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Chapter 37 The Catacombs of Saint Sebastian.

  • In his whole life, perhaps, Franz had never before experienced so sudden a_mpression, so rapid a transition from gayety to sadness, as in this moment.
  • It seemed as though Rome, under the magic breath of some demon of the night, had suddenly changed into a vast tomb. By a chance, which added yet more t_he intensity of the darkness, the moon, which was on the wane, did not ris_ntil eleven o'clock, and the streets which the young man traversed wer_lunged in the deepest obscurity. The distance was short, and at the end o_en minutes his carriage, or rather the count's, stopped before the Hotel d_ondres. Dinner was waiting, but as Albert had told him that he should no_eturn so soon, Franz sat down without him. Signor Pastrini, who had bee_ccustomed to see them dine together, inquired into the cause of his absence, but Franz merely replied that Albert had received on the previous evening a_nvitation which he had accepted. The sudden extinction of the moccoletti, th_arkness which had replaced the light, and the silence which had succeeded th_urmoil, had left in Franz's mind a certain depression which was not free fro_neasiness. He therefore dined very silently, in spite of the officiou_ttention of his host, who presented himself two or three times to inquire i_e wanted anything.
  • Franz resolved to wait for Albert as late as possible. He ordered th_arriage, therefore, for eleven o'clock, desiring Signor Pastrini to infor_im the moment that Albert returned to the hotel. At eleven o'clock Albert ha_ot come back. Franz dressed himself, and went out, telling his host that h_as going to pass the night at the Duke of Bracciano's. The house of the Duk_f Bracciano is one of the most delightful in Rome, the duchess, one of th_ast heiresses of the Colonnas, does its honors with the most consummat_race, and thus their fetes have a European celebrity. Franz and Albert ha_rought to Rome letters of introduction to them, and their first question o_is arrival was to inquire the whereabouts of his travelling companion. Fran_eplied that he had left him at the moment they were about to extinguish th_occoli, and that he had lost sight of him in the Via Macello. "Then he ha_ot returned?" said the duke.
  • "I waited for him until this hour," replied Franz.
  • "And do you know whither he went?"
  • "No, not precisely; however, I think it was something very like a rendezvous."
  • "Diavolo!" said the duke, "this is a bad day, or rather a bad night, to be ou_ate; is it not, countess!" These words were addressed to the Countess G—— , who had just arrived, and was leaning on the arm of Signor Torlonia, th_uke's brother.
  • "I think, on the contrary, that it is a charming night," replied the countess,
  • "and those who are here will complain of but one thing — its too rapi_light."
  • "I am not speaking," said the duke with a smile, "of the persons who are here; the men run no other danger than that of falling in love with you, and th_omen of falling ill of jealousy at seeing you so lovely; I meant persons wh_ere out in the streets of Rome."
  • "Ah," asked the countess, "who is out in the streets of Rome at this hour, unless it be to go to a ball?"
  • "Our friend, Albert de Morcerf, countess, whom I left in pursuit of hi_nknown about seven o'clock this evening," said Franz, "and whom I have no_een since."
  • "And don't you know where he is?"
  • "Not at all."
  • "Is he armed?"
  • "He is in masquerade."
  • "You should not have allowed him to go," said the duke to Franz; "you, wh_now Rome better than he does."
  • "You might as well have tried to stop number three of the barberi, who gaine_he prize in the race to-day," replied Franz; "and then moreover, what coul_appen to him?"
  • "Who can tell? The night is gloomy, and the Tiber is very near the Vi_acello." Franz felt a shudder run through his veins at observing that th_eeling of the duke and the countess was so much in unison with his ow_ersonal disquietude. "I informed them at the hotel that I had the honor o_assing the night here, duke," said Franz, "and desired them to come an_nform me of his return."
  • "Ah," replied the duke, "here I think, is one of my servants who is seekin_ou."
  • The duke was not mistaken; when he saw Franz, the servant came up to him.
  • "Your excellency," he said, "the master of the Hotel de Londres has sent t_et you know that a man is waiting for you with a letter from the Viscount o_orcerf."
  • "A letter from the viscount!" exclaimed Franz.
  • "Yes."
  • "And who is the man?"
  • "I do not know."
  • "Why did he not bring it to me here?"
  • "The messenger did not say."
  • "And where is the messenger?"
  • "He went away directly he saw me enter the ball-room to find you."
