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    Chapter 69

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    Chapter 69
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    CHAPTER 69
    The Inquiry.

    M. de Villefort kept the promise he had made to Madame
    Danglars, to endeavor to find out how the Count of Monte
    Cristo had discovered the history of the house at Auteuil.
    He wrote the same day for the required information to M. de
    Boville, who, from having been an inspector of prisons, was
    promoted to a high office in the police; and the latter
    begged for two days time to ascertain exactly who would be
    most likely to give him full particulars. At the end of the
    second day M. de Villefort received the following note: --

    "The person called the Count of Monte Cristo is an intimate
    acquaintance of Lord Wilmore, a rich foreigner, who is
    sometimes seen in Paris and who is there at this moment; he
    is also known to the Abbe Busoni, a Sicilian priest, of high
    repute in the East, where he has done much good."

    M. de Villefort replied by ordering the strictest inquiries
    to be made respecting these two persons; his orders were
    executed, and the following evening he received these
    details: --

    "The abbe, who was in Paris only for a month, inhabited a
    small two-storied house behind Saint-Sulpice; there were two
    rooms on each floor and he was the only tenant. The two
    lower rooms consisted of a dining-room, with a table,
    chairs, and side-board of walnut, -- and a wainscoted
    parlor, without ornaments, carpet, or timepiece. It was
    evident that the abbe limited himself to objects of strict
    necessity. He preferred to use the sitting-room upstairs,
    which was more library than parlor, and was furnished with
    theological books and parchments, in which he delighted to
    bury himself for months at a time, according to his valet de
    chambre. His valet looked at the visitors through a sort of
    wicket; and if their faces were unknown to him or displeased
    him, he replied that the abbe was not in Paris, an answer
    which satisfied most persons, because the abbe was known to
    be a great traveller. Besides, whether at home or not,
    whether in Paris or Cairo, the abbe always left something to
    give away, which the valet distributed through this wicket
    in his master's name. The other room near the library was a
    bedroom. A bed without curtains, four arm-chairs, and a
    couch, covered with yellow Utrecht velvet, composed, with a
    prie-Dieu, all its furniture. Lord Wilmore resided in Rue
    Fontaine-Saint-George. He was one of those English tourists
    who consume a large fortune in travelling. He hired the
    apartment in which he lived furnished, passed only a few
    hours in the day there, and rarely slept there. One of his
    peculiarities was never to speak a word of French, which he
    however wrote with great facility."

    The day after this important information had been given to
    the king's attorney, a man alighted from a carriage at the
    corner of the Rue Ferou, and rapping at an olive-green door,
    asked if the Abbe Busoni were within. "No, he went out early
    this morning," replied the valet.

    "I might not always be content with that answer," replied
    the visitor, "for I come from one to whom everyone must be
    at home. But have the kindness to give the Abbe Busoni" --

    "I told you he was not at home," repeated the valet. "Then
    on his return give him that card and this sealed paper. Will
    he be at home at eight o'clock this evening?"

    "Doubtless, unless he is at work, which is the same as if he
    were out."

    "I will come again at that time," replied the visitor, who
    then retired.

    At the appointed hour the same man returned in the same
    carriage, which, instead of stopping this time at the end of
    the Rue Ferou, drove up to the green door. He knocked, and
    it opened immediately to admit him. From the signs of
    respect the valet paid him, he saw that his note had
    produced a good effect. "Is the abbe at home?" asked he.

    "Yes; he is at work in his library, but he expects you,
    sir," replied the valet. The stranger ascended a rough
    staircase, and before a table, illumined by a lamp whose
    light was concentrated by a large shade while the rest of
    the apartment was in partial darkness, he perceived the abbe
    in a monk's dress, with a cowl on his head such as was used
    by learned men of the Middle Ages. "Have I the honor of
    addressing the Abbe Busoni?" asked the visitor.

    "Yes, sir," replied the abbe; "and you are the person whom
    M. de Boville, formerly an inspector of prisons, sends to me
    from the prefect of police?"

    "Exactly, sir."

    "One of the agents appointed to secure the safety of Paris?"

    "Yes, sir" replied the stranger with a slight hesitation,
    and blushing.

