The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 395 of 400

“And here is your fowl.” Danglars sighed while he carved the fowl; it appeared very thin for the price it had cost. As for Peppino, he examined the paper attentively, put it into his pocket, and continued eating his pease.

Chapter 116. The Pardon.

The next day Danglars was again hungry; certainly the air of that dungeon was very provocative of appetite. The prisoner expected that he would be at no expense that day, for like an economical man he had concealed half of his fowl and a piece of the bread in the corner of his cell. But he had no sooner eaten than he felt thirsty; he had forgotten that. He struggled against his thirst till his tongue clave to the roof of his mouth; then, no longer able to resist, he called out. The sentinel opened the door; it was a new face. He thought it would be better to transact business with his old acquaintance, so he sent for Peppino. “Here I am, your excellency,” said Peppino, with an eagerness which Danglars thought favorable to him. “What do you want?”

“Something to drink.”

“Your excellency knows that wine is beyond all price near Rome.”

“Then give me water,” cried Danglars, endeavoring to parry the blow.

“Oh, water is even more scarce than wine, your excellency,—there has been such a drought.”

“Come,” thought Danglars, “it is the same old story.” And while he smiled as he attempted to regard the affair as a joke, he felt his temples get moist with perspiration.

“Come, my friend,” said Danglars, seeing that he made no impression on Peppino, “you will not refuse me a glass of wine?”

“I have already told you that we do not sell at retail.”

“Well, then, let me have a bottle of the least expensive.”

“They are all the same price.”

“And what is that?”

“Twenty-five thousand francs a bottle.”

* The miser in Moliere’s comedy of “L’Avare.”—Ed.

“Tell me,” cried Danglars, in a tone whose bitterness Harpagon * alone has been capable of revealing—“tell me that you wish to despoil me of all; it will be sooner over than devouring me piecemeal.”

“It is possible such may be the master’s intention.”

“The master?—who is he?”

“The person to whom you were conducted yesterday.”

“Where is he?”

“Here.”

“Let me see him.”

“Certainly.” And the next moment Luigi Vampa appeared before Danglars.

“You sent for me?” he said to the prisoner.

“Are you, sir, the chief of the people who brought me here?”

“Yes, your excellency. What then?”

“How much do you require for my ransom?”

“Merely the 5,000,000 you have about you.” Danglars felt a dreadful spasm dart through his heart. “But this is all I have left in the world,” he said, “out of an immense fortune. If you deprive me of that, take away my life also.”

“We are forbidden to shed your blood.”

“And by whom are you forbidden?”

“By him we obey.”

“You do, then, obey some one?”

“Yes, a chief.”

“I thought you said you were the chief?”

“So I am of these men; but there is another over me.”

“And did your superior order you to treat me in this way?”

“Yes.”

“But my purse will be exhausted.”

“Probably.”

“Come,” said Danglars, “will you take a million?”

“No.”

“Two millions?—three?—four? Come, four? I will give them to you on condition that you let me go.”

“Why do you offer me 4,000,000 for what is worth 5,000,000? This is a kind of usury, banker, that I do not understand.”

“Take all, then—take all, I tell you, and kill me!”

“Come, come, calm yourself. You will excite your blood, and that would produce an appetite it would require a million a day to satisfy. Be more economical.”

“But when I have no more money left to pay you?” asked the infuriated Danglars.

“Then you must suffer hunger.”

“Suffer hunger?” said Danglars, becoming pale.

“Most likely,” replied Vampa coolly.

“But you say you do not wish to kill me?”

“No.”

“And yet you will let me perish with hunger?”

“Ah, that is a different thing.”

“Well, then, wretches,” cried Danglars, “I will defy your infamous calculations—I would rather die at once! You may torture, torment, kill me, but you shall not have my signature again!”

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. (To tell the truth I don't even really care if you give me your email or not.)