  • "Oh," said the countess to Franz, "go with all speed — poor young man! Perhap_ome accident has happened to him."
  • "I will hasten," replied Franz.
  • "Shall we see you again to give us any information?" inquired the countess.
  • "Yes, if it is not any serious affair, otherwise I cannot answer as to what _ay do myself."
  • "Be prudent, in any event," said the countess.
  • "Oh, pray be assured of that." Franz took his hat and went away in haste. H_ad sent away his carriage with orders for it to fetch him at two o'clock; fortunately the Palazzo Bracciano, which is on one side in the Corso, and o_he other in the Square of the Holy Apostles, is hardly ten minutes' walk fro_he Hotel de Londres. As he came near the hotel, Franz saw a man in the middl_f the street. He had no doubt that it was the messenger from Albert. The ma_as wrapped up in a large cloak. He went up to him, but, to his extrem_stonishment, the stranger first addressed him. "What wants your excellency o_e?" inquired the man, retreating a step or two, as if to keep on his guard.
  • "Are not you the person who brought me a letter," inquired Franz, "from th_iscount of Morcerf?"
  • "Your excellency lodges at Pastrini's hotel?"
  • "I do."
  • "Your excellency is the travelling companion of the viscount?"
  • "I am."
  • "Your excellency's name" —
  • "Is the Baron Franz d'Epinay."
  • "Then it is to your excellency that this letter is addressed."
  • "Is there any answer?" inquired Franz, taking the letter from him.
  • "Yes — your friend at least hopes so."
  • "Come up-stairs with me, and I will give it to you."
  • "I prefer waiting here," said the messenger, with a smile.
  • "And why?"
  • "Your excellency will know when you have read the letter."
  • "Shall I find you here, then?"
  • "Certainly."
  • Franz entered the hotel. On the staircase he met Signor Pastrini. "Well?" sai_he landlord.
  • "Well — what?" responded Franz.
  • "You have seen the man who desired to speak with you from your friend?" h_sked of Franz.
  • "Yes, I have seen him," he replied, "and he has handed this letter to me.
  • Light the candles in my apartment, if you please." The inn-keeper gave order_o a servant to go before Franz with a light. The young man had found Signo_astrini looking very much alarmed, and this had only made him the mor_nxious to read Albert's letter; and so he went instantly towards th_axlight, and unfolded it. It was written and signed by Albert. Franz read i_wice before he could comprehend what it contained. It was thus worded: —
  • My Dear Fellow, — The moment you have received this, have the kindness to tak_he letter of credit from my pocket-book, which you will find in the squar_rawer of the secretary; add your own to it, if it be not sufficient. Run t_orlonia, draw from him instantly four thousand piastres, and give them to th_earer. It is urgent that I should have this money without delay. I do not sa_ore, relying on you as you may rely on me. Your friend,
  • Albert de Morcerf.
  • P.S. — I now believe in Italian banditti.
  • Below these lines were written, in a strange hand, the following in Italian: —
  • Se alle sei della mattina le quattro mile piastre non sono nelle mie mani, alla sette il conte Alberto avra cessato di vivere.
  • Luigi Vampa.
  • "If by six in the morning the four thousand piastres are not in my hands, b_even o'clock the Count Albert will have ceased to live."
  • This second signature explained everything to Franz, who now understood th_bjection of the messenger to coming up into the apartment; the street wa_afer for him. Albert, then, had fallen into the hands of the famous bandi_hief, in whose existence he had for so long a time refused to believe. Ther_as no time to lose. He hastened to open the secretary, and found the pocket- book in the drawer, and in it the letter of credit. There were in all si_housand piastres, but of these six thousand Albert had already expended thre_housand. As to Franz, he had no letter of credit, as he lived at Florence, and had only come to Rome to pass seven or eight days; he had brought but _undred louis, and of these he had not more than fifty left. Thus seven o_ight hundred piastres were wanting to them both to make up the sum tha_lbert required. True, he might in such a case rely on the kindness of Signo_orlonia. He was, therefore, about to return to the Palazzo Bracciano withou_oss of time, when suddenly a luminous idea crossed his mind. He remembere_he Count of Monte Cristo. Franz was about to ring for Signor Pastrini, whe_hat worthy presented himself. "My dear sir," he said, hastily, "do you kno_f the count is within?"
  • "Yes, your excellency; he has this moment returned."
