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    Chapter 21

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    Chapter 21
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    CHAPTER 21
    The Island of Tiboulen.

    Dantes, although stunned and almost suffocated, had
    sufficient presence of mind to hold his breath, and as his
    right hand (prepared as he was for every chance) held his
    knife open, he rapidly ripped up the sack, extricated his
    arm, and then his body; but in spite of all his efforts to
    free himself from the shot, he felt it dragging him down
    still lower. He then bent his body, and by a desperate
    effort severed the cord that bound his legs, at the moment
    when it seemed as if he were actually strangled. With a
    mighty leap he rose to the surface of the sea, while the
    shot dragged down to the depths the sack that had so nearly
    become his shroud.

    Dantes waited only to get breath, and then dived, in order
    to avoid being seen. When he arose a second time, he was
    fifty paces from where he had first sunk. He saw overhead a
    black and tempestuous sky, across which the wind was driving
    clouds that occasionally suffered a twinkling star to
    appear; before him was the vast expanse of waters, sombre
    and terrible, whose waves foamed and roared as if before the
    approach of a storm. Behind him, blacker than the sea,
    blacker than the sky, rose phantom-like the vast stone
    structure, whose projecting crags seemed like arms extended
    to seize their prey, and on the highest rock was a torch
    lighting two figures. He fancied that these two forms were
    looking at the sea; doubtless these strange grave-diggers
    had heard his cry. Dantes dived again, and remained a long
    time beneath the water. This was an easy feat to him, for he
    usually attracted a crowd of spectators in the bay before
    the lighthouse at Marseilles when he swam there, and was
    unanimously declared to be the best swimmer in the port.
    When he came up again the light had disappeared.

    He must now get his bearings. Ratonneau and Pomegue are the
    nearest islands of all those that surround the Chateau d'If,
    but Ratonneau and Pomegue are inhabited, as is also the
    islet of Daume, Tiboulen and Lemaire were therefore the
    safest for Dantes' venture. The islands of Tiboulen and
    Lemaire are a league from the Chateau d'If; Dantes,
    nevertheless, determined to make for them. But how could he
    find his way in the darkness of the night? At this moment he
    saw the light of Planier, gleaming in front of him like a
    star. By leaving this light on the right, he kept the Island
    of Tiboulen a little on the left; by turning to the left,
    therefore, he would find it. But, as we have said, it was at
    least a league from the Chateau d'If to this island. Often
    in prison Faria had said to him, when he saw him idle and
    inactive, "Dantes, you must not give way to this
    listlessness; you will be drowned if you seek to escape, and
    your strength has not been properly exercised and prepared
    for exertion." These words rang in Dantes' ears, even
    beneath the waves; he hastened to cleave his way through
    them to see if he had not lost his strength. He found with
    pleasure that his captivity had taken away nothing of his
    power, and that he was still master of that element on whose
    bosom he had so often sported as a boy.

    Fear, that relentless pursuer, clogged Dantes' efforts. He
    listened for any sound that might be audible, and every time
    that he rose to the top of a wave he scanned the horizon,
    and strove to penetrate the darkness. He fancied that every
    wave behind him was a pursuing boat, and he redoubled his
    exertions, increasing rapidly his distance from the chateau,
    but exhausting his strength. He swam on still, and already
    the terrible chateau had disappeared in the darkness. He
    could not see it, but he felt its presence. An hour passed,
    during which Dantes, excited by the feeling of freedom,
    continued to cleave the waves. "Let us see," said he, "I
    have swum above an hour, but as the wind is against me, that
    has retarded my speed; however, if I am not mistaken, I must
    be close to Tiboulen. But what if I were mistaken?" A
    shudder passed over him. He sought to tread water, in order
    to rest himself; but the sea was too violent, and he felt
    that he could not make use of this means of recuperation.

    "Well," said he, "I will swim on until I am worn out, or the
    cramp seizes me, and then I shall sink;" and he struck out
    with the energy of despair.

    Suddenly the sky seemed to him to become still darker and
    more dense, and heavy clouds seemed to sweep down towards
    him; at the same time he felt a sharp pain in his knee. He
    fancied for a moment that he had been shot, and listened for
    the report; but he heard nothing. Then he put out his hand,
    and encountered an obstacle and with another stroke knew
    that he had gained the shore.

    Before him rose a grotesque mass of rocks, that resembled
    nothing so much as a vast fire petrified at the moment of
    its most fervent combustion. It was the Island of Tiboulen.
    Dantes rose, advanced a few steps, and, with a fervent
    prayer of gratitude, stretched himself on the granite. which
    seemed to him softer than down. Then, in spite of the wind
    and rain, he fell into the deep, sweet sleep of utter
    exhaustion. At the expiration of an hour Edmond was awakened
    by the roar of thunder. The tempest was let loose and
    beating the atmosphere with its mighty wings; from time to
    time a flash of lightning stretched across the heavens like
    a fiery serpent, lighting up the clouds that rolled on in
    vast chaotic waves.

