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Chapter 34 The Colosseum.

  • Franz had so managed his route, that during the ride to the Colosseum the_assed not a single ancient ruin, so that no preliminary impression interfere_o mitigate the colossal proportions of the gigantic building they came t_dmire. The road selected was a continuation of the Via Sistina; then b_utting off the right angle of the street in which stands Santa Maria Maggior_nd proceeding by the Via Urbana and San Pietro in Vincoli, the traveller_ould find themselves directly opposite the Colosseum. This itinerar_ossessed another great advantage, — that of leaving Franz at full liberty t_ndulge his deep reverie upon the subject of Signor Pastrini's story, in whic_is mysterious host of Monte Cristo was so strangely mixed up. Seated wit_olded arms in a corner of the carriage, he continued to ponder over th_ingular history he had so lately listened to, and to ask himself a_nterminable number of questions touching its various circumstances without, however, arriving at a satisfactory reply to any of them. One fact more tha_he rest brought his friend "Sinbad the Sailor" back to his recollection, an_hat was the mysterious sort of intimacy that seemed to exist between th_rigands and the sailors; and Pastrini's account of Vampa's having foun_efuge on board the vessels of smugglers and fishermen, reminded Franz of th_wo Corsican bandits he had found supping so amicably with the crew of th_ittle yacht, which had even deviated from its course and touched at Porto- Vecchio for the sole purpose of landing them. The very name assumed by hi_ost of Monte Cristo and again repeated by the landlord of the Hotel d_ondres, abundantly proved to him that his island friend was playing hi_hilanthropic part on the shores of Piombino, Civita-Vecchio, Ostia, an_aeta, as on those of Corsica, Tuscany, and Spain; and further, Fran_ethought him of having heard his singular entertainer speak both of Tunis an_alermo, proving thereby how largely his circle of acquaintances extended.
  • But however the mind of the young man might be absorbed in these reflections, they were at once dispersed at the sight of the dark frowning ruins of th_tupendous Colosseum, through the various openings of which the pale moonligh_layed and flickered like the unearthly gleam from the eyes of the wanderin_ead. The carriage stopped near the Meta Sudans; the door was opened, and th_oung men, eagerly alighting, found themselves opposite a cicerone, wh_ppeared to have sprung up from the ground, so unexpected was his appearance.
  • The usual guide from the hotel having followed them, they had paid tw_onductors, nor is it possible, at Rome, to avoid this abundant supply o_uides; besides the ordinary cicerone, who seizes upon you directly you se_oot in your hotel, and never quits you while you remain in the city, there i_lso a special cicerone belonging to each monument — nay, almost to each par_f a monument. It may, therefore, be easily imagined there is no scarcity o_uides at the Colosseum, that wonder of all ages, which Martial thu_ulogizes: "Let Memphis cease to boast the barbarous miracles of her pyramids, and the wonders of Babylon be talked of no more among us; all must bow to th_uperiority of the gigantic labor of the Caesars, and the many voices of Fam_pread far and wide the surpassing merits of this incomparable monument."
  • As for Albert and Franz, they essayed not to escape from their ciceronia_yrants; and, indeed, it would have been so much the more difficult to brea_heir bondage, as the guides alone are permitted to visit these monuments wit_orches in their hands. Thus, then, the young men made no attempt a_esistance, but blindly and confidingly surrendered themselves into the car_nd custody of their conductors. Albert had already made seven or eigh_imilar excursions to the Colosseum, while his less favored companion trod fo_he first time in his life the classic ground forming the monument of Flaviu_espasian; and, to his credit be it spoken, his mind, even amid the gli_oquacity of the guides, was duly and deeply touched with awe and enthusiasti_dmiration of all he saw; and certainly no adequate notion of these stupendou_uins can be formed save by such as have visited them, and more especially b_oonlight, at which time the vast proportions of the building appear twice a_arge when viewed by the mysterious beams of a southern moonlit sky, whos_ays are sufficiently clear and vivid to light the horizon with a glow equa_o the soft twilight of an eastern clime. Scarcely, therefore, had th_eflective Franz walked a hundred steps beneath the interior porticoes of th_uin, than, abandoning Albert to the guides (who would by no means yield thei_rescriptive right of carrying their victims through the routine regularl_aid down, and as regularly followed by them, but dragged the unconsciou_isitor to the various objects with a pertinacity that admitted of no appeal, beginning, as a matter of course, with the Lions' Den, and finishing wit_aesar's "Podium,"), to escape a jargon and mechanical survey of the wonder_y which he was surrounded, Franz ascended a half-dilapidated staircase, and, leaving them to follow their monotonous round, seated himself at the foot of _olumn, and immediately opposite a large aperture, which permitted him t_njoy a full and undisturbed view of the gigantic dimensions of the majesti_uin.
  • Franz had remained for nearly a quarter of an hour perfectly hidden by th_hadow of the vast column at whose base he had found a resting-place, and fro_hence his eyes followed the motions of Albert and his guides, who, holdin_orches in their hands, had emerged from a vomitarium at the opposit_xtremity of the Colosseum, and then again disappeared down the step_onducting to the seats reserved for the Vestal virgins, resembling, as the_lided along, some restless shades following the flickering glare of so man_gnes-fatui. All at once his ear caught a sound resembling that of a ston_olling down the staircase opposite the one by which he had himself ascended.
  • There was nothing remarkable in the circumstance of a fragment of granit_iving way and falling heavily below; but it seemed to him that the substanc_hat fell gave way beneath the pressure of a foot, and also that some one, wh_ndeavored as much as possible to prevent his footsteps from being heard, wa_pproaching the spot where he sat. Conjecture soon became certainty, for th_igure of a man was distinctly visible to Franz, gradually emerging from th_taircase opposite, upon which the moon was at that moment pouring a full tid_f silvery brightness.
  • The stranger thus presenting himself was probably a person who, like Franz, preferred the enjoyment of solitude and his own thoughts to the frivolou_abble of the guides. And his appearance had nothing extraordinary in it; bu_he hesitation with which he proceeded, stopping and listening with anxiou_ttention at every step he took, convinced Franz that he expected the arriva_f some person. By a sort of instinctive impulse, Franz withdrew as much a_ossible behind his pillar. About ten feet from the spot where he and th_tranger were, the roof had given way, leaving a large round opening, throug_hich might be seen the blue vault of heaven, thickly studded with stars.
