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    Chapter 5

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    Chapter 5
    Previous Chapter
    The Marriage-Feast.

    The morning's sun rose clear and resplendent, touching the
    foamy waves into a network of ruby-tinted light.

    The feast had been made ready on the second floor at La
    Reserve, with whose arbor the reader is already familiar.
    The apartment destined for the purpose was spacious and
    lighted by a number of windows, over each of which was
    written in golden letters for some inexplicable reason the
    name of one of the principal cities of France; beneath these
    windows a wooden balcony extended the entire length of the
    house. And although the entertainment was fixed for twelve
    o'clock, an hour previous to that time the balcony was
    filled with impatient and expectant guests, consisting of
    the favored part of the crew of the Pharaon, and other
    personal friends of the bride-groom, the whole of whom had
    arrayed themselves in their choicest costumes, in order to
    do greater honor to the occasion.

    Various rumors were afloat to the effect that the owners of
    the Pharaon had promised to attend the nuptial feast; but
    all seemed unanimous in doubting that an act of such rare
    and exceeding condescension could possibly be intended.

    Danglars, however, who now made his appearance, accompanied
    by Caderousse, effectually confirmed the report, stating
    that he had recently conversed with M. Morrel, who had
    himself assured him of his intention to dine at La Reserve.

    In fact, a moment later M. Morrel appeared and was saluted
    with an enthusiastic burst of applause from the crew of the
    Pharaon, who hailed the visit of the shipowner as a sure
    indication that the man whose wedding feast he thus
    delighted to honor would ere long be first in command of the
    ship; and as Dantes was universally beloved on board his
    vessel, the sailors put no restraint on their tumultuous joy
    at finding that the opinion and choice of their superiors so
    exactly coincided with their own.

    With the entrance of M. Morrel, Danglars and Caderousse were
    despatched in search of the bride-groom to convey to him the
    intelligence of the arrival of the important personage whose
    coming had created such a lively sensation, and to beseech
    him to make haste.

    Danglars and Caderousse set off upon their errand at full
    speed; but ere they had gone many steps they perceived a
    group advancing towards them, composed of the betrothed
    pair, a party of young girls in attendance on the bride, by
    whose side walked Dantes' father; the whole brought up by
    Fernand, whose lips wore their usual sinister smile.

    Neither Mercedes nor Edmond observed the strange expression
    of his countenance; they were so happy that they were
    conscious only of the sunshine and the presence of each

    Having acquitted themselves of their errand, and exchanged a
    hearty shake of the hand with Edmond, Danglars and
    Caderousse took their places beside Fernand and old Dantes,
    -- the latter of whom attracted universal notice. The old
    man was attired in a suit of glistening watered silk,
    trimmed with steel buttons, beautifully cut and polished.
    His thin but wiry legs were arrayed in a pair of richly
    embroidered clocked stockings, evidently of English
    manufacture, while from his three-cornered hat depended a
    long streaming knot of white and blue ribbons. Thus he came
    along, supporting himself on a curiously carved stick, his
    aged countenance lit up with happiness, looking for all the
    world like one of the aged dandies of 1796, parading the
    newly opened gardens of the Tuileries and Luxembourg. Beside
    him glided Caderousse, whose desire to partake of the good
    things provided for the wedding-party had induced him to
    become reconciled to the Dantes, father and son, although
    there still lingered in his mind a faint and unperfect
    recollection of the events of the preceding night; just as
    the brain retains on waking in the morning the dim and misty
    outline of a dream.

    As Danglars approached the disappointed lover, he cast on
    him a look of deep meaning, while Fernand, as he slowly
    paced behind the happy pair, who seemed, in their own
    unmixed content, to have entirely forgotten that such a
    being as himself existed, was pale and abstracted;
    occasionally, however, a deep flush would overspread his
    countenance, and a nervous contraction distort his features,
    while, with an agitated and restless gaze, he would glance
    in the direction of Marseilles, like one who either
    anticipated or foresaw some great and important event.

    Dantes himself was simply, but becomingly, clad in the dress
    peculiar to the merchant service -- a costume somewhat
    between a military and a civil garb; and with his fine
    countenance, radiant with joy and happiness, a more perfect
    specimen of manly beauty could scarcely be imagined.

