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    Chapter 111

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    Chapter 111
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    CHAPTER 111
    Expiation.

    Notwithstanding the density of the crowd, M. de Villefort
    saw it open before him. There is something so awe-inspiring
    in great afflictions that even in the worst times the first
    emotion of a crowd has generally been to sympathize with the
    sufferer in a great catastrophe. Many people have been
    assassinated in a tumult, but even criminals have rarely
    been insulted during trial. Thus Villefort passed through
    the mass of spectators and officers of the Palais, and
    withdrew. Though he had acknowledged his guilt, he was
    protected by his grief. There are some situations which men
    understand by instinct, but which reason is powerless to
    explain; in such cases the greatest poet is he who gives
    utterance to the most natural and vehement outburst of
    sorrow. Those who hear the bitter cry are as much impressed
    as if they listened to an entire poem, and when the sufferer
    is sincere they are right in regarding his outburst as
    sublime.

    It would be difficult to describe the state of stupor in
    which Villefort left the Palais. Every pulse beat with
    feverish excitement, every nerve was strained, every vein
    swollen, and every part of his body seemed to suffer
    distinctly from the rest, thus multiplying his agony a
    thousand-fold. He made his way along the corridors through
    force of habit; he threw aside his magisterial robe, not out
    of deference to etiquette, but because it was an unbearable
    burden, a veritable garb of Nessus, insatiate in torture.
    Having staggered as far as the Rue Dauphine, he perceived
    his carriage, awoke his sleeping coachman by opening the
    door himself, threw himself on the cushions, and pointed
    towards the Faubourg Saint-Honore; the carriage drove on.
    The weight of his fallen fortunes seemed suddenly to crush
    him; he could not foresee the consequences; he could not
    contemplate the future with the indifference of the hardened
    criminal who merely faces a contingency already familiar.
    God was still in his heart. "God," he murmured, not knowing
    what he said, -- "God -- God!" Behind the event that had
    overwhelmed him he saw the hand of God. The carriage rolled
    rapidly onward. Villefort, while turning restlessly on the
    cushions, felt something press against him. He put out his
    hand to remove the object; it was a fan which Madame de
    Villefort had left in the carriage; this fan awakened a
    recollection which darted through his mind like lightning.
    He thought of his wife.

    "Oh!" he exclaimed, as though a redhot iron were piercing
    his heart. During the last hour his own crime had alone been
    presented to his mind; now another object, not less
    terrible, suddenly presented itself. His wife! He had just
    acted the inexorable judge with her, he had condemned her to
    death, and she, crushed by remorse, struck with terror,
    covered with the shame inspired by the eloquence of his
    irreproachable virtue, -- she, a poor, weak woman, without
    help or the power of defending herself against his absolute
    and supreme will, -- she might at that very moment, perhaps,
    be preparing to die! An hour had elapsed since her
    condemnation; at that moment, doubtless, she was recalling
    all her crimes to her memory; she was asking pardon for her
    sins; perhaps she was even writing a letter imploring
    forgiveness from her virtuous husband -- a forgiveness she
    was purchasing with her death! Villefort again groaned with
    anguish and despair. "Ah," he exclaimed, "that woman became
    criminal only from associating with me! I carried the
    infection of crime with me, and she has caught it as she
    would the typhus fever, the cholera, the plague! And yet I
    have punished her -- I have dared to tell her -- I have --
    'Repent and die!' But no, she must not die; she shall live,
    and with me. We will flee from Paris and go as far as the
    earth reaches. I told her of the scaffold; oh, heavens, I
    forgot that it awaits me also! How could I pronounce that
    word? Yes, we will fly; I will confess all to her, -- I will
    tell her daily that I also have committed a crime! -- Oh,
    what an alliance -- the tiger and the serpent; worthy wife
    of such as I am! She must live that my infamy may diminish
    hers." And Villefort dashed open the window in front of the
    carriage.

    "Faster, faster!" he cried, in a tone which electrified the
    coachman. The horses, impelled by fear, flew towards the
    house.

