The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 287 of 400

“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.”

“They will not be strangers, they will be friends.”

“Ah, but the friends of to-day are the enemies of to-morrow; Beauchamp, for instance.”

“So you recommend”—

“I recommend you to be prudent.”

“Then you advise me to go alone to Beauchamp?”

“I do, and I will tell you why. When you wish to obtain some concession from a man’s self-love, you must avoid even the appearance of wishing to wound it.”

“I believe you are right.”

“I am glad of it.”

“Then I will go alone.”

“Go; but you would do better still by not going at all.”

“That is impossible.”

“Do so, then; it will be a wiser plan than the first which you proposed.”

“But if, in spite of all my precautions, I am at last obliged to fight, will you not be my second?”

“My dear viscount,” said Monte Cristo gravely, “you must have seen before to-day that at all times and in all places I have been at your disposal, but the service which you have just demanded of me is one which it is out of my power to render you.”


“Perhaps you may know at some future period, and in the mean time I request you to excuse my declining to put you in possession of my reasons.”

“Well, I will have Franz and Chateau-Renaud; they will be the very men for it.”

“Do so, then.”

“But if I do fight, you will surely not object to giving me a lesson or two in shooting and fencing?”

“That, too, is impossible.”

“What a singular being you are!—you will not interfere in anything.”

“You are right—that is the principle on which I wish to act.”

“We will say no more about it, then. Good-by, count.” Morcerf took his hat, and left the room. He found his carriage at the door, and doing his utmost to restrain his anger he went at once to find Beauchamp, who was in his office. It was a gloomy, dusty-looking apartment, such as journalists’ offices have always been from time immemorial. The servant announced M. Albert de Morcerf. Beauchamp repeated the name to himself, as though he could scarcely believe that he had heard aright, and then gave orders for him to be admitted. Albert entered. Beauchamp uttered an exclamation of surprise on seeing his friend leap over and trample under foot all the newspapers which were strewed about the room. “This way, this way, my dear Albert!” said he, holding out his hand to the young man. “Are you out of your senses, or do you come peaceably to take breakfast with me? Try and find a seat—there is one by that geranium, which is the only thing in the room to remind me that there are other leaves in the world besides leaves of paper.”

“Beauchamp,” said Albert, “it is of your journal that I come to speak.”

“Indeed? What do you wish to say about it?”

“I desire that a statement contained in it should be rectified.”

“To what do you refer? But pray sit down.”

“Thank you,” said Albert, with a cold and formal bow.

“Will you now have the kindness to explain the nature of the statement which has displeased you?”

“An announcement has been made which implicates the honor of a member of my family.”

“What is it?” said Beauchamp, much surprised; “surely you must be mistaken.”

“The story sent you from Yanina.”


“Yes; really you appear to be totally ignorant of the cause which brings me here.”

“Such is really the case, I assure you, upon my honor! Baptiste, give me yesterday’s paper,” cried Beauchamp.

“Here, I have brought mine with me,” replied Albert.

Beauchamp took the paper, and read the article to which Albert pointed in an undertone. “You see it is a serious annoyance,” said Morcerf, when Beauchamp had finished the perusal of the paragraph. “Is the officer referred to a relation of yours, then?” demanded the journalist.

“Yes,” said Albert, blushing.

“Well, what do you wish me to do for you?” said Beauchamp mildly.

“My dear Beauchamp, I wish you to contradict this statement.” Beauchamp looked at Albert with a benevolent expression.

“Come,” said he, “this matter will want a good deal of talking over; a retractation is always a serious thing, you know. Sit down, and I will read it again.” Albert resumed his seat, and Beauchamp read, with more attention than at first, the lines denounced by his friend. “Well,” said Albert in a determined tone, “you see that your paper his insulted a member of my family, and I insist on a retractation being made.”

“You insist?”

“Yes, I insist.”

“Permit me to remind you that you are not in the Chamber, my dear Viscount.”

“Nor do I wish to be there,” replied the young man, rising. “I repeat that I am determined to have the announcement of yesterday contradicted. You have known me long enough,” continued Albert, biting his lips convulsively, for he saw that Beauchamp’s anger was beginning to rise,—“you have been my friend, and therefore sufficiently intimate with me to be aware that I am likely to maintain my resolution on this point.”

“If I have been your friend, Morcerf, your present manner of speaking would almost lead me to forget that I ever bore that title. But wait a moment, do not let us get angry, or at least not yet. You are irritated and vexed—tell me how this Fernand is related to you?”

“He is merely my father,” said Albert—“M. Fernand Mondego, Count of Morcerf, an old soldier who has fought in twenty battles and whose honorable scars they would denounce as badges of disgrace.”

“Is it your father?” said Beauchamp; “that is quite another thing. Then can well understand your indignation, my dear Albert. I will look at it again;” and he read the paragraph for the third time, laying a stress on each word as he proceeded. “But the paper nowhere identifies this Fernand with your father.”

“No; but the connection will be seen by others, and therefore I will have the article contradicted.” At the words “I will,” Beauchamp steadily raised his eyes to Albert’s countenance, and then as gradually lowering them, he remained thoughtful for a few moments. “You will retract this assertion, will you not, Beauchamp?” said Albert with increased though stifled anger.

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