    Lovely as the Greek girls of Cyprus or Chios, Mercedes
    boasted the same bright flashing eyes of jet, and ripe,
    round, coral lips. She moved with the light, free step of an
    Arlesienne or an Andalusian. One more practiced in the arts
    of great cities would have hid her blushes beneath a veil,
    or, at least, have cast down her thickly fringed lashes, so
    as to have concealed the liquid lustre of her animated eyes;
    but, on the contrary, the delighted girl looked around her
    with a smile that seemed to say: "If you are my friends,
    rejoice with me, for I am very happy."

    As soon as the bridal party came in sight of La Reserve, M.
    Morrel descended and came forth to meet it, followed by the
    soldiers and sailors there assembled, to whom he had
    repeated the promise already given, that Dantes should be
    the successor to the late Captain Leclere. Edmond, at the
    approach of his patron, respectfully placed the arm of his
    affianced bride within that of M. Morrel, who, forthwith
    conducting her up the flight of wooden steps leading to the
    chamber in which the feast was prepared, was gayly followed
    by the guests, beneath whose heavy tread the slight
    structure creaked and groaned for the space of several

    "Father," said Mercedes, stopping when she had reached the
    centre of the table, "sit, I pray you, on my right hand; on
    my left I will place him who has ever been as a brother to
    me," pointing with a soft and gentle smile to Fernand; but
    her words and look seemed to inflict the direst torture on
    him, for his lips became ghastly pale, and even beneath the
    dark hue of his complexion the blood might be seen
    retreating as though some sudden pang drove it back to the

    During this time, Dantes, at the opposite side of the table,
    had been occupied in similarly placing his most honored
    guests. M. Morrel was seated at his right hand, Danglars at
    his left; while, at a sign from Edmond, the rest of the
    company ranged themselves as they found it most agreeable.

    Then they began to pass around the dusky, piquant, Arlesian
    sausages, and lobsters in their dazzling red cuirasses,
    prawns of large size and brilliant color, the echinus with
    its prickly outside and dainty morsel within, the clovis,
    esteemed by the epicures of the South as more than rivalling
    the exquisite flavor of the oyster, -- all the delicacies,
    in fact, that are cast up by the wash of waters on the sandy
    beach, and styled by the grateful fishermen "fruits of the

    "A pretty silence truly!" said the old father of the
    bride-groom, as he carried to his lips a glass of wine of
    the hue and brightness of the topaz, and which had just been
    placed before Mercedes herself. "Now, would anybody think
    that this room contained a happy, merry party, who desire
    nothing better than to laugh and dance the hours away?"

    "Ah," sighed Caderousse, "a man cannot always feel happy
    because he is about to be married."

    "The truth is," replied Dantes, "that I am too happy for
    noisy mirth; if that is what you meant by your observation,
    my worthy friend, you are right; joy takes a strange effect
    at times, it seems to oppress us almost the same as sorrow."

    Danglars looked towards Fernand, whose excitable nature
    received and betrayed each fresh impression.

    "Why, what ails you?" asked he of Edmond. "Do you fear any
    approaching evil? I should say that you were the happiest
    man alive at this instant."

    "And that is the very thing that alarms me," returned
    Dantes. "Man does not appear to me to be intended to enjoy
    felicity so unmixed; happiness is like the enchanted palaces
    we read of in our childhood, where fierce, fiery dragons
    defend the entrance and approach; and monsters of all shapes
    and kinds, requiring to be overcome ere victory is ours. I
    own that I am lost in wonder to find myself promoted to an
    honor of which I feel myself unworthy -- that of being the
    husband of Mercedes."

    "Nay, nay!" cried Caderousse, smiling, "you have not
    attained that honor yet. Mercedes is not yet your wife. Just
    assume the tone and manner of a husband, and see how she
    will remind you that your hour is not yet come!"

    The bride blushed, while Fernand, restless and uneasy,
    seemed to start at every fresh sound, and from time to time
    wiped away the large drops of perspiration that gathered on
    his brow.

    "Well, never mind that, neighbor Caderousse; it is not worth
    while to contradict me for such a trifle as that. 'Tis true
    that Mercedes is not actually my wife; but," added he,
    drawing out his watch, "in an hour and a half she will be."

