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    Chapter 8

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    Chapter 8
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    CHAPTER 8
    The Chateau D'If.

    The commissary of police, as he traversed the ante-chamber,
    made a sign to two gendarmes, who placed themselves one on
    Dantes' right and the other on his left. A door that
    communicated with the Palais de Justice was opened, and they
    went through a long range of gloomy corridors, whose
    appearance might have made even the boldest shudder. The
    Palais de Justice communicated with the prison, -- a sombre
    edifice, that from its grated windows looks on the
    clock-tower of the Accoules. After numberless windings,
    Dantes saw a door with an iron wicket. The commissary took
    up an iron mallet and knocked thrice, every blow seeming to
    Dantes as if struck on his heart. The door opened, the two
    gendarmes gently pushed him forward, and the door closed
    with a loud sound behind him. The air he inhaled was no
    longer pure, but thick and mephitic, -- he was in prison. He
    was conducted to a tolerably neat chamber, but grated and
    barred, and its appearance, therefore, did not greatly alarm
    him; besides, the words of Villefort, who seemed to interest
    himself so much, resounded still in his ears like a promise
    of freedom. It was four o'clock when Dantes was placed in
    this chamber. It was, as we have said, the 1st of March, and
    the prisoner was soon buried in darkness. The obscurity
    augmented the acuteness of his hearing; at the slightest
    sound he rose and hastened to the door, convinced they were
    about to liberate him, but the sound died away, and Dantes
    sank again into his seat. At last, about ten o'clock, and
    just as Dantes began to despair, steps were heard in the
    corridor, a key turned in the lock, the bolts creaked, the
    massy oaken door flew open, and a flood of light from two
    torches pervaded the apartment. By the torchlight Dantes saw
    the glittering sabres and carbines of four gendarmes. He had
    advanced at first, but stopped at the sight of this display
    of force.

    "Are you come to fetch me?" asked he.

    "Yes," replied a gendarme.

    "By the orders of the deputy procureur?"

    "I believe so." The conviction that they came from M. de
    Villefort relieved all Dantes' apprehensions; he advanced
    calmly, and placed himself in the centre of the escort. A
    carriage waited at the door, the coachman was on the box,
    and a police officer sat beside him.

    "Is this carriage for me?" said Dantes.

    "It is for you," replied a gendarme.

    Dantes was about to speak; but feeling himself urged
    forward, and having neither the power nor the intention to
    resist, he mounted the steps, and was in an instant seated
    inside between two gendarmes; the two others took their
    places opposite, and the carriage rolled heavily over the
    stones.

    The prisoner glanced at the windows -- they were grated; he
    had changed his prison for another that was conveying him he
    knew not whither. Through the grating, however, Dantes saw
    they were passing through the Rue Caisserie, and by the Rue
    Saint-Laurent and the Rue Taramis, to the port. Soon he saw
    the lights of La Consigne.

    The carriage stopped, the officer descended, approached the
    guardhouse, a dozen soldiers came out and formed themselves
    in order; Dantes saw the reflection of their muskets by the
    light of the lamps on the quay.

    "Can all this force be summoned on my account?" thought he.

    The officer opened the door, which was locked, and, without
    speaking a word, answered Dantes' question; for he saw
    between the ranks of the soldiers a passage formed from the
    carriage to the port. The two gendarmes who were opposite to
    him descended first, then he was ordered to alight and the
    gendarmes on each side of him followed his example. They
    advanced towards a boat, which a custom-house officer held
    by a chain, near the quay.

    The soldiers looked at Dantes with an air of stupid
    curiosity. In an instant he was placed in the stern-sheets
    of the boat, between the gendarmes, while the officer
    stationed himself at the bow; a shove sent the boat adrift,
    and four sturdy oarsmen impelled it rapidly towards the
    Pilon. At a shout from the boat, the chain that closes the
    mouth of the port was lowered and in a second they were, as
    Dantes knew, in the Frioul and outside the inner harbor.

    The prisoner's first feeling was of joy at again breathing
    the pure air -- for air is freedom; but he soon sighed, for
    he passed before La Reserve, where he had that morning been
    so happy, and now through the open windows came the laughter
    and revelry of a ball. Dantes folded his hands, raised his
    eyes to heaven, and prayed fervently.