    The abbe replaced the large spectacles, which covered not
    only his eyes but his temples, and sitting down motioned to
    his visitor to do the same. "I am at your service, sir,"
    said the abbe, with a marked Italian accent.

    "The mission with which I am charged, sir," replied the
    visitor, speaking with hesitation, "is a confidential one on
    the part of him who fulfils it, and him by whom he is
    employed." The abbe bowed. "Your probity," replied the
    stranger, "is so well known to the prefect that he wishes as
    a magistrate to ascertain from you some particulars
    connected with the public safety, to ascertain which I am
    deputed to see you. It is hoped that no ties of friendship
    or humane consideration will induce you to conceal the
    truth."

    "Provided, sir, the particulars you wish for do not
    interfere with my scruples or my conscience. I am a priest,
    sir, and the secrets of confession, for instance, must
    remain between me and God, and not between me and human
    justice."

    "Do not alarm yourself, monsieur, we will duly respect your
    conscience."

    At this moment the abbe pressed down his side of the shade
    and so raised it on the other, throwing a bright light on
    the stranger's face, while his own remained obscured.
    "Excuse me, abbe," said the envoy of the prefect of the
    police, "but the light tries my eyes very much." The abbe
    lowered the shade. "Now, sir, I am listening -- go on."

    "I will come at once to the point. Do you know the Count of
    Monte Cristo?"

    "You mean Monsieur Zaccone, I presume?"

    "Zaccone? -- is not his name Monte Cristo?"

    "Monte Cristo is the name of an estate, or, rather, of a
    rock, and not a family name."

    "Well, be it so -- let us not dispute about words; and since
    M. de Monte Cristo and M. Zaccone are the same" --

    "Absolutely the same."

    "Let us speak of M. Zaccone."

    "Agreed."

    "I asked you if you knew him?"

    "Extremely well."

    "Who is he?"

    "The son of a rich shipbuilder in Malta."

    "I know that is the report; but, as you are aware, the
    police does not content itself with vague reports."

    "However," replied the abbe, with an affable smile, "when
    that report is in accordance with the truth, everybody must
    believe it, the police as well as all the rest."

    "Are you sure of what you assert?"

    "What do you mean by that question?"

    "Understand, sir, I do not in the least suspect your
    veracity; I ask if you are certain of it?"

    "I knew his father, M. Zaccone."

    "Ah, indeed?"

    "And when a child I often played with the son in the
    timber-yards."

    "But whence does he derive the title of count?"

    "You are aware that may be bought."

    "In Italy?"

    "Everywhere."

    "And his immense riches, whence does he procure them?"

    "They may not be so very great."

    "How much do you suppose he possesses?"

    "From one hundred and fifty to two hundred thousand livres
    per annum."

    "That is reasonable," said the visitor; "I have heard he had
    three or four millions."

    "Two hundred thousand per annum would make four millions of
    capital."

    "But I was told he had four millions per annum?"

    "That is not probable."

    "Do you know this Island of Monte Cristo?"

    "Certainly, every one who has come from Palermo, Naples, or
    Rome to France by sea must know it, since he has passed
    close to it and must have seen it."

    "I am told it is a delightful place?"

    "It is a rock."

    "And why has the count bought a rock?"

    "For the sake of being a count. In Italy one must have
    territorial possessions to be a count."

    "You have, doubtless, heard the adventures of M. Zaccone's
    youth?"

    "The father's?"

    "No, the son's."

    "I know nothing certain; at that period of his life, I lost
    sight of my young comrade."

    "Was he in the wars?"

    "I think he entered the service."

    "In what branch?"

    "In the navy."

    "Are you not his confessor?"

    "No, sir; I believe he is a Lutheran."

    "A Lutheran?"

    "I say, I believe such is the case, I do not affirm it;
    besides, liberty of conscience is established in France."

    "Doubtless, and we are not now inquiring into his creed, but
    his actions; in the name of the prefect of police, I ask you
    what you know of him.

    "He passes for a very charitable man. Our holy father, the
    pope, has made him a knight of Jesus Christ for the services
    he rendered to the Christians in the East; he has five or
    six rings as testimonials from Eastern monarchs of his
    services."

