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    Chapter 13

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    Chapter 13
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    CHAPTER 13
    The Hundred Days.

    M. Noirtier was a true prophet, and things progressed
    rapidly, as he had predicted. Every one knows the history of
    the famous return from Elba, a return which was
    unprecedented in the past, and will probably remain without
    a counterpart in the future.

    Louis XVIII. made but a faint attempt to parry this
    unexpected blow; the monarchy he had scarcely reconstructed
    tottered on its precarious foundation, and at a sign from
    the emperor the incongruous structure of ancient prejudices
    and new ideas fell to the ground. Villefort, therefore,
    gained nothing save the king's gratitude (which was rather
    likely to injure him at the present time) and the cross of
    the Legion of Honor, which he had the prudence not to wear,
    although M. de Blacas had duly forwarded the brevet.

    Napoleon would, doubtless, have deprived Villefort of his
    office had it not been for Noirtier, who was all powerful at
    court, and thus the Girondin of '93 and the Senator of 1806
    protected him who so lately had been his protector. All
    Villefort's influence barely enabled him to stifle the
    secret Dantes had so nearly divulged. The king's procureur
    alone was deprived of his office, being suspected of
    royalism.

    However, scarcely was the imperial power established -- that
    is, scarcely had the emperor re-entered the Tuileries and
    begun to issue orders from the closet into which we have
    introduced our readers, -- he found on the table there Louis
    XVIII.'s half-filled snuff-box, -- scarcely had this
    occurred when Marseilles began, in spite of the authorities,
    to rekindle the flames of civil war, always smouldering in
    the south, and it required but little to excite the populace
    to acts of far greater violence than the shouts and insults
    with which they assailed the royalists whenever they
    ventured abroad.

    Owing to this change, the worthy shipowner became at that
    moment -- we will not say all powerful, because Morrel was a
    prudent and rather a timid man, so much so, that many of the
    most zealous partisans of Bonaparte accused him of
    "moderation" -- but sufficiently influential to make a
    demand in favor of Dantes.

    Villefort retained his place, but his marriage was put off
    until a more favorable opportunity. If the emperor remained
    on the throne, Gerard required a different alliance to aid
    his career; if Louis XVIII. returned, the influence of M. de
    Saint-Meran, like his own, could be vastly increased, and
    the marriage be still more suitable. The deputy-procureur
    was, therefore, the first magistrate of Marseilles, when one
    morning his door opened, and M. Morrel was announced.

    Any one else would have hastened to receive him; but
    Villefort was a man of ability, and he knew this would be a
    sign of weakness. He made Morrel wait in the ante-chamber,
    although he had no one with him, for the simple reason that
    the king's procureur always makes every one wait, and after
    passing a quarter of an hour in reading the papers, he
    ordered M. Morrel to be admitted.

    Morrel expected Villefort would be dejected; he found him as
    he had found him six weeks before, calm, firm, and full of
    that glacial politeness, that most insurmountable barrier
    which separates the well-bred from the vulgar man.

    He had entered Villefort's office expecting that the
    magistrate would tremble at the sight of him; on the
    contrary, he felt a cold shudder all over him when he saw
    Villefort sitting there with his elbow on his desk, and his
    head leaning on his hand. He stopped at the door; Villefort
    gazed at him as if he had some difficulty in recognizing
    him; then, after a brief interval, during which the honest
    shipowner turned his hat in his hands, --

    "M. Morrel, I believe?" said Villefort.

    "Yes, sir."

    "Come nearer," said the magistrate, with a patronizing wave
    of the hand, "and tell me to what circumstance I owe the
    honor of this visit."

    "Do you not guess, monsieur?" asked Morrel.

    "Not in the least; but if I can serve you in any way I shall
    be delighted."

    "Everything depends on you."

    "Explain yourself, pray."

    "Monsieur," said Morrel, recovering his assurance as he
    proceeded, "do you recollect that a few days before the
    landing of his majesty the emperor, I came to intercede for
    a young man, the mate of my ship, who was accused of being
    concerned in correspondence with the Island of Elba? What
    was the other day a crime is to-day a title to favor. You
    then served Louis XVIII., and you did not show any favor --
    it was your duty; to-day you serve Napoleon, and you ought
    to protect him -- it is equally your duty; I come,
    therefore, to ask what has become of him?"

    Villefort by a strong effort sought to control himself.
    "What is his name?" said he. "Tell me his name."

    "Edmond Dantes."

