The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 364 of 400

“Maximilian has just returned, has he not, madame?” asked the count.

“Yes, I think I saw him pass; but pray, call Emmanuel.”

“Excuse me, madame, but I must go up to Maximilian’s room this instant,” replied Monte Cristo, “I have something of the greatest importance to tell him.”

“Go, then,” she said with a charming smile, which accompanied him until he had disappeared. Monte Cristo soon ran up the staircase conducting from the ground-floor to Maximilian’s room; when he reached the landing he listened attentively, but all was still. Like many old houses occupied by a single family, the room door was panelled with glass; but it was locked, Maximilian was shut in, and it was impossible to see what was passing in the room, because a red curtain was drawn before the glass. The count’s anxiety was manifested by a bright color which seldom appeared on the face of that imperturbable man.

“What shall I do!” he uttered, and reflected for a moment; “shall I ring? No, the sound of a bell, announcing a visitor, will but accelerate the resolution of one in Maximilian’s situation, and then the bell would be followed by a louder noise.” Monte Cristo trembled from head to foot and as if his determination had been taken with the rapidity of lightning, he struck one of the panes of glass with his elbow; the glass was shivered to atoms, then withdrawing the curtain he saw Morrel, who had been writing at his desk, bound from his seat at the noise of the broken window.

“I beg a thousand pardons,” said the count, “there is nothing the matter, but I slipped down and broke one of your panes of glass with my elbow. Since it is opened, I will take advantage of it to enter your room; do not disturb yourself—do not disturb yourself!” And passing his hand through the broken glass, the count opened the door. Morrel, evidently discomposed, came to meet Monte Cristo less with the intention of receiving him than to exclude his entry. “Ma foi,” said Monte Cristo, rubbing his elbow, “it’s all your servant’s fault; your stairs are so polished, it is like walking on glass.”

“Are you hurt, sir?” coldly asked Morrel.

“I believe not. But what are you about there? You were writing.”


“Your fingers are stained with ink.”

“Ah, true, I was writing. I do sometimes, soldier though I am.”

Monte Cristo advanced into the room; Maximilian was obliged to let him pass, but he followed him. “You were writing?” said Monte Cristo with a searching look.

“I have already had the honor of telling you I was,” said Morrel.

The count looked around him. “Your pistols are beside your desk,” said Monte Cristo, pointing with his finger to the pistols on the table.

“I am on the point of starting on a journey,” replied Morrel disdainfully.

“My friend,” exclaimed Monte Cristo in a tone of exquisite sweetness.


“My friend, my dear Maximilian, do not make a hasty resolution, I entreat you.”

“I make a hasty resolution?” said Morrel, shrugging his shoulders; “is there anything extraordinary in a journey?”

“Maximilian,” said the count, “let us both lay aside the mask we have assumed. You no more deceive me with that false calmness than I impose upon you with my frivolous solicitude. You can understand, can you not, that to have acted as I have done, to have broken that glass, to have intruded on the solitude of a friend—you can understand that, to have done all this, I must have been actuated by real uneasiness, or rather by a terrible conviction. Morrel, you are going to destroy yourself!”

“Indeed, count,” said Morrel, shuddering; “what has put this into your head?”

“I tell you that you are about to destroy yourself,” continued the count, “and here is proof of what I say;” and, approaching the desk, he removed the sheet of paper which Morrel had placed over the letter he had begun, and took the latter in his hands.

Morrel rushed forward to tear it from him, but Monte Cristo perceiving his intention, seized his wrist with his iron grasp. “You wish to destroy yourself,” said the count; “you have written it.”

“Well,” said Morrel, changing his expression of calmness for one of violence—“well, and if I do intend to turn this pistol against myself, who shall prevent me—who will dare prevent me? All my hopes are blighted, my heart is broken, my life a burden, everything around me is sad and mournful; earth has become distasteful to me, and human voices distract me. It is a mercy to let me die, for if I live I shall lose my reason and become mad. When, sir, I tell you all this with tears of heartfelt anguish, can you reply that I am wrong, can you prevent my putting an end to my miserable existence? Tell me, sir, could you have the courage to do so?”

“Yes, Morrel,” said Monte Cristo, with a calmness which contrasted strangely with the young man’s excitement; “yes, I would do so.”

“You?” exclaimed Morrel, with increasing anger and reproach—“you, who have deceived me with false hopes, who have cheered and soothed me with vain promises, when I might, if not have saved her, at least have seen her die in my arms! You, who pretend to understand everything, even the hidden sources of knowledge,—and who enact the part of a guardian angel upon earth, and could not even find an antidote to a poison administered to a young girl! Ah, sir, indeed you would inspire me with pity, were you not hateful in my eyes.”


“Yes; you tell me to lay aside the mask, and I will do so, be satisfied! When you spoke to me at the cemetery, I answered you—my heart was softened; when you arrived here, I allowed you to enter. But since you abuse my confidence, since you have devised a new torture after I thought I had exhausted them all, then, Count of Monte Cristo my pretended benefactor—then, Count of Monte Cristo, the universal guardian, be satisfied, you shall witness the death of your friend;” and Morrel, with a maniacal laugh, again rushed towards the pistols.

“And I again repeat, you shall not commit suicide.”

“Prevent me, then!” replied Morrel, with another struggle, which, like the first, failed in releasing him from the count’s iron grasp.

“I will prevent you.”

“And who are you, then, that arrogate to yourself this tyrannical right over free and rational beings?”

“Who am I?” repeated Monte Cristo. “Listen; I am the only man in the world having the right to say to you, ‘Morrel, your father’s son shall not die to-day;'” and Monte Cristo, with an expression of majesty and sublimity, advanced with arms folded toward the young man, who, involuntarily overcome by the commanding manner of this man, recoiled a step.

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