It will be recollected that the new, or rather old, acquaintances of the Coun_f Monte Cristo, residing in the Rue Meslay, were no other than Maximilian,
Julie, and Emmanuel. The very anticipations of delight to be enjoyed in hi_orthcoming visits — the bright, pure gleam of heavenly happiness it diffuse_ver the almost deadly warfare in which he had voluntarily engaged, illumine_is whole countenance with a look of ineffable joy and calmness, as,
immediately after Villefort's departure, his thoughts flew back to th_heering prospect before him, of tasting, at least, a brief respite from th_ierce and stormy passions of his mind. Even Ali, who had hastened to obey th_ount's summons, went forth from his master's presence in charmed amazement a_he unusual animation and pleasure depicted on features ordinarily so ster_nd cold; while, as though dreading to put to flight the agreeable idea_overing over his patron's meditations, whatever they were, the faithfu_ubian walked on tiptoe towards the door, holding his breath, lest it_aintest sound should dissipate his master's happy reverie.
It was noon, and Monte Cristo had set apart one hour to be passed in th_partments of Haidee, as though his oppressed spirit could not all at onc_dmit the feeling of pure and unmixed joy, but required a gradual successio_f calm and gentle emotions to prepare his mind to receive full and perfec_appiness, in the same manner as ordinary natures demand to be inured b_egrees to the reception of strong or violent sensations. The young Greek, a_e have already said, occupied apartments wholly unconnected with those of th_ount. The rooms had been fitted up in strict accordance with Oriental ideas;
the floors were covered with the richest carpets Turkey could produce; th_alls hung with brocaded silk of the most magnificent designs and texture;
while around each chamber luxurious divans were placed, with piles of soft an_ielding cushions, that needed only to be arranged at the pleasure o_onvenience of such as sought repose. Haidee and three French maids, and on_ho was a Greek. The first three remained constantly in a small waiting-room,
ready to obey the summons of a small golden bell, or to receive the orders o_he Romaic slave, who knew just enough French to be able to transmit he_istress's wishes to the three other waiting-women; the latter had receive_ost peremptory instructions from Monte Cristo to treat Haidee with all th_eference they would observe to a queen.
The young girl herself generally passed her time in the chamber at the farthe_nd of her apartments. This was a sort of boudoir, circular, and lighted onl_rom the roof, which consisted of rose-colored glass. Haidee was reclinin_pon soft downy cushions, covered with blue satin spotted with silver; he_ead, supported by one of her exquisitely moulded arms, rested on the diva_mmediately behind her, while the other was employed in adjusting to her lip_he coral tube of a rich narghile, through whose flexible pipe she drew th_moke fragrant by its passage through perfumed water. Her attitude, thoug_erfectly natural for an Eastern woman would, in a European, have been deeme_oo full of coquettish straining after effect. Her dress, which was that o_he women of Epirus, consisted of a pair of white satin trousers, embroidere_ith pink roses, displaying feet so exquisitely formed and so delicately fair,
that they might well have been taken for Parian marble, had not the eye bee_ndeceived by their movements as they constantly shifted in and out of a pai_f little slippers with upturned toes, beautifully ornamented with gold an_earls. She wore a blue and white-striped vest, with long open sleeves,
trimmed with silver loops and buttons of pearls, and a sort of bodice, which,
closing only from the centre to the waist, exhibited the whole of the ivor_hroat and upper part of the bosom; it was fastened with three magnificen_iamond clasps. The junction of the bodice and drawers was entirely conceale_y one of the many-colored scarfs, whose brilliant hues and rich silken fring_ave rendered them so precious in the eyes of Parisian belles. Tilted on on_ide of her head she had a small cap of gold-colored silk, embroidered wit_earls; while on the other a purple rose mingled its glowing colors with th_uxuriant masses of her hair, of which the blackness was so intense that i_as tinged with blue. The extreme beauty of the countenance, that shone fort_n loveliness that mocked the vain attempts of dress to augment it, wa_eculiarly and purely Grecian; there were the large, dark, melting eyes, th_inely formed nose, the coral lips, and pearly teeth, that belonged to he_ace and country. And, to complete the whole, Haidee was in the ver_pringtide and fulness of youthful charms — she had not yet numbered more tha_wenty summers.
Monte Cristo summoned the Greek attendant, and bade her inquire whether i_ould be agreeable to her mistress to receive his visit. Haidee's only repl_as to direct her servant by a sign to withdraw the tapestried curtain tha_ung before the door of her boudoir, the framework of the opening thus mad_erving as a sort of border to the graceful tableau presented by the youn_irl's picturesque attitude and appearance. As Monte Cristo approached, sh_eaned upon the elbow of the arm that held the narghile, and extending to hi_er other hand, said, with a smile of captivating sweetness, in the sonorou_anguage spoken by the women of Athens and Sparta, "Why demand permission er_ou enter? Are you no longer my master, or have I ceased to be your slave?"
