Meet us on:
 
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "The tendinous part of the mind, so to speak, is more developed in winter; the fleshy, in summer. I should say winter had given the bone and sinew to literature, summer the tissues and the blood."
     

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Chapter 86

    • Rate it:
    • Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 28 ratings
    • 49 Favorites on Read Print
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 86
    Previous Chapter
    CHAPTER 86
    The Trial.

    At eight o'clock in the morning Albert had arrived at
    Beauchamp's door. The valet de chambre had received orders
    to usher him in at once. Beauchamp was in his bath. "Here I
    am," said Albert.

    "Well, my poor friend," replied Beauchamp, "I expected you."

    "I need not say I think you are too faithful and too kind to
    have spoken of that painful circumstance. Your having sent
    for me is another proof of your affection. So, without
    losing time, tell me, have you the slightest idea whence
    this terrible blow proceeds?"

    "I think I have some clew."

    "But first tell me all the particulars of this shameful
    plot." Beauchamp proceeded to relate to the young man, who
    was overwhelmed with shame and grief, the following facts.
    Two days previously, the article had appeared in another
    paper besides the Impartial, and, what was more serious, one
    that was well known as a government paper. Beauchamp was
    breakfasting when he read the paragraph. He sent immediately
    for a cabriolet, and hastened to the publisher's office.
    Although professing diametrically opposite principles from
    those of the editor of the other paper, Beauchamp -- as it
    sometimes, we may say often, happens -- was his intimate
    friend. The editor was reading, with apparent delight, a
    leading article in the same paper on beet-sugar, probably a
    composition of his own.

    "Ah, pardieu," said Beauchamp, "with the paper in your hand,
    my friend, I need not tell you the cause of my visit."

    "Are you interested in the sugar question?" asked the editor
    of the ministerial paper.

    "No," replied Beauchamp, "I have not considered the
    question; a totally different subject interests me."

    "What is it?"

    "The article relative to Morcerf."

    "Indeed? Is it not a curious affair?"

    "So curious, that I think you are running a great risk of a
    prosecution for defamation of character."

    "Not at all; we have received with the information all the
    requisite proofs, and we are quite sure M. de Morcerf will
    not raise his voice against us; besides, it is rendering a
    service to one's country to denounce these wretched
    criminals who are unworthy of the honor bestowed on them."
    Beauchamp was thunderstruck. "Who, then, has so correctly
    informed you?" asked he; "for my paper, which gave the first
    information on the subject, has been obliged to stop for
    want of proof; and yet we are more interested than you in
    exposing M. de Morcerf, as he is a peer of France, and we
    are of the opposition."

    "Oh, that is very simple; we have not sought to scandalize.
    This news was brought to us. A man arrived yesterday from
    Yanina, bringing a formidable array of documents; and when
    we hesitated to publish the accusatory article, he told us
    it should be inserted in some other paper."

    Beauchamp understood that nothing remained but to submit,
    and left the office to despatch a courier to Morcerf. But he
    had been unable to send to Albert the following particulars,
    as the events had transpired after the messenger's
    departure; namely, that the same day a great agitation was
    manifest in the House of Peers among the usually calm
    members of that dignified assembly. Every one had arrived
    almost before the usual hour, and was conversing on the
    melancholy event which was to attract the attention of the
    public towards one of their most illustrious colleagues.
    Some were perusing the article, others making comments and
    recalling circumstances which substantiated the charges
    still more. The Count of Morcerf was no favorite with his
    colleagues. Like all upstarts, he had had recourse to a
    great deal of haughtiness to maintain his position. The true
    nobility laughed at him, the talented repelled him, and the
    honorable instinctively despised him. He was, in fact, in
    the unhappy position of the victim marked for sacrifice; the
    finger of God once pointed at him, every one was prepared to
    raise the hue and cry.

