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    Chapter 84

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    Chapter 84
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    CHAPTER 84
    Beauchamp.

    The daring attempt to rob the count was the topic of
    conversation throughout Paris for the next fortnight. The
    dying man had signed a deposition declaring Benedetto to be
    the assassin. The police had orders to make the strictest
    search for the murderer. Caderousse's knife, dark lantern,
    bunch of keys, and clothing, excepting the waistcoat, which
    could not be found, were deposited at the registry; the
    corpse was conveyed to the morgue. The count told every one
    that this adventure had happened during his absence at
    Auteuil, and that he only knew what was related by the Abbe
    Busoni, who that evening, by mere chance, had requested to
    pass the night in his house, to examine some valuable books
    in his library. Bertuccio alone turned pale whenever
    Benedetto's name was mentioned in his presence, but there
    was no reason why any one should notice his doing so.
    Villefort, being called on to prove the crime, was preparing
    his brief with the same ardor that he was accustomed to
    exercise when required to speak in criminal cases.

    But three weeks had already passed, and the most diligent
    search had been unsuccessful; the attempted robbery and the
    murder of the robber by his comrade were almost forgotten in
    anticipation of the approaching marriage of Mademoiselle
    Danglars to the Count Andrea Cavalcanti. It was expected
    that this wedding would shortly take place, as the young man
    was received at the banker's as the betrothed. Letters had
    been despatched to M. Cavalcanti, as the count's father, who
    highly approved of the union, regretted his inability to
    leave Parma at that time, and promised a wedding gift of a
    hundred and fifty thousand livres. It was agreed that the
    three millions should be intrusted to Danglars to invest;
    some persons had warned the young man of the circumstances
    of his future father-in-law, who had of late sustained
    repeated losses; but with sublime disinterestedness and
    confidence the young man refused to listen, or to express a
    single doubt to the baron. The baron adored Count Andrea
    Cavalcanti: not so Mademoiselle Eugenie Danglars. With an
    instinctive hatred of matrimony, she suffered Andrea's
    attentions in order to get rid of Morcerf; but when Andrea
    urged his suit, she betrayed an entire dislike to him. The
    baron might possibly have perceived it, but, attributing it
    to a caprice, feigned ignorance.

    The delay demanded by Beauchamp had nearly expired. Morcerf
    appreciated the advice of Monte Cristo to let things die
    away of their own accord. No one had taken up the remark
    about the general, and no one had recognized in the officer
    who betrayed the castle of Yanina the noble count in the
    House of Peers. Albert, however felt no less insulted; the
    few lines which had irritated him were certainly intended as
    an insult. Besides, the manner in which Beauchamp had closed
    the conference left a bitter recollection in his heart. He
    cherished the thought of the duel, hoping to conceal its
    true cause even from his seconds. Beauchamp had not been
    seen since the day he visited Albert, and those of whom the
    latter inquired always told him he was out on a journey
    which would detain him some days. Where he was no one knew.

    One morning Albert was awakened by his valet de chambre, who
    announced Beauchamp. Albert rubbed his eyes, ordered his
    servant to introduce him into the small smoking-room on the
    ground-floor, dressed himself quickly, and went down. He
    found Beauchamp pacing the room; on perceiving him Beauchamp
    stopped. "Your arrival here, without waiting my visit at
    your house to-day, looks well, sir," said Albert. "Tell me,
    may I shake hands with you, saying, 'Beauchamp, acknowledge
    you have injured me, and retain my friendship,' or must I
    simply propose to you a choice of arms?"

    "Albert," said Beauchamp, with a look of sorrow which
    stupefied the young man, "let us first sit down and talk."

    "Rather, sir, before we sit down, I must demand your
    answer."

    "Albert," said the journalist, "these are questions which it
    is difficult to answer."

    "I will facilitate it by repeating the question, 'Will you,
    or will you not, retract?'"

