Now that this treasure, which had so long been the object of the abbe'_editations, could insure the future happiness of him whom Faria really love_s a son, it had doubled its value in his eyes, and every day he expatiated o_he amount, explaining to Dantes all the good which, with thirteen or fourtee_illions of francs, a man could do in these days to his friends; and the_antes' countenance became gloomy, for the oath of vengeance he had take_ecurred to his memory, and he reflected how much ill, in these times, a ma_ith thirteen or fourteen millions could do to his enemies.
The abbe did not know the Island of Monte Cristo; but Dantes knew it, and ha_ften passed it, situated twenty-five miles from Pianosa, between Corsica an_he Island of Elba, and had once touched there. This island was, always ha_een, and still is, completely deserted. It is a rock of almost conical form, which looks as though it had been thrust up by volcanic force from the dept_o the surface of the ocean. Dantes drew a plan of the island for Faria, an_aria gave Dantes advice as to the means he should employ to recover th_reasure. But Dantes was far from being as enthusiastic and confident as th_ld man. It was past a question now that Faria was not a lunatic, and the wa_n which he had achieved the discovery, which had given rise to the suspicio_f his madness, increased Edmond's admiration of him; but at the same tim_antes could not believe that the deposit, supposing it had ever existed, still existed; and though he considered the treasure as by no mean_himerical, he yet believed it was no longer there.
However, as if fate resolved on depriving the prisoners of their last chance, and making them understand that they were condemned to perpetual imprisonment, a new misfortune befell them; the gallery on the sea side, which had long bee_n ruins, was rebuilt. They had repaired it completely, and stopped up wit_ast masses of stone the hole Dantes had partly filled in. But for thi_recaution, which, it will be remembered, the abbe had made to Edmond, th_isfortune would have been still greater, for their attempt to escape woul_ave been detected, and they would undoubtedly have been separated. Thus _ew, a stronger, and more inexorable barrier was interposed to cut off th_ealization of their hopes.
"You see," said the young man, with an air of sorrowful resignation, to Faria,
"that God deems it right to take from me any claim to merit for what you cal_y devotion to you. I have promised to remain forever with you, and now _ould not break my promise if I would. The treasure will be no more mine tha_ours, and neither of us will quit this prison. But my real treasure is no_hat, my dear friend, which awaits me beneath the sombre rocks of Mont_risto, it is your presence, our living together five or six hours a day, i_pite of our jailers; it is the rays of intelligence you have elicited from m_rain, the languages you have implanted in my memory, and which have take_oot there with all their philological ramifications. These different science_hat you have made so easy to me by the depth of the knowledge you possess o_hem, and the clearness of the principles to which you have reduced them — this is my treasure, my beloved friend, and with this you have made me ric_nd happy. Believe me, and take comfort, this is better for me than tons o_old and cases of diamonds, even were they not as problematical as the cloud_e see in the morning floating over the sea, which we take for terra firma, and which evaporate and vanish as we draw near to them. To have you as long a_ossible near me, to hear your eloquent speech, — which embellishes my mind, strengthens my soul, and makes my whole frame capable of great and terribl_hings, if I should ever be free, — so fills my whole existence, that th_espair to which I was just on the point of yielding when I knew you, has n_onger any hold over me; and this — this is my fortune — not chimerical, bu_ctual. I owe you my real good, my present happiness; and all the sovereign_f the earth, even Caesar Borgia himself, could not deprive me of this."
Thus, if not actually happy, yet the days these two unfortunates passe_ogether went quickly. Faria, who for so long a time had kept silence as t_he treasure, now perpetually talked of it. As he had prophesied would be th_ase, he remained paralyzed in the right arm and the left leg, and had give_p all hope of ever enjoying it himself. But he was continually thinking ove_ome means of escape for his young companion, and anticipating the pleasure h_ould enjoy. For fear the letter might be some day lost or stolen, h_ompelled Dantes to learn it by heart; and Dantes knew it from the first t_he last word. Then he destroyed the second portion, assured that if the firs_ere seized, no one would be able to discover its real meaning. Whole hour_ometimes passed while Faria was giving instructions to Dantes, — instruction_hich were to serve him when he was at liberty. Then, once free, from the da_nd hour and moment when he was so, he could have but one only thought, whic_as, to gain Monte Cristo by some means, and remain there alone under som_retext which would arouse no suspicions; and once there, to endeavor to fin_he wonderful caverns, and search in the appointed spot, — the appointed spot, be it remembered, being the farthest angle in the second opening.
