The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 286 of 400

“No,” said the count, “I was making a suit.”

“How?” said Albert.

“Those are really aces and twos which you see, but my shots have turned them into threes, fives, sevens, eights, nines, and tens.” Albert approached. In fact, the bullets had actually pierced the cards in the exact places which the painted signs would otherwise have occupied, the lines and distances being as regularly kept as if they had been ruled with pencil. “Diable,” said Morcerf.

“What would you have, my dear viscount?” said Monte Cristo, wiping his hands on the towel which Ali had brought him; “I must occupy my leisure moments in some way or other. But come, I am waiting for you.” Both men entered Monte Cristo’s carriage, which in the course of a few minutes deposited them safely at No. 30. Monte Cristo took Albert into his study, and pointing to a seat, placed another for himself. “Now let us talk the matter over quietly,” said the count.

“You see I am perfectly composed,” said Albert.

“With whom are you going to fight?”

“With Beauchamp.”

“One of your friends!”

“Of course; it is always with friends that one fights.”

“I suppose you have some cause of quarrel?”

“I have.”

“What has he done to you?”

“There appeared in his journal last night—but wait, and read for yourself.” And Albert handed over the paper to the count, who read as follows:—

“A correspondent at Yanina informs us of a fact of which until now we had remained in ignorance. The castle which formed the protection of the town was given up to the Turks by a French officer named Fernand, in whom the grand vizier, Ali Tepelini, had reposed the greatest confidence.”

“Well,” said Monte Cristo, “what do you see in that to annoy you?”

“What do I see in it?”

“Yes; what does it signify to you if the castle of Yanina was given up by a French officer?”

“It signifies to my father, the Count of Morcerf, whose Christian name is Fernand!”

“Did your father serve under Ali Pasha?”

“Yes; that is to say, he fought for the independence of the Greeks, and hence arises the calumny.”

“Oh, my dear viscount, do talk reason!”

“I do not desire to do otherwise.”

“Now, just tell me who the devil should know in France that the officer Fernand and the Count of Morcerf are one and the same person? and who cares now about Yanina, which was taken as long ago as the year 1822 or 1823?”

“That just shows the meanness of this slander. They have allowed all this time to elapse, and then all of a sudden rake up events which have been forgotten to furnish materials for scandal, in order to tarnish the lustre of our high position. I inherit my father’s name, and I do not choose that the shadow of disgrace should darken it. I am going to Beauchamp, in whose journal this paragraph appears, and I shall insist on his retracting the assertion before two witnesses.”

“Beauchamp will never retract.”

“Then he must fight.”

“No he will not, for he will tell you, what is very true, that perhaps there were fifty officers in the Greek army bearing the same name.”

“We will fight, nevertheless. I will efface that blot on my father’s character. My father, who was such a brave soldier, whose career was so brilliant”—

“Oh, well, he will add, ‘We are warranted in believing that this Fernand is not the illustrious Count of Morcerf, who also bears the same Christian name.'”

“I am determined not to be content with anything short of an entire retractation.”

“And you intend to make him do it in the presence of two witnesses, do you?”


“You do wrong.”

“Which means, I suppose, that you refuse the service which I asked of you?”

“You know my theory regarding duels; I told you my opinion on that subject, if you remember, when we were at Rome.”

“Nevertheless, my dear count, I found you this morning engaged in an occupation but little consistent with the notions you profess to entertain.”

“Because, my dear fellow, you understand one must never be eccentric. If one’s lot is cast among fools, it is necessary to study folly. I shall perhaps find myself one day called out by some harebrained scamp, who has no more real cause of quarrel with me than you have with Beauchamp; he may take me to task for some foolish trifle or other, he will bring his witnesses, or will insult me in some public place, and I am expected to kill him for all that.”

“You admit that you would fight, then? Well, if so, why do you object to my doing so?”

“I do not say that you ought not to fight, I only say that a duel is a serious thing, and ought not to be undertaken without due reflection.”

“Did he reflect before he insulted my father?”

“If he spoke hastily, and owns that he did so, you ought to be satisfied.”

“Ah, my dear count, you are far too indulgent.”

“And you are far too exacting. Supposing, for instance, and do not be angry at what I am going to say”—


“Supposing the assertion to be really true?”

“A son ought not to submit to such a stain on his father’s honor.”

“Ma foi, we live in times when there is much to which we must submit.”

“That is precisely the fault of the age.”

“And do you undertake to reform it?”

“Yes, as far as I am personally concerned.”

“Well, you are indeed exacting, my dear fellow!”

“Yes, I own it.”

“Are you quite impervious to good advice?”

“Not when it comes from a friend.”

“And do you account me that title?”

“Certainly I do.”

“Well, then, before going to Beauchamp with your witnesses, seek further information on the subject.”

“From whom?”

“From Haidee.”

“Why, what can be the use of mixing a woman up in the affair?—what can she do in it?”

“She can declare to you, for example, that your father had no hand whatever in the defeat and death of the vizier; or if by chance he had, indeed, the misfortune to”—

“I have told you, my dear count, that I would not for one moment admit of such a proposition.”

“You reject this means of information, then?”

“I do—most decidedly.”

“Then let me offer one more word of advice.”

“Do so, then, but let it be the last.”

“You do not wish to hear it, perhaps?”

“On the contrary, I request it.”

“Do not take any witnesses with you when you go to Beauchamp—visit him alone.”

“That would be contrary to all custom.”

“Your case is not an ordinary one.”

“And what is your reason for advising me to go alone?”

“Because then the affair will rest between you and Beauchamp.”

“Explain yourself.”

“I will do so. If Beauchamp be disposed to retract, you ought at least to give him the opportunity of doing it of his own free will,—the satisfaction to you will be the same. If, on the contrary, he refuses to do so, it will then be quite time enough to admit two strangers into your secret.”

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