    "Morcerf, it is not enough to answer 'yes' or 'no' to
    questions which concern the honor, the social interest, and
    the life of such a man as Lieutenant-general the Count of
    Morcerf, peer of France."

    "What must then be done?"

    "What I have done, Albert. I reasoned thus -- money, time,
    and fatigue are nothing compared with the reputation and
    interests of a whole family; probabilities will not suffice,
    only facts will justify a deadly combat with a friend. If I
    strike with the sword, or discharge the contents of a pistol
    at man with whom, for three years, I have been on terms of
    intimacy, I must, at least, know why I do so; I must meet
    him with a heart at ease, and that quiet conscience which a
    man needs when his own arm must save his life."

    "Well," said Morcerf, impatiently, "what does all this
    mean?"

    "It means that I have just returned from Yanina."

    "From Yanina?"

    "Yes."

    "Impossible!"

    "Here is my passport; examine the visa -- Geneva, Milan,
    Venice, Trieste, Delvino, Yanina. Will you believe the
    government of a republic, a kingdom, and an empire?" Albert
    cast his eyes on the passport, then raised them in
    astonishment to Beauchamp. "You have been to Yanina?" said
    he.

    "Albert, had you been a stranger, a foreigner, a simple
    lord, like that Englishman who came to demand satisfaction
    three or four months since, and whom I killed to get rid of,
    I should not have taken this trouble; but I thought this
    mark of consideration due to you. I took a week to go,
    another to return, four days of quarantine, and forty-eight
    hours to stay there; that makes three weeks. I returned last
    night, and here I am."

    "What circumlocution! How long you are before you tell me
    what I most wish to know?"

    "Because, in truth, Albert" --

    "You hesitate?"

    "Yes, -- I fear."

    "You fear to acknowledge that your correspondent his
    deceived you? Oh, no self-love, Beauchamp. Acknowledge it,
    Beauchamp; your courage cannot be doubted."

    "Not so," murmured the journalist; "on the contrary" --

    Albert turned frightfully pale; he endeavored to speak, but
    the words died on his lips. "My friend," said Beauchamp, in
    the most affectionate tone, "I should gladly make an
    apology; but, alas," --

    "But what?"

    "The paragraph was correct, my friend."

    "What? That French officer" --

    "Yes."

    "Fernand?"

    "Yes."

    "The traitor who surrendered the castle of the man in whose
    service he was" --

    "Pardon me, my friend, that man was your father!" Albert
    advanced furiously towards Beauchamp, but the latter
    restrained him more by a mild look than by his extended
    hand.

    "My friend," said he, "here is a proof of it."

    Albert opened the paper, it was an attestation of four
    notable inhabitants of Yanina, proving that Colonel Fernand
    Mondego, in the service of Ali Tepelini, had surrendered the
    castle for two million crowns. The signatures were perfectly
    legal. Albert tottered and fell overpowered in a chair. It
    could no longer be doubted; the family name was fully given.
    After a moment's mournful silence, his heart overflowed, and
    he gave way to a flood of tears. Beauchamp, who had watched
    with sincere pity the young man's paroxysm of grief,
    approached him. "Now, Albert," said he, "you understand me
    -- do you not? I wished to see all, and to judge of
    everything for myself, hoping the explanation would be in
    your father's favor, and that I might do him justice. But,
    on the contrary, the particulars which are given prove that
    Fernand Mondego, raised by Ali Pasha to the rank of
    governor-general, is no other than Count Fernand of Morcerf;
    then, recollecting the honor you had done me, in admitting
    me to your friendship, I hastened to you."

    Albert, still extended on the chair, covered his face with
    both hands, as if to prevent the light from reaching him. "I
    hastened to you," continued Beauchamp, "to tell you, Albert,
    that in this changing age, the faults of a father cannot
    revert upon his children. Few have passed through this
    revolutionary period, in the midst of which we were born,
    without some stain of infamy or blood to soil the uniform of
    the soldier, or the gown of the magistrate. Now I have these
    proofs, Albert, and I am in your confidence, no human power
    can force me to a duel which your own conscience would
    reproach you with as criminal, but I come to offer you what
    you can no longer demand of me. Do you wish these proofs,
    these attestations, which I alone possess, to be destroyed?
    Do you wish this frightful secret to remain with us?
    Confided to me, it shall never escape my lips; say, Albert,
    my friend, do you wish it?"