    The boat continued her voyage. They had passed the Tete de
    Morte, were now off the Anse du Pharo, and about to double
    the battery. This manoeuvre was incomprehensible to Dantes.

    "Whither are you taking me?" asked he.

    "You will soon know."

    "But still" --

    "We are forbidden to give you any explanation." Dantes,
    trained in discipline, knew that nothing would be more
    absurd than to question subordinates, who were forbidden to
    reply; and so he remained silent.

    The most vague and wild thoughts passed through his mind.
    The boat they were in could not make a long voyage; there
    was no vessel at anchor outside the harbor; he thought,
    perhaps, they were going to leave him on some distant point.
    He was not bound, nor had they made any attempt to handcuff
    him; this seemed a good augury. Besides, had not the deputy,
    who had been so kind to him, told him that provided he did
    not pronounce the dreaded name of Noirtier, he had nothing
    to apprehend? Had not Villefort in his presence destroyed
    the fatal letter, the only proof against him?

    He waited silently, striving to pierce through the darkness.

    They had left the Ile Ratonneau, where the lighthouse stood,
    on the right, and were now opposite the Point des Catalans.
    It seemed to the prisoner that he could distinguish a
    feminine form on the beach, for it was there Mercedes dwelt.
    How was it that a presentiment did not warn Mercedes that
    her lover was within three hundred yards of her?

    One light alone was visible; and Dantes saw that it came
    from Mercedes' chamber. Mercedes was the only one awake in
    the whole settlement. A loud cry could be heard by her. But
    pride restrained him and he did not utter it. What would his
    guards think if they heard him shout like a madman?

    He remained silent, his eyes fixed upon the light; the boat
    went on, but the prisoner thought only of Mercedes. An
    intervening elevation of land hid the light. Dantes turned
    and perceived that they had got out to sea. While he had
    been absorbed in thought, they had shipped their oars and
    hoisted sail; the boat was now moving with the wind.

    In spite of his repugnance to address the guards, Dantes
    turned to the nearest gendarme, and taking his hand, --

    "Comrade," said he, "I adjure you, as a Christian and a
    soldier, to tell me where we are going. I am Captain Dantes,
    a loyal Frenchman, thought accused of treason; tell me where
    you are conducting me, and I promise you on my honor I will
    submit to my fate."

    The gendarme looked irresolutely at his companion, who
    returned for answer a sign that said, "I see no great harm
    in telling him now," and the gendarme replied, --

    "You are a native of Marseilles, and a sailor, and yet you
    do not know where you are going?"

    "On my honor, I have no idea."

    "Have you no idea whatever?"

    "None at all."

    "That is impossible."

    "I swear to you it is true. Tell me, I entreat."

    "But my orders."

    "Your orders do not forbid your telling me what I must know
    in ten minutes, in half an hour, or an hour. You see I
    cannot escape, even if I intended."

    "Unless you are blind, or have never been outside the
    harbor, you must know."

    "I do not."

    "Look round you then." Dantes rose and looked forward, when
    he saw rise within a hundred yards of him the black and
    frowning rock on which stands the Chateau d'If. This gloomy
    fortress, which has for more than three hundred years
    furnished food for so many wild legends, seemed to Dantes
    like a scaffold to a malefactor.

    "The Chateau d'If?" cried he, "what are we going there for?"
    The gendarme smiled.

    "I am not going there to be imprisoned," said Dantes; "it is
    only used for political prisoners. I have committed no
    crime. Are there any magistrates or judges at the Chateau
    d'If?"

    "There are only," said the gendarme, "a governor, a
    garrison, turnkeys, and good thick walls. Come, come, do not
    look so astonished, or you will make me think you are
    laughing at me in return for my good nature." Dantes pressed
    the gendarme's hand as though he would crush it.

    "You think, then," said he, "that I am taken to the Chateau
    d'If to be imprisoned there?"

    "It is probable; but there is no occasion to squeeze so
    hard."

    "Without any inquiry, without any formality?"

    "All the formalities have been gone through; the inquiry is
    already made."

    "And so, in spite of M. de Villefort's promises?"