  • Around this opening, which had, possibly, for ages permitted a free entranc_o the brilliant moonbeams that now illumined the vast pile, grew a quantit_f creeping plants, whose delicate green branches stood out in bold relie_gainst the clear azure of the firmament, while large masses of thick, stron_ibrous shoots forced their way through the chasm, and hung floating to an_ro, like so many waving strings. The person whose mysterious arrival ha_ttracted the attention of Franz stood in a kind of half-light, that rendere_t impossible to distinguish his features, although his dress was easily mad_ut. He wore a large brown mantle, one fold of which, thrown over his lef_houlder, served likewise to mask the lower part of his countenance, while th_pper part was completely hidden by his broad-brimmed hat. The lower part o_is dress was more distinctly visible by the bright rays of the moon, which, entering through the broken ceiling, shed their refulgent beams on feet case_n elegantly made boots of polished leather, over which descended fashionabl_ut trousers of black cloth.
  • From the imperfect means Franz had of judging, he could only come to on_onclusion, — that the person whom he was thus watching certainly belonged t_o inferior station of life. Some few minutes had elapsed, and the strange_egan to show manifest signs of impatience, when a slight noise was hear_utside the aperture in the roof, and almost immediately a dark shadow seeme_o obstruct the flood of light that had entered it, and the figure of a ma_as clearly seen gazing with eager scrutiny on the immense space beneath him; then, as his eye caught sight of him in the mantle, he grasped a floating mas_f thickly matted boughs, and glided down by their help to within three o_our feet of the ground, and then leaped lightly on his feet. The man who ha_erformed this daring act with so much indifference wore the Transtever_ostume. "I beg your excellency's pardon for keeping you waiting," said th_an, in the Roman dialect, "but I don't think I'm many minutes after my time, ten o'clock his just struck on the Lateran."
  • "Say not a word about being late," replied the stranger in purest Tuscan;
  • "'tis I who am too soon. But even if you had caused me to wait a little while, I should have felt quite sure that the delay was not occasioned by any faul_f yours."
  • "Your excellency is perfectly right in so thinking," said the man; "I cam_ere direct from the Castle of St. Angelo, and I had an immense deal o_rouble before I could get a chance to speak to Beppo."
  • "And who is Beppo?"
  • "Oh, Beppo is employed in the prison, and I give him so much a year to let m_now what is going on within his holiness's castle."
  • "Indeed! You are a provident person, I see."
  • "Why, you see, no one knows what may happen. Perhaps some of these days I ma_e entrapped, like poor Peppino and may be very glad to have some littl_ibbling mouse to gnaw the meshes of my net, and so help me out of prison."
  • "Briefly, what did you glean?"
  • "That two executions of considerable interest will take place the day afte_o-morrow at two o'clock, as is customary at Rome at the commencement of al_reat festivals. One of the culprits will be mazzolato;* he is an atrociou_illain, who murdered the priest who brought him up, and deserves not th_mallest pity. The other sufferer is sentenced to be decapitato;** and he, your excellency, is poor Peppino."
  • (* Knocked on the head. ** Beheaded.)
  • "The fact is, that you have inspired not only the pontifical government, bu_lso the neighboring states, with such extreme fear, that they are glad of al_pportunity of making an example."
  • "But Peppino did not even belong to my band: he was merely a poor shepherd, whose only crime consisted in furnishing us with provisions."
  • "Which makes him your accomplice to all intents and purposes. But mark th_istinction with which he is treated; instead of being knocked on the head a_ou would be if once they caught hold of you, he is simply sentenced to b_uillotined, by which means, too, the amusements of the day are diversified, and there is a spectacle to please every spectator."
  • "Without reckoning the wholly unexpected one I am preparing to surprise the_ith."
  • "My good friend," said the man in the cloak, "excuse me for saying that yo_eem to me precisely in the mood to commit some wild or extravagant act."
  • "Perhaps I am; but one thing I have resolved on, and that is, to stop a_othing to restore a poor devil to liberty, who has got into this scrap_olely from having served me. I should hate and despise myself as a coward di_ desert the brave fellow in his present extremity."
  • "And what do you mean to do?"
  • "To surround the scaffold with twenty of my best men, who, at a signal fro_e, will rush forward directly Peppino is brought for execution, and, by th_ssistance of their stilettos, drive back the guard, and carry off th_risoner."
  • "That seems to me as hazardous as uncertain, and convinces me that my schem_s far better than yours."
  • "And what is your excellency's project?"
  • "Just this. I will so advantageously bestow 2,000 piastres, that the perso_eceiving them shall obtain a respite till next year for Peppino; and durin_hat year, another skilfully placed 1,000 piastres will afford him the mean_f escaping from his prison."
  • "And do you feel sure of succeeding?"
  • "Pardieu!" exclaimed the man in the cloak, suddenly expressing himself i_rench.
  • "What did your excellency say?" inquired the other.
  • "I said, my good fellow, that I would do more single-handed by the means o_old than you and all your troop could effect with stilettos, pistols, carbines, and blunderbusses included. Leave me, then, to act, and have n_ears for the result."
  • "At least, there can be no harm in myself and party being in readiness, i_ase your excellency should fail."
  • "None whatever. Take what precautions you please, if it is any satisfaction t_ou to do so; but rely upon my obtaining the reprieve I seek."
  • "Remember, the execution is fixed for the day after tomorrow, and that yo_ave but one day to work in."
  • "And what of that? Is not a day divided into twenty-four hours, each hour int_ixty minutes, and every minute sub-divided into sixty seconds? Now in 86,40_econds very many things can be done."
  • "And how shall I know whether your excellency has succeeded or not."
  • "Oh, that is very easily arranged. I have engaged the three lower windows a_he Cafe Rospoli; should I have obtained the requisite pardon for Peppino, th_wo outside windows will be hung with yellow damasks, and the centre wit_hite, having a large cross in red marked on it."
  • "And whom will you employ to carry the reprieve to the officer directing th_xecution?"
  • "Send one of your men, disguised as a penitent friar, and I will give it t_im. His dress will procure him the means of approaching the scaffold itself, and he will deliver the official order to the officer, who, in his turn, wil_and it to the executioner; in the meantime, it will be as well to acquain_eppino with what we have determined on, if it be only to prevent his dying o_ear or losing his senses, because in either case a very useless expense wil_ave been incurred."
  • "Your excellency," said the man, "you are fully persuaded of my entir_evotion to you, are you not?"
  • "Nay, I flatter myself that there can be no doubt of it," replied the cavalie_n the cloak.
  • "Well, then, only fulfil your promise of rescuing Peppino, and henceforwar_ou shall receive not only devotion, but the most absolute obedience fro_yself and those under me that one human being can render to another."
  • "Have a care how far you pledge yourself, my good friend, for I may remind yo_f your promise at some, perhaps, not very distant period, when I, in my turn, may require your aid and influence."
  • "Let that day come sooner or later, your excellency will find me what I hav_ound you in this my heavy trouble; and if from the other end of the world yo_ut write me word to do such or such a thing, you may regard it as done, fo_one it shall be, on the word and faith of" —
  • "Hush!" interrupted the stranger; "I hear a noise."
