The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 326 of 400

“Providence still,” murmured he; “now only am I fully convinced of being the emissary of God!”

Chapter 91. Mother and Son.

The Count of Monte Cristo bowed to the five young men with a melancholy and dignified smile, and got into his carriage with Maximilian and Emmanuel. Albert, Beauchamp, and Chateau-Renaud remained alone. Albert looked at his two friends, not timidly, but in a way that appeared to ask their opinion of what he had just done.

“Indeed, my dear friend,” said Beauchamp first, who had either the most feeling or the least dissimulation, “allow me to congratulate you; this is a very unhoped-for conclusion of a very disagreeable affair.”

Albert remained silent and wrapped in thought. Chateau-Renaud contented himself with tapping his boot with his flexible cane. “Are we not going?” said he, after this embarrassing silence. “When you please,” replied Beauchamp; “allow me only to compliment M. de Morcerf, who has given proof to-day of rare chivalric generosity.”

“Oh, yes,” said Chateau-Renaud.

“It is magnificent,” continued Beauchamp, “to be able to exercise so much self-control!”

“Assuredly; as for me, I should have been incapable of it,” said Chateau-Renaud, with most significant coolness.

“Gentlemen,” interrupted Albert, “I think you did not understand that something very serious had passed between M. de Monte Cristo and myself.”

“Possibly, possibly,” said Beauchamp immediately; “but every simpleton would not be able to understand your heroism, and sooner or later you will find yourself compelled to explain it to them more energetically than would be convenient to your bodily health and the duration of your life. May I give you a friendly counsel? Set out for Naples, the Hague, or St. Petersburg—calm countries, where the point of honor is better understood than among our hot-headed Parisians. Seek quietude and oblivion, so that you may return peaceably to France after a few years. Am I not right, M. de Chateau-Renaud?”

“That is quite my opinion,” said the gentleman; “nothing induces serious duels so much as a duel forsworn.”

“Thank you, gentlemen,” replied Albert, with a smile of indifference; “I shall follow your advice—not because you give it, but because I had before intended to quit France. I thank you equally for the service you have rendered me in being my seconds. It is deeply engraved on my heart, and, after what you have just said, I remember that only.” Chateau-Renaud and Beauchamp looked at each other; the impression was the same on both of them, and the tone in which Morcerf had just expressed his thanks was so determined that the position would have become embarrassing for all if the conversation had continued.

“Good-by, Albert,” said Beauchamp suddenly, carelessly extending his hand to the young man. The latter did not appear to arouse from his lethargy; in fact, he did not notice the offered hand. “Good-by,” said Chateau-Renaud in his turn, keeping his little cane in his left hand, and saluting with his right. Albert’s lips scarcely whispered “Good-by,” but his look was more explicit; it expressed a whole poem of restrained anger, proud disdain, and generous indignation. He preserved his melancholy and motionless position for some time after his two friends had regained their carriage; then suddenly unfastening his horse from the little tree to which his servant had tied it, he mounted and galloped off in the direction of Paris.

In a quarter of an hour he was entering the house in the Rue du Helder. As he alighted, he thought he saw his father’s pale face behind the curtain of the count’s bedroom. Albert turned away his head with a sigh, and went to his own apartments. He cast one lingering look on all the luxuries which had rendered life so easy and so happy since his infancy; he looked at the pictures, whose faces seemed to smile, and the landscapes, which appeared painted in brighter colors. Then he took away his mother’s portrait, with its oaken frame, leaving the gilt frame from which he took it black and empty. Then he arranged all his beautiful Turkish arms, his fine English guns, his Japanese china, his cups mounted in silver, his artistic bronzes by Feucheres and Barye; examined the cupboards, and placed the key in each; threw into a drawer of his secretary, which he left open, all the pocket-money he had about him, and with it the thousand fancy jewels from his vases and his jewel-boxes; then he made an exact inventory of everything, and placed it in the most conspicuous part of the table, after putting aside the books and papers which had collected there.

At the beginning of this work, his servant, notwithstanding orders to the contrary, came to his room. “What do you want?” asked he, with a more sorrowful than angry tone. “Pardon me, sir,” replied the valet; “you had forbidden me to disturb you, but the Count of Morcerf has called me.”

“Well!” said Albert.

“I did not like to go to him without first seeing you.”


“Because the count is doubtless aware that I accompanied you to the meeting this morning.”

“It is probable,” said Albert.

“And since he has sent for me, it is doubtless to question me on what happened there. What must I answer?”

“The truth.”

“Then I shall say the duel did not take place?”

“You will say I apologized to the Count of Monte Cristo. Go.”

The valet bowed and retired, and Albert returned to his inventory. As he was finishing this work, the sound of horses prancing in the yard, and the wheels of a carriage shaking his window, attracted his attention. He approached the window, and saw his father get into it, and drive away. The door was scarcely closed when Albert bent his steps to his mother’s room; and, no one being there to announce him, he advanced to her bed-chamber, and distressed by what he saw and guessed, stopped for one moment at the door. As if the same idea had animated these two beings, Mercedes was doing the same in her apartments that he had just done in his. Everything was in order,—laces, dresses, jewels, linen, money, all were arranged in the drawers, and the countess was carefully collecting the keys. Albert saw all these preparations and understood them, and exclaiming, “My mother!” he threw his arms around her neck.

The artist who could have depicted the expression of these two countenances would certainly have made of them a beautiful picture. All these proofs of an energetic resolution, which Albert did not fear on his own account, alarmed him for his mother. “What are you doing?” asked he.

“What were you doing?” replied she.

“Oh, my mother!” exclaimed Albert, so overcome he could scarcely speak; “it is not the same with you and me—you cannot have made the same resolution I have, for I have come to warn you that I bid adieu to your house, and—and to you.”

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