    A general exclamation of surprise ran round the table, with
    the exception of the elder Dantes, whose laugh displayed the
    still perfect beauty of his large white teeth. Mercedes
    looked pleased and gratified, while Fernand grasped the
    handle of his knife with a convulsive clutch.

    "In an hour?" inquired Danglars, turning pale. "How is that,
    my friend?"

    "Why, thus it is," replied Dantes. "Thanks to the influence
    of M. Morrel, to whom, next to my father, I owe every
    blessing I enjoy, every difficulty his been removed. We have
    purchased permission to waive the usual delay; and at
    half-past two o'clock the mayor of Marseilles will be
    waiting for us at the city hall. Now, as a quarter-past one
    has already struck, I do not consider I have asserted too
    much in saying, that, in another hour and thirty minutes
    Mercedes will have become Madame Dantes."

    Fernand closed his eyes, a burning sensation passed across
    his brow, and he was compelled to support himself by the
    table to prevent his falling from his chair; but in spite of
    all his efforts, he could not refrain from uttering a deep
    groan, which, however, was lost amid the noisy felicitations
    of the company.

    "Upon my word," cried the old man, "you make short work of
    this kind of affair. Arrived here only yesterday morning,
    and married to-day at three o'clock! Commend me to a sailor
    for going the quick way to work!"

    "But," asked Danglars, in a timid tone, "how did you manage
    about the other formalities -- the contract -- the

    "The contract," answered Dantes, laughingly, "it didn't take
    long to fix that. Mercedes has no fortune; I have none to
    settle on her. So, you see, our papers were quickly written
    out, and certainly do not come very expensive." This joke
    elicited a fresh burst of applause.

    "So that what we presumed to be merely the betrothal feast
    turns out to be the actual wedding dinner!" said Danglars.

    "No, no," answered Dantes; "don't imagine I am going to put
    you off in that shabby manner. To-morrow morning I start for
    Paris; four days to go, and the same to return, with one day
    to discharge the commission intrusted to me, is all the time
    I shall be absent. I shall be back here by the first of
    March, and on the second I give my real marriage feast."

    This prospect of fresh festivity redoubled the hilarity of
    the guests to such a degree, that the elder Dantes, who, at
    the commencement of the repast, had commented upon the
    silence that prevailed, now found it difficult, amid the
    general din of voices, to obtain a moment's tranquillity in
    which to drink to the health and prosperity of the bride and

    Dantes, perceiving the affectionate eagerness of his father,
    responded by a look of grateful pleasure; while Mercedes
    glanced at the clock and made an expressive gesture to

    Around the table reigned that noisy hilarity which usually
    prevails at such a time among people sufficiently free from
    the demands of social position not to feel the trammels of
    etiquette. Such as at the commencement of the repast had not
    been able to seat themselves according to their inclination
    rose unceremoniously, and sought out more agreeable
    companions. Everybody talked at once, without waiting for a
    reply and each one seemed to be contented with expressing
    his or her own thoughts.

    Fernand's paleness appeared to have communicated itself to
    Danglars. As for Fernand himself, he seemed to be enduring
    the tortures of the damned; unable to rest, he was among the
    first to quit the table, and, as though seeking to avoid the
    hilarious mirth that rose in such deafening sounds, he
    continued, in utter silence, to pace the farther end of the

    Caderousse approached him just as Danglars, whom Fernand
    seemed most anxious to avoid, had joined him in a corner of
    the room.

    "Upon my word," said Caderousse, from whose mind the
    friendly treatment of Dantes, united with the effect of the
    excellent wine he had partaken of, had effaced every feeling
    of envy or jealousy at Dantes' good fortune, -- "upon my
    word, Dantes is a downright good fellow, and when I see him
    sitting there beside his pretty wife that is so soon to be.
    I cannot help thinking it would have been a great pity to
    have served him that trick you were planning yesterday."

    "Oh, there was no harm meant," answered Danglars; "at first
    I certainly did feel somewhat uneasy as to what Fernand
    might be tempted to do; but when I saw how completely he had
    mastered his feelings, even so far as to become one of his
    rival's attendants, I knew there was no further cause for
    apprehension." Caderousse looked full at Fernand -- he was
    ghastly pale.