  • "'Tis some travellers, who are visiting the Colosseum by torchlight."
  • "'Twere better we should not be seen together; those guides are nothing bu_pies, and might possibly recognize you; and, however I may be honored by you_riendship, my worthy friend, if once the extent of our intimacy were known, _m sadly afraid both my reputation and credit would suffer thereby."
  • "Well, then, if you obtain the reprieve?"
  • "The middle window at the Cafe Rospoli will be hung with white damask, bearin_ red cross."
  • "And if you fail?"
  • "Then all three windows will have yellow draperies."
  • "And then?"
  • "And then, my good fellow, use your daggers in any way you please, and _urther promise you to be there as a spectator of your prowess."
  • "We understand each other perfectly, then. Adieu, your excellency; depend upo_e as firmly as I do upon you."
  • Saying these words, the Transteverin disappeared down the staircase, while hi_ompanion, muffling his features more closely than before in the folds of hi_antle, passed almost close to Franz, and descended to the arena by an outwar_light of steps. The next minute Franz heard himself called by Albert, wh_ade the lofty building re-echo with the sound of his friend's name. Franz, however, did not obey the summons till he had satisfied himself that the tw_en whose conversation he had overheard were at a sufficient distance t_revent his encountering them in his descent. In ten minutes after th_trangers had departed, Franz was on the road to the Piazza de Spagni, listening with studied indifference to the learned dissertation delivered b_lbert, after the manner of Pliny and Calpurnius, touching the iron-pointe_ets used to prevent the ferocious beasts from springing on the spectators.
  • Franz let him proceed without interruption, and, in fact, did not hear wha_as said; he longed to be alone, and free to ponder over all that ha_ccurred. One of the two men, whose mysterious meeting in the Colosseum he ha_o unintentionally witnessed, was an entire stranger to him, but not so th_ther; and though Franz had been unable to distinguish his features, from hi_eing either wrapped in his mantle or obscured by the shadow, the tones of hi_oice had made too powerful an impression on him the first time he had hear_hem for him ever again to forget them, hear them when or where he might. I_as more especially when this man was speaking in a manner half jesting, hal_itter, that Franz's ear recalled most vividly the deep sonorous, yet well- pitched voice that had addressed him in the grotto of Monte Cristo, and whic_e heard for the second time amid the darkness and ruined grandeur of th_olosseum. And the more he thought, the more entire was his conviction, tha_he person who wore the mantle was no other than his former host an_ntertainer, "Sinbad the Sailor."
  • Under any other circumstances, Franz would have found it impossible to resis_is extreme curiosity to know more of so singular a personage, and with tha_ntent have sought to renew their short acquaintance; but in the presen_nstance, the confidential nature of the conversation he had overheard mad_im, with propriety, judge that his appearance at such a time would b_nything but agreeable. As we have seen, therefore, he permitted his forme_ost to retire without attempting a recognition, but fully promising himself _ich indemnity for his present forbearance should chance afford him anothe_pportunity. In vain did Franz endeavor to forget the many perplexing thought_hich assailed him; in vain did he court the refreshment of sleep. Slumbe_efused to visit his eyelids and the night was passed in feveris_ontemplation of the chain of circumstances tending to prove the identity o_he mysterious visitant to the Colosseum with the inhabitant of the grotto o_onte Cristo; and the more he thought, the firmer grew his opinion on th_ubject. Worn out at length, he fell asleep at daybreak, and did not awak_ill late. Like a genuine Frenchman, Albert had employed his time in arrangin_or the evening's diversion; he had sent to engage a box at the Teatr_rgentino; and Franz, having a number of letters to write, relinquished th_arriage to Albert for the whole of the day. At five o'clock Albert returned, delighted with his day's work; he had been occupied in leaving his letters o_ntroduction, and had received in return more invitations to balls and rout_han it would be possible for him to accept; besides this, he had seen (as h_alled it) all the remarkable sights at Rome. Yes, in a single day he ha_ccomplished what his more serious-minded companion would have taken weeks t_ffect. Neither had he neglected to ascertain the name of the piece to b_layed that night at the Teatro Argentino, and also what performers appeare_n it.
  • The opera of "Parisina" was announced for representation, and the principa_ctors were Coselli, Moriani, and La Specchia. The young men, therefore, ha_eason to consider themselves fortunate in having the opportunity of hearin_ne of the best works by the composer of "Lucia di Lammermoor," supported b_hree of the most renowned vocalists of Italy. Albert had never been able t_ndure the Italian theatres, with their orchestras from which it is impossibl_o see, and the absence of balconies, or open boxes; all these defects presse_ard on a man who had had his stall at the Bouffes, and had shared a lower bo_t the Opera. Still, in spite of this, Albert displayed his most dazzling an_ffective costumes each time he visited the theatres; but, alas, his elegan_oilet was wholly thrown away, and one of the most worthy representatives o_arisian fashion had to carry with him the mortifying reflection that he ha_early overrun Italy without meeting with a single adventure.
  • Sometimes Albert would affect to make a joke of his want of success; bu_nternally he was deeply wounded, and his self-love immensely piqued, to thin_hat Albert de Morcerf, the most admired and most sought after of any youn_erson of his day, should thus be passed over, and merely have his labor fo_is pains. And the thing was so much the more annoying, as, according to th_haracteristic modesty of a Frenchman, Albert had quitted Paris with the ful_onviction that he had only to show himself in Italy to carry all before him, and that upon his return he should astonish the Parisian world with th_ecital of his numerous love-affairs. Alas, poor Albert! none of thos_nteresting adventures fell in his way; the lovely Genoese, Florentines, an_eapolitans were all faithful, if not to their husbands, at least to thei_overs, and thought not of changing even for the splendid appearance of Alber_e Morcerf; and all he gained was the painful conviction that the ladies o_taly have this advantage over those of France, that they are faithful even i_heir infidelity. Yet he could not restrain a hope that in Italy, a_lsewhere, there might be an exception to the general rule. Albert, beside_eing an elegant, well-looking young man, was also possessed of considerabl_alent and ability; moreover, he was a viscount — a recently created one, certainly, but in the present day it is not necessary to go as far back a_oah in tracing a descent, and a genealogical tree is equally estimated, whether dated from 1399 or merely 1815; but to crown all these advantages, Albert de Morcerf commanded an income of 50,000 livres, a more than sufficien_um to render him a personage of considerable importance in Paris. It wa_herefore no small mortification to him to have visited most of the principa_ities in Italy without having excited the most trifling observation. Albert, however, hoped to indemnify himself for all these slights and indifference_uring the Carnival, knowing full well that among the different states an_ingdoms in which this festivity is celebrated, Rome is the spot where eve_he wisest and gravest throw off the usual rigidity of their lives, and deig_o mingle in the follies of this time of liberty and relaxation.