    Villefort would probably have rather stood opposite the
    muzzle of a pistol at five-and-twenty paces than have heard
    this name spoken; but he did not blanch.

    "Dantes," repeated he, "Edmond Dantes."

    "Yes, monsieur." Villefort opened a large register, then
    went to a table, from the table turned to his registers, and
    then, turning to Morrel, --

    "Are you quite sure you are not mistaken, monsieur?" said
    he, in the most natural tone in the world.

    Had Morrel been a more quick-sighted man, or better versed
    in these matters, he would have been surprised at the king's
    procureur answering him on such a subject, instead of
    referring him to the governors of the prison or the prefect
    of the department. But Morrel, disappointed in his
    expectations of exciting fear, was conscious only of the
    other's condescension. Villefort had calculated rightly.

    "No," said Morrel; "I am not mistaken. I have known him for
    ten years, the last four of which he was in my service. Do
    not you recollect, I came about six weeks ago to plead for
    clemency, as I come to-day to plead for justice. You
    received me very coldly. Oh, the royalists were very severe
    with the Bonapartists in those days."

    "Monsieur," returned Villefort, "I was then a royalist,
    because I believed the Bourbons not only the heirs to the
    throne, but the chosen of the nation. The miraculous return
    of Napoleon has conquered me, the legitimate monarch is he
    who is loved by his people."

    "That's right!" cried Morrel. "I like to hear you speak
    thus, and I augur well for Edmond from it."

    "Wait a moment," said Villefort, turning over the leaves of
    a register; "I have it -- a sailor, who was about to marry a
    young Catalan girl. I recollect now; it was a very serious
    charge."

    "How so?"

    "You know that when he left here he was taken to the Palais
    de Justice."

    "Well?"

    "I made my report to the authorities at Paris, and a week
    after he was carried off."

    "Carried off!" said Morrel. "What can they have done with
    him?"

    "Oh, he has been taken to Fenestrelles, to Pignerol, or to
    the Sainte-Marguerite islands. Some fine morning he will
    return to take command of your vessel."

    "Come when he will, it shall be kept for him. But how is it
    he is not already returned? It seems to me the first care of
    government should be to set at liberty those who have
    suffered for their adherence to it."

    "Do not be too hasty, M. Morrel," replied Villefort. "The
    order of imprisonment came from high authority, and the
    order for his liberation must proceed from the same source;
    and, as Napoleon has scarcely been reinstated a fortnight,
    the letters have not yet been forwarded."

    "But," said Morrel, "is there no way of expediting all these
    formalities -- of releasing him from arrest?"

    "There has been no arrest."

    "How?"

    "It is sometimes essential to government to cause a man's
    disappearance without leaving any traces, so that no written
    forms or documents may defeat their wishes."

    "It might be so under the Bourbons, but at present" --

    "It has always been so, my dear Morrel, since the reign of
    Louis XIV. The emperor is more strict in prison discipline
    than even Louis himself, and the number of prisoners whose
    names are not on the register is incalculable." Had Morrel
    even any suspicions, so much kindness would have dispelled
    them.

    "Well, M. de Villefort, how would you advise me to act?"
    asked he.

    "Petition the minister."

    "Oh, I know what that is; the minister receives two hundred
    petitions every day, and does not read three."

    "That is true; but he will read a petition countersigned and
    presented by me."

    "And will you undertake to deliver it?"

    "With the greatest pleasure. Dantes was then guilty, and now
    he is innocent, and it is as much my duty to free him as it
    was to condemn him." Villefort thus forestalled any danger
    of an inquiry, which, however improbable it might be, if it
    did take place would leave him defenceless.

    "But how shall I address the minister?"

    "Sit down there," said Villefort, giving up his place to
    Morrel, "and write what I dictate."

    "Will you be so good?"

    "Certainly. But lose no time; we have lost too much
    already."

    "That is true. Only think what the poor fellow may even now
    be suffering." Villefort shuddered at the suggestion; but he
    had gone too far to draw back. Dantes must be crushed to
    gratify Villefort's ambition.

    Villefort dictated a petition, in which, from an excellent
    intention, no doubt, Dantes' patriotic services were
    exaggerated, and he was made out one of the most active
    agents of Napoleon's return. It was evident that at the
    sight of this document the minister would instantly release
    him. The petition finished, Villefort read it aloud.

    "That will do," said he; "leave the rest to me."

    "Will the petition go soon?"

    "To-day."

    "Countersigned by you?"