    The Count of Morcerf alone was ignorant of the news. He did
    not take in the paper containing the defamatory article, and
    had passed the morning in writing letters and in trying a
    horse. He arrived at his usual hour, with a proud look and
    insolent demeanor; he alighted, passed through the
    corridors, and entered the house without observing the
    hesitation of the door-keepers or the coolness of his
    colleagues. Business had already been going on for half an
    hour when he entered. Every one held the accusing paper,
    but, as usual, no one liked to take upon himself the
    responsibility of the attack. At length an honorable peer,
    Morcerf's acknowledged enemy, ascended the tribune with that
    solemnity which announced that the expected moment had
    arrived. There was an impressive silence; Morcerf alone knew
    not why such profound attention was given to an orator who
    was not always listened to with so much complacency. The
    count did not notice the introduction, in which the speaker
    announced that his communication would be of that vital
    importance that it demanded the undivided attention of the
    House; but at the mention of Yanina and Colonel Fernand, he
    turned so frightfully pale that every member shuddered and
    fixed his eyes upon him. Moral wounds have this peculiarity,
    -- they may be hidden, but they never close; always painful,
    always ready to bleed when touched, they remain fresh and
    open in the heart.

    The article having been read during the painful hush that
    followed, a universal shudder pervaded the assembly. and
    immediately the closest attention was given to the orator as
    he resumed his remarks. He stated his scruples and the
    difficulties of the case; it was the honor of M. de Morcerf,
    and that of the whole House, he proposed to defend, by
    provoking a debate on personal questions, which are always
    such painful themes of discussion. He concluded by calling
    for an investigation, which might dispose of the calumnious
    report before it had time to spread, and restore M. de
    Morcerf to the position he had long held in public opinion.
    Morcerf was so completely overwhelmed by this great and
    unexpected calamity that he could scarcely stammer a few
    words as he looked around on the assembly. This timidity,
    which might proceed from the astonishment of innocence as
    well as the shame of guilt, conciliated some in his favor;
    for men who are truly generous are always ready to
    compassionate when the misfortune of their enemy surpasses
    the limits of their hatred.

    The president put it to the vote, and it was decided that
    the investigation should take place. The count was asked
    what time he required to prepare his defence. Morcerf's
    courage had revived when he found himself alive after this
    horrible blow. "My lords," answered he, "it is not by time I
    could repel the attack made on me by enemies unknown to me,
    and, doubtless, hidden in obscurity; it is immediately, and
    by a thunderbolt, that I must repel the flash of lightning
    which, for a moment, startled me. Oh, that I could, instead
    of taking up this defence, shed my last drop of blood to
    prove to my noble colleagues that I am their equal in
    worth." These words made a favorable impression on behalf of
    the accused. "I demand, then, that the examination shall
    take place as soon as possible, and I will furnish the house
    with all necessary information."

    "What day do you fix?" asked the president.

    "To-day I am at your service," replied the count. The
    president rang the bell. "Does the House approve that the
    examination should take place to-day?"

    "Yes," was the unanimous answer.

    A committee of twelve members was chosen to examine the
    proofs brought forward by Morcerf. The investigation would
    begin at eight o'clock that evening in the committee-room,
    and if postponement were necessary, the proceedings would be
    resumed each evening at the same hour. Morcerf asked leave
    to retire; he had to collect the documents he had long been
    preparing against this storm, which his sagacity had
    foreseen.

    Albert listened, trembling now with hope, then with anger,
    and then again with shame, for from Beauchamp's confidence
    he knew his father was guilty, and he asked himself how,
    since he was guilty, he could prove his innocence. Beauchamp
    hesitated to continue his narrative. "What next?" asked
    Albert.

    "What next? My friend, you impose a painful task on me. Must
    you know all?"

    "Absolutely; and rather from your lips than another's."

    "Muster up all your courage, then, for never have you
    required it more." Albert passed his hand over his forehead,
    as if to try his strength, as a man who is preparing to
    defend his life proves his shield and bends his sword. He
    thought himself strong enough, for he mistook fever for
    energy. "Go on," said he.

