Chapter 13 The Hundred Days
NOIRTIER was a true prophet, and things progressed rapidly, as he had
predicted. Every one knows the history of the famous return from Elba, a
return which was unprecedented in the past, and will probably remain
without a counterpart in the future.
XVIII made but a faint attempt to parry this unexpected blow; the monarchy
he had scarcely reconstructed tottered on its precarious foundation, and
at a sign from the emperor the incongruous structure of ancient prejudices
and new ideas fell to the ground. Villefort, therefore, gained nothing
save the king's gratitude (which was rather likely to injure him at the
present time) and the cross of the Legion of Honor, which he had the
prudence not to wear, although M. de Blacas had duly forwarded the brevet.
would, doubtless, have deprived Villefort of his office had it not been
for Noirtier, who was all powerful at court, and thus the Girondin of '93
and the Senator of 1806 protected him who so lately had been his
protector. All Villefort's influence barely enabled him to stifle the
secret Dantès had so nearly divulged. The
king's procureur alone was deprived of his office, being suspected of
scarcely was the imperial power established--that is, scarcely had the
emperor re-entered the Tuileries and begun to issue orders from the closet
into which we have introduced our readers,--he found on the table there
Louis XVIII.'s half-filled snuff-box,--scarcely had this occurred when
Marseilles began, in spite of the authorities, to rekindle the flames of
civil war, always smouldering in the south, and it required but little to
excite the populace to acts of far greater violence than the shouts and
insults with which they assailed the royalists whenever they ventured
to this change, the worthy shipowner became at that moment--we will not
say all powerful, because Morrel was a prudent and rather a timid man, so
much so, that many of the most zealous partisans of Bonaparte accused him
of "moderation"--but sufficiently influential to make a demand
in favor of Dantès.
retained his place, but his marriage was put off until a more favorable
opportunity. If the emperor remained on the throne, Gérard required a different
alliance to aid his career; if Louis XVIII returned, the influence of M.
like his own, could be vastly increased, and the marriage be still more
suitable. The deputy-procureur was, therefore, the first magistrate of
Marseilles, when one morning his door opened, and M. Morrel was announced.
one else would have hastened to receive him; but Villefort was a man of
ability, and he knew this would be a sign of weakness. He made Morrel wait
in the ante-chamber, although he had no one with him, for the simple
reason that the king's procureur always makes every one wait, and after
passing a quarter of an hour in reading the papers, he ordered M. Morrel
to be admitted.
expected Villefort would be dejected; he found him as he had found him six
weeks before, calm, firm, and full of that glacial politeness, that most
insurmountable barrier which separates the well-bred from the vulgar man.
had entered Villefort's office expecting that the magistrate would tremble
at the sight of him; on the contrary, he felt a cold shudder all over him
when he saw Villefort sitting there with his elbow on his desk, and his
head leaning on his hand. He stopped at the door; Villefort gazed at him
as if he had some difficulty in recognizing him; then, after a brief
interval, during which the honest shipowner turned his hat in his hands,--
Morrel, I believe?" said Villefort.
nearer," said the magistrate, with a patronizing wave of the hand,
"and tell me to what circumstance I owe the honor of this
you not guess, monsieur?" asked Morrel.
in the least; but if I can serve you in any way I shall be
depends on you."
said Morrel, recovering his assurance as he proceeded, "do you
recollect that a few days before the landing of his majesty the emperor, I
came to intercede for a young man, the mate of my ship, who was accused of
being concerned in correspondence with the Island of Elba? What was the
other day a crime is to-day a title to favor. You then served Louis XVIII.,
and you did not show any favor--it was your duty; to-day you serve
Napoleon, and you ought to protect him--it is equally your duty; I come,
therefore, to ask what has become of him?"
by a strong effort sought to control himself. "What is his
name?" said he. "Tell me his name."
would probably have rather stood opposite the muzzle of a pistol at
five-and-twenty paces than have heard this name spoken; but he did not
"Dantès," repeated he,
monsieur." Villefort opened a large register, then went to a table,
from the table turned to his registers, and then, turning to Morrel,--
you quite sure you are not mistaken, monsieur?" said he, in the most
natural tone in the world.