    "Does he wear them?"

    "No, but he is proud of them; he is better pleased with
    rewards given to the benefactors of man than to his
    destroyers."

    "He is a Quaker then?"

    "Exactly, he is a Quaker, with the exception of the peculiar
    dress."

    "Has he any friends?"

    "Yes, every one who knows him is his friend."

    "But has he any enemies?"

    "One only."

    "What is his name?"

    "Lord Wilmore."

    "Where is he?"

    "He is in Paris just now."

    "Can he give me any particulars?"

    "Important ones; he was in India with Zaccone."

    "Do you know his abode?"

    "It's somewhere in the Chaussee d'Antin; but I know neither
    the street nor the number."

    "Are you at variance with the Englishman?"

    "I love Zaccone, and he hates him; we are consequently not
    friends."

    "Do you think the Count of Monte Cristo had ever been in
    France before he made this visit to Paris?"

    "To that question I can answer positively; no, sir, he had
    not, because he applied to me six months ago for the
    particulars he required, and as I did not know when I might
    again come to Paris, I recommended M. Cavalcanti to him."

    "Andrea?"

    "No, Bartolomeo, his father."

    "Now, sir, I have but one question more to ask, and I charge
    you, in the name of honor, of humanity, and of religion, to
    answer me candidly."

    "What is it, sir?"

    "Do you know with what design M. de Monte Cristo purchased a
    house at Auteuil?"

    "Certainly, for he told me."

    "What is it, sir?"

    "To make a lunatic asylum of it, similar to that founded by
    the Count of Pisani at Palermo. Do you know about that
    institution?"

    "I have heard of it."

    "It is a magnificent charity." Having said this, the abbe
    bowed to imply he wished to pursue his studies. The visitor
    either understood the abbe's meaning, or had no more
    questions to ask; he arose, and the abbe accompanied him to
    the door. "You are a great almsgiver," said the visitor,
    "and although you are said to be rich, I will venture to
    offer you something for your poor people; will you accept my
    offering?"

    "I thank you, sir; I am only jealous in one thing, and that
    is that the relief I give should be entirely from my own
    resources."

    "However" --

    "My resolution, sir, is unchangeable, but you have only to
    search for yourself and you will find, alas, but too many
    objects upon whom to exercise your benevolence." The abbe
    once more bowed as he opened the door, the stranger bowed
    and took his leave, and the carriage conveyed him straight
    to the house of M. de Villefort. An hour afterwards the
    carriage was again ordered, and this time it went to the Rue
    Fontaine-Saint-George, and stopped at No. 5, where Lord
    Wilmore lived. The stranger had written to Lord Wilmore,
    requesting an interview, which the latter had fixed for ten
    o'clock. As the envoy of the prefect of police arrived ten
    minutes before ten, he was told that Lord Wilmore, who was
    precision and punctuality personified, was not yet come in,
    but that he would be sure to return as the clock struck.

    The visitor was introduced into the drawing-room, which was
    like all other furnished drawing-rooms. A mantle-piece, with
    two modern Sevres vases, a timepiece representing Cupid with
    his bent bow, a mirror with an engraving on each side -- one
    representing Homer carrying his guide, the other, Belisarius
    begging -- a grayish paper; red and black tapestry -- such
    was the appearance of Lord Wilmore's drawing-room. It was
    illuminated by lamps with ground-glass shades which gave
    only a feeble light, as if out of consideration for the
    envoy's weak sight. After ten minutes' expectation the clock
    struck ten; at the fifth stroke the door opened and Lord
    Wilmore appeared. He was rather above the middle height,
    with thin reddish whiskers, light complexion and light hair,
    turning rather gray. He was dressed with all the English
    peculiarity, namely, in a blue coat, with gilt buttons and
    high collar, in the fashion of 1811, a white kerseymere
    waistcoat, and nankeen pantaloons, three inches too short,
    but which were prevented by straps from slipping up to the
    knee. His first remark on entering was, -- "You know, sir, I
    do not speak French?"

    "I know you do not like to converse in our language,"
    replied the envoy. "But you may use it," replied Lord
    Wilmore; "I understand it."