    "Yes, yes," repeated Villefort, as he approached his home --
    "yes, that woman must live; she must repent, and educate my
    son, the sole survivor, with the exception of the
    indestructible old man, of the wreck of my house. She loves
    him; it was for his sake she has committed these crimes. We
    ought never to despair of softening the heart of a mother
    who loves her child. She will repent, and no one will know
    that she has been guilty. The events which have taken place
    in my house, though they now occupy the public mind, will be
    forgotten in time, or if, indeed, a few enemies should
    persist in remembering them, why then I will add them to my
    list of crimes. What will it signify if one, two, or three
    more are added? My wife and child shall escape from this
    gulf, carrying treasures with them; she will live and may
    yet be happy, since her child, in whom all her love is
    centred, will be with her. I shall have performed a good
    action, and my heart will be lighter." And the procureur
    breathed more freely than he had done for some time.

    The carriage stopped at the door of the house. Villefort
    leaped out of the carriage, and saw that his servants were
    surprised at his early return; he could read no other
    expression on their features. Neither of them spoke to him;
    they merely stood aside to let him pass by, as usual,
    nothing more. As he passed by M. Noirtier's room, he
    perceived two figures through the half-open door; but he
    experienced no curiosity to know who was visiting his
    father: anxiety carried him on further.

    "Come," he said, as he ascended the stairs leading to his
    wife's room, "nothing is changed here." He then closed the
    door of the landing. "No one must disturb us," he said; "I
    must speak freely to her, accuse myself, and say" -- he
    approached the door, touched the crystal handle, which
    yielded to his hand. "Not locked," he cried; "that is well."
    And he entered the little room in which Edward slept; for
    though the child went to school during the day, his mother
    could not allow him to be separated from her at night. With
    a single glance Villefort's eye ran through the room. "Not
    here," he said; "doubtless she is in her bedroom." He rushed
    towards the door, found it bolted, and stopped, shuddering.
    "Heloise!" he cried. He fancied he heard the sound of a
    piece of furniture being removed. "Heloise!" he repeated.

    "Who is there?" answered the voice of her he sought. He
    thought that voice more feeble than usual.

    "Open the door!" cried Villefort. "Open; it is I." But
    notwithstanding this request, notwithstanding the tone of
    anguish in which it was uttered, the door remained closed.
    Villefort burst it open with a violent blow. At the entrance
    of the room which led to her boudoir, Madame de Villefort
    was standing erect, pale, her features contracted, and her
    eyes glaring horribly. "Heloise, Heloise!" he said, "what is
    the matter? Speak!" The young woman extended her stiff white
    hands towards him. "It is done, monsieur," she said with a
    rattling noise which seemed to tear her throat. "What more
    do you want?" and she fell full length on the floor.
    Villefort ran to her and seized her hand, which convulsively
    clasped a crystal bottle with a golden stopper. Madame de
    Villefort was dead. Villefort, maddened with horror, stepped
    back to the threshhold of the door, fixing his eyes on the
    corpse: "My son!" he exclaimed suddenly, "where is my son?
    -- Edward, Edward!" and he rushed out of the room, still
    crying, "Edward, Edward!" The name was pronounced in such a
    tone of anguish that the servants ran up.

    "Where is my son?" asked Villefort; "let him be removed from
    the house, that he may not see" --

    "Master Edward is not down-stairs, sir," replied the valet.

    "Then he must be playing in the garden; go and see."

    "No, sir; Madame de Villefort sent for him half an hour ago;
    he went into her room, and has not been down-stairs since."
    A cold perspiration burst out on Villefort's brow; his legs
    trembled, and his thoughts flew about madly in his brain
    like the wheels of a disordered watch. "In Madame de
    Villefort's room?" he murmured and slowly returned, with one
    hand wiping his forehead, and with the other supporting
    himself against the wall. To enter the room he must again
    see the body of his unfortunate wife. To call Edward he must
    reawaken the echo of that room which now appeared like a
    sepulchre; to speak seemed like violating the silence of the
    tomb. His tongue was paralyzed in his mouth.