  • The Carnival was to commence on the morrow; therefore Albert had not a_nstant to lose in setting forth the programme of his hopes, expectations, an_laims to notice. With this design he had engaged a box in the mos_onspicuous part of the theatre, and exerted himself to set off his persona_ttractions by the aid of the most rich and elaborate toilet. The box taken b_lbert was in the first circle; although each of the three tiers of boxes i_eemed equally aristocratic, and is, for this reason, generally styled the
  • "nobility's boxes," and although the box engaged for the two friends wa_ufficiently capacious to contain at least a dozen persons, it had cost les_han would be paid at some of the French theatres for one admitting merel_our occupants. Another motive had influenced Albert's selection of his seat, — who knew but that, thus advantageously placed, he might not in truth attrac_he notice of some fair Roman, and an introduction might ensue that woul_rocure him the offer of a seat in a carriage, or a place in a princel_alcony, from which he might behold the gayeties of the Carnival? These unite_onsiderations made Albert more lively and anxious to please than he ha_itherto been. Totally disregarding the business of the stage, he leaned fro_is box and began attentively scrutinizing the beauty of each pretty woman, aided by a powerful opera-glass; but, alas, this attempt to attract notic_holly failed; not even curiosity had been excited, and it was but to_pparent that the lovely creatures, into whose good graces he was desirous o_tealing, were all so much engrossed with themselves, their lovers, or thei_wn thoughts, that they had not so much as noticed him or the manipulation o_is glass.
  • The truth was, that the anticipated pleasures of the Carnival, with the "hol_eek" that was to succeed it, so filled every fair breast, as to prevent th_east attention being bestowed even on the business of the stage. The actor_ade their entries and exits unobserved or unthought of; at certai_onventional moments, the spectators would suddenly cease their conversation, or rouse themselves from their musings, to listen to some brilliant effort o_oriani's, a well-executed recitative by Coselli, or to join in loud applaus_t the wonderful powers of La Specchia; but that momentary excitement over, they quickly relapsed into their former state of preoccupation or interestin_onversation. Towards the close of the first act, the door of a box which ha_een hitherto vacant was opened; a lady entered to whom Franz had bee_ntroduced in Paris, where indeed, he had imagined she still was. The quic_ye of Albert caught the involuntary start with which his friend beheld th_ew arrival, and, turning to him, he said hastily, "Do you know the woman wh_as just entered that box?"
  • "Yes; what do you think of her?"
  • "Oh, she is perfectly lovely — what a complexion! And such magnificent hair!
  • Is she French?"
  • "No; a Venetian."
  • "And her name is — "
  • "Countess G—— ."
  • "Ah, I know her by name!" exclaimed Albert; "she is said to possess as muc_it and cleverness as beauty. I was to have been presented to her when I me_er at Madame Villefort's ball."
  • "Shall I assist you in repairing your negligence?" asked Franz.
  • "My dear fellow, are you really on such good terms with her as to venture t_ake me to her box?"
  • "Why, I have only had the honor of being in her society and conversing wit_er three or four times in my life; but you know that even such a_cquaintance as that might warrant my doing what you ask." At that instant, the countess perceived Franz, and graciously waved her hand to him, to whic_e replied by a respectful inclination of the head. "Upon my word," sai_lbert, "you seem to be on excellent terms with the beautiful countess."
  • "You are mistaken in thinking so," returned Franz calmly; "but you merely fal_nto the same error which leads so many of our countrymen to commit the mos_gregious blunders, — I mean that of judging the habits and customs of Ital_nd Spain by our Parisian notions; believe me, nothing is more fallacious tha_o form any estimate of the degree of intimacy you may suppose existing amon_ersons by the familiar terms they seem upon; there is a similarity of feelin_t this instant between ourselves and the countess — nothing more."
  • "Is there, indeed, my good fellow? Pray tell me, is it sympathy of heart?"
  • "No; of taste," continued Franz gravely.
  • "And in what manner has this congeniality of mind been evinced?"
  • "By the countess's visiting the Colosseum, as we did last night, by moonlight, and nearly alone."
  • "You were with her, then?"
  • "I was."
  • "And what did you say to her?"
  • "Oh, we talked of the illustrious dead of whom that magnificent ruin is _lorious monument!"
  • "Upon my word," cried Albert, "you must have been a very entertainin_ompanion alone, or all but alone, with a beautiful woman in such a place o_entiment as the Colosseum, and yet to find nothing better a talk about tha_he dead! All I can say is, if ever I should get such a chance, the livin_hould be my theme."
  • "And you will probably find your theme ill-chosen."
  • "But," said Albert, breaking in upon his discourse, "never mind the past; le_s only remember the present. Are you not going to keep your promise o_ntroducing me to the fair subject of our remarks?"
  • "Certainly, directly the curtain falls on the stage."
  • "What a confounded time this first act takes. I believe, on my soul, that the_ever mean to finish it."
  • "Oh, yes, they will; only listen to that charming finale. How exquisitel_oselli sings his part."
  • "But what an awkward, inelegant fellow he is."
  • "Well, then, what do you say to La Specchia? Did you ever see anything mor_erfect than her acting?"
  • "Why, you know, my dear fellow, when one has been accustomed to Malibran an_ontag, such singers as these don't make the same impression on you the_erhaps do on others."
  • "At least, you must admire Moriani's style and execution."
  • "I never fancied men of his dark, ponderous appearance singing with a voic_ike a woman's."
  • "My good friend," said Franz, turning to him, while Albert continued to poin_is glass at every box in the theatre, "you seem determined not to approve; you are really too difficult to please." The curtain at length fell on th_erformances, to the infinite satisfaction of the Viscount of Morcerf, wh_eized his hat, rapidly passed his fingers through his hair, arranged hi_ravat and wristbands, and signified to Franz that he was waiting for him t_ead the way. Franz, who had mutely interrogated the countess, and receive_rom her a gracious smile in token that he would be welcome, sought not t_etard the gratification of Albert's eager impatience, but began at once th_our of the house, closely followed by Albert, who availed himself of the fe_inutes required to reach the opposite side of the theatre to settle th_eight and smoothness of his collar, and to arrange the lappets of his coat.
  • This important task was just completed as they arrived at the countess's box.
  • At the knock, the door was immediately opened, and the young man who wa_eated beside the countess, in obedience to the Italian custom, instantly ros_nd surrendered his place to the strangers, who, in turn, would be expected t_etire upon the arrival of other visitors.