    "The evening arrived; all Paris was in expectation. Many
    said your father had only to show himself to crush the
    charge against him; many others said he would not appear;
    while some asserted that they had seen him start for
    Brussels; and others went to the police-office to inquire if
    he had taken out a passport. I used all my influence with
    one of the committee, a young peer of my acquaintance, to
    get admission to one of the galleries. He called for me at
    seven o'clock, and, before any one had arrived, asked one of
    the door-keepers to place me in a box. I was concealed by a
    column, and might witness the whole of the terrible scene
    which was about to take place. At eight o'clock all were in
    their places, and M. de Morcerf entered at the last stroke.
    He held some papers in his hand; his countenance was calm,
    and his step firm, and he was dressed with great care in his
    military uniform, which was buttoned completely up to the
    chin. His presence produced a good effect. The committee was
    made up of Liberals, several of whom came forward to shake
    hands with him."

    Albert felt his heart bursting at these particulars, but
    gratitude mingled with his sorrow: he would gladly have
    embraced those who had given his father this proof of esteem
    at a moment when his honor was so powerfully attacked. "At
    this moment one of the door-keepers brought in a letter for
    the president. 'You are at liberty to speak, M. de Morcerf,'
    said the president, as he unsealed the letter; and the count
    began his defence, I assure you, Albert, in a most eloquent
    and skilful manner. He produced documents proving that the
    Vizier of Yanina had up to the last moment honored him with
    his entire confidence, since he had interested him with a
    negotiation of life and death with the emperor. He produced
    the ring, his mark of authority, with which Ali Pasha
    generally sealed his letters, and which the latter had given
    him, that he might, on his return at any hour of the day or
    night, gain access to the presence, even in the harem.
    Unfortunately, the negotiation failed, and when he returned
    to defend his benefactor, he was dead. 'But,' said the
    count, 'so great was Ali Pasha's confidence, that on his
    death-bed he resigned his favorite mistress and her daughter
    to my care.'" Albert started on hearing these words; the
    history of Haidee recurred to him, and he remembered what
    she had said of that message and the ring, and the manner in
    which she had been sold and made a slave. "And what effect
    did this discourse produce?" anxiously inquired Albert. "I
    acknowledge it affected me, and, indeed, all the committee
    also," said Beauchamp.

    "Meanwhile, the president carelessly opened the letter which
    had been brought to him; but the first lines aroused his
    attention; he read them again and again, and fixing his eyes
    on M. de Morcerf, 'Count,' said he, 'you have said that the
    Vizier of Yanina confided his wife and daughter to your
    care?' -- 'Yes, sir,' replied Morcerf; 'but in that, like
    all the rest, misfortune pursued me. On my return, Vasiliki
    and her daughter Haidee had disappeared.' -- 'Did you know
    them?' -- 'My intimacy with the pasha and his unlimited
    confidence had gained me an introduction to them, and I had
    seen them above twenty times.'

    "'Have you any idea what became of them?' -- 'Yes, sir; I
    heard they had fallen victims to their sorrow, and, perhaps,
    to their poverty. I was not rich; my life was in constant
    danger; I could not seek them, to my great regret.' The
    president frowned imperceptibly. 'Gentlemen,' said he, 'you
    have heard the Comte de Morcerf's defence. Can you, sir,
    produce any witnesses to the truth of what you have
    asserted?' -- 'Alas, no, monsieur,' replied the count; 'all
    those who surrounded the vizier, or who knew me at his
    court, are either dead or gone away, I know not where. I
    believe that I alone, of all my countrymen, survived that
    dreadful war. I have only the letters of Ali Tepelini, which
    I have placed before you; the ring, a token of his
    good-will, which is here; and, lastly, the most convincing
    proof I can offer, after an anonymous attack, and that is
    the absence of any witness against my veracity and the
    purity of my military life.' A murmur of approbation ran
    through the assembly; and at this moment, Albert, had
    nothing more transpired, your father's cause had been
    gained. It only remained to put it to the vote, when the
    president resumed: 'Gentlemen and you, monsieur, -- you will
    not be displeased, I presume, to listen to one who calls
    himself a very important witness, and who has just presented
    himself. He is, doubtless, come to prove the perfect
    innocence of our colleague. Here is a letter I have just
    received on the subject; shall it be read, or shall it be
    passed over? and shall we take no notice of this incident?'
    M. de Morcerf turned pale, and clinched his hands on the
    papers he held. The committee decided to hear the letter;
    the count was thoughtful and silent. The president read: --

    "'Mr. President, -- I can furnish the committee of inquiry
    into the conduct of the Lieutenant-General the Count of
    Morcerf in Epirus and in Macedonia with important
    particulars.'

