The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 12 of 400

Danglars saw in the muddled look of the tailor the progress of his intoxication, and turning towards Fernand, said, “Well, you understand there is no need to kill him.”

“Certainly not, if, as you said just now, you have the means of having Dantes arrested. Have you that means?”

“It is to be found for the searching. But why should I meddle in the matter? it is no affair of mine.”

“I know not why you meddle,” said Fernand, seizing his arm; “but this I know, you have some motive of personal hatred against Dantes, for he who himself hates is never mistaken in the sentiments of others.”

“I!—motives of hatred against Dantes? None, on my word! I saw you were unhappy, and your unhappiness interested me; that’s all; but since you believe I act for my own account, adieu, my dear friend, get out of the affair as best you may;” and Danglars rose as if he meant to depart.

“No, no,” said Fernand, restraining him, “stay! It is of very little consequence to me at the end of the matter whether you have any angry feeling or not against Dantes. I hate him! I confess it openly. Do you find the means, I will execute it, provided it is not to kill the man, for Mercedes has declared she will kill herself if Dantes is killed.”

Caderousse, who had let his head drop on the table, now raised it, and looking at Fernand with his dull and fishy eyes, he said,—“Kill Dantes! who talks of killing Dantes? I won’t have him killed—I won’t! He’s my friend, and this morning offered to share his money with me, as I shared mine with him. I won’t have Dantes killed—I won’t!”

“And who has said a word about killing him, muddlehead?” replied Danglars. “We were merely joking; drink to his health,” he added, filling Caderousse’s glass, “and do not interfere with us.”

“Yes, yes, Dantes’ good health!” said Caderousse, emptying his glass, “here’s to his health! his health—hurrah!”

“But the means—the means?” said Fernand.

“Have you not hit upon any?” asked Danglars.

“No!—you undertook to do so.”

“True,” replied Danglars; “the French have the superiority over the Spaniards, that the Spaniards ruminate, while the French invent.”

“Do you invent, then,” said Fernand impatiently.

“Waiter,” said Danglars, “pen, ink, and paper.”

“Pen, ink, and paper,” muttered Fernand.

“Yes; I am a supercargo; pen, ink, and paper are my tools, and without my tools I am fit for nothing.”

“Pen, ink, and paper, then,” called Fernand loudly.

“There’s what you want on that table,” said the waiter.

“Bring them here.” The waiter did as he was desired.

“When one thinks,” said Caderousse, letting his hand drop on the paper, “there is here wherewithal to kill a man more sure than if we waited at the corner of a wood to assassinate him! I have always had more dread of a pen, a bottle of ink, and a sheet of paper, than of a sword or pistol.”

“The fellow is not so drunk as he appears to be,” said Danglars. “Give him some more wine, Fernand.” Fernand filled Caderousse’s glass, who, like the confirmed toper he was, lifted his hand from the paper and seized the glass.

The Catalan watched him until Caderousse, almost overcome by this fresh assault on his senses, rested, or rather dropped, his glass upon the table.

“Well!” resumed the Catalan, as he saw the final glimmer of Caderousse’s reason vanishing before the last glass of wine.

“Well, then, I should say, for instance,” resumed Danglars, “that if after a voyage such as Dantes has just made, in which he touched at the Island of Elba, some one were to denounce him to the king’s procureur as a Bonapartist agent”—

“I will denounce him!” exclaimed the young man hastily.

“Yes, but they will make you then sign your declaration, and confront you with him you have denounced; I will supply you with the means of supporting your accusation, for I know the fact well. But Dantes cannot remain forever in prison, and one day or other he will leave it, and the day when he comes out, woe betide him who was the cause of his incarceration!”

“Oh, I should wish nothing better than that he would come and seek a quarrel with me.”

“Yes, and Mercedes! Mercedes, who will detest you if you have only the misfortune to scratch the skin of her dearly beloved Edmond!”

“True!” said Fernand.

“No, no,” continued Danglars; “if we resolve on such a step, it would be much better to take, as I now do, this pen, dip it into this ink, and write with the left hand (that the writing may not be recognized) the denunciation we propose.” And Danglars, uniting practice with theory, wrote with his left hand, and in a writing reversed from his usual style, and totally unlike it, the following lines, which he handed to Fernand, and which Fernand read in an undertone:—

“The honorable, the king’s attorney, is informed by a friend of the throne and religion, that one Edmond Dantes, mate of the ship Pharaon, arrived this morning from Smyrna, after having touched at Naples and Porto-Ferrajo, has been intrusted by Murat with a letter for the usurper, and by the usurper with a letter for the Bonapartist committee in Paris. Proof of this crime will be found on arresting him, for the letter will be found upon him, or at his father’s, or in his cabin on board the Pharaon.”

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