  • Franz presented Albert as one of the most distinguished young men of the day, both as regarded his position in society and extraordinary talents; nor did h_ay more than the truth, for in Paris and the circle in which the viscoun_oved, he was looked upon and cited as a model of perfection. Franz added tha_is companion, deeply grieved at having been prevented the honor of bein_resented to the countess during her sojourn in Paris, was most anxious t_ake up for it, and had requested him (Franz) to remedy the past misfortune b_onducting him to her box, and concluded by asking pardon for his presumptio_n having taken it upon himself to do so. The countess, in reply, bowe_racefully to Albert, and extended her hand with cordial kindness to Franz; then, inviting Albert to take the vacant seat beside her, she recommende_ranz to take the next best, if he wished to view the ballet, and pointed t_he one behind her own chair. Albert was soon deeply engrossed in discoursin_pon Paris and Parisian matters, speaking to the countess of the variou_ersons they both knew there. Franz perceived how completely he was in hi_lement; and, unwilling to interfere with the pleasure he so evidently felt, took up Albert's glass, and began in his turn to survey the audience. Sittin_lone, in the front of a box immediately opposite, but situated on the thir_ow, was a woman of exquisite beauty, dressed in a Greek costume, whic_vidently, from the ease and grace with which she wore it, was her nationa_ttire. Behind her, but in deep shadow, was the outline of a masculine figure; but the features of this latter personage it was not possible to distinguish.
  • Franz could not forbear breaking in upon the apparently interestin_onversation passing between the countess and Albert, to inquire of the forme_f she knew who was the fair Albanian opposite, since beauty such as hers wa_ell worthy of being observed by either sex. "All I can tell about her,"
  • replied the countess, "is, that she has been at Rome since the beginning o_he season; for I saw her where she now sits the very first night of th_eason, and since then she has never missed a performance. Sometimes she i_ccompanied by the person who is now with her, and at others she is merel_ttended by a black servant."
  • "And what do you think of her personal appearance?"
  • "Oh, I consider her perfectly lovely — she is just my idea of what Medora mus_ave been."
  • Franz and the countess exchanged a smile, and then the latter resumed he_onversation with Albert, while Franz returned to his previous survey of th_ouse and company. The curtain rose on the ballet, which was one of thos_xcellent specimens of the Italian school, admirably arranged and put on th_tage by Henri, who has established for himself a great reputation throughou_taly for his taste and skill in the choreographic art — one of those masterl_roductions of grace, method, and elegance in which the whole corps de ballet, from the principal dancers to the humblest supernumerary, are all engaged o_he stage at the same time; and a hundred and fifty persons may be see_xhibiting the same attitude, or elevating the same arm or leg with _imultaneous movement, that would lead you to suppose that but one mind, on_ct of volition, influenced the moving mass — the ballet was called "Poliska."
  • However much the ballet might have claimed his attention, Franz was too deepl_ccupied with the beautiful Greek to take any note of it; while she seemed t_xperience an almost childlike delight in watching it, her eager, animate_ooks contrasting strongly with the utter indifference of her companion, who, during the whole time the piece lasted, never even moved, not even when th_urious, crashing din produced by the trumpets, cymbals, and Chinese bell_ounded their loudest from the orchestra. Of this he took no heed, but was, a_ar as appearances might be trusted, enjoying soft repose and bright celestia_reams. The ballet at length came to a close, and the curtain fell amid th_oud, unanimous plaudits of an enthusiastic and delighted audience.
  • Owing to the very judicious plan of dividing the two acts of the opera with _allet, the pauses between the performances are very short, the singers in th_pera having time to repose themselves and change their costume, whe_ecessary, while the dancers are executing their pirouettes and exhibitin_heir graceful steps. The overture to the second act began; and, at the firs_ound of the leader's bow across his violin, Franz observed the sleeper slowl_rise and approach the Greek girl, who turned around to say a few words t_im, and then, leaning forward again on the railing of her box, she became a_bsorbed as before in what was going on. The countenance of the person who ha_ddressed her remained so completely in the shade, that, though Franz trie_is utmost, he could not distinguish a single feature. The curtain rose, an_he attention of Franz was attracted by the actors; and his eyes turned fro_he box containing the Greek girl and her strange companion to watch th_usiness of the stage.
  • Most of my readers are aware that the second act of "Parisina" opens with th_elebrated and effective duet in which Parisina, while sleeping, betrays t_zzo the secret of her love for Ugo. The injured husband goes through all th_motions of jealousy, until conviction seizes on his mind, and then, in _renzy of rage and indignation, he awakens his guilty wife to tell her that h_nows her guilt and to threaten her with his vengeance. This duet is one o_he most beautiful, expressive and terrible conceptions that has ever emanate_rom the fruitful pen of Donizetti. Franz now listened to it for the thir_ime; yet its notes, so tenderly expressive and fearfully grand as th_retched husband and wife give vent to their different griefs and passions, thrilled through the soul of Franz with an effect equal to his first emotion_pon hearing it. Excited beyond his usual calm demeanor, Franz rose with th_udience, and was about to join the loud, enthusiastic applause that followed; but suddenly his purpose was arrested, his hands fell by his sides, and th_alf-uttered "bravos" expired on his lips. The occupant of the box in whic_he Greek girl sat appeared to share the universal admiration that prevailed; for he left his seat to stand up in front, so that, his countenance bein_ully revealed, Franz had no difficulty in recognizing him as the mysteriou_nhabitant of Monte Cristo, and the very same person he had encountered th_receding evening in the ruins of the Colosseum, and whose voice and figur_ad seemed so familiar to him. All doubt of his identity was now at an end; his singular host evidently resided at Rome. The surprise and agitatio_ccasioned by this full confirmation of Franz's former suspicion had no doub_mparted a corresponding expression to his features; for the countess, afte_azing with a puzzled look at his face, burst into a fit of laughter, an_egged to know what had happened. "Countess," returned Franz, totall_nheeding her raillery, "I asked you a short time since if you knew an_articulars respecting the Albanian lady opposite; I must now beseech you t_nform me who and what is her husband?"
  • "Nay," answered the countess, "I know no more of him than yourself."
  • "Perhaps you never before noticed him?"
  • "What a question — so truly French! Do you not know that we Italians have eye_nly for the man we love?"
  • "True," replied Franz.
  • "All I can say is," continued the countess, taking up the lorgnette, an_irecting it toward the box in question, "that the gentleman, whose history _m unable to furnish, seems to me as though he had just been dug up; he look_ore like a corpse permitted by some friendly grave-digger to quit his tom_or a while, and revisit this earth of ours, than anything human. How ghastl_ale he is!"
  • "Oh, he is always as colorless as you now see him," said Franz.
  • "Then you know him?" almost screamed the countess. "Oh, pray do, for heaven'_ake, tell us all about — is he a vampire, or a resuscitated corpse, or what?"
  • "I fancy I have seen him before; and I even think he recognizes me."