In the meanwhile the hours passed, if not rapidly, at least tolerably. Faria, as we have said, without having recovered the use of his hand and foot, ha_egained all the clearness of his understanding, and had gradually, beside_he moral instructions we have detailed, taught his youthful companion th_atient and sublime duty of a prisoner, who learns to make something fro_othing. They were thus perpetually employed, — Faria, that he might not se_imself grow old; Dantes, for fear of recalling the almost extinct past whic_ow only floated in his memory like a distant light wandering in the night. S_ife went on for them as it does for those who are not victims of misfortun_nd whose activities glide along mechanically and tranquilly beneath the ey_f providence.
But beneath this superficial calm there were in the heart of the young man, and perhaps in that of the old man, many repressed desires, many stifle_ighs, which found vent when Faria was left alone, and when Edmond returned t_is cell. One night Edmond awoke suddenly, believing that he heard some on_alling him. He opened his eyes upon utter darkness. His name, or rather _laintive voice which essayed to pronounce his name, reached him. He sat up i_ed and a cold sweat broke out upon his brow. Undoubtedly the call came fro_aria's dungeon. "Alas," murmured Edmond; "can it be?"
He moved his bed, drew up the stone, rushed into the passage, and reached th_pposite extremity; the secret entrance was open. By the light of the wretche_nd wavering lamp, of which we have spoken, Dantes saw the old man, pale, bu_et erect, clinging to the bedstead. His features were writhing with thos_orrible symptoms which he already knew, and which had so seriously alarme_im when he saw them for the first time.
"Alas, my dear friend," said Faria in a resigned tone, "you understand, do yo_ot, and I need not attempt to explain to you?"
Edmond uttered a cry of agony, and, quite out of his senses, rushed toward_he door, exclaiming, "Help, help!" Faria had just sufficient strength t_estrain him.
"Silence," he said, "or you are lost. We must now only think of you, my dea_riend, and so act as to render your captivity supportable or your fligh_ossible. It would require years to do again what I have done here, and th_esults would be instantly destroyed if our jailers knew we had communicate_ith each other. Besides, be assured, my dear Edmond, the dungeon I am abou_o leave will not long remain empty; some other unfortunate being will soo_ake my place, and to him you will appear like an angel of salvation. Perhap_e will be young, strong, and enduring, like yourself, and will aid you i_our escape, while I have been but a hindrance. You will no longer have half _ead body tied to you as a drag to all your movements. At length providenc_as done something for you; he restores to you more than he takes away, and i_as time I should die."
Edmond could only clasp his hands and exclaim, "Oh, my friend, my friend, speak not thus!" and then resuming all his presence of mind, which had for _oment staggered under this blow, and his strength, which had failed at th_ords of the old man, he said, "Oh, I have saved you once, and I will save yo_ second time!" And raising the foot of the bed, he drew out the phial, stil_ third filled with the red liquor.
"See," he exclaimed, "there remains still some of the magic draught. Quick, quick! tell me what I must do this time; are there any fresh instructions?
Speak, my friend; I listen."
"There is not a hope," replied Faria, shaking his head, "but no matter; Go_ills it that man whom he has created, and in whose heart he has so profoundl_ooted the love of life, should do all in his power to preserve tha_xistence, which, however painful it may be, is yet always so dear."
"Oh, yes, yes!" exclaimed Dantes; "and I tell you that I will save you yet."
"Well, then, try. The cold gains upon me. I feel the blood flowing towards m_rain. These horrible chills, which make my teeth chatter and seem t_islocate my bones, begin to pervade my whole frame; in five minutes th_alady will reach its height, and in a quarter of an hour there will b_othing left of me but a corpse."
"Oh!" exclaimed Dantes, his heart wrung with anguish.
"Do as you did before, only do not wait so long, all the springs of life ar_ow exhausted in me, and death," he continued, looking at his paralyzed ar_nd leg, "has but half its work to do. If, after having made me swallow twelv_rops instead of ten, you see that I do not recover, then pour the rest dow_y throat. Now lift me on my bed, for I can no longer support myself."
Edmond took the old man in his arms, and laid him on the bed.
"And now, my dear friend," said Faria, "sole consolation of my wretche_xistence, — you whom heaven gave me somewhat late, but still gave me, _riceless gift, and for which I am most grateful, — at the moment o_eparating from you forever, I wish you all the happiness and all th_rosperity you so well deserve. My son, I bless thee!" The young man cas_imself on his knees, leaning his head against the old man's bed.
"Listen, now, to what I say in this my dying moment. The treasure of th_padas exists. God grants me the boon of vision unrestricted by time or space.
I see it in the depths of the inner cavern. My eyes pierce the inmost recesse_f the earth, and are dazzled at the sight of so much riches. If you d_scape, remember that the poor abbe, whom all the world called mad, was no_o. Hasten to Monte Cristo — avail yourself of the fortune — for you hav_ndeed suffered long enough." A violent convulsion attacked the old man.
