promotion; and since you assure me that the cargo — "
  • "Is all safe and sound, M. Morrel, take my word for it; and I advise you no_o take 25,000 francs for the profits of the voyage."
  • Then, as they were just passing the Round Tower, the young man shouted: "Stan_y there to lower the topsails and jib; brail up the spanker!"
  • The order was executed as promptly as it would have been on board a man-of- war.
  • "Let go — and clue up!" At this last command all the sails were lowered, an_he vessel moved almost imperceptibly onwards.
  • "Now, if you will come on board, M. Morrel," said Dantes, observing th_wner's impatience, "here is your supercargo, M. Danglars, coming out of hi_abin, who will furnish you with every particular. As for me, I must loo_fter the anchoring, and dress the ship in mourning."
  • The owner did not wait for a second invitation. He seized a rope which Dante_lung to him, and with an activity that would have done credit to a sailor, climbed up the side of the ship, while the young man, going to his task, lef_he conversation to Danglars, who now came towards the owner. He was a man o_wenty-five or twenty-six years of age, of unprepossessing countenance, obsequious to his superiors, insolent to his subordinates; and this, i_ddition to his position as responsible agent on board, which is alway_bnoxious to the sailors, made him as much disliked by the crew as Edmon_antes was beloved by them.
  • "Well, M. Morrel," said Danglars, "you have heard of the misfortune that ha_efallen us?"
  • "Yes — yes: poor Captain Leclere! He was a brave and an honest man."
  • "And a first-rate seaman, one who had seen long and honorable service, a_ecame a man charged with the interests of a house so important as that o_orrel & Son," replied Danglars.
  • "But," replied the owner, glancing after Dantes, who was watching th_nchoring of his vessel, "it seems to me that a sailor needs not be so old a_ou say, Danglars, to understand his business, for our friend Edmond seems t_nderstand it thoroughly, and not to require instruction from any one."
  • "Yes," said Danglars, darting at Edmond a look gleaming with hate. "Yes, he i_oung, and youth is invariably self-confident. Scarcely was the captain'_reath out of his body when he assumed the command without consulting any one, and he caused us to lose a day and a half at the Island of Elba, instead o_aking for Marseilles direct."
  • "As to taking command of the vessel," replied Morrel, "that was his duty a_aptain's mate; as to losing a day and a half off the Island of Elba, he wa_rong, unless the vessel needed repairs."
  • "The vessel was in as good condition as I am, and as, I hope you are, M.
  • Morrel, and this day and a half was lost from pure whim, for the pleasure o_oing ashore, and nothing else."
  • "Dantes," said the shipowner, turning towards the young man, "come this way!"
  • "In a moment, sir," answered Dantes, "and I'm with you." Then calling to th_rew, he said — "Let go!"
  • The anchor was instantly dropped, and the chain ran rattling through the port- hole. Dantes continued at his post in spite of the presence of the pilot, until this manoeuvre was completed, and then he added, "Half-mast the colors, and square the yards!"
  • "You see," said Danglars, "he fancies himself captain already, upon my word."
  • "And so, in fact, he is," said the owner.
  • "Except your signature and your partner's, M. Morrel."
  • "And why should he not have this?" asked the owner; "he is young, it is true, but he seems to me a thorough seaman, and of full experience."
  • A cloud passed over Danglars' brow. "Your pardon, M. Morrel," said Dantes, approaching, "the vessel now rides at anchor, and I am at your service. Yo_ailed me, I think?"
  • Danglars retreated a step or two. "I wished to inquire why you stopped at th_sland of Elba?"
  • "I do not know, sir; it was to fulfil the last instructions of Captai_eclere, who, when dying, gave me a packet for Marshal Bertrand."
  • "Then did you see him, Edmond?"
  • "Who?"
  • "The marshal."
  • "Yes."
  • Morrel looked around him, and then, drawing Dantes on one side, he sai_uddenly — "And how is the emperor?"
  • "Very well, as far as I could judge from the sight of him."
  • "You saw the emperor, then?"
  • "He entered the marshal's apartment while I was there."
  • "And you spoke to him?"
  • "Why, it was he who spoke to me, sir," said Dantes, with a smile.
  • "And what did he say to you?"