  • "Is he in bed?"
  • "I should say no."
  • "Then ring at his door, if you please, and request him to be so kind as t_ive me an audience." Signor Pastrini did as he was desired, and returnin_ive minutes after, he said, — "The count awaits your excellency." Franz wen_long the corridor, and a servant introduced him to the count. He was in _mall room which Franz had not yet seen, and which was surrounded with divans.
  • The count came towards him. "Well, what good wind blows you hither at thi_our?" said he; "have you come to sup with me? It would be very kind of you."
  • "No; I have come to speak to you of a very serious matter."
  • "A serious matter," said the count, looking at Franz with the earnestnes_sual to him; "and what may it be?"
  • "Are we alone?"
  • "Yes," replied the count, going to the door, and returning. Franz gave hi_lbert's letter. "Read that," he said. The count read it.
  • "Well, well!" said he.
  • "Did you see the postscript?"
  • "I did, indeed.
  • "`Se alle sei della mattina le quattro mile piastre non sono nelle mie mani, alla sette il conte Alberto avra cessato di vivere.
  • "`Luigi Vampa.'"
  • "What think you of that?" inquired Franz.
  • "Have you the money he demands?"
  • "Yes, all but eight hundred piastres." The count went to his secretary, opene_t, and pulling out a drawer filled with gold, said to Franz, — "I hope yo_ill not offend me by applying to any one but myself."
  • "You see, on the contrary, I come to you first and instantly," replied Franz.
  • "And I thank you; have what you will; "and he made a sign to Franz to tak_hat he pleased.
  • "Is it absolutely necessary, then, to send the money to Luigi Vampa?" aske_he young man, looking fixedly in his turn at the count.
  • "Judge for yourself," replied he. "The postscript is explicit."
  • "I think that if you would take the trouble of reflecting, you could find _ay of simplifying the negotiation," said Franz.
  • "How so?" returned the count, with surprise.
  • "If we were to go together to Luigi Vampa, I am sure he would not refuse yo_lbert's freedom."
  • "What influence can I possibly have over a bandit?"
  • "Have you not just rendered him a service that can never be forgotten?"
  • "What is that?"
  • "Have you not saved Peppino's life?"
  • "Well, well," said the count, "who told you that?"
  • "No matter; I know it." The count knit his brows, and remained silent a_nstant. "And if I went to seek Vampa, would you accompany me?"
  • "If my society would not be disagreeable."
  • "Be it so. It is a lovely night, and a walk without Rome will do us bot_ood."
  • "Shall I take any arms?"
  • "For what purpose?"
  • "Any money?"
  • "It is useless. Where is the man who brought the letter?"
  • "In the street."
  • "He awaits the answer?"
  • "Yes."
  • "I must learn where we are going. I will summon him hither."
  • "It is useless; he would not come up."
  • "To your apartments, perhaps; but he will not make any difficulty at enterin_ine." The count went to the window of the apartment that looked on to th_treet, and whistled in a peculiar manner. The man in the mantle quitted th_all, and advanced into the middle of the street. "Salite!" said the count, i_he same tone in which he would have given an order to his servant. Th_essenger obeyed without the least hesitation, but rather with alacrity, and, mounting the steps at a bound, entered the hotel; five seconds afterwards h_as at the door of the room. "Ah, it is you, Peppino," said the count. Bu_eppino, instead of answering, threw himself on his knees, seized the count'_and, and covered it with kisses. "Ah," said the count, "you have, then, no_orgotten that I saved your life; that is strange, for it is a week ago."
  • "No, excellency; and never shall I forget it," returned Peppino, with a_ccent of profound gratitude.
  • "Never? That is a long time; but it is something that you believe so. Rise an_nswer." Peppino glanced anxiously at Franz. "Oh, you may speak before hi_xcellency," said he; "he is one of my friends. You allow me to give you thi_itle?" continued the count in French, "it is necessary to excite this man'_onfidence."
  • "You can speak before me," said Franz; "I am a friend of the count's."
  • "Good!" returned Peppino. "I am ready to answer any questions your excellenc_ay address to me."
  • "How did the Viscount Albert fall into Luigi's hands?"
  • "Excellency, the Frenchman's carriage passed several times the one in whic_as Teresa."
  • "The chief's mistress?"
  • "Yes. The Frenchman threw her a bouquet; Teresa returned it — all this wit_he consent of the chief, who was in the carriage."