    "I do not know what M. de Villefort promised you," said the
    gendarme, "but I know we are taking you to the Chateau d'If.
    But what are you doing? Help, comrades, help!"

    By a rapid movement, which the gendarme's practiced eye had
    perceived, Dantes sprang forward to precipitate himself into
    the sea; but four vigorous arms seized him as his feet
    quitted the bottom of the boat. He fell back cursing with
    rage.

    "Good!" said the gendarme, placing his knee on his chest;
    "believe soft-spoken gentlemen again! Harkye, my friend, I
    have disobeyed my first order, but I will not disobey the
    second; and if you move, I will blow your brains out." And
    he levelled his carbine at Dantes, who felt the muzzle
    against his temple.

    For a moment the idea of struggling crossed his mind, and of
    so ending the unexpected evil that had overtaken him. But he
    bethought him of M. de Villefort's promise; and, besides,
    death in a boat from the hand of a gendarme seemed too
    terrible. He remained motionless, but gnashing his teeth and
    wringing his hands with fury.

    At this moment the boat came to a landing with a violent
    shock. One of the sailors leaped on shore, a cord creaked as
    it ran through a pulley, and Dantes guessed they were at the
    end of the voyage, and that they were mooring the boat.

    His guards, taking him by the arms and coat-collar, forced
    him to rise, and dragged him towards the steps that lead to
    the gate of the fortress, while the police officer carrying
    a musket with fixed bayonet followed behind.

    Dantes made no resistance; he was like a man in a dream: he
    saw soldiers drawn up on the embankment; he knew vaguely
    that he was ascending a flight of steps; he was conscious
    that he passed through a door, and that the door closed
    behind him; but all this indistinctly as through a mist. He
    did not even see the ocean, that terrible barrier against
    freedom, which the prisoners look upon with utter despair.

    They halted for a minute, during which he strove to collect
    his thoughts. He looked around; he was in a court surrounded
    by high walls; he heard the measured tread of sentinels, and
    as they passed before the light he saw the barrels of their
    muskets shine.

    They waited upwards of ten minutes. Certain Dantes could not
    escape, the gendarmes released him. They seemed awaiting
    orders. The orders came.

    "Where is the prisoner?" said a voice.

    "Here," replied the gendarmes.

    "Let him follow me; I will take him to his cell."

    "Go!" said the gendarmes, thrusting Dantes forward.

    The prisoner followed his guide, who led him into a room
    almost under ground, whose bare and reeking walls seemed as
    though impregnated with tears; a lamp placed on a stool
    illumined the apartment faintly, and showed Dantes the
    features of his conductor, an under-jailer, ill-clothed, and
    of sullen appearance.

    "Here is your chamber for to-night," said he. "It is late,
    and the governor is asleep. To-morrow, perhaps, he may
    change you. In the meantime there is bread, water, and fresh
    straw; and that is all a prisoner can wish for. Goodnight."
    And before Dantes could open his mouth -- before he had
    noticed where the jailer placed his bread or the water --
    before he had glanced towards the corner where the straw
    was, the jailer disappeared, taking with him the lamp and
    closing the door, leaving stamped upon the prisoner's mind
    the dim reflection of the dripping walls of his dungeon.

    Dantes was alone in darkness and in silence -- cold as the
    shadows that he felt breathe on his burning forehead. With
    the first dawn of day the jailer returned, with orders to
    leave Dantes where he was. He found the prisoner in the same
    position, as if fixed there, his eyes swollen with weeping.
    He had passed the night standing, and without sleep. The
    jailer advanced; Dantes appeared not to perceive him. He
    touched him on the shoulder. Edmond started.

    "Have you not slept?" said the jailer.

    "I do not know," replied Dantes. The jailer stared.

    "Are you hungry?" continued he.

    "I do not know."

    "Do you wish for anything?"

    "I wish to see the governor." The jailer shrugged his
    shoulders and left the chamber.

    Dantes followed him with his eyes, and stretched forth his
    hands towards the open door; but the door closed. All his
    emotion then burst forth; he cast himself on the ground,
    weeping bitterly, and asking himself what crime he had
    committed that he was thus punished.

