The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 97 of 400

“The more so, sir, as it was men’s and not God’s doing.”

“Tell me of those men,” said the abbe, “and remember too,” he added in an almost menacing tone, “you have promised to tell me everything. Tell me, therefore, who are these men who killed the son with despair, and the father with famine?”

“Two men jealous of him, sir; one from love, and the other from ambition,—Fernand and Danglars.”

“How was this jealousy manifested? Speak on.”

“They denounced Edmond as a Bonapartist agent.”

“Which of the two denounced him? Which was the real delinquent?”

“Both, sir; one with a letter, and the other put it in the post.”

“And where was this letter written?”

“At La Reserve, the day before the betrothal feast.”

“’Twas so, then—’twas so, then,” murmured the abbe. “Oh, Faria, Faria, how well did you judge men and things!”

“What did you please to say, sir?” asked Caderousse.

“Nothing, nothing,” replied the priest; “go on.”

“It was Danglars who wrote the denunciation with his left hand, that his writing might not be recognized, and Fernand who put it in the post.”

“But,” exclaimed the abbe suddenly, “you were there yourself.”

“I!” said Caderousse, astonished; “who told you I was there?”

The abbe saw he had overshot the mark, and he added quickly,—“No one; but in order to have known everything so well, you must have been an eye-witness.”

“True, true!” said Caderousse in a choking voice, “I was there.”

“And did you not remonstrate against such infamy?” asked the abbe; “if not, you were an accomplice.”

“Sir,” replied Caderousse, “they had made me drink to such an excess that I nearly lost all perception. I had only an indistinct understanding of what was passing around me. I said all that a man in such a state could say; but they both assured me that it was a jest they were carrying on, and perfectly harmless.”

“Next day—next day, sir, you must have seen plain enough what they had been doing, yet you said nothing, though you were present when Dantes was arrested.”

“Yes, sir, I was there, and very anxious to speak; but Danglars restrained me. ‘If he should really be guilty,’ said he, ‘and did really put in to the Island of Elba; if he is really charged with a letter for the Bonapartist committee at Paris, and if they find this letter upon him, those who have supported him will pass for his accomplices.’ I confess I had my fears, in the state in which politics then were, and I held my tongue. It was cowardly, I confess, but it was not criminal.”

“I understand—you allowed matters to take their course, that was all.”

“Yes, sir,” answered Caderousse; “and remorse preys on me night and day. I often ask pardon of God, I swear to you, because this action, the only one with which I have seriously to reproach myself in all my life, is no doubt the cause of my abject condition. I am expiating a moment of selfishness, and so I always say to La Carconte, when she complains, ‘Hold your tongue, woman; it is the will of God.'” And Caderousse bowed his head with every sign of real repentance.

“Well, sir,” said the abbe, “you have spoken unreservedly; and thus to accuse yourself is to deserve pardon.”

“Unfortunately, Edmond is dead, and has not pardoned me.”

“He did not know,” said the abbe.

“But he knows it all now,” interrupted Caderousse; “they say the dead know everything.” There was a brief silence; the abbe rose and paced up and down pensively, and then resumed his seat. “You have two or three times mentioned a M. Morrel,” he said; “who was he?”

“The owner of the Pharaon and patron of Dantes.”

“And what part did he play in this sad drama?” inquired the abbe.

“The part of an honest man, full of courage and real regard. Twenty times he interceded for Edmond. When the emperor returned, he wrote, implored, threatened, and so energetically, that on the second restoration he was persecuted as a Bonapartist. Ten times, as I told you, he came to see Dantes’ father, and offered to receive him in his own house; and the night or two before his death, as I have already said, he left his purse on the mantelpiece, with which they paid the old man’s debts, and buried him decently; and so Edmond’s father died, as he had lived, without doing harm to any one. I have the purse still by me—a large one, made of red silk.”

“And,” asked the abbe, “is M. Morrel still alive?”

“Yes,” replied Caderousse.

“In that case,” replied the abbe, “he should be rich, happy.”

Caderousse smiled bitterly. “Yes, happy as myself,” said he.

“What! M. Morrel unhappy?” exclaimed the abbe.

“He is reduced almost to the last extremity—nay, he is almost at the point of dishonor.”


“Yes,” continued Caderousse, “so it is; after five and twenty years of labor, after having acquired a most honorable name in the trade of Marseilles, M. Morrel is utterly ruined; he has lost five ships in two years, has suffered by the bankruptcy of three large houses, and his only hope now is in that very Pharaon which poor Dantes commanded, and which is expected from the Indies with a cargo of cochineal and indigo. If this ship founders, like the others, he is a ruined man.”

“And has the unfortunate man wife or children?” inquired the abbe.

“Yes, he has a wife, who through everything has behaved like an angel; he has a daughter, who was about to marry the man she loved, but whose family now will not allow him to wed the daughter of a ruined man; he has, besides, a son, a lieutenant in the army; and, as you may suppose, all this, instead of lessening, only augments his sorrows. If he were alone in the world he would blow out his brains, and there would be an end.”

“Horrible!” ejaculated the priest.

“And it is thus heaven recompenses virtue, sir,” added Caderousse. “You see, I, who never did a bad action but that I have told you of—am in destitution, with my poor wife dying of fever before my very eyes, and I unable to do anything in the world for her; I shall die of hunger, as old Dantes did, while Fernand and Danglars are rolling in wealth.”

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