    "The best thing I can do will be to certify the truth of the
    contents of your petition." And, sitting down, Villefort
    wrote the certificate at the bottom.

    "What more is to be done?"

    "I will do whatever is necessary." This assurance delighted
    Morrel, who took leave of Villefort, and hastened to
    announce to old Dantes that he would soon see his son.

    As for Villefort, instead of sending to Paris, he carefully
    preserved the petition that so fearfully compromised Dantes,
    in the hopes of an event that seemed not unlikely, -- that
    is, a second restoration. Dantes remained a prisoner, and
    heard not the noise of the fall of Louis XVIII.'s throne, or
    the still more tragic destruction of the empire.

    Twice during the Hundred Days had Morrel renewed his demand,
    and twice had Villefort soothed him with promises. At last
    there was Waterloo, and Morrel came no more; he had done all
    that was in his power, and any fresh attempt would only
    compromise himself uselessly.

    Louis XVIII. remounted the throne; Villefort, to whom
    Marseilles had become filled with remorseful memories,
    sought and obtained the situation of king's procureur at
    Toulouse, and a fortnight afterwards he married Mademoiselle
    de Saint-Meran, whose father now stood higher at court than
    ever.

    And so Dantes, after the Hundred Days and after Waterloo,
    remained in his dungeon, forgotten of earth and heaven.
    Danglars comprehended the full extent of the wretched fate
    that overwhelmed Dantes; and, when Napoleon returned to
    France, he, after the manner of mediocre minds, termed the
    coincidence, "a decree of Providence." But when Napoleon
    returned to Paris, Danglars' heart failed him, and he lived
    in constant fear of Dantes' return on a mission of
    vengeance. He therefore informed M. Morrel of his wish to
    quit the sea, and obtained a recommendation from him to a
    Spanish merchant, into whose service he entered at the end
    of March, that is, ten or twelve days after Napoleon's
    return. He then left for Madrid, and was no more heard of.

    Fernand understood nothing except that Dantes was absent.
    What had become of him he cared not to inquire. Only, during
    the respite the absence of his rival afforded him, he
    reflected, partly on the means of deceiving Mercedes as to
    the cause of his absence, partly on plans of emigration and
    abduction, as from time to time he sat sad and motionless on
    the summit of Cape Pharo, at the spot from whence Marseilles
    and the Catalans are visible, watching for the apparition of
    a young and handsome man, who was for him also the messenger
    of vengeance. Fernand's mind was made up; he would shoot
    Dantes, and then kill himself. But Fernand was mistaken; a
    man of his disposition never kills himself, for he
    constantly hopes.

    During this time the empire made its last conscription, and
    every man in France capable of bearing arms rushed to obey
    the summons of the emperor. Fernand departed with the rest,
    bearing with him the terrible thought that while he was
    away, his rival would perhaps return and marry Mercedes. Had
    Fernand really meant to kill himself, he would have done so
    when he parted from Mercedes. His devotion, and the
    compassion he showed for her misfortunes, produced the
    effect they always produce on noble minds -- Mercedes had
    always had a sincere regard for Fernand, and this was now
    strengthened by gratitude.

    "My brother," said she as she placed his knapsack on his
    shoulders, "be careful of yourself, for if you are killed, I
    shall be alone in the world." These words carried a ray of
    hope into Fernand's heart. Should Dantes not return,
    Mercedes might one day be his.

    Mercedes was left alone face to face with the vast plain
    that had never seemed so barren, and the sea that had never
    seemed so vast. Bathed in tears she wandered about the
    Catalan village. Sometimes she stood mute and motionless as
    a statue, looking towards Marseilles, at other times gazing
    on the sea, and debating as to whether it were not better to
    cast herself into the abyss of the ocean, and thus end her
    woes. It was not want of courage that prevented her putting
    this resolution into execution; but her religious feelings
    came to her aid and saved her. Caderousse was, like Fernand,
    enrolled in the army, but, being married and eight years
    older, he was merely sent to the frontier. Old Dantes, who
    was only sustained by hope, lost all hope at Napoleon's
    downfall. Five months after he had been separated from his
    son, and almost at the hour of his arrest, he breathed his
    last in Mercedes' arms. M. Morrel paid the expenses of his
    funeral, and a few small debts the poor old man had
    contracted.

    There was more than benevolence in this action; there was
    courage; the south was aflame, and to assist, even on his
    death-bed, the father of so dangerous a Bonapartist as
    Dantes, was stigmatized as a crime.
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