    The day passed thus; he scarcely tasted food, but walked
    round and round the cell like a wild beast in its cage. One
    thought in particular tormented him: namely, that during his
    journey hither he had sat so still, whereas he might, a
    dozen times, have plunged into the sea, and, thanks to his
    powers of swimming, for which he was famous, have gained the
    shore, concealed himself until the arrival of a Genoese or
    Spanish vessel, escaped to Spain or Italy, where Mercedes
    and his father could have joined him. He had no fears as to
    how he should live -- good seamen are welcome everywhere. He
    spoke Italian like a Tuscan, and Spanish like a Castilian;
    he would have been free, and happy with Mercedes and his
    father, whereas he was now confined in the Chateau d'If,
    that impregnable fortress, ignorant of the future destiny of
    his father and Mercedes; and all this because he had trusted
    to Villefort's promise. The thought was maddening, and
    Dantes threw himself furiously down on his straw. The next
    morning at the same hour, the jailer came again.

    "Well," said the jailer, "are you more reasonable to-day?"
    Dantes made no reply.

    "Come, cheer up; is there anything that I can do for you?"

    "I wish to see the governor."

    "I have already told you it was impossible."

    "Why so?"

    "Because it is against prison rules, and prisoners must not
    even ask for it."

    "What is allowed, then?"

    "Better fare, if you pay for it, books, and leave to walk
    about."

    "I do not want books, I am satisfied with my food, and do
    not care to walk about; but I wish to see the governor."

    "If you worry me by repeating the same thing, I will not
    bring you any more to eat."

    "Well, then," said Edmond, "if you do not, I shall die of
    hunger -- that is all."

    The jailer saw by his tone he would be happy to die; and as
    every prisoner is worth ten sous a day to his jailer, he
    replied in a more subdued tone.

    "What you ask is impossible; but if you are very well
    behaved you will be allowed to walk about, and some day you
    will meet the governor, and if he chooses to reply, that is
    his affair."

    "But," asked Dantes, "how long shall I have to wait?"

    "Ah, a month -- six months -- a year."

    "It is too long a time. I wish to see him at once."

    "Ah," said the jailer, "do not always brood over what is
    impossible, or you will be mad in a fortnight."

    "You think so?"

    "Yes; we have an instance here; it was by always offering a
    million of francs to the governor for his liberty that an
    abbe became mad, who was in this chamber before you."

    "How long has he left it?"

    "Two years."

    "Was he liberated, then?"

    "No; he was put in a dungeon."

    "Listen!" said Dantes. "I am not an abbe, I am not mad;
    perhaps I shall be, but at present, unfortunately, I am not.
    I will make you another offer."

    "What is that?"

    "I do not offer you a million, because I have it not; but I
    will give you a hundred crowns if, the first time you go to
    Marseilles, you will seek out a young girl named Mercedes,
    at the Catalans, and give her two lines from me."

    "If I took them, and were detected, I should lose my place,
    which is worth two thousand francs a year; so that I should
    be a great fool to run such a risk for three hundred."

    "Well," said Dantes, "mark this; if you refuse at least to
    tell Mercedes I am here, I will some day hide myself behind
    the door, and when you enter I will dash out your brains
    with this stool."

    "Threats!" cried the jailer, retreating and putting himself
    on the defensive; "you are certainly going mad. The abbe
    began like you, and in three days you will be like him, mad
    enough to tie up; but, fortunately, there are dungeons
    here." Dantes whirled the stool round his head.

    "All right, all right," said the jailer; "all right, since
    you will have it so. I will send word to the governor."

    "Very well," returned Dantes, dropping the stool and sitting
    on it as if he were in reality mad. The jailer went out, and
    returned in an instant with a corporal and four soldiers.

    "By the governor's orders," said he, "conduct the prisoner
    to the tier beneath."

    "To the dungeon, then," said the corporal.

    "Yes; we must put the madman with the madmen." The soldiers
    seized Dantes, who followed passively.

    He descended fifteen steps, and the door of a dungeon was
    opened, and he was thrust in. The door closed, and Dantes
    advanced with outstretched hands until he touched the wall;
    he then sat down in the corner until his eyes became
    accustomed to the darkness. The jailer was right; Dantes
    wanted but little of being utterly mad.
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