    "Certainly," continued Danglars, "the sacrifice was no
    trifling one, when the beauty of the bride is concerned.
    Upon my soul, that future captain of mine is a lucky dog!
    Gad, I only wish he would let me take his place."

    "Shall we not set forth?" asked the sweet, silvery voice of
    Mercedes; "two o'clock has just struck, and you know we are
    expected in a quarter of an hour."

    "To be sure! -- to be sure!" cried Dantes, eagerly quitting
    the table; "let us go directly!"

    His words were re-echoed by the whole party, with vociferous

    At this moment Danglars, who had been incessantly observing
    every change in Fernand's look and manner, saw him stagger
    and fall back, with an almost convulsive spasm, against a
    seat placed near one of the open windows. At the same
    instant his ear caught a sort of indistinct sound on the
    stairs, followed by the measured tread of soldiery, with the
    clanking of swords and military accoutrements; then came a
    hum and buzz as of many voices, so as to deaden even the
    noisy mirth of the bridal party, among whom a vague feeling
    of curiosity and apprehension quelled every disposition to
    talk, and almost instantaneously the most deathlike
    stillness prevailed.

    The sounds drew nearer. Three blows were struck upon the
    panel of the door. The company looked at each other in

    "I demand admittance," said a loud voice outside the room,
    "in the name of the law!" As no attempt was made to prevent
    it, the door was opened, and a magistrate, wearing his
    official scarf, presented himself, followed by four soldiers
    and a corporal. Uneasiness now yielded to the most extreme
    dread on the part of those present.

    "May I venture to inquire the reason of this unexpected
    visit?" said M. Morrel, addressing the magistrate, whom he
    evidently knew; "there is doubtless some mistake easily

    "If it be so," replied the magistrate, "rely upon every
    reparation being made; meanwhile, I am the bearer of an
    order of arrest, and although I most reluctantly perform the
    task assigned me, it must, nevertheless, be fulfilled. Who
    among the persons here assembled answers to the name of
    Edmond Dantes?" Every eye was turned towards the young man
    who, spite of the agitation he could not but feel, advanced
    with dignity, and said, in a firm voice, "I am he; what is
    your pleasure with me?"

    "Edmond Dantes," replied the magistrate, "I arrest you in
    the name of the law!"

    "Me!" repeated Edmond, slightly changing color, "and
    wherefore, I pray?"

    "I cannot inform you, but you will be duly acquainted with
    the reasons that have rendered such a step necessary at the
    preliminary examination."

    M. Morrel felt that further resistance or remonstrance was
    useless. He saw before him an officer delegated to enforce
    the law, and perfectly well knew that it would be as
    unavailing to seek pity from a magistrate decked with his
    official scarf, as to address a petition to some cold marble
    effigy. Old Dantes, however, sprang forward. There are
    situations which the heart of a father or a mother cannot be
    made to understand. He prayed and supplicated in terms so
    moving, that even the officer was touched, and, although
    firm in his duty, he kindly said, "My worthy friend, let me
    beg of you to calm your apprehensions. Your son has probably
    neglected some prescribed form or attention in registering
    his cargo, and it is more than probable he will be set at
    liberty directly he has given the information required,
    whether touching the health of his crew, or the value of his

    "What is the meaning of all this?" inquired Caderousse,
    frowningly, of Danglars, who had assumed an air of utter

    "How can I tell you?" replied he; "I am, like yourself,
    utterly bewildered at all that is going on, and cannot in
    the least make out what it is about." Caderousse then looked
    around for Fernand, but he had disappeared.

    The scene of the previous night now came back to his mind
    with startling clearness. The painful catastrophe he had
    just witnessed appeared effectually to have rent away the
    veil which the intoxication of the evening before had raised
    between himself and his memory.

    "So, so," said he, in a hoarse and choking voice, to
    Danglars, "this, then, I suppose, is a part of the trick you
    were concerting yesterday? All I can say is, that if it be
    so, 'tis an ill turn, and well deserves to bring double evil
    on those who have projected it."

    "Nonsense," returned Danglars, "I tell you again I have
    nothing whatever to do with it; besides, you know very well
    that I tore the paper to pieces."

