The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 333 of 400

Chapter 94. Maximilian’s Avowal.

At the same moment M. de Villefort’s voice was heard calling from his study, “What is the matter?” Morrel looked at Noirtier who had recovered his self-command, and with a glance indicated the closet where once before under somewhat similar circumstances, he had taken refuge. He had only time to get his hat and throw himself breathless into the closet when the procureur’s footstep was heard in the passage. Villefort sprang into the room, ran to Valentine, and took her in his arms. “A physician, a physician,—M. d’Avrigny!” cried Villefort; “or rather I will go for him myself.” He flew from the apartment, and Morrel at the same moment darted out at the other door. He had been struck to the heart by a frightful recollection—the conversation he had heard between the doctor and Villefort the night of Madame de Saint-Meran’s death, recurred to him; these symptoms, to a less alarming extent, were the same which had preceded the death of Barrois. At the same time Monte Cristo’s voice seemed to resound in his ear with the words he had heard only two hours before, “Whatever you want, Morrel, come to me; I have great power.” More rapidly than thought, he darted down the Rue Matignon, and thence to the Avenue des Champs Elysees.

Meanwhile M. de Villefort arrived in a hired cabriolet at M. d’Avrigny’s door. He rang so violently that the porter was alarmed. Villefort ran up-stairs without saying a word. The porter knew him, and let him pass, only calling to him, “In his study, Monsieur Procureur—in his study!” Villefort pushed, or rather forced, the door open. “Ah,” said the doctor, “is it you?”

“Yes,” said Villefort, closing the door after him, “it is I, who am come in my turn to ask you if we are quite alone. Doctor, my house is accursed!”

“What?” said the latter with apparent coolness, but with deep emotion, “have you another invalid?”

“Yes, doctor,” cried Villefort, clutching his hair, “yes!”

D’Avrigny’s look implied, “I told you it would be so.” Then he slowly uttered these words, “Who is now dying in your house? What new victim is going to accuse you of weakness before God?” A mournful sob burst from Villefort’s heart; he approached the doctor, and seizing his arm,—“Valentine,” said he, “it is Valentine’s turn!”

“Your daughter?” cried d’Avrigny with grief and surprise.

“You see you were deceived,” murmured the magistrate; “come and see her, and on her bed of agony entreat her pardon for having suspected her.”

“Each time you have applied to me,” said the doctor, “it has been too late; still I will go. But let us make haste, sir; with the enemies you have to do with there is no time to be lost.”

“Oh, this time, doctor, you shall not have to reproach me with weakness. This time I will know the assassin, and will pursue him.”

“Let us try first to save the victim before we think of revenging her,” said d’Avrigny. “Come.” The same cabriolet which had brought Villefort took them back at full speed, and at this moment Morrel rapped at Monte Cristo’s door. The count was in his study and was reading with an angry look something which Bertuccio had brought in haste. Hearing the name of Morrel, who had left him only two hours before, the count raised his head, arose, and sprang to meet him. “What is the matter, Maximilian?” asked he; “you are pale, and the perspiration rolls from your forehead.” Morrel fell into a chair. “Yes,” said he, “I came quickly; I wanted to speak to you.”

“Are all your family well?” asked the count, with an affectionate benevolence, whose sincerity no one could for a moment doubt.

“Thank you, count—thank you,” said the young man, evidently embarrassed how to begin the conversation; “yes, every one in my family is well.”

“So much the better; yet you have something to tell me?” replied the count with increased anxiety.

“Yes,” said Morrel, “it is true; I have but now left a house where death has just entered, to run to you.”

“Are you then come from M. de Morcerf’s?” asked Monte Cristo.

“No,” said Morrel; “is some one dead in his house?”

“The general has just blown his brains out,” replied Monte Cristo with great coolness.

“Oh, what a dreadful event!” cried Maximilian.

“Not for the countess, or for Albert,” said Monte Cristo; “a dead father or husband is better than a dishonored one,—blood washes out shame.”

“Poor countess,” said Maximilian, “I pity her very much; she is so noble a woman!”

“Pity Albert also, Maximilian; for believe me he is the worthy son of the countess. But let us return to yourself. You have hastened to me—can I have the happiness of being useful to you?”

“Yes, I need your help: that is I thought like a madman that you could lend me your assistance in a case where God alone can succor me.”

“Tell me what it is,” replied Monte Cristo.

“Oh,” said Morrel, “I know not, indeed, if I may reveal this secret to mortal ears, but fatality impels me, necessity constrains me, count”—Morrel hesitated. “Do you think I love you?” said Monte Cristo, taking the young man’s hand affectionately in his.

“Oh, you encourage me, and something tells me there,” placing his hand on his heart, “that I ought to have no secret from you.”

“You are right, Morrel; God is speaking to your heart, and your heart speaks to you. Tell me what it says.”

“Count, will you allow me to send Baptistin to inquire after some one you know?”

“I am at your service, and still more my servants.”

“Oh, I cannot live if she is not better.”

“Shall I ring for Baptistin?”

“No, I will go and speak to him myself.” Morrel went out, called Baptistin, and whispered a few words to him. The valet ran directly. “Well, have you sent?” asked Monte Cristo, seeing Morrel return.

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