    "And I," replied the visitor, changing his idiom, "know
    enough of English to keep up the conversation. Do not put
    yourself to the slightest inconvenience."

    "Aw?" said Lord Wilmore, with that tone which is only known
    to natives of Great Britain.

    The envoy presented his letter of introduction, which the
    latter read with English coolness, and having finished, --
    "I understand," said he, "perfectly."

    Then began the questions, which were similar to those which
    had been addressed to the Abbe Busoni. But as Lord Wilmore,
    in the character of the count's enemy, was less restrained
    in his answers, they were more numerous; he described the
    youth of Monte Cristo, who he said, at ten years of age,
    entered the service of one of the petty sovereigns of India
    who make war on the English. It was there Wilmore had first
    met him and fought against him; and in that war Zaccone had
    been taken prisoner, sent to England, and consigned to the
    hulks, whence he had escaped by swimming. Then began his
    travels, his duels, his caprices; then the insurrection in
    Greece broke out, and he had served in the Grecian ranks.
    While in that service he had discovered a silver mine in the
    mountains of Thessaly, but he had been careful to conceal it
    from every one. After the battle of Navarino, when the Greek
    government was consolidated, he asked of King Otho a mining
    grant for that district, which was given him. Hence that
    immense fortune, which, in Lord Wilmore's opinion, possibly
    amounted to one or two millions per annum, -- a precarious
    fortune, which might be momentarily lost by the failure of
    the mine.

    "But," asked the visitor, "do you know why he came to
    France?"

    "He is speculating in railways," said Lord Wilmore, "and as
    he is an expert chemist and physicist, he has invented a new
    system of telegraphy, which he is seeking to bring to
    perfection."

    "How much does he spend yearly?" asked the prefect.

    "Not more than five or six hundred thousand francs," said
    Lord Wilmore; "he is a miser." Hatred evidently inspired the
    Englishman, who, knowing no other reproach to bring on the
    count, accused him of avarice. "Do you know his house at
    Auteuil?"

    "Certainly."

    "What do you know respecting it?"

    "Do you wish to know why he bought it?"

    "Yes."

    "The count is a speculator, who will certainly ruin himself
    in experiments. He supposes there is in the neighborhood of
    the house he has bought a mineral spring equal to those at
    Bagneres, Luchon, and Cauterets. He is going to turn his
    house into a Badhaus, as the Germans term it. He has already
    dug up all the garden two or three times to find the famous
    spring, and, being unsuccessful, he will soon purchase all
    the contiguous houses. Now, as I dislike him, and hope his
    railway, his electric telegraph, or his search for baths,
    will ruin him, I am watching for his discomfiture, which
    must soon take place."

    "What was the cause of your quarrel?"

    "When he was in England he seduced the wife of one of my
    friends."

    "Why do you not seek revenge?"

    "I have already fought three duels with him," said the
    Englishman, "the first with the pistol, the second with the
    sword, and the third with the sabre."

    "And what was the result of those duels?"

    "The first time, he broke my arm; the second, he wounded me
    in the breast; and the third time, made this large wound."
    The Englishman turned down his shirt-collar, and showed a
    scar, whose redness proved it to be a recent one. "So that,
    you see, there is a deadly feud between us."

    "But," said the envoy, "you do not go about it in the right
    way to kill him, if I understand you correctly."

    "Aw?" said the Englishman, "I practice shooting every day,
    and every other day Grisier comes to my house."

    This was all the visitor wished to ascertain, or, rather,
    all the Englishman appeared to know. The agent arose, and
    having bowed to Lord Wilmore, who returned his salutation
    with the stiff politeness of the English, he retired. Lord
    Wilmore, having heard the door close after him, returned to
    his bedroom, where with one hand he pulled off his light
    hair, his red whiskers, his false jaw, and his wound, to
    resume the black hair, dark complexion, and pearly teeth of
    the Count of Monte Cristo. It was M. de Villefort, and not
    the prefect, who returned to the house of M. de Villefort.
    The procureur felt more at ease, although he had learned
    nothing really satisfactory, and, for the first time since
    the dinner-party at Auteuil, he slept soundly.
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