    Dantes had not been deceived -- he had reached the first of
    the two islands, which was, in fact, Tiboulen. He knew that
    it was barren and without shelter; but when the sea became
    more calm, he resolved to plunge into its waves again, and
    swim to Lemaire, equally arid, but larger, and consequently
    better adapted for concealment.

    An overhanging rock offered him a temporary shelter, and
    scarcely had he availed himself of it when the tempest burst
    forth in all its fury. Edmond felt the trembling of the rock
    beneath which he lay; the waves, dashing themselves against
    it, wetted him with their spray. He was safely sheltered,
    and yet he felt dizzy in the midst of the warring of the
    elements and the dazzling brightness of the lightning. It
    seemed to him that the island trembled to its base, and that
    it would, like a vessel at anchor, break moorings, and bear
    him off into the centre of the storm. He then recollected
    that he had not eaten or drunk for four-and-twenty hours. He
    extended his hands, and drank greedily of the rainwater that
    had lodged in a hollow of the rock.

    As he rose, a flash of lightning, that seemed to rive the
    remotest heights of heaven, illumined the darkness. By its
    light, between the Island of Lemaire and Cape Croiselle, a
    quarter of a league distant, Dantes saw a fishing-boat
    driven rapidly like a spectre before the power of winds and
    waves. A second after, he saw it again, approaching with
    frightful rapidity. Dantes cried at the top of his voice to
    warn them of their danger, but they saw it themselves.
    Another flash showed him four men clinging to the shattered
    mast and the rigging, while a fifth clung to the broken
    rudder.

    The men he beheld saw him undoubtedly, for their cries were
    carried to his ears by the wind. Above the splintered mast a
    sail rent to tatters was waving; suddenly the ropes that
    still held it gave way, and it disappeared in the darkness
    of the night like a vast sea-bird. At the same moment a
    violent crash was heard, and cries of distress. Dantes from
    his rocky perch saw the shattered vessel, and among the
    fragments the floating forms of the hapless sailors. Then
    all was dark again.

    Dantes ran down the rocks at the risk of being himself
    dashed to pieces; he listened, he groped about, but he heard
    and saw nothing -- the cries had ceased, and the tempest
    continued to rage. By degrees the wind abated, vast gray
    clouds rolled towards the west, and the blue firmament
    appeared studded with bright stars. Soon a red streak became
    visible in the horizon, the waves whitened, a light played
    over them, and gilded their foaming crests with gold. It was
    day.

    Dantes stood mute and motionless before this majestic
    spectacle, as if he now beheld it for the first time; and
    indeed since his captivity in the Chateau d'If he had
    forgotten that such scenes were ever to be witnessed. He
    turned towards the fortress, and looked at both sea and
    land. The gloomy building rose from the bosom of the ocean
    with imposing majesty and seemed to dominate the scene. It
    was about five o'clock. The sea continued to get calmer.

    "In two or three hours," thought Dantes, "the turnkey will
    enter my chamber, find the body of my poor friend, recognize
    it, seek for me in vain, and give the alarm. Then the tunnel
    will be discovered; the men who cast me into the sea and who
    must have heard the cry I uttered, will be questioned. Then
    boats filled with armed soldiers will pursue the wretched
    fugitive. The cannon will warn every one to refuse shelter
    to a man wandering about naked and famished. The police of
    Marseilles will be on the alert by land, whilst the governor
    pursues me by sea. I am cold, I am hungry. I have lost even
    the knife that saved me. O my God, I have suffered enough
    surely! Have pity on me, and do for me what I am unable to
    do for myself."

    As Dantes (his eyes turned in the direction of the Chateau
    d'If) uttered this prayer, he saw off the farther point of
    the Island of Pomegue a small vessel with lateen sail
    skimming the sea like a gull in search of prey; and with his
    sailor's eye he knew it to be a Genoese tartan. She was
    coming out of Marseilles harbor, and was standing out to sea
    rapidly, her sharp prow cleaving through the waves. "Oh,"
    cried Edmond, "to think that in half an hour I could join
    her, did I not fear being questioned, detected, and conveyed
    back to Marseilles! What can I do? What story can I invent?
    under pretext of trading along the coast, these men, who are
    in reality smugglers, will prefer selling me to doing a good
    action. I must wait. But I cannot ---I am starving. In a few
    hours my strength will be utterly exhausted; besides,
    perhaps I have not been missed at the fortress. I can pass
    as one of the sailors wrecked last night. My story will be
    accepted, for there is no one left to contradict me."