Dantes raised his head and saw Faria's eyes injected with blood. It seemed a_f a flow of blood had ascended from the chest to the head.
"Adieu, adieu!" murmured the old man, clasping Edmond's hand convulsively —
"Oh, no, — no, not yet," he cried; "do not forsake me! Oh, succor him! Help — help — help!"
"Hush — hush!" murmured the dying man, "that they may not separate us if yo_ave me!"
"You are right. Oh, yes, yes; be assured I shall save you! Besides, althoug_ou suffer much, you do not seem to be in such agony as you were before."
"Do not mistake. I suffer less because there is in me less strength to endure.
At your age we have faith in life; it is the privilege of youth to believe an_ope, but old men see death more clearly. Oh, 'tis here — 'tis here — 'ti_ver — my sight is gone — my senses fail! Your hand, Dantes! Adieu — adieu!"
And raising himself by a final effort, in which he summoned all his faculties, he said, — "Monte Cristo, forget not Monte Cristo!" And he fell back on th_ed. The crisis was terrible, and a rigid form with twisted limbs, swolle_yelids, and lips flecked with bloody foam, lay on the bed of torture, i_lace of the intellectual being who so lately rested there.
Dantes took the lamp, placed it on a projecting stone above the bed, whenc_ts tremulous light fell with strange and fantastic ray on the distorte_ountenance and motionless, stiffened body. With steady gaze he awaite_onfidently the moment for administering the restorative.
When he believed that the right moment had arrived, he took the knife, prie_pen the teeth, which offered less resistance than before, counted one afte_he other twelve drops, and watched; the phial contained, perhaps, twice a_uch more. He waited ten minutes, a quarter of an hour, half an hour, — n_hange took place. Trembling, his hair erect, his brow bathed wit_erspiration, he counted the seconds by the beating of his heart. Then h_hought it was time to make the last trial, and he put the phial to the purpl_ips of Faria, and without having occasion to force open his jaws, which ha_emained extended, he poured the whole of the liquid down his throat.
The draught produced a galvanic effect, a violent trembling pervaded the ol_an's limbs, his eyes opened until it was fearful to gaze upon them, he heave_ sigh which resembled a shriek, and then his convulsed body returne_radually to its former immobility, the eyes remaining open.
Half an hour, an hour, an hour and a half elapsed, and during this period o_nguish, Edmond leaned over his friend, his hand applied to his heart, an_elt the body gradually grow cold, and the heart's pulsation become more an_ore deep and dull, until at length it stopped; the last movement of the hear_eased, the face became livid, the eyes remained open, but the eyeballs wer_lazed. It was six o'clock in the morning, the dawn was just breaking, and it_eeble ray came into the dungeon, and paled the ineffectual light of the lamp.
Strange shadows passed over the countenance of the dead man, and at times gav_t the appearance of life. While the struggle between day and night lasted, Dantes still doubted; but as soon as the daylight gained the pre-eminence, h_aw that he was alone with a corpse. Then an invincible and extreme terro_eized upon him, and he dared not again press the hand that hung out of bed, he dared no longer to gaze on those fixed and vacant eyes, which he tried man_imes to close, but in vain — they opened again as soon as shut. H_xtinguished the lamp, carefully concealed it, and then went away, closing a_ell as he could the entrance to the secret passage by the large stone as h_escended.
It was time, for the jailer was coming. On this occasion he began his round_t Dantes' cell, and on leaving him he went on to Faria's dungeon, takin_hither breakfast and some linen. Nothing betokened that the man know anythin_f what had occurred. He went on his way.
Dantes was then seized with an indescribable desire to know what was going o_n the dungeon of his unfortunate friend. He therefore returned by th_ubterraneous gallery, and arrived in time to hear the exclamations of th_urnkey, who called out for help. Other turnkeys came, and then was heard th_egular tramp of soldiers. Last of all came the governor.
Edmond heard the creaking of the bed as they moved the corpse, heard the voic_f the governor, who asked them to throw water on the dead man's face; an_eeing that, in spite of this application, the prisoner did not recover, the_ent for the doctor. The governor then went out, and words of pity fell o_antes' listening ears, mingled with brutal laughter.
"Well, well," said one, "the madman has gone to look after his treasure. Goo_ourney to him!"
"With all his millions, he will not have enough to pay for his shroud!" sai_nother.
"Oh," added a third voice, "the shrouds of the Chateau d'If are not dear!"
"Perhaps," said one of the previous speakers, "as he was a churchman, they ma_o to some expense in his behalf."
"They may give him the honors of the sack."
Edmond did not lose a word, but comprehended very little of what was said. Th_oices soon ceased, and it seemed to him as if every one had left the cell.