  • "What?" cried Franz, "was Luigi Vampa in the carriage with the Roma_easants?"
  • "It was he who drove, disguised as the coachman," replied Peppino.
  • "Well?" said the count.
  • "Well, then, the Frenchman took off his mask; Teresa, with the chief'_onsent, did the same. The Frenchman asked for a rendezvous; Teresa gave hi_ne — only, instead of Teresa, it was Beppo who was on the steps of the churc_f San Giacomo."
  • "What!" exclaimed Franz, "the peasant girl who snatched his mocoletto fro_im" —
  • "Was a lad of fifteen," replied Peppino. "But it was no disgrace to you_riend to have been deceived; Beppo has taken in plenty of others."
  • "And Beppo led him outside the walls?" said the count.
  • "Exactly so; a carriage was waiting at the end of the Via Macello. Beppo go_n, inviting the Frenchman to follow him, and he did not wait to be aske_wice. He gallantly offered the right-hand seat to Beppo, and sat by him.
  • Beppo told him he was going to take him to a villa a league from Rome; th_renchman assured him he would follow him to the end of the world. Th_oachman went up the Via di Ripetta and the Porta San Paola; and when the_ere two hundred yards outside, as the Frenchman became somewhat too forward, Beppo put a brace of pistols to his head, the coachman pulled up and did th_ame. At the same time, four of the band, who were concealed on the banks o_he Almo, surrounded the carriage. The Frenchman made some resistance, an_early strangled Beppo; but he could not resist five armed men. and was force_o yield. They made him get out, walk along the banks of the river, and the_rought him to Teresa and Luigi, who were waiting for him in the catacombs o_t. Sebastian."
  • "Well," said the count, turning towards Franz, "it seems to me that this is _ery likely story. What do you say to it?"
  • "Why, that I should think it very amusing," replied Franz, "if it had happene_o any one but poor Albert."
  • "And, in truth, if you had not found me here," said the count, "it might hav_roved a gallant adventure which would have cost your friend dear; but now, b_ssured, his alarm will be the only serious consequence."
  • "And shall we go and find him?" inquired Franz.
  • "Oh, decidedly, sir. He is in a very picturesque place — do you know th_atacombs of St. Sebastian?"
  • "I was never in them; but I have often resolved to visit them."
  • "Well, here is an opportunity made to your hand, and it would be difficult t_ontrive a better. Have you a carriage?"
  • "No."
  • "That is of no consequence; I always have one ready, day and night."
  • "Always ready?"
  • "Yes. I am a very capricious being, and I should tell you that sometimes whe_ rise, or after my dinner, or in the middle of the night, I resolve o_tarting for some particular point, and away I go." The count rang, and _ootman appeared. "Order out the carriage," he said, "and remove the pistol_hich are in the holsters. You need not awaken the coachman; Ali will drive."
  • In a very short time the noise of wheels was heard, and the carriage stoppe_t the door. The count took out his watch. "Half-past twelve," he said. "W_ight start at five o'clock and be in time, but the delay may cause you_riend to pass an uneasy night, and therefore we had better go with all spee_o extricate him from the hands of the infidels. Are you still resolved t_ccompany me?"
  • "More determined than ever."
  • "Well, then, come along."
  • Franz and the count went downstairs, accompanied by Peppino. At the door the_ound the carriage. Ali was on the box, in whom Franz recognized the dum_lave of the grotto of Monte Cristo. Franz and the count got into th_arriage. Peppino placed himself beside Ali, and they set off at a rapid pace.
  • Ali had received his instructions, and went down the Corso, crossed the Camp_accino, went up the Strada San Gregorio, and reached the gates of St.
  • Sebastian. Then the porter raised some difficulties, but the Count of Mont_risto produced a permit from the governor of Rome, allowing him to leave o_nter the city at any hour of the day or night; the portcullis was therefor_aised, the porter had a louis for his trouble, and they went on their way.
  • The road which the carriage now traversed was the ancient Appian Way, an_ordered with tombs. From time to time, by the light of the moon, which bega_o rise, Franz imagined that he saw something like a sentinel appear a_arious points among the ruins, and suddenly retreat into the darkness on _ignal from Peppino. A short time before they reached the Baths of Caracall_he carriage stopped, Peppino opened the door, and the count and Fran_lighted.
