The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 303 of 400

“Reverend sir!”

“You lie! This man is still your friend, and you, perhaps, make use of him as your accomplice.”

“Oh, reverend sir!”

“Since you left Toulon what have you lived on? Answer me!”

“On what I could get.”

“You lie,” repeated the abbe a third time, with a still more imperative tone. Caderousse, terrified, looked at the count. “You have lived on the money he has given you.”

“True,” said Caderousse; “Benedetto has become the son of a great lord.”

“How can he be the son of a great lord?”

“A natural son.”

“And what is that great lord’s name?”

“The Count of Monte Cristo, the very same in whose house we are.”

“Benedetto the count’s son?” replied Monte Cristo, astonished in his turn.

“Well, I should think so, since the count has found him a false father—since the count gives him four thousand francs a month, and leaves him 500,000 francs in his will.”

“Ah, yes,” said the factitious abbe, who began to understand; “and what name does the young man bear meanwhile?”

“Andrea Cavalcanti.”

“Is it, then, that young man whom my friend the Count of Monte Cristo has received into his house, and who is going to marry Mademoiselle Danglars?”


“And you suffer that, you wretch—you, who know his life and his crime?”

“Why should I stand in a comrade’s way?” said Caderousse.

“You are right; it is not you who should apprise M. Danglars, it is I.”

“Do not do so, reverend sir.”

“Why not?”

“Because you would bring us to ruin.”

“And you think that to save such villains as you I will become an abettor of their plot, an accomplice in their crimes?”

“Reverend sir,” said Caderousse, drawing still nearer.

“I will expose all.”

“To whom?”

“To M. Danglars.”

“By heaven!” cried Caderousse, drawing from his waistcoat an open knife, and striking the count in the breast, “you shall disclose nothing, reverend sir!” To Caderousse’s great astonishment, the knife, instead of piercing the count’s breast, flew back blunted. At the same moment the count seized with his left hand the assassin’s wrist, and wrung it with such strength that the knife fell from his stiffened fingers, and Caderousse uttered a cry of pain. But the count, disregarding his cry, continued to wring the bandit’s wrist, until, his arm being dislocated, he fell first on his knees, then flat on the floor. The count then placed his foot on his head, saying, “I know not what restrains me from crushing thy skull, rascal.”

“Ah, mercy—mercy!” cried Caderousse. The count withdrew his foot. “Rise!” said he. Caderousse rose.

“What a wrist you have, reverend sir!” said Caderousse, stroking his arm, all bruised by the fleshy pincers which had held it; “what a wrist!”

“Silence! God gives me strength to overcome a wild beast like you; in the name of that God I act,—remember that, wretch,—and to spare thee at this moment is still serving him.”

“Oh!” said Caderousse, groaning with pain.

“Take this pen and paper, and write what I dictate.”

“I don’t know how to write, reverend sir.”

“You lie! Take this pen, and write!” Caderousse, awed by the superior power of the abbe, sat down and wrote:—

Sir,—The man whom you are receiving at your house, and to whom you intend to marry your daughter, is a felon who escaped with me from confinement at Toulon. He was No. 59, and I No. 58. He was called Benedetto, but he is ignorant of his real name, having never known his parents.

“Sign it!” continued the count.

“But would you ruin me?”

“If I sought your ruin, fool, I should drag you to the first guard-house; besides, when that note is delivered, in all probability you will have no more to fear. Sign it, then!”

Caderousse signed it. “The address, ‘To monsieur the Baron Danglars, banker, Rue de la Chaussee d’Antin.'” Caderousse wrote the address. The abbe took the note. “Now,” said he, “that suffices—begone!”

“Which way?”

“The way you came.”

“You wish me to get out at that window?”

“You got in very well.”

“Oh, you have some design against me, reverend sir.”

“Idiot! what design can I have?”

“Why, then, not let me out by the door?”

“What would be the advantage of waking the porter?”—

“Ah, reverend sir, tell me, do you wish me dead?”

“I wish what God wills.”

“But swear that you will not strike me as I go down.”

“Cowardly fool!”

“What do you intend doing with me?”

“I ask you what can I do? I have tried to make you a happy man, and you have turned out a murderer.”

“Oh, monsieur,” said Caderousse, “make one more attempt—try me once more!”

“I will,” said the count. “Listen—you know if I may be relied on.”

“Yes,” said Caderousse.

“If you arrive safely at home”—

“What have I to fear, except from you?”

“If you reach your home safely, leave Paris, leave France, and wherever you may be, so long as you conduct yourself well, I will send you a small annuity; for, if you return home safely, then”—

“Then?” asked Caderousse, shuddering.

“Then I shall believe God has forgiven you, and I will forgive you too.”

“As true as I am a Christian,” stammered Caderousse, “you will make me die of fright!”

“Now begone,” said the count, pointing to the window.

Caderousse, scarcely yet relying on this promise, put his legs out of the window and stood on the ladder. “Now go down,” said the abbe, folding his arms. Understanding he had nothing more to fear from him, Caderousse began to go down. Then the count brought the taper to the window, that it might be seen in the Champs-Elysees that a man was getting out of the window while another held a light.

“What are you doing, reverend sir? Suppose a watchman should pass?” And he blew out the light. He then descended, but it was only when he felt his foot touch the ground that he was satisfied of his safety.

Monte Cristo returned to his bedroom, and, glancing rapidly from the garden to the street, he saw first Caderousse, who after walking to the end of the garden, fixed his ladder against the wall at a different part from where he came in. The count then looking over into the street, saw the man who appeared to be waiting run in the same direction, and place himself against the angle of the wall where Caderousse would come over. Caderousse climbed the ladder slowly, and looked over the coping to see if the street was quiet. No one could be seen or heard. The clock of the Invalides struck one. Then Caderousse sat astride the coping, and drawing up his ladder passed it over the wall; then he began to descend, or rather to slide down by the two stanchions, which he did with an ease which proved how accustomed he was to the exercise. But, once started, he could not stop. In vain did he see a man start from the shadow when he was halfway down—in vain did he see an arm raised as he touched the ground. Before he could defend himself that arm struck him so violently in the back that he let go the ladder, crying, “Help!” A second blow struck him almost immediately in the side, and he fell, calling, “Help, murder!” Then, as he rolled on the ground, his adversary seized him by the hair, and struck him a third blow in the chest. This time Caderousse endeavored to call again, but he could only utter a groan, and he shuddered as the blood flowed from his three wounds. The assassin, finding that he no longer cried out, lifted his head up by the hair; his eyes were closed, and the mouth was distorted. The murderer, supposing him dead, let fall his head and disappeared. Then Caderousse, feeling that he was leaving him, raised himself on his elbow, and with a dying voice cried with great effort, “Murder! I am dying! Help, reverend sir,—help!”

This mournful appeal pierced the darkness. The door of the back-staircase opened, then the side-gate of the garden, and Ali and his master were on the spot with lights.

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