    "No, you did not!" answered Caderousse, "you merely threw it
    by -- I saw it lying in a corner."

    "Hold your tongue, you fool! -- what should you know about
    it? -- why, you were drunk!"

    "Where is Fernand?" inquired Caderousse.

    "How do I know?" replied Danglars; "gone, as every prudent
    man ought to be, to look after his own affairs, most likely.
    Never mind where he is, let you and I go and see what is to
    be done for our poor friends."

    During this conversation, Dantes, after having exchanged a
    cheerful shake of the hand with all his sympathizing
    friends, had surrendered himself to the officer sent to
    arrest him, merely saying, "Make yourselves quite easy, my
    good fellows, there is some little mistake to clear up,
    that's all, depend upon it; and very likely I may not have
    to go so far as the prison to effect that."

    "Oh, to be sure!" responded Danglars, who had now approached
    the group, "nothing more than a mistake, I feel quite

    Dantes descended the staircase, preceded by the magistrate,
    and followed by the soldiers. A carriage awaited him at the
    door; he got in, followed by two soldiers and the
    magistrate, and the vehicle drove off towards Marseilles.

    "Adieu, adieu, dearest Edmond!" cried Mercedes, stretching
    out her arms to him from the balcony.

    The prisoner heard the cry, which sounded like the sob of a
    broken heart, and leaning from the coach he called out,
    "Good-by, Mercedes -- we shall soon meet again!" Then the
    vehicle disappeared round one of the turnings of Fort Saint

    "Wait for me here, all of you!" cried M. Morrel; "I will
    take the first conveyance I find, and hurry to Marseilles,
    whence I will bring you word how all is going on."

    "That's right!" exclaimed a multitude of voices, "go, and
    return as quickly as you can!"

    This second departure was followed by a long and fearful
    state of terrified silence on the part of those who were
    left behind. The old father and Mercedes remained for some
    time apart, each absorbed in grief; but at length the two
    poor victims of the same blow raised their eyes, and with a
    simultaneous burst of feeling rushed into each other's arms.

    Meanwhile Fernand made his appearance, poured out for
    himself a glass of water with a trembling hand; then hastily
    swallowing it, went to sit down at the first vacant place,
    and this was, by mere chance, placed next to the seat on
    which poor Mercedes had fallen half fainting, when released
    from the warm and affectionate embrace of old Dantes.
    Instinctively Fernand drew back his chair.

    "He is the cause of all this misery -- I am quite sure of
    it," whispered Caderousse, who had never taken his eyes off
    Fernand, to Danglars.

    "I don't think so," answered the other; he's too stupid to
    imagine such a scheme. I only hope the mischief will fall
    upon the head of whoever wrought it."

    "You don't mention those who aided and abetted the deed,"
    said Caderousse.

    "Surely," answered Danglars, "one cannot be held responsible
    for every chance arrow shot into the air."

    "You can, indeed, when the arrow lights point downward on
    somebody's head."

    Meantime the subject of the arrest was being canvassed in
    every different form.

    "What think you, Danglars," said one of the party, turning
    towards him, "of this event?"

    "Why," replied he, "I think it just possible Dantes may have
    been detected with some trifling article on board ship
    considered here as contraband."

    "But how could he have done so without your knowledge,
    Danglars, since you are the ship's supercargo?"

    "Why, as for that, I could only know what I was told
    respecting the merchandise with which the vessel was laden.
    I know she was loaded with cotton, and that she took in her
    freight at Alexandria from Pastret's warehouse, and at
    Smyrna from Pascal's; that is all I was obliged to know, and
    I beg I may not be asked for any further particulars."

    "Now I recollect," said the afflicted old father; "my poor
    boy told me yesterday he had got a small case of coffee, and
    another of tobacco for me!"

    "There, you see," exclaimed Danglars. "Now the mischief is
    out; depend upon it the custom-house people went rummaging
    about the ship in our absence, and discovered poor Dantes'
    hidden treasures."

    Mercedes, however, paid no heed to this explanation of her
    lover's arrest. Her grief, which she had hitherto tried to
    restrain, now burst out in a violent fit of hysterical

    "Come, come," said the old man, "be comforted, my poor
    child; there is still hope!"