  • "In ten minutes," said the count to his companion, "we shall be there."
  • He then took Peppino aside, gave him an order in a low voice, and Peppino wen_way, taking with him a torch, brought with them in the carriage. Five minute_lapsed, during which Franz saw the shepherd going along a narrow path tha_ed over the irregular and broken surface of the Campagna; and finally h_isappeared in the midst of the tall red herbage, which seemed like th_ristling mane of an enormous lion. "Now," said the count, "let us follo_im." Franz and the count in their turn then advanced along the same path, which, at the distance of a hundred paces, led them over a declivity to th_ottom of a small valley. They then perceived two men conversing in th_bscurity. "Ought we to go on?" asked Franz of the count; "or shall we wai_while?"
  • "Let us go on; Peppino will have warned the sentry of our coming." One of th_wo men was Peppino, and the other a bandit on the lookout. Franz and th_ount advanced, and the bandit saluted them. "Your excellency," said Peppino, addressing the count, "if you will follow me, the opening of the catacombs i_lose at hand."
  • "Go on, then," replied the count. They came to an opening behind a clump o_ushes and in the midst of a pile of rocks, by which a man could scarcel_ass. Peppino glided first into this crevice; after they got along a few pace_he passage widened. Peppino passed, lighted his torch, and turned to see i_hey came after him. The count first reached an open space and Franz followe_im closely. The passageway sloped in a gentle descent, enlarging as the_roceeded; still Franz and the count were compelled to advance in a stoopin_osture, and were scarcely able to proceed abreast of one another. They wen_n a hundred and fifty paces in this way, and then were stopped by, "Who come_here?" At the same time they saw the reflection of a torch on a carbin_arrel.
  • "A friend!" responded Peppino; and, advancing alone towards the sentry, h_aid a few words to him in a low tone; and then he, like the first, salute_he nocturnal visitors, making a sign that they might proceed.
  • Behind the sentinel was a staircase with twenty steps. Franz and the coun_escended these, and found themselves in a mortuary chamber. Five corridor_iverged like the rays of a star, and the walls, dug into niches, which wer_rranged one above the other in the shape of coffins, showed that they were a_ast in the catacombs. Down one of the corridors, whose extent it wa_mpossible to determine, rays of light were visible. The count laid his han_n Franz's shoulder. "Would you like to see a camp of bandits in repose?" h_nquired.
  • "Exceedingly," replied Franz.
  • "Come with me, then. Peppino, put out the torch." Peppino obeyed, and Fran_nd the count were in utter darkness, except that fifty paces in advance o_hem a reddish glare, more evident since Peppino had put out his torch, wa_isible along the wall. They advanced silently, the count guiding Franz as i_e had the singular faculty of seeing in the dark. Franz himself, however, sa_is way more plainly in proportion as he went on towards the light, whic_erved in some manner as a guide. Three arcades were before them, and th_iddle one was used as a door. These arcades opened on one side into th_orridor where the count and Franz were, and on the other into a large squar_hamber, entirely surrounded by niches similar to those of which we hav_poken. In the midst of this chamber were four stones, which had formerl_erved as an altar, as was evident from the cross which still surmounted them.
  • A lamp, placed at the base of a pillar, lighted up with its pale an_lickering flame the singular scene which presented itself to the eyes of th_wo visitors concealed in the shadow. A man was seated with his elbow leanin_n the column, and was reading with his back turned to the arcades, throug_he openings of which the newcomers contemplated him. This was the chief o_he band, Luigi Vampa. Around him, and in groups, according to their fancy, lying in their mantles, or with their backs against a sort of stone bench, which went all round the columbarium, were to be seen twenty brigands or more, each having his carbine within reach. At the other end, silent, scarcel_isible, and like a shadow, was a sentinel, who was walking up and down befor_ grotto, which was only distinguishable because in that spot the darknes_eemed more dense than elsewhere. When the count thought Franz had gaze_ufficiently on this picturesque tableau, he raised his finger to his lips, t_arn him to be silent, and, ascending the three steps which led to th_orridor of the columbarium, entered the chamber by the middle arcade, an_dvanced towards Vampa, who was so intent on the book before him that he di_ot hear the noise of his footsteps.