    Albert threw himself on Beauchamp's neck. "Ah, noble
    fellow!" cried he.

    "Take these," said Beauchamp, presenting the papers to
    Albert.

    Albert seized them with a convulsive hand, tore them in
    pieces, and trembling lest the least vestige should escape
    and one day appear to confront him, he approached the
    wax-light, always kept burning for cigars, and burned every
    fragment. "Dear, excellent friend," murmured Albert, still
    burning the papers.

    "Let all be forgotten as a sorrowful dream," said Beauchamp;
    "let it vanish as the last sparks from the blackened paper,
    and disappear as the smoke from those silent ashes."

    "Yes, yes," said Albert, "and may there remain only the
    eternal friendship which I promised to my deliverer, which
    shall be transmitted to our children's children, and shall
    always remind me that I owe my life and the honor of my name
    to you, -- for had this been known, oh, Beauchamp, I should
    have destroyed myself; or, -- no, my poor mother! I could
    not have killed her by the same blow, -- I should have fled
    from my country."

    "Dear Albert," said Beauchamp. But this sudden and
    factitious joy soon forsook the young man, and was succeeded
    by a still greater grief.

    "Well," said Beauchamp, "what still oppresses you, my
    friend?"

    "I am broken-hearted," said Albert. "Listen, Beauchamp! I
    cannot thus, in a moment relinquish the respect, the
    confidence, and pride with which a father's untarnished name
    inspires a son. Oh, Beauchamp, Beauchamp, how shall I now
    approach mine? Shall I draw back my forehead from his
    embrace, or withhold my hand from his? I am the most
    wretched of men. Ah, my mother, my poor mother!" said
    Albert, gazing through his tears at his mother's portrait;
    "if you know this, how much must you suffer!"

    "Come," said Beauchamp, taking both his hands, "take
    courage, my friend."

    "But how came that first note to be inserted in your
    journal? Some unknown enemy -- an invisible foe -- has done
    this."

    "The more must you fortify yourself, Albert. Let no trace of
    emotion be visible on your countenance, bear your grief as
    the cloud bears within it ruin and death -- a fatal secret,
    known only when the storm bursts. Go, my friend, reserve
    your strength for the moment when the crash shall come."

    "You think, then, all is not over yet?" said Albert,
    horror-stricken.

    "I think nothing, my friend; but all things are possible. By
    the way" --

    "What?" said Albert, seeing that Beauchamp hesitated.

    "Are you going to marry Mademoiselle Danglars?"

    "Why do you ask me now?"

    "Because the rupture or fulfilment of this engagement is
    connected with the person of whom we were speaking."

    "How?" said Albert, whose brow reddened; "you think M.
    Danglars" --

    "I ask you only how your engagement stands? Pray put no
    construction on my words I do not mean they should convey,
    and give them no undue weight."

    "No." said Albert, "the engagement is broken off."

    "Well," said Beauchamp. Then, seeing the young man was about
    to relapse into melancholy, "Let us go out, Albert," said
    he; "a ride in the wood in the phaeton, or on horseback,
    will refresh you; we will then return to breakfast, and you
    shall attend to your affairs, and I to mine."

    "Willingly," said Albert; "but let us walk. I think a little
    exertion would do me good." The two friends walked out on
    the fortress. When arrived at the Madeleine, -- "Since we
    are out," said Beauchamp, "let us call on M. de Monte
    Cristo; he is admirably adapted to revive one's spirits,
    because he never interrogates, and in my opinion those who
    ask no questions are the best comforters."

    "Gladly," said Albert; "I love him -- let us call."
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