    "Hope!" repeated Danglars.

    "Hope!" faintly murmured Fernand, but the word seemed to die
    away on his pale agitated lips, and a convulsive spasm
    passed over his countenance.

    "Good news! good news!" shouted forth one of the party
    stationed in the balcony on the lookout. "Here comes M.
    Morrel back. No doubt, now, we shall hear that our friend is

    Mercedes and the old man rushed to meet the shipowner and
    greeted him at the door. He was very pale.

    "What news?" exclaimed a general burst of voices.

    "Alas, my friends," replied M. Morrel, with a mournful shake
    of his head, "the thing has assumed a more serious aspect
    than I expected."

    "Oh, indeed -- indeed, sir, he is innocent!" sobbed forth

    "That I believe!" answered M. Morrel; "but still he is
    charged" --

    "With what?" inquired the elder Dantes.

    "With being an agent of the Bonapartist faction!" Many of
    our readers may be able to recollect how formidable such an
    accusation became in the period at which our story is dated.

    A despairing cry escaped the pale lips of Mercedes; the old
    man sank into a chair.

    "Ah, Danglars!" whispered Caderousse, "you have deceived me
    -- the trick you spoke of last night has been played; but I
    cannot suffer a poor old man or an innocent girl to die of
    grief through your fault. I am determined to tell them all
    about it."

    "Be silent, you simpleton!" cried Danglars, grasping him by
    the arm, "or I will not answer even for your own safety. Who
    can tell whether Dantes be innocent or guilty? The vessel
    did touch at Elba, where he quitted it, and passed a whole
    day in the island. Now, should any letters or other
    documents of a compromising character be found upon him,
    will it not be taken for granted that all who uphold him are
    his accomplices?"

    With the rapid instinct of selfishness, Caderousse readily
    perceived the solidity of this mode of reasoning; he gazed,
    doubtfully, wistfully, on Danglars, and then caution
    supplanted generosity.

    "Suppose we wait a while, and see what comes of it," said
    he, casting a bewildered look on his companion.

    "To be sure!" answered Danglars. "Let us wait, by all means.
    If he be innocent, of course he will be set at liberty; if
    guilty, why, it is no use involving ourselves in a

    "Let us go, then. I cannot stay here any longer."

    "With all my heart!" replied Danglars, pleased to find the
    other so tractable. "Let us take ourselves out of the way,
    and leave things for the present to take their course."

    After their departure, Fernand, who had now again become the
    friend and protector of Mercedes, led the girl to her home,
    while the friends of Dantes conducted the now half-fainting
    man back to his abode.

    The rumor of Edmond arrest as a Bonapartist agent was not
    slow in circulating throughout the city.

    "Could you ever have credited such a thing, my dear
    Danglars?" asked M. Morrel, as, on his return to the port
    for the purpose of gleaning fresh tidings of Dantes, from M.
    de Villefort, the assistant procureur, he overtook his
    supercargo and Caderousse. "Could you have believed such a
    thing possible?"

    "Why, you know I told you," replied Danglars, "that I
    considered the circumstance of his having anchored at the
    Island of Elba as a very suspicious circumstance."

    "And did you mention these suspicions to any person beside

    "Certainly not!" returned Danglars. Then added in a low
    whisper, "You understand that, on account of your uncle, M.
    Policar Morrel, who served under the other government, and
    who does not altogether conceal what he thinks on the
    subject, you are strongly suspected of regretting the
    abdication of Napoleon. I should have feared to injure both
    Edmond and yourself, had I divulged my own apprehensions to
    a soul. I am too well aware that though a subordinate, like
    myself, is bound to acquaint the shipowner with everything
    that occurs, there are many things he ought most carefully
    to conceal from all else."

    "'Tis well, Danglars -- 'tis well!" replied M. Morrel. "You
    are a worthy fellow; and I had already thought of your
    interests in the event of poor Edmond having become captain
    of the Pharaon."

    "Is it possible you were so kind?"

    "Yes, indeed; I had previously inquired of Dantes what was
    his opinion of you, and if he should have any reluctance to
    continue you in your post, for somehow I have perceived a
    sort of coolness between you."

    "And what was his reply?"