  • "And I can well understand," said the countess, shrugging up her beautifu_houlders, as though an involuntary shudder passed through her veins, "tha_hose who have once seen that man will never be likely to forget him." Th_ensation experienced by Franz was evidently not peculiar to himself; another, and wholly uninterested person, felt the same unaccountable awe and misgiving.
  • "Well." inquired Franz, after the countess had a second time directed he_orgnette at the box, "what do you think of our opposite neighbor?"
  • "Why, that he is no other than Lord Ruthven himself in a living form." Thi_resh allusion to Byron* drew a smile to Franz's countenance; although h_ould but allow that if anything was likely to induce belief in the existenc_f vampires, it would be the presence of such a man as the mysteriou_ersonage before him.
  • "I must positively find out who and what he is," said Franz, rising from hi_eat.
  • "No, no," cried the countess; "you must not leave me. I depend upon you t_scort me home. Oh, indeed, I cannot permit you to go."
  • (* Scott, of course: "The son of an ill-fated sire, and the father of a ye_ore unfortunate family, bore in his looks that cast of inauspiciou_elancholy by which the physiognomists of that time pretended to distinguis_hose who were predestined to a violent and unhappy death." — The Abbot, ch.
  • xxii.)
  • "Is it possible," whispered Franz, "that you entertain any fear?"
  • "I'll tell you," answered the countess. "Byron had the most perfect belief i_he existence of vampires, and even assured me that he had seen them. Th_escription he gave me perfectly corresponds with the features and characte_f the man before us. Oh, he is the exact personification of what I have bee_ed to expect! The coal-black hair, large bright, glittering eyes, in which _ild, unearthly fire seems burning, — the same ghastly paleness. Then observe, too, that the woman with him is altogether unlike all others of her sex. Sh_s a foreigner — a stranger. Nobody knows who she is, or where she comes from.
  • No doubt she belongs to the same horrible race he does, and is, like himself, a dealer in magical arts. I entreat of you not to go near him — at least to- night; and if to-morrow your curiosity still continues as great, pursue you_esearches if you will; but to-night you neither can nor shall. For tha_urpose I mean to keep you all to myself." Franz protested he could not defe_is pursuit till the following day, for many reasons. "Listen to me," said th_ountess, "and do not be so very headstrong. I am going home. I have a part_t my house to-night, and therefore cannot possibly remain till the end of th_pera. Now, I cannot for one instant believe you so devoid of gallantry as t_efuse a lady your escort when she even condescends to ask you for it."
  • There was nothing else left for Franz to do but to take up his hat, open th_oor of the box, and offer the countess his arm. It was quite evident, by he_anner, that her uneasiness was not feigned; and Franz himself could no_esist a feeling of superstitious dread — so much the stronger in him, as i_rose from a variety of corroborative recollections, while the terror of th_ountess sprang from an instinctive belief, originally created in her mind b_he wild tales she had listened to till she believed them truths. Franz coul_ven feel her arm tremble as he assisted her into the carriage. Upon arrivin_t her hotel, Franz perceived that she had deceived him when she spoke o_xpecting company; on the contrary, her own return before the appointed hou_eemed greatly to astonish the servants. "Excuse my little subterfuge," sai_he countess, in reply to her companion's half-reproachful observation on th_ubject; "but that horrid man had made me feel quite uncomfortable, and _onged to be alone, that I might compose my startled mind." Franz essayed t_mile. "Nay," said she, "do not smile; it ill accords with the expression o_our countenance, and I am sure it does not spring from your heart. However, promise me one thing."
  • "What is it?"
  • "Promise me, I say."
  • "I will do anything you desire, except relinquish my determination of findin_ut who this man is. I have more reasons than you can imagine for desiring t_now who he is, from whence he came, and whither he is going."
  • "Where he comes from I am ignorant; but I can readily tell you where he i_oing to, and that is down below, without the least doubt."
  • "Let us only speak of the promise you wished me to make," said Franz.
  • "Well, then, you must give me your word to return immediately to your hotel, and make no attempt to follow this man to-night. There are certain affinitie_etween the persons we quit and those we meet afterwards. For heaven's sake, do not serve as a conductor between that man and me. Pursue your chase afte_im to-morrow as eagerly as you please; but never bring him near me, if yo_ould not see me die of terror. And now, good-night; go to your rooms, and tr_o sleep away all recollections of this evening. For my own part, I am quit_ure I shall not be able to close my eyes." So saying, the countess quitte_ranz, leaving him unable to decide whether she were merely amusing herself a_is expense, or whether her fears and agitations were genuine.
  • Upon his return to the hotel, Franz found Albert in his dressing-gown an_lippers, listlessly extended on a sofa, smoking a cigar. "My dear fellow."
  • cried he, springing up, "is it really you? Why, I did not expect to see yo_efore to-morrow."
  • "My dear Albert," replied Franz, "I am glad of this opportunity to tell you, once and forever, that you entertain a most erroneous notion concernin_talian women. I should have thought the continual failures you have met wit_n all your own love affairs might have taught you better by this time."
  • "Upon my soul, these women would puzzle the very Devil to read them aright.
  • Why, here — they give you their hand — they press yours in return — they kee_p a whispering conversation — permit you to accompany them home. Why, if _arisian were to indulge in a quarter of these marks of flattering attention, her reputation would be gone forever."
  • "And the very reason why the women of this fine country put so littl_estraint on their words and actions, is because they live so much in public, and have really nothing to conceal. Besides, you must have perceived that th_ountess was really alarmed."
  • "At what? At the sight of that respectable gentleman sitting opposite to us i_he same box with the lovely Greek girl? Now, for my part, I met them in th_obby after the conclusion of the piece; and hang me, if I can guess where yo_ook your notions of the other world from. I can assure you that thi_obgoblin of yours is a deuced fine-looking fellow — admirably dressed.
  • Indeed, I feel quite sure, from the cut of his clothes, they are made by _irst-rate Paris tailor — probably Blin or Humann. He was rather too pale, certainly; but then, you know, paleness is always looked upon as a stron_roof of aristocratic descent and distinguished breeding." Franz smiled; fo_e well remembered that Albert particularly prided himself on the entir_bsence of color in his own complexion.
  • "Well, that tends to confirm my own ideas," said Franz, "that the countess'_uspicions were destitute alike of sense and reason. Did he speak in you_earing? and did you catch any of his words?"
  • "I did; but they were uttered in the Romaic dialect. I knew that from th_ixture of Greek words. I don't know whether I ever told you that when I wa_t college I was rather — rather strong in Greek."
  • "He spoke the Romaic language, did he?"
  • "I think so."
  • "That settles it," murmured Franz. "'Tis he, past all doubt."
  • "What do you say?"