Monte Cristo returned her smile. "Haidee," said he, "you well know."
"Why do you address me so coldly — so distantly?" asked the young Greek. "Hav_ by any means displeased you? Oh, if so, punish me as you will; but do not —
do not speak to me in tones and manner so formal and constrained."
"Haidee," replied the count, "you know that you are now in France, and ar_ree."
"Free to do what?" asked the young girl.
"Free to leave me."
"Leave you? Why should I leave you?"
"That is not for me to say; but we are now about to mix in society — to visi_nd be visited."
"I don't wish to see anybody but you."
"And should you see one whom you could prefer, I would not be so unjust" —
"I have never seen any one I preferred to you, and I have never loved any on_ut you and my father."
"My poor child," replied Monte Cristo, "that is merely because your father an_yself are the only men who have ever talked to you."
"I don't want anybody else to talk to me. My father said I was his `joy' — yo_tyle me your `love,' — and both of you have called me `my child.'"
"Do you remember your father, Haidee?" The young Greek smiled. "He is here,
and here," said she, touching her eyes and her heart. "And where am I?"
inquired Monte Cristo laughingly.
"You?" cried she, with tones of thrilling tenderness, "you are everywhere!"
Monte Cristo took the delicate hand of the young girl in his, and was about t_aise it to his lips, when the simple child of nature hastily withdrew it, an_resented her cheek. "You now understand, Haidee," said the count, "that fro_his moment you are absolutely free; that here you exercise unlimited sway,
and are at liberty to lay aside or continue the costume of your country, as i_ay suit your inclination. Within this mansion you are absolute mistress o_our actions, and may go abroad or remain in your apartments as may seem mos_greeable to you. A carriage waits your orders, and Ali and Myrtho wil_ccompany you whithersoever you desire to go. There is but one favor I woul_ntreat of you."
"Guard carefully the secret of your birth. Make no allusion to the past; no_pon any occasion be induced to pronounce the names of your illustrious fathe_r ill-fated mother."
"I have already told you, my lord, that I shall see no one."
"It is possible, Haidee, that so perfect a seclusion, though conformable wit_he habits and customs of the East, may not be practicable in Paris. Endeavor,
then, to accustom yourself to our manner of living in these northern climes a_ou did to those of Rome, Florence, Milan, and Madrid; it may be useful to yo_ne of these days, whether you remain here or return to the East." The youn_irl raised her tearful eyes towards Monte Cristo as she said with touchin_arnestness, "Whether we return to the East, you mean to say, my lord, do yo_ot?"
"My child," returned Monte Cristo "you know full well that whenever we part,
it will be no fault or wish of mine; the tree forsakes not the flower — th_lower falls from the tree."
"My lord," replied Haidee, "I never will leave you, for I am sure I could no_xist without you."
"My poor girl, in ten years I shall be old, and you will be still young."
"My father had a long white beard, but I loved him; he was sixty years old,
but to me he was handsomer than all the fine youths I saw."
"Then tell me, Haidee, do you believe you shall be able to accustom yoursel_o our present mode of life?"
"Shall I see you?"
"Then what do you fear, my lord?"
"You might find it dull."
"No, my lord. In the morning, I shall rejoice in the prospect of your coming,
and in the evening dwell with delight on the happiness I have enjoyed in you_resence; then too, when alone, I can call forth mighty pictures of the past,
see vast horizons bounded only by the towering mountains of Pindus an_lympus. Oh, believe me, that when three great passions, such as sorrow, love,
and gratitude fill the heart, ennui can find no place."
"You are a worthy daughter of Epirus, Haidee, and your charming and poetica_deas prove well your descent from that race of goddesses who claim you_ountry as their birthplace. Depend on my care to see that your youth is no_lighted, or suffered to pass away in ungenial solitude; and of this be wel_ssured, that if you love me as a father, I love you as a child."
"You are wrong, my lord. The love I have for you is very different from th_ove I had for my father. My father died, but I did not die. If you were t_ie, I should die too." The Count, with a smile of profound tenderness,
extended his hand, and she carried it to her lips. Monte Cristo, thus attune_o the interview he proposed to hold with Morrel and his family, departed,
murmuring as he went these lines of Pindar, "Youth is a flower of which lov_s the fruit; happy is he who, after having watched its silent growth, i_ermitted to gather and call it his own." The carriage was prepared accordin_o orders, and stepping lightly into it, the count drove off at his usua_apid pace.