  • "Who comes there?" cried the sentinel, who was less abstracted, and who saw b_he lamp-light a shadow approaching his chief. At this challenge, Vampa ros_uickly, drawing at the same moment a pistol from his girdle. In a moment al_he bandits were on their feet, and twenty carbines were levelled at th_ount. "Well," said he in a voice perfectly calm, and no muscle of hi_ountenance disturbed, "well, my dear Vampa, it appears to me that you receiv_ friend with a great deal of ceremony."
  • "Ground arms," exclaimed the chief, with an imperative sign of the hand, whil_ith the other he took off his hat respectfully; then, turning to the singula_ersonage who had caused this scene, he said, "Your pardon, your excellency, but I was so far from expecting the honor of a visit, that I did not reall_ecognize you."
  • "It seems that your memory is equally short in everything, Vampa," said th_ount, "and that not only do you forget people's faces, but also th_onditions you make with them."
  • "What conditions have I forgotten, your excellency?" inquired the bandit, wit_he air of a man who, having committed an error, is anxious to repair it.
  • "Was it not agreed," asked the count, "that not only my person, but also tha_f my friends, should be respected by you?"
  • "And how have I broken that treaty, your excellency?"
  • "You have this evening carried off and conveyed hither the Vicomte Albert d_orcerf. Well," continued the count, in a tone that made Franz shudder, "thi_oung gentleman is one of my friends — this young gentleman lodges in the sam_otel as myself — this young gentleman has been up and down the Corso fo_ight hours in my private carriage, and yet, I repeat to you, you have carrie_im off, and conveyed him hither, and," added the count, taking the lette_rom his pocket, "you have set a ransom on him, as if he were an utte_tranger."
  • "Why did you not tell me all this — you?" inquired the brigand chief, turnin_owards his men, who all retreated before his look. "Why have you caused m_hus to fail in my word towards a gentleman like the count, who has all ou_ives in his hands? By heavens, if I thought one of you knew that the youn_entleman was the friend of his excellency, I would blow his brains out wit_y own hand!"
  • "Well," said the count, turning towards Franz, "I told you there was som_istake in this."
  • "Are you not alone?" asked Vampa with uneasiness.
  • "I am with the person to whom this letter was addressed, and to whom I desire_o prove that Luigi Vampa was a man of his word. Come, your excellency," th_ount added, turning to Franz, "here is Luigi Vampa, who will himself expres_o you his deep regret at the mistake he has committed." Franz approached, th_hief advancing several steps to meet him. "Welcome among us, you_xcellency," he said to him; "you heard what the count just said, and also m_eply; let me add that I would not for the four thousand piastres at which _ad fixed your friend's ransom, that this had happened."
  • "But," said Franz, looking round him uneasily, "where is the Viscount? — I d_ot see him."
  • "Nothing has happened to him, I hope," said the count frowningly.
  • "The prisoner is there," replied Vampa, pointing to the hollow space in fron_f which the bandit was on guard, "and I will go myself and tell him he i_ree." The chief went towards the place he had pointed out as Albert's prison, and Franz and the count followed him. "What is the prisoner doing?" inquire_ampa of the sentinel.
  • "Ma foi, captain," replied the sentry, "I do not know; for the last hour _ave not heard him stir."
  • "Come in, your excellency," said Vampa. The count and Franz ascended seven o_ight steps after the chief, who drew back a bolt and opened a door. Then, b_he gleam of a lamp, similar to that which lighted the columbarium, Albert wa_o be seen wrapped up in a cloak which one of the bandits had lent him, lyin_n a corner in profound slumber. "Come," said the count, smiling with his ow_eculiar smile, "not so bad for a man who is to be shot at seven o'clock to- morrow morning." Vampa looked at Albert with a kind of admiration; he was no_nsensible to such a proof of courage.
  • "You are right, your excellency," he said; "this must be one of your friends."
  • Then going to Albert, he touched him on the shoulder, saying, "Will you_xcellency please to awaken?" Albert stretched out his arms, rubbed hi_yelids, and opened his eyes. "Oh," said he, "is it you, captain? You shoul_ave allowed me to sleep. I had such a delightful dream. I was dancing th_alop at Torlonia's with the Countess G—— ." Then he drew his watch from hi_ocket, that he might see how time sped.
  • "Half-past one only?" said he. "Why the devil do you rouse me at this hour?"
  • "To tell you that you are free, your excellency."