    As he spoke, Dantes looked toward the spot where the
    fishing-vessel had been wrecked, and started. The red cap of
    one of the sailors hung to a point of the rock and some
    timbers that had formed part of the vessel's keel, floated
    at the foot of the crag. It an instant Dantes' plan was
    formed. he swam to the cap, placed it on his head, seized
    one of the timbers, and struck out so as to cut across the
    course the vessel was taking.

    "I am saved!" murmured he. And this conviction restored his
    strength.

    He soon saw that the vessel, with the wind dead ahead, was
    tacking between the Chateau d'If and the tower of Planier.
    For an instant he feared lest, instead of keeping in shore,
    she should stand out to sea; but he soon saw that she would
    pass, like most vessels bound for Italy, between the islands
    of Jaros and Calaseraigne. However, the vessel and the
    swimmer insensibly neared one another, and in one of its
    tacks the tartan bore down within a quarter of a mile of
    him. He rose on the waves, making signs of distress; but no
    one on board saw him, and the vessel stood on another tack.
    Dantes would have shouted, but he knew that the wind would
    drown his voice.

    It was then he rejoiced at his precaution in taking the
    timber, for without it he would have been unable, perhaps,
    to reach the vessel -- certainly to return to shore, should
    he be unsuccessful in attracting attention.

    Dantes, though almost sure as to what course the vessel
    would take, had yet watched it anxiously until it tacked and
    stood towards him. Then he advanced; but before they could
    meet, the vessel again changed her course. By a violent
    effort he rose half out of the water, waving his cap, and
    uttering a loud shout peculiar to sailers. This time he was
    both seen and heard, and the tartan instantly steered
    towards him. At the same time, he saw they were about to
    lower the boat.

    An instant after, the boat, rowed by two men, advanced
    rapidly towards him. Dantes let go of the timber, which he
    now thought to be useless, and swam vigorously to meet them.
    But he had reckoned too much upon his strength, and then he
    realized how serviceable the timber had been to him. His
    arms became stiff, his legs lost their flexibility, and he
    was almost breathless.

    He shouted again. The two sailors redoubled their efforts,
    and one of them cried in Italian, "Courage!"

    The word reached his ear as a wave which he no longer had
    the strength to surmount passed over his head. He rose again
    to the surface, struggled with the last desperate effort of
    a drowning man, uttered a third cry, and felt himself
    sinking, as if the fatal cannon shot were again tied to his
    feet. The water passed over his head, and the sky turned
    gray. A convulsive movement again brought him to the
    surface. He felt himself seized by the hair, then he saw and
    heard nothing. He had fainted.

    When he opened his eyes Dantes found himself on the deck of
    the tartan. His first care was to see what course they were
    taking. They were rapidly leaving the Chateau d'If behind.
    Dantes was so exhausted that the exclamation of joy he
    uttered was mistaken for a sigh.

    As we have said, he was lying on the deck. A sailor was
    rubbing his limbs with a woollen cloth; another, whom he
    recognized as the one who had cried out "Courage!" held a
    gourd full of rum to his mouth; while the third, an old
    sailer, at once the pilot and captain, looked on with that
    egotistical pity men feel for a misfortune that they have
    escaped yesterday, and which may overtake them to-morrow.

    A few drops of the rum restored suspended animation, while
    the friction of his limbs restored their elasticity.

    "Who are you?" said the pilot in bad French.

    "I am," replied Dantes, in bad Italian, "a Maltese sailor.
    We were coming from Syracuse laden with grain. The storm of
    last night overtook us at Cape Morgion, and we were wrecked
    on these rocks."

    "Where do you come from?"

    "From these rocks that I had the good luck to cling to while
    our captain and the rest of the crew were all lost. I saw
    your vessel, and fearful of being left to perish on the
    desolate island, I swam off on a piece of wreckage to try
    and intercept your course. You have saved my life, and I
    thank you," continued Dantes. "I was lost when one of your
    sailors caught hold of my hair."

    "It was I," said a sailor of a frank and manly appearance;
    "and it was time, for you were sinking."

    "Yes," returned Dantes, holding out his hand, "I thank you
    again."

    "I almost hesitated, though," replied the sailor; "you
    looked more like a brigand than an honest man, with your
    beard six inches, and your hair a foot long." Dantes
    recollected that his hair and beard had not been cut all the
    time he was at the Chateau d'If.

    "Yes," said he, "I made a vow, to our Lady of the Grotto not
    to cut my hair or beard for ten years if I were saved in a
    moment of danger; but to-day the vow expires."

    "Now what are we to do with you?" said the captain.

    "Alas, anything you please. My captain is dead; I have
    barely escaped; but I am a good sailor. Leave me at the
    first port you make; I shall be sure to find employment."