  • "Asked me questions about the vessel, the time she left Marseilles, the cours_he had taken, and what was her cargo. I believe, if she had not been laden, and I had been her master, he would have bought her. But I told him I was onl_ate, and that she belonged to the firm of Morrel & Son. `Ah, yes,' he said, `I know them. The Morrels have been shipowners from father to son; and ther_as a Morrel who served in the same regiment with me when I was in garrison a_alence.'"
  • "Pardieu, and that is true!" cried the owner, greatly delighted. "And that wa_olicar Morrel, my uncle, who was afterwards a captain. Dantes, you must tel_y uncle that the emperor remembered him, and you will see it will bring tear_nto the old soldier's eyes. Come, come," continued he, patting Edmond'_houlder kindly, "you did very right, Dantes, to follow Captain Leclere'_nstructions, and touch at Elba, although if it were known that you ha_onveyed a packet to the marshal, and had conversed with the emperor, it migh_ring you into trouble."
  • "How could that bring me into trouble, sir?" asked Dantes; "for I did not eve_now of what I was the bearer; and the emperor merely made such inquiries a_e would of the first comer. But, pardon me, here are the health officers an_he customs inspectors coming alongside." And the young man went to th_angway. As he departed, Danglars approached, and said, —
  • "Well, it appears that he has given you satisfactory reasons for his landin_t Porto-Ferrajo?"
  • "Yes, most satisfactory, my dear Danglars."
  • "Well, so much the better," said the supercargo; "for it is not pleasant t_hink that a comrade has not done his duty."
  • "Dantes has done his," replied the owner, "and that is not saying much. It wa_aptain Leclere who gave orders for this delay."
  • "Talking of Captain Leclere, has not Dantes given you a letter from him?"
  • "To me? — no — was there one?"
  • "I believe that, besides the packet, Captain Leclere confided a letter to hi_are."
  • "Of what packet are you speaking, Danglars?"
  • "Why, that which Dantes left at Porto-Ferrajo."
  • "How do you know he had a packet to leave at Porto-Ferrajo?"
  • Danglars turned very red.
  • "I was passing close to the door of the captain's cabin, which was half open, and I saw him give the packet and letter to Dantes."
  • "He did not speak to me of it," replied the shipowner; "but if there be an_etter he will give it to me."
  • Danglars reflected for a moment. "Then, M. Morrel, I beg of you," said he,
  • "not to say a word to Dantes on the subject. I may have been mistaken."
  • At this moment the young man returned; Danglars withdrew.
  • "Well, my dear Dantes, are you now free?" inquired the owner.
  • "Yes, sir."
  • "You have not been long detained."
  • "No. I gave the custom-house officers a copy of our bill of lading; and as t_he other papers, they sent a man off with the pilot, to whom I gave them."
  • "Then you have nothing more to do here?"
  • "No — everything is all right now."
  • "Then you can come and dine with me?"
  • "I really must ask you to excuse me, M. Morrel. My first visit is due to m_ather, though I am not the less grateful for the honor you have done me."
  • "Right, Dantes, quite right. I always knew you were a good son."
  • "And," inquired Dantes, with some hesitation, "do you know how my father is?"
  • "Well, I believe, my dear Edmond, though I have not seen him lately."
  • "Yes, he likes to keep himself shut up in his little room."
  • "That proves, at least, that he has wanted for nothing during your absence."
  • Dantes smiled. "My father is proud, sir, and if he had not a meal left, _oubt if he would have asked anything from anyone, except from Heaven."
  • "Well, then, after this first visit has been made we shall count on you."
  • "I must again excuse myself, M. Morrel, for after this first visit has bee_aid I have another which I am most anxious to pay."
  • "True, Dantes, I forgot that there was at the Catalans some one who expect_ou no less impatiently than your father — the lovely Mercedes."
  • Dantes blushed.
  • "Ah, ha," said the shipowner, "I am not in the least surprised, for she ha_een to me three times, inquiring if there were any news of the Pharaon.
  • Peste, Edmond, you have a very handsome mistress!"
  • "She is not my mistress," replied the young sailor, gravely; "she is m_etrothed."
  • "Sometimes one and the same thing," said Morrel, with a smile.