  • "My dear fellow," replied Albert, with perfect ease of mind, "remember, fo_he future, Napoleon's maxim, `Never awaken me but for bad news;' if you ha_et me sleep on, I should have finished my galop, and have been grateful t_ou all my life. So, then, they have paid my ransom?"
  • "No, your excellency."
  • "Well, then, how am I free?"
  • "A person to whom I can refuse nothing has come to demand you."
  • "Come hither?"
  • "Yes, hither."
  • "Really? Then that person is a most amiable person." Albert looked around an_erceived Franz. "What," said he, "is it you, my dear Franz, whose devotio_nd friendship are thus displayed?"
  • "No, not I," replied Franz, "but our neighbor, the Count of Monte Cristo."
  • "Oh. my dear count." said Albert gayly, arranging his cravat and wristbands,
  • "you are really most kind, and I hope you will consider me as under eterna_bligations to you, in the first place for the carriage, and in the next fo_his visit," and he put out his hand to the Count, who shuddered as he gav_is own, but who nevertheless did give it. The bandit gazed on this scene wit_mazement; he was evidently accustomed to see his prisoners tremble befor_im, and yet here was one whose gay temperament was not for a moment altered; as for Franz, he was enchanted at the way in which Albert had sustained th_ational honor in the presence of the bandit. "My dear Albert," he said, "i_ou will make haste, we shall yet have time to finish the night at Torlonia's.
  • You may conclude your interrupted galop, so that you will owe no ill-will t_ignor Luigi, who has, indeed, throughout this whole affair acted like _entleman."
  • "You are decidedly right, and we may reach the Palazzo by two o'clock. Signo_uigi," continued Albert, "is there any formality to fulfil before I tak_eave of your excellency?"
  • "None, sir," replied the bandit, "you are as free as air."
  • "Well, then, a happy and merry life to you. Come, gentlemen, come."
  • And Albert, followed by Franz and the count, descended the staircase, crosse_he square chamber, where stood all the bandits, hat in hand. "Peppino," sai_he brigand chief, "give me the torch."
  • "What are you going to do?" inquired the count.
  • "I will show you the way back myself," said the captain; "that is the leas_onor that I can render to your excellency." And taking the lighted torch fro_he hands of the herdsman, he preceded his guests, not as a servant wh_erforms an act of civility, but like a king who precedes ambassadors. O_eaching the door, he bowed. "And now, your excellency," added he, "allow m_o repeat my apologies, and I hope you will not entertain any resentment a_hat has occurred."
  • "No, my dear Vampa," replied the count; "besides, you compensate for you_istakes in so gentlemanly a way, that one almost feels obliged to you fo_aving committed them."
  • "Gentlemen," added the chief, turning towards the young men, "perhaps th_ffer may not appear very tempting to you; but if you should ever fee_nclined to pay me a second visit, wherever I may be, you shall be welcome."
  • Franz and Albert bowed. The count went out first, then Albert. Franz pause_or a moment. "Has your excellency anything to ask me?" said Vampa with _mile.
  • "Yes, I have," replied Franz; "I am curious to know what work you wer_erusing with so much attention as we entered."
  • "Caesar's `Commentaries,'" said the bandit, "it is my favorite work."
  • "Well, are you coming?" asked Albert.
  • "Yes," replied Franz, "here I am," and he, in his turn, left the caves. The_dvanced to the plain. "Ah, your pardon," said Albert, turning round; "wil_ou allow me, captain?" And he lighted his cigar at Vampa's torch. "Now, m_ear count," he said, "let us on with all the speed we may. I am enormousl_nxious to finish my night at the Duke of Bracciano's." They found th_arriage where they had left it. The count said a word in Arabic to Ali, an_he horses went on at great speed. It was just two o'clock by Albert's watc_hen the two friends entered into the dancing-room. Their return was quite a_vent, but as they entered together, all uneasiness on Albert's account cease_nstantly. "Madame," said the Viscount of Morcerf, advancing towards th_ountess, "yesterday you were so condescending as to promise me a galop; I a_ather late in claiming this gracious promise, but here is my friend, whos_haracter for veracity you well know, and he will assure you the delay aros_rom no fault of mine." And as at this moment the orchestra gave the signa_or the waltz, Albert put his arm round the waist of the countess, an_isappeared with her in the whirl of dancers. In the meanwhile Franz wa_onsidering the singular shudder that had passed over the Count of Mont_risto at the moment when he had been, in some sort, forced to give his han_o Albert.