    "Edward!" he stammered -- "Edward!" The child did not
    answer. Where, then, could he be, if he had entered his
    mother's room and not since returned? He stepped forward.
    The corpse of Madame de Villefort was stretched across the
    doorway leading to the room in which Edward must be; those
    glaring eyes seemed to watch over the threshold, and the
    lips bore the stamp of a terrible and mysterious irony.
    Through the open door was visible a portion of the boudoir,
    containing an upright piano and a blue satin couch.
    Villefort stepped forward two or three paces, and beheld his
    child lying -- no doubt asleep -- on the sofa. The unhappy
    man uttered an exclamation of joy; a ray of light seemed to
    penetrate the abyss of despair and darkness. He had only to
    step over the corpse, enter the boudoir, take the child in
    his arms, and flee far, far away.

    Villefort was no longer the civilized man; he was a tiger
    hurt unto death, gnashing his teeth in his wound. He no
    longer feared realities, but phantoms. He leaped over the
    corpse as if it had been a burning brazier. He took the
    child in his arms, embraced him, shook him, called him, but
    the child made no response. He pressed his burning lips to
    the cheeks, but they were icy cold and pale; he felt the
    stiffened limbs; he pressed his hand upon the heart, but it
    no longer beat, -- the child was dead. A folded paper fell
    from Edward's breast. Villefort, thunderstruck, fell upon
    his knees; the child dropped from his arms, and rolled on
    the floor by the side of its mother. He picked up the paper,
    and, recognizing his wife's writing, ran his eyes rapidly
    over its contents; it ran as follows: --

    "You know that I was a good mother, since it was for my
    son's sake I became criminal. A good mother cannot depart
    without her son."

    Villefort could not believe his eyes, -- he could not
    believe his reason; he dragged himself towards the child's
    body, and examined it as a lioness contemplates its dead
    cub. Then a piercing cry escaped from his breast, and he
    cried, "Still the hand of God." The presence of the two
    victims alarmed him; he could not bear solitude shared only
    by two corpses. Until then he had been sustained by rage, by
    his strength of mind, by despair, by the supreme agony which
    led the Titans to scale the heavens, and Ajax to defy the
    gods. He now arose, his head bowed beneath the weight of
    grief, and, shaking his damp, dishevelled hair, he who had
    never felt compassion for any one determined to seek his
    father, that he might have some one to whom he could relate
    his misfortunes, -- some one by whose side he might weep. He
    descended the little staircase with which we are acquainted,
    and entered Noirtier's room. The old man appeared to be
    listening attentively and as affectionately as his
    infirmities would allow to the Abbe Busoni, who looked cold
    and calm, as usual. Villefort, perceiving the abbe, passed
    his hand across his brow. He recollected the call he had
    made upon him after the dinner at Auteuil, and then the
    visit the abbe had himself paid to his house on the day of
    Valentine's death. "You here, sir!" he exclaimed; "do you,
    then, never appear but to act as an escort to death?"

    Busoni turned around, and, perceiving the excitement
    depicted on the magistrate's face, the savage lustre of his
    eyes, he understood that the revelation had been made at the
    assizes; but beyond this he was ignorant. "I came to pray
    over the body of your daughter."

    "And now why are you here?"

    "I come to tell you that you have sufficiently repaid your
    debt, and that from this moment I will pray to God to
    forgive you, as I do."

    "Good heavens!" exclaimed Villefort, stepping back
    fearfully, "surely that is not the voice of the Abbe
    Busoni!"

    "No!" The abbe threw off his wig, shook his head, and his
    hair, no longer confined, fell in black masses around his
    manly face.

    "It is the face of the Count of Monte Cristo!" exclaimed the
    procureur, with a haggard expression.

    "You are not exactly right, M. Procureur; you must go
    farther back."

    "That voice, that voice! -- where did I first hear it?"

    "You heard it for the first time at Marseilles, twenty-three
    years ago, the day of your marriage with Mademoiselle de
    Saint-Meran. Refer to your papers."

    "You are not Busoni? -- you are not Monte Cristo? Oh,
    heavens -- you are, then, some secret, implacable, and
    mortal enemy! I must have wronged you in some way at
    Marseilles. Oh, woe to me!"