  • "Not with us, sir," replied Dantes.
  • "Well, well, my dear Edmond," continued the owner, "don't let me detain you.
  • You have managed my affairs so well that I ought to allow you all the time yo_equire for your own. Do you want any money?"
  • "No, sir; I have all my pay to take — nearly three months' wages."
  • "You are a careful fellow, Edmond."
  • "Say I have a poor father, sir."
  • "Yes, yes, I know how good a son you are, so now hasten away to see you_ather. I have a son too, and I should be very wroth with those who detaine_im from me after a three months' voyage."
  • "Then I have your leave, sir?"
  • "Yes, if you have nothing more to say to me."
  • "Nothing."
  • "Captain Leclere did not, before he died, give you a letter for me?"
  • "He was unable to write, sir. But that reminds me that I must ask your leav_f absence for some days."
  • "To get married?"
  • "Yes, first, and then to go to Paris."
  • "Very good; have what time you require, Dantes. It will take quite six week_o unload the cargo, and we cannot get you ready for sea until three month_fter that; only be back again in three months, for the Pharaon," added th_wner, patting the young sailor on the back, "cannot sail without he_aptain."
  • "Without her captain!" cried Dantes, his eyes sparkling with animation; "pra_ind what you say, for you are touching on the most secret wishes of my heart.
  • Is it really your intention to make me captain of the Pharaon?"
  • "If I were sole owner we'd shake hands on it now, my dear Dantes, and call i_ettled; but I have a partner, and you know the Italian proverb — Chi h_ompagno ha padrone — `He who has a partner has a master.' But the thing is a_east half done, as you have one out of two votes. Rely on me to procure yo_he other; I will do my best."
  • "Ah, M. Morrel," exclaimed the young seaman, with tears in his eyes, an_rasping the owner's hand, "M. Morrel, I thank you in the name of my fathe_nd of Mercedes."
  • "That's all right, Edmond. There's a providence that watches over th_eserving. Go to your father: go and see Mercedes, and afterwards come to me."
  • "Shall I row you ashore?"
  • "No, thank you; I shall remain and look over the accounts with Danglars. Hav_ou been satisfied with him this voyage?"
  • "That is according to the sense you attach to the question, sir. Do you mea_s he a good comrade? No, for I think he never liked me since the day when _as silly enough, after a little quarrel we had, to propose to him to stop fo_en minutes at the island of Monte Cristo to settle the dispute — _roposition which I was wrong to suggest, and he quite right to refuse. If yo_ean as responsible agent when you ask me the question, I believe there i_othing to say against him, and that you will be content with the way in whic_e has performed his duty."
  • "But tell me, Dantes, if you had command of the Pharaon should you be glad t_ee Danglars remain?"
  • "Captain or mate, M. Morrel, I shall always have the greatest respect fo_hose who possess the owners' confidence."
  • "That's right, that's right, Dantes! I see you are a thoroughly good fellow, and will detain you no longer. Go, for I see how impatient you are."
  • "Then I have leave?"
  • "Go, I tell you."
  • "May I have the use of your skiff?"
  • "Certainly."
  • "Then, for the present, M. Morrel, farewell, and a thousand thanks!"
  • "I hope soon to see you again, my dear Edmond. Good luck to you."
  • The young sailor jumped into the skiff, and sat down in the stern sheets, wit_he order that he be put ashore at La Canebiere. The two oarsmen bent to thei_ork, and the little boat glided away as rapidly as possible in the midst o_he thousand vessels which choke up the narrow way which leads between the tw_ows of ships from the mouth of the harbor to the Quai d'Orleans.
  • The shipowner, smiling, followed him with his eyes until he saw him spring ou_n the quay and disappear in the midst of the throng, which from five o'cloc_n the morning until nine o'clock at night, swarms in the famous street of L_anebiere, — a street of which the modern Phocaeans are so proud that they sa_ith all the gravity in the world, and with that accent which gives so muc_haracter to what is said, "If Paris had La Canebiere, Paris would be a secon_arseilles." On turning round the owner saw Danglars behind him, apparentl_waiting orders, but in reality also watching the young sailor, — but ther_as a great difference in the expression of the two men who thus followed th_ovements of Edmond Dantes.