    "Do you know the Mediterranean?"

    "I have sailed over it since my childhood."

    "You know the best harbors?"

    "There are few ports that I could not enter or leave with a
    bandage over my eyes."

    "I say, captain," said the sailor who had cried "Courage!"
    to Dantes, "if what he says is true, what hinders his
    staying with us?"

    "If he says true," said the captain doubtingly. "But in his
    present condition he will promise anything, and take his
    chance of keeping it afterwards."

    "I will do more than I promise," said Dantes.

    "We shall see," returned the other, smiling.

    "Where are you going?" asked Dantes.

    "To Leghorn."

    "Then why, instead of tacking so frequently, do you not sail
    nearer the wind?"

    "Because we should run straight on to the Island of Rion."

    "You shall pass it by twenty fathoms."

    "Take the helm, and let us see what you know." The young man
    took the helm, felt to see if the vessel answered the rudder
    promptly and seeing that, without being a first-rate sailer,
    she yet was tolerably obedient, --

    "To the sheets," said he. The four seamen, who composed the
    crew, obeyed, while the pilot looked on. "Haul taut." --
    They obeyed.

    "Belay." This order was also executed; and the vessel
    passed, as Dantes had predicted, twenty fathoms to windward.

    "Bravo!" said the captain.

    "Bravo!" repeated the sailors. And they all looked with
    astonishment at this man whose eye now disclosed an
    intelligence and his body a vigor they had not thought him
    capable of showing.

    "You see," said Dantes, quitting the helm, "I shall be of
    some use to you, at least during the voyage. If you do not
    want me at Leghorn, you can leave me there, and I will pay
    you out of the first wages I get, for my food and the
    clothes you lend me."

    "Ah," said the captain, "we can agree very well, if you are
    reasonable."

    "Give me what you give the others, and it will be all
    right," returned Dantes.

    "That's not fair," said the seaman who had saved Dantes;
    "for you know more than we do."

    "What is that to you, Jacopo?" returned the Captain. "Every
    one is free to ask what he pleases."

    "That's true," replied Jacopo; "I only make a remark."

    "Well, you would do much better to find him a jacket and a
    pair of trousers, if you have them."

    "No," said Jacopo; "but I have a shirt and a pair of
    trousers."

    "That is all I want," interrupted Dantes. Jacopo dived into
    the hold and soon returned with what Edmond wanted.

    "Now, then, do you wish for anything else?" said the patron.

    "A piece of bread and another glass of the capital rum I
    tasted, for I have not eaten or drunk for a long time." He
    had not tasted food for forty hours. A piece of bread was
    brought, and Jacopo offered him the gourd.

    "Larboard your helm," cried the captain to the steersman.
    Dantes glanced that way as he lifted the gourd to his mouth;
    then paused with hand in mid-air.

    "Hollo! what's the matter at the Chateau d'If?" said the
    captain.

    A small white cloud, which had attracted Dantes' attention,
    crowned the summit of the bastion of the Chateau d'If. At
    the same moment the faint report of a gun was heard. The
    sailors looked at one another.

    "What is this?" asked the captain.

    "A prisoner has escaped from the Chateau d'If, and they are
    firing the alarm gun," replied Dantes. The captain glanced
    at him, but he had lifted the rum to his lips and was
    drinking it with so much composure, that suspicions, if the
    captain had any, died away.

    "At any rate," murmured he, "if it be, so much the better,
    for I have made a rare acquisition." Under pretence of being
    fatigued, Dantes asked to take the helm; the steersman, glad
    to be relieved, looked at the captain, and the latter by a
    sign indicated that he might abandon it to his new comrade.
    Dantes could thus keep his eyes on Marseilles.

    "What is the day of the month?" asked he of Jacopo, who sat
    down beside him.

    "The 28th of February."

    "In what year?"

    "In what year -- you ask me in what year?"

    "Yes," replied the young man, "I ask you in what year!"

    "You have forgotten then?"

    "I got such a fright last night," replied Dantes, smiling,
    "that I have almost lost my memory. I ask you what year is
    it?"

    "The year 1829," returned Jacopo. It was fourteen years day
    for day since Dantes' arrest. He was nineteen when he
    entered the Chateau d'If; he was thirty-three when he
    escaped. A sorrowful smile passed over his face; he asked
    himself what had become of Mercedes, who must believe him
    dead. Then his eyes lighted up with hatred as he thought of
    the three men who had caused him so long and wretched a
    captivity. He renewed against Danglars, Fernand, and
    Villefort the oath of implacable vengeance he had made in
    his dungeon. This oath was no longer a vain menace; for the
    fastest sailer in the Mediterranean would have been unable
    to overtake the little tartan, that with every stitch of
    canvas set was flying before the wind to Leghorn.
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