    "The president paused, and the count turned pale. The
    president looked at his auditors. 'Proceed,' was heard on
    all sides. The president resumed: --

    "'I was on the spot at the death of Ali Pasha. I was present
    during his last moments. I know what is become of Vasiliki
    and Haidee. I am at the command of the committee, and even
    claim the honor of being heard. I shall be in the lobby when
    this note is delivered to you.'

    "'And who is this witness, or rather this enemy?' asked the
    count, in a tone in which there was a visible alteration.
    'We shall know, sir,' replied the president. 'Is the
    committee willing to hear this witness?' -- 'Yes, yes,' they
    all said at once. The door-keeper was called. 'Is there any
    one in the lobby?' said the president.

    "'Yes, sir.' -- 'Who is it?' -- 'A woman, accompanied by a
    servant.' Every one looked at his neighbor. 'Bring her in,'
    said the president. Five minutes after the door-keeper again
    appeared; all eyes were fixed on the door, and I," said
    Beauchamp, "shared the general expectation and anxiety.
    Behind the door-keeper walked a woman enveloped in a large
    veil, which completely concealed her. It was evident, from
    her figure and the perfumes she had about her, that she was
    young and fastidious in her tastes, but that was all. The
    president requested her to throw aside her veil, and it was
    then seen that she was dressed in the Grecian costume, and
    was remarkably beautiful."

    "Ah," said Albert, "it was she."

    "Who?"

    "Haidee."

    "Who told you that?"

    "Alas, I guess it. But go on, Beauchamp. You see I am calm
    and strong. And yet we must be drawing near the disclosure."

    "M. de Morcerf," continued Beauchamp, "looked at this woman
    with surprise and terror. Her lips were about to pass his
    sentence of life or death. To the committee the adventure
    was so extraordinary and curious, that the interest they had
    felt for the count's safety became now quite a secondary
    matter. The president himself advanced to place a seat for
    the young lady; but she declined availing herself of it. As
    for the count, he had fallen on his chair; it was evident
    that his legs refused to support him.

    "'Madame,' said the president, 'you have engaged to furnish
    the committee with some important particulars respecting the
    affair at Yanina, and you have stated that you were an
    eyewitness of the event.' -- 'I was, indeed,' said the
    stranger, with a tone of sweet melancholy, and with the
    sonorous voice peculiar to the East.

    "'But allow me to say that you must have been very young
    then.' -- 'I was four years old; but as those events deeply
    concerned me, not a single detail has escaped my memory.' --
    'In what manner could these events concern you? and who are
    you, that they should have made so deep an impression on
    you?' -- 'On them depended my father's life,' replied she.
    'I am Haidee, the daughter of Ali Tepelini, pasha of Yanina,
    and of Vasiliki, his beloved wife.'

    "The blush of mingled pride and modesty which suddenly
    suffused the cheeks of the young woman, the brilliancy of
    her eye, and her highly important communication, produced an
    indescribable effect on the assembly. As for the count, he
    could not have been more overwhelmed if a thunderbolt had
    fallen at his feet and opened an immense gulf before him.
    'Madame,' replied the president, bowing with profound
    respect, 'allow me to ask one question; it shall be the
    last: Can you prove the authenticity of what you have now
    stated?' -- 'I can, sir,' said Haidee, drawing from under
    her veil a satin satchel highly perfumed; 'for here is the
    register of my birth, signed by my father and his principal
    officers, and that of my baptism, my father having consented
    to my being brought up in my mother's faith, -- this latter
    has been sealed by the grand primate of Macedonia and
    Epirus; and lastly (and perhaps the most important), the
    record of the sale of my person and that of my mother to the
    Armenian merchant El-Kobbir, by the French officer, who, in
    his infamous bargain with the Porte, had reserved as his
    part of the booty the wife and daughter of his benefactor,
    whom he sold for the sum of four hundred thousand francs.' A
    greenish pallor spread over the count's cheeks, and his eyes
    became bloodshot at these terrible imputations, which were
    listened to by the assembly with ominous silence.