  • "Nothing, nothing. But tell me, what were you thinking about when I came in?"
  • "Oh, I was arranging a little surprise for you."
  • "Indeed. Of what nature?"
  • "Why, you know it is quite impossible to procure a carriage."
  • "Certainly; and I also know that we have done all that human means afforded t_ndeavor to get one."
  • "Now, then, in this difficulty a bright idea has flashed across my brain."
  • Franz looked at Albert as though he had not much confidence in the suggestion_f his imagination. "I tell you what, Sir Franz," cried Albert, "you deserv_o be called out for such a misgiving and incredulous glance as that you wer_leased to bestow on me just now."
  • "And I promise to give you the satisfaction of a gentleman if your schem_urns out as ingenious as you assert."
  • "Well, then, hearken to me."
  • "I listen."
  • "You agree, do you not, that obtaining a carriage is out of the question?"
  • "I do."
  • "Neither can we procure horses?"
  • "True; we have offered any sum, but have failed."
  • "Well, now, what do you say to a cart? I dare say such a thing might be had."
  • "Very possibly."
  • "And a pair of oxen?"
  • "As easily found as the cart."
  • "Then you see, my good fellow, with a cart and a couple of oxen our busines_an be managed. The cart must be tastefully ornamented; and if you and I dres_urselves as Neapolitan reapers, we may get up a striking tableau, after th_anner of that splendid picture by Leopold Robert. It would add greatly to th_ffect if the countess would join us in the costume of a peasant from Puzzol_r Sorrento. Our group would then be quite complete, more especially as th_ountess is quite beautiful enough to represent a madonna."
  • "Well," said Franz, "this time, Albert, I am bound to give you credit fo_aving hit upon a most capital idea."
  • "And quite a national one, too," replied Albert with gratified pride. "A mer_asque borrowed from our own festivities. Ha, ha, ye Romans! you thought t_ake us, unhappy strangers, trot at the heels of your processions, like s_any lazzaroni, because no carriages or horses are to be had in your beggarl_ity. But you don't know us; when we can't have one thing we invent another."
  • "And have you communicated your triumphant idea to anybody?"
  • "Only to our host. Upon my return home I sent for him, and I then explained t_im what I wished to procure. He assured me that nothing would be easier tha_o furnish all I desired. One thing I was sorry for; when I bade him have th_orns of the oxen gilded, he told me there would not be time, as it woul_equire three days to do that; so you see we must do without this littl_uperfluity."
  • "And where is he now?"
  • "Who?"
  • "Our host."
  • "Gone out in search of our equipage, by to-morrow it might be too late."
  • "Then he will be able to give us an answer to-night."
  • "Oh, I expect him every minute." At this instant the door opened, and the hea_f Signor Pastrini appeared. "Permesso?" inquired he.
  • "Certainly — certainly," cried Franz. "Come in, mine host."
  • "Now, then," asked Albert eagerly, "have you found the desired cart and oxen?"
  • "Better than that!" replied Signor Pastrini, with the air of a man perfectl_ell satisfied with himself.
  • "Take care, my worthy host," said Albert, "better is a sure enemy to well."
  • "Let your excellencies only leave the matter to me," returned Signor Pastrin_n a tone indicative of unbounded self-confidence.
  • "But what have you done?" asked Franz. "Speak out, there's a worthy fellow."
  • "Your excellencies are aware," responded the landlord, swelling wit_mportance, "that the Count of Monte Cristo is living on the same floor wit_ourselves!"
  • "I should think we did know it," exclaimed Albert, "since it is owing to tha_ircumstance that we are packed into these small rooms, like two poor student_n the back streets of Paris."
  • "When, then, the Count of Monte Cristo, hearing of the dilemma in which yo_re placed, has sent to offer you seats in his carriage and two places at hi_indows in the Palazzo Rospoli." The friends looked at each other wit_nutterable surprise.
  • "But do you think," asked Albert, "that we ought to accept such offers from _erfect stranger?"
  • "What sort of person is this Count of Monte Cristo?" asked Franz of his host.
  • "A very great nobleman, but whether Maltese or Sicilian I cannot exactly say; but this I know, that he is noble as a Borghese and rich as a gold-mine."
  • "It seems to me," said Franz, speaking in an undertone to Albert, "that i_his person merited the high panegyrics of our landlord, he would hav_onveyed his invitation through another channel, and not permitted it to b_rought to us in this unceremonious way. He would have written — or" —
  • At this instant some one knocked at the door. "Come in," said Franz. _ervant, wearing a livery of considerable style and richness, appeared at th_hreshold, and, placing two cards in the landlord's hands, who forthwit_resented them to the two young men, he said, "Please to deliver these, fro_he Count of Monte Cristo to Viscomte Albert de Morcerf and M. Franz d'Epinay.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo," continued the servant, "begs these gentlemen'_ermission to wait upon them as their neighbor, and he will be honored by a_ntimation of what time they will please to receive him."
  • "Faith, Franz," whispered Albert, "there is not much to find fault with here."
  • "Tell the count," replied Franz, "that we will do ourselves the pleasure o_alling on him." The servant bowed and retired.
  • "That is what I call an elegant mode of attack," said Albert, "You were quit_orrect in what you said, Signor Pastrini. The Count of Monte Cristo i_nquestionably a man of first-rate breeding and knowledge of the world."
  • "Then you accept his offer?" said the host.
  • "Of course we do," replied Albert. "Still, I must own I am sorry to be oblige_o give up the cart and the group of reapers — it would have produced such a_ffect! And were it not for the windows at the Palazzo Rospoli, by way o_ecompense for the loss of our beautiful scheme, I don't know but what _hould have held on by my original plan. What say you, Franz?"
  • "Oh, I agree with you; the windows in the Palazzo Rospoli alone decided me."
  • The truth was, that the mention of two places in the Palazzo Rospoli ha_ecalled to Franz the conversation he had overheard the preceding evening i_he ruins of the Colosseum between the mysterious unknown and th_ransteverin, in which the stranger in the cloak had undertaken to obtain th_reedom of a condemned criminal; and if this muffled-up individual proved (a_ranz felt sure he would) the same as the person he had just seen in th_eatro Argentino, then he should be able to establish his identity, and als_o prosecute his researches respecting him with perfect facility and freedom.
  • Franz passed the night in confused dreams respecting the two meetings he ha_lready had with his mysterious tormentor, and in waking speculations as t_hat the morrow would produce. The next day must clear up every doubt; an_nless his near neighbor and would-be friend, the Count of Monte Cristo, possessed the ring of Gyges, and by its power was able to render himsel_nvisible, it was very certain he could not escape this time. Eight o'cloc_ound Franz up and dressed, while Albert, who had not the same motives fo_arly rising, was still soundly asleep. The first act of Franz was to summo_is landlord, who presented himself with his accustomed obsequiousness.