    "That he certainly did think he had given you offence in an
    affair which he merely referred to without entering into
    particulars, but that whoever possessed the good opinion and
    confidence of the ship's owner would have his preference

    "The hypocrite!" murmured Danglars.

    "Poor Dantes!" said Caderousse. "No one can deny his being a
    noble-hearted young fellow."

    "But meanwhile," continued M. Morrel, "here is the Pharaon
    without a captain."

    "Oh," replied Danglars, "since we cannot leave this port for
    the next three months, let us hope that ere the expiration
    of that period Dantes will be set at liberty."

    "No doubt; but in the meantime?"

    "I am entirely at your service, M. Morrel," answered
    Danglars. "You know that I am as capable of managing a ship
    as the most experienced captain in the service; and it will
    be so far advantageous to you to accept my services, that
    upon Edmond's release from prison no further change will be
    requisite on board the Pharaon than for Dantes and myself
    each to resume our respective posts."

    "Thanks, Danglars -- that will smooth over all difficulties.
    I fully authorize you at once to assume the command of the
    Pharaon, and look carefully to the unloading of her freight.
    Private misfortunes must never be allowed to interfere with

    "Be easy on that score, M. Morrel; but do you think we shall
    be permitted to see our poor Edmond?"

    "I will let you know that directly I have seen M. de
    Villefort, whom I shall endeavor to interest in Edmond's
    favor. I am aware he is a furious royalist; but, in spite of
    that, and of his being king's attorney, he is a man like
    ourselves, and I fancy not a bad sort of one."

    "Perhaps not," replied Danglars; "but I hear that he is
    ambitions, and that's rather against him."

    "Well, well," returned M. Morrel, "we shall see. But now
    hasten on board, I will join you there ere long." So saying,
    the worthy shipowner quitted the two allies, and proceeded
    in the direction of the Palais de Justice.

    "You see," said Danglars, addressing Caderousse, "the turn
    things have taken. Do you still feel any desire to stand up
    in his defence?"

    "Not the slightest, but yet it seems to me a shocking thing
    that a mere joke should lead to such consequences."

    "But who perpetrated that joke, let me ask? neither you nor
    myself, but Fernand; you knew very well that I threw the
    paper into a corner of the room -- indeed, I fancied I had
    destroyed it."

    "Oh, no," replied Caderousse, "that I can answer for, you
    did not. I only wish I could see it now as plainly as I saw
    it lying all crushed and crumpled in a corner of the arbor."

    "Well, then, if you did, depend upon it, Fernand picked it
    up, and either copied it or caused it to be copied; perhaps,
    even, he did not take the trouble of recopying it. And now I
    think of it, by Heavens, he may have sent the letter itself!
    Fortunately, for me, the handwriting was disguised."

    "Then you were aware of Dantes being engaged in a

    "Not I. As I before said, I thought the whole thing was a
    joke, nothing more. It seems, however, that I have
    unconsciously stumbled upon the truth."

    "Still," argued Caderousse, "I would give a great deal if
    nothing of the kind had happened; or, at least, that I had
    had no hand in it. You will see, Danglars, that it will turn
    out an unlucky job for both of us."

    "Nonsense! If any harm come of it, it should fall on the
    guilty person; and that, you know, is Fernand. How can we be
    implicated in any way? All we have got to do is, to keep our
    own counsel, and remain perfectly quiet, not breathing a
    word to any living soul; and you will see that the storm
    will pass away without in the least affecting us."

    "Amen!" responded Caderousse, waving his hand in token of
    adieu to Danglars, and bending his steps towards the Allees
    de Meillan, moving his head to and fro, and muttering as he
    went, after the manner of one whose mind was overcharged
    with one absorbing idea.

    "So far, then," said Danglars, mentally, "all has gone as I
    would have it. I am, temporarily, commander of the Pharaon,
    with the certainty of being permanently so, if that fool of
    a Caderousse can be persuaded to hold his tongue. My only
    fear is the chance of Dantes being released. But, there, he
    is in the hands of Justice; and," added he with a smile,
    "she will take her own." So saying, he leaped into a boat,
    desiring to be rowed on board the Pharaon, where M. Morrel
    had agreed to meet him.
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