    "Haidee, still calm, but with a calmness more dreadful than
    the anger of another would have been, handed to the
    president the record of her sale, written in Arabic. It had
    been supposed some of the papers might be in the Arabian,
    Romaic, or Turkish language, and the interpreter of the
    House was in attendance. One of the noble peers, who was
    familiar with the Arabic language, having studied it during
    the famous Egyptian campaign, followed with his eye as the
    translator read aloud: --

    "'I, El-Kobbir, a slave-merchant, and purveyor of the harem
    of his highness, acknowledge having received for
    transmission to the sublime emperor, from the French lord,
    the Count of Monte Cristo, an emerald valued at eight
    hundred thousand francs; as the ransom of a young Christian
    slave of eleven years of age, named Haidee, the acknowledged
    daughter of the late lord Ali Tepelini, pasha of Yanina, and
    of Vasiliki, his favorite; she having been sold to me seven
    years previously, with her mother, who had died on arriving
    at Constantinople, by a French colonel in the service of the
    Vizier Ali Tepelini, named Fernand Mondego. The
    above-mentioned purchase was made on his highness's account,
    whose mandate I had, for the sum of four hundred thousand
    francs.

    "'Given at Constantinople, by authority of his highness, in
    the year 1247 of the Hegira.

    "'Signed El-Kobbir.'

    "'That this record should have all due authority, it shall
    bear the imperial seal, which the vendor is bound to have
    affixed to it.'

    "Near the merchant's signature there was, indeed, the seal
    of the sublime emperor. A dreadful silence followed the
    reading of this document; the count could only stare, and
    his gaze, fixed as if unconsciously on Haidee, seemed one of
    fire and blood. 'Madame,' said the president, 'may reference
    be made to the Count of Monte Cristo, who is now, I believe,
    in Paris?' -- 'Sir,' replied Haidee, 'the Count of Monte
    Cristo, my foster-father, has been in Normandy the last
    three days.'

    "'Who, then, has counselled you to take this step, one for
    which the court is deeply indebted to you, and which is
    perfectly natural, considering your birth and your
    misfortunes?' -- 'Sir,' replied Haidee, 'I have been led to
    take this step from a feeling of respect and grief. Although
    a Christian, may God forgive me, I have always sought to
    revenge my illustrious father. Since I set my foot in
    France, and knew the traitor lived in Paris, I have watched
    carefully. I live retired in the house of my noble
    protector, but I do it from choice. I love retirement and
    silence, because I can live with my thoughts and
    recollections of past days. But the Count of Monte Cristo
    surrounds me with every paternal care, and I am ignorant of
    nothing which passes in the world. I learn all in the
    silence of my apartments, -- for instance, I see all the
    newspapers, every periodical, as well as every new piece of
    music; and by thus watching the course of the life of
    others, I learned what had transpired this morning in the
    House of Peers, and what was to take place this evening;
    then I wrote.'

    "'Then,' remarked the president, 'the Count of Monte Cristo
    knows nothing of your present proceedings?' -- 'He is quite
    unaware of them, and I have but one fear, which is that he
    should disapprove of what I have done. But it is a glorious
    day for me,' continued the young girl, raising her ardent
    gaze to heaven, 'that on which I find at last an opportunity
    of avenging my father!'