  • "Pray, Signor Pastrini," asked Franz, "is not some execution appointed to tak_lace to-day?"
  • "Yes, your excellency; but if your reason for inquiry is that you may procur_ window to view it from, you are much too late."
  • "Oh, no," answered Franz, "I had no such intention; and even if I had felt _ish to witness the spectacle, I might have done so from Monte Pincio — coul_ not?"
  • "Ah!" exclaimed mine host, "I did not think it likely your excellency woul_ave chosen to mingle with such a rabble as are always collected on that hill, which, indeed, they consider as exclusively belonging to themselves."
  • "Very possibly I may not go," answered Franz; "but in case I feel disposed, give me some particulars of to-day's executions."
  • "What particulars would your excellency like to hear?"
  • "Why, the number of persons condemned to suffer, their names, and descriptio_f the death they are to die."
  • "That happens just lucky, your excellency! Only a few minutes ago they brough_e the tavolettas."
  • "What are they?"
  • "Sort of wooden tablets hung up at the corners of streets the evening befor_n execution, on which is pasted up a paper containing the names of th_ondemned persons, their crimes, and mode of punishment. The reason for s_ublicly announcing all this is, that all good and faithful Catholics ma_ffer up their prayers for the unfortunate culprits, and, above all, beseec_f heaven to grant them a sincere repentance."
  • "And these tablets are brought to you that you may add your prayers to thos_f the faithful, are they?" asked Franz somewhat incredulously.
  • "Oh, dear, no, your excellency! I have not time for anybody's affairs but m_wn and those of my honorable guests; but I make an agreement with the man wh_astes up the papers, and he brings them to me as he would the playbills, tha_n case any person staying at my hotel should like to witness an execution, h_ay obtain every requisite information concerning the time and place etc."
  • "Upon my word, that is a most delicate attention on your part, Signo_astrini," cried Franz.
  • "Why, your excellency," returned the landlord, chuckling and rubbing his hand_ith infinite complacency, "I think I may take upon myself to say I neglec_othing to deserve the support and patronage of the noble visitors to thi_oor hotel."
  • "I see that plainly enough, my most excellent host, and you may rely upon m_o proclaim so striking a proof of your attention to your guests wherever _o. Meanwhile, oblige me by a sight of one of these tavolettas."
  • "Nothing can be easier than to comply with your excellency's wish," said th_andlord, opening the door of the chamber; "I have caused one to be placed o_he landing, close by your apartment." Then, taking the tablet from the wall, he handed it to Franz, who read as follows: —
  • "`The public is informed that on Wednesday, February 23d, being the first da_f the Carnival, executions will take place in the Piazza del Popolo, by orde_f the Tribunal of the Rota, of two persons, named Andrea Rondola, an_eppino, otherwise called Rocca Priori; the former found guilty of the murde_f a venerable and exemplary priest, named Don Cesare Torlini, canon of th_hurch of St. John Lateran; and the latter convicted of being an accomplice o_he atrocious and sanguinary bandit, Luigi Vampa, and his band. The first- named malefactor will be subjected to the mazzuola, the second culpri_eheaded. The prayers of all good Christians are entreated for thes_nfortunate men, that it may please God to awaken them to a sense of thei_uilt, and to grant them a hearty and sincere repentance for their crimes.'"
  • This was precisely what Franz had heard the evening before in the ruins of th_olosseum. No part of the programme differed, — the names of the condemne_ersons, their crimes, and mode of punishment, all agreed with his previou_nformation. In all probability, therefore, the Transteverin was no other tha_he bandit Luigi Vampa himself, and the man shrouded in the mantle the same h_ad known as "Sinbad the Sailor," but who, no doubt, was still pursuing hi_hilanthropic expedition in Rome, as he had already done at Porto-Vecchio an_unis. Time was getting on, however, and Franz deemed it advisable to awake_lbert; but at the moment he prepared to proceed to his chamber, his frien_ntered the room in perfect costume for the day. The anticipated delights o_he Carnival had so run in his head as to make him leave his pillow lon_efore his usual hour. "Now, my excellent Signor Pastrini," said Franz, addressing his landlord, "since we are both ready, do you think we may procee_t once to visit the Count of Monte Cristo?"
  • "Most assuredly," replied he. "The Count of Monte Cristo is always an earl_iser; and I can answer for his having been up these two hours."
  • "Then you really consider we shall not be intruding if we pay our respects t_im directly?"
  • "Oh, I am quite sure. I will take all the blame on myself if you find I hav_ed you into an error."
  • "Well, then, if it be so, are you ready, Albert?"
  • "Perfectly."
  • "Let us go and return our best thanks for his courtesy."
  • "Yes, let us do so." The landlord preceded the friends across the landing, which was all that separated them from the apartments of the count, rang a_he bell, and, upon the door being opened by a servant, said, "I signor_rancesi."
  • The domestic bowed respectfully, and invited them to enter. They passe_hrough two rooms, furnished in a luxurious manner they had not expected t_ee under the roof of Signor Pastrini, and were shown into an elegantl_itted-up drawing-room. The richest Turkey carpets covered the floor, and th_oftest and most inviting couches, easy-chairs, and sofas, offered their high- piled and yielding cushions to such as desired repose or refreshment. Splendi_aintings by the first masters were ranged against the walls, intermingle_ith magnificent trophies of war, while heavy curtains of costly tapestry wer_uspended before the different doors of the room. "If your excellencies wil_lease to be seated," said the man, "I will let the count know that you ar_ere."
  • And with these words he disappeared behind one of the tapestried portieres. A_he door opened, the sound of a guzla reached the ears of the young men, bu_as almost immediately lost, for the rapid closing of the door merely allowe_ne rich swell of harmony to enter. Franz and Albert looked inquiringly a_ach other, then at the gorgeous furnishings of the apartment. Everythin_eemed more magnificent at a second view than it had done at their first rapi_urvey.
  • "Well," said Franz to his friend, "what think you of all this?"
  • "Why, upon my soul, my dear fellow, it strikes me that our elegant an_ttentive neighbor must either be some successful stock-jobber who ha_peculated in the fall of the Spanish funds, or some prince travelling incog."
  • "Hush, hush!" replied Franz; "we shall ascertain who and what he is — h_omes!" As Franz spoke, he heard the sound of a door turning on its hinges, and almost immediately afterwards the tapestry was drawn aside, and the owne_f all these riches stood before the two young men. Albert instantly rose t_eet him, but Franz remained, in a manner, spellbound on his chair; for in th_erson of him who had just entered he recognized not only the mysteriou_isitant to the Colosseum, and the occupant of the box at the Teatr_rgentino, but also his extraordinary host of Monte Cristo.