    "Yes; you are now on the right path," said the count,
    crossing his arms over his broad chest; "search -- search!"

    "But what have I done to you?" exclaimed Villefort, whose
    mind was balancing between reason and insanity, in that
    cloud which is neither a dream nor reality; "what have I
    done to you? Tell me, then! Speak!"

    "You condemned me to a horrible, tedious death; you killed
    my father; you deprived me of liberty, of love, and
    happiness."

    "Who are you, then? Who are you?"

    "I am the spectre of a wretch you buried in the dungeons of
    the Chateau d'If. God gave that spectre the form of the
    Count of Monte Cristo when he at length issued from his
    tomb, enriched him with gold and diamonds, and led him to
    you!"

    "Ah, I recognize you -- I recognize you!" exclaimed the
    king's attorney; "you are" --

    "I am Edmond Dantes!"

    "You are Edmond Dantes," cried Villefort, seizing the count
    by the wrist; "then come here!" And up the stairs he dragged
    Monte Cristo; who, ignorant of what had happened, followed
    him in astonishment, foreseeing some new catastrophe.
    "There, Edmond Dantes!" he said, pointing to the bodies of
    his wife and child, "see, are you well avenged?" Monte
    Cristo became pale at this horrible sight; he felt that he
    had passed beyond the bounds of vengeance, and that he could
    no longer say, "God is for and with me." With an expression
    of indescribable anguish he threw himself upon the body of
    the child, reopened its eyes, felt its pulse, and then
    rushed with him into Valentine's room, of which he
    double-locked the door. "My child," cried Villefort, "he
    carries away the body of my child! Oh, curses, woe, death to
    you!" and he tried to follow Monte Cristo; but as though in
    a dream he was transfixed to the spot, -- his eyes glared as
    though they were starting through the sockets; he griped the
    flesh on his chest until his nails were stained with blood;
    the veins of his temples swelled and boiled as though they
    would burst their narrow boundary, and deluge his brain with
    living fire. This lasted several minutes, until the
    frightful overturn of reason was accomplished; then uttering
    a loud cry followed by a burst of laughter, he rushed down
    the stairs.

    A quarter of an hour afterwards the door of Valentine's room
    opened, and Monte Cristo reappeared. Pale, with a dull eye
    and heavy heart, all the noble features of that face,
    usually so calm and serene, were overcast by grief. In his
    arms he held the child, whom no skill had been able to
    recall to life. Bending on one knee, he placed it reverently
    by the side of its mother, with its head upon her breast.
    Then, rising, he went out, and meeting a servant on the
    stairs, he asked, "Where is M. de Villefort?"

    The servant, instead of answering, pointed to the garden.
    Monte Cristo ran down the steps, and advancing towards the
    spot designated beheld Villefort, encircled by his servants,
    with a spade in his hand, and digging the earth with fury.
    "It is not here!" he cried. "It is not here!" And then he
    moved farther on, and began again to dig.

    Monte Cristo approached him, and said in a low voice, with
    an expression almost humble, "Sir, you have indeed lost a
    son; but" --

    Villefort interrupted him; he had neither listened nor
    heard. "Oh, I will find it," he cried; "you may pretend he
    is not here, but I will find him, though I dig forever!"
    Monte Cristo drew back in horror. "Oh," he said, "he is
    mad!" And as though he feared that the walls of the accursed
    house would crumble around him, he rushed into the street,
    for the first time doubting whether he had the right to do
    as he had done. "Oh, enough of this, -- enough of this," he
    cried; "let me save the last." On entering his house, he met
    Morrel, who wandered about like a ghost awaiting the
    heavenly mandate for return to the tomb. "Prepare yourself,
    Maximilian," he said with a smile; "we leave Paris
    to-morrow."

    "Have you nothing more to do there?" asked Morrel.

    "No," replied Monte Cristo; "God grant I may not have done
    too much already."

    The next day they indeed left, accompanied only by
    Baptistin. Haidee had taken away Ali, and Bertuccio remained
    with Noirtier.
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