    "The count had not uttered one word the whole of this time.
    His colleagues looked at him, and doubtless pitied his
    prospects, blighted under the perfumed breath of a woman.
    His misery was depicted in sinister lines on his
    countenance. 'M. de Morcerf,' said the president, 'do you
    recognize this lady as the daughter of Ali Tepelini, pasha
    of Yanina?' -- 'No,' said Morcerf, attempting to rise, 'it
    is a base plot, contrived by my enemies.' Haidee, whose eyes
    had been fixed on the door, as if expecting some one, turned
    hastily, and, seeing the count standing, shrieked, 'You do
    not know me?' said she. 'Well, I fortunately recognize you!
    You are Fernand Mondego, the French officer who led the
    troops of my noble father! It is you who surrendered the
    castle of Yanina! It is you who, sent by him to
    Constantinople, to treat with the emperor for the life or
    death of your benefactor, brought back a false mandate
    granting full pardon! It is you who, with that mandate,
    obtained the pasha's ring, which gave you authority over
    Selim, the fire-keeper! It is you who stabbed Selim. It is
    you who sold us, my mother and me, to the merchant,
    El-Kobbir! Assassin, assassin, assassin, you have still on
    your brow your master's blood! Look, gentlemen, all!'

    "These words had been pronounced with such enthusiasm and
    evident truth, that every eye was fixed on the count's
    forehead, and he himself passed his hand across it, as if he
    felt Ali's blood still lingering there. 'You positively
    recognize M. de Morcerf as the officer, Fernand Mondego?' --
    'Indeed I do!' cried Haidee. 'Oh, my mother, it was you who
    said, "You were free, you had a beloved father, you were
    destined to be almost a queen. Look well at that man; it is
    he who raised your father's head on the point of a spear; it
    is he who sold us; it is he who forsook us! Look well at his
    right hand, on which he has a large wound; if you forgot his
    features, you would know him by that hand, into which fell,
    one by one, the gold pieces of the merchant El-Kobbir!" I
    know him! Ah, let him say now if he does not recognize me!'
    Each word fell like a dagger on Morcerf, and deprived him of
    a portion of his energy; as she uttered the last, he hid his
    mutilated hand hastily in his bosom, and fell back on his
    seat, overwhelmed by wretchedness and despair. This scene
    completely changed the opinion of the assembly respecting
    the accused count.

    "'Count of Morcerf,' said the president, 'do not allow
    yourself to be cast down; answer. The justice of the court
    is supreme and impartial as that of God; it will not suffer
    you to be trampled on by your enemies without giving you an
    opportunity of defending yourself. Shall further inquiries
    be made? Shall two members of the House be sent to Yanina?
    Speak!' Morcerf did not reply. Then all the members looked
    at each other with terror. They knew the count's energetic
    and violent temper; it must be, indeed, a dreadful blow
    which would deprive him of courage to defend himself. They
    expected that his stupefied silence would be followed by a
    fiery outburst. 'Well,' asked the president, 'what is your
    decision?'

    "'I have no reply to make,' said the count in a low tone.

    "'Has the daughter of Ali Tepelini spoken the truth?' said
    the president. 'Is she, then, the terrible witness to whose
    charge you dare not plead "Not guilty"? Have you really
    committed the crimes of which you are accused?' The count
    looked around him with an expression which might have
    softened tigers, but which could not disarm his judges. Then
    he raised his eyes towards the ceiling, but withdrew then,
    immediately, as if he feared the roof would open and reveal
    to his distressed view that second tribunal called heaven,
    and that other judge named God. Then, with a hasty movement,
    he tore open his coat, which seemed to stifle him, and flew
    from the room like a madman; his footstep was heard one
    moment in the corridor, then the rattling of his
    carriage-wheels as he was driven rapidly away. 'Gentlemen,'
    said the president, when silence was restored, 'is the Count
    of Morcerf convicted of felony, treason, and conduct
    unbecoming a member of this House?' -- 'Yes,' replied all
    the members of the committee of inquiry with a unanimous
    voice.

    "Haidee had remained until the close of the meeting. She
    heard the count's sentence pronounced without betraying an
    expression of joy or pity; then drawing her veil over her
    face she bowed majestically to the councillors, and left
    with that dignified step which Virgil attributes to his
    goddesses."
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 86
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Alexandre Dumas pere essay and need some advice, post your Alexandre Dumas pere essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Finished
    Want to read
    Abandoned

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?