Still he dared not to enter, as they might have left some turnkey to watch th_ead. He remained, therefore, mute and motionless, hardly venturing t_reathe. At the end of an hour, he heard a faint noise, which increased. I_as the governor who returned, followed by the doctor and other attendants.
There was a moment's silence, — it was evident that the doctor was examinin_he dead body. The inquiries soon commenced.
The doctor analyzed the symptoms of the malady to which the prisoner ha_uccumbed, and declared that he was dead. Questions and answers followed in _onchalant manner that made Dantes indignant, for he felt that all the worl_hould have for the poor abbe a love and respect equal to his own.
"I am very sorry for what you tell me," said the governor, replying to th_ssurance of the doctor, "that the old man is really dead; for he was a quiet, inoffensive prisoner, happy in his folly, and required no watching."
"Ah," added the turnkey, "there was no occasion for watching him: he woul_ave stayed here fifty years, I'll answer for it, without any attempt t_scape."
"Still," said the governor, "I believe it will be requisite, notwithstandin_our certainty, and not that I doubt your science, but in discharge of m_fficial duty, that we should be perfectly assured that the prisoner is dead."
There was a moment of complete silence, during which Dantes, still listening, knew that the doctor was examining the corpse a second time.
"You may make your mind easy," said the doctor; "he is dead. I will answer fo_hat."
"You know, sir," said the governor, persisting, "that we are not content i_uch cases as this with such a simple examination. In spite of al_ppearances, be so kind, therefore, as to finish your duty by fulfilling th_ormalities described by law."
"Let the irons be heated," said the doctor; "but really it is a useles_recaution." This order to heat the irons made Dantes shudder. He heard hast_teps, the creaking of a door, people going and coming, and some minute_fterwards a turnkey entered, saying, —
"Here is the brazier, lighted." There was a moment's silence, and then wa_eard the crackling of burning flesh, of which the peculiar and nauseous smel_enetrated even behind the wall where Dantes was listening in horror. Th_erspiration poured forth upon the young man's brow, and he felt as if h_hould faint.
"You see, sir, he is really dead," said the doctor; "this burn in the heel i_ecisive. The poor fool is cured of his folly, and delivered from hi_aptivity."
"Wasn't his name Faria?" inquired one of the officers who accompanied th_overnor.
"Yes, sir; and, as he said, it was an ancient name. He was, too, very learned, and rational enough on all points which did not relate to his treasure; but o_hat, indeed, he was intractable."
"It is the sort of malady which we call monomania," said the doctor.
"You had never anything to complain of?" said the governor to the jailer wh_ad charge of the abbe.
"Never, sir," replied the jailer, "never; on the contrary, he sometimes amuse_e very much by telling me stories. One day, too, when my wife was ill, h_ave me a prescription which cured her."
"Ah, ah!" said the doctor, "I did not know that I had a rival; but I hope, governor, that you will show him all proper respect."
"Yes, yes, make your mind easy, he shall be decently interred in the newes_ack we can find. Will that satisfy you?"
"Must this last formality take place in your presence, sir?" inquired _urnkey.
"Certainly. But make haste — I cannot stay here all day." Other footsteps, going and coming, were now heard, and a moment afterwards the noise o_ustling canvas reached Dantes' ears, the bed creaked, and the heavy footfal_f a man who lifts a weight sounded on the floor; then the bed again creake_nder the weight deposited upon it.
"This evening," said the governor.
"Will there be any mass?" asked one of the attendants.
"That is impossible," replied the governor. "The chaplain of the chateau cam_o me yesterday to beg for leave of absence, in order to take a trip to Hyere_or a week. I told him I would attend to the prisoners in his absence. If th_oor abbe had not been in such a hurry, he might have had his requiem."
"Pooh, pooh;" said the doctor, with the impiety usual in persons of hi_rofession; "he is a churchman. God will respect his profession, and not giv_he devil the wicked delight of sending him a priest." A shout of laughte_ollowed this brutal jest. Meanwhile the operation of putting the body in th_ack was going on.
"This evening," said the governor, when the task was ended.
"At what hour?" inquired a turnkey.
"Why, about ten or eleven o'clock."
"Shall we watch by the corpse?"
"Of what use would it be? Shut the dungeon as if he were alive — that is all."
Then the steps retreated, and the voices died away in the distance; the nois_f the door, with its creaking hinges and bolts ceased, and a silence mor_ombre than that of solitude ensued, — the silence of death, which was all- pervasive, and struck its icy chill to the very soul of Dantes. Then he raise_he flag-stone cautiously with his head, and looked carefully around th_hamber. It was empty, and Dantes emerged from the tunnel.