Morrel been a more quick-sighted man, or better versed in these matters,
he would have been surprised at the king's procureur answering him on such
a subject, instead of referring him to the governors of the prison or the
prefect of the department. But Morrel, disappointed in his expectations of
exciting fear, was conscious only of the other's condescension. Villefort
had calculated rightly.
said Morrel; "I am not mistaken. I have known him for ten years, the
last four of which he was in my service. Do not you recollect, I came
about six weeks ago to plead for clemency, as I come to-day to plead for
justice. You received me very coldly. Oh, the royalists were very severe
with the Bonapartists in those days."
returned Villefort, "I was then a royalist, because I believed the
Bourbons not only the heirs to the throne, but the chosen of the nation.
The miraculous return of Napoleon has conquered me, the legitimate monarch
is he who is loved by his people."
right!" cried Morrel. "I like to hear you speak thus, and I
augur well for Edmond from it."
a moment," said Villefort, turning over the leaves of a register;
"I have it--a sailor, who was about to marry a young Catalan girl. I
recollect now; it was a very serious charge."
know that when he left here he was taken to the Palais de Justice."
made my report to the authorities at Paris, and a week after he was
off!" said Morrel. "What can they have done with him?"
he has been taken to Fenestrelles, to Pignerol, or to the
Sainte-Marguerite islands. Some fine morning he will return to take
command of your vessel."
when he will, it shall be kept for him. But how is it he is not already
returned? It seems to me the first care of government should be to set at
liberty those who have suffered for their adherence to it."
not be too hasty, M. Morrel," replied Villefort. "The order of
imprisonment came from high authority, and the order for his liberation
must proceed from the same source; and, as Napoleon has scarcely been
reinstated a fortnight, the letters have not yet been forwarded."
said Morrel, "is there no way of expediting all these formalities--of
releasing him from arrest?"
has been no arrest."
is sometimes essential to government to cause a man's disappearance
without leaving any traces, so that no written forms or documents may
defeat their wishes."
might be so under the Bourbons, but at present"--
has always been so, my dear Morrel, since the reign of Louis XIV. The
emperor is more strict in prison discipline than even Louis himself, and
the number of prisoners whose names are not on the register is
incalculable." Had Morrel even any suspicions, so much kindness would
have dispelled them.
M. de Villefort, how would you advise me to act?" asked he.
I know what that is; the minister receives two hundred petitions every
day, and does not read three."
is true; but he will read a petition countersigned and presented by
will you undertake to deliver it?"
the greatest pleasure. Dantès
was then guilty, and now he is innocent, and it is as much my duty to free
him as it was to condemn him." Villefort thus forestalled any danger
of an inquiry, which, however improbable it might be, if it did take place
would leave him defenceless.
how shall I address the minister?"
down there," said Villefort, giving up his place to Morrel, "and
write what I dictate."
you be so good?"
But lose no time; we have lost too much already."
is true. Only think what the poor fellow may even now be suffering."
Villefort shuddered at the suggestion; but he had gone too far to draw
must be crushed to gratify Villefort's ambition.
dictated a petition, in which, from an excellent intention, no doubt, Dantès' patriotic services were
exaggerated, and he was made out one of the most active agents of
Napoleon's return. It was evident that at the sight of this document the
minister would instantly release him. The petition finished, Villefort
read it aloud.
will do," said he; "leave the rest to me."
the petition go soon?"
best thing I can do will be to certify the truth of the contents of your
petition." And, sitting down, Villefort wrote the certificate at the
more is to be done?"
will do whatever is necessary." This assurance delighted Morrel, who
took leave of Villefort, and hastened to announce to old Dantès that he would soon see his son.
for Villefort, instead of sending to Paris, he carefully preserved the
petition that so fearfully compromised Dantès, in the hopes of an event that seemed not
unlikely,--that is, a second restoration. Dantès remained a prisoner, and heard not the noise of
the fall of Louis XVIII.'s throne, or the still more tragic destruction of
during the Hundred Days had Morrel renewed his demand, and twice had
Villefort soothed him with promises. At last there was Waterloo, and
Morrel came no more; he had done all that was in his power, and any fresh
attempt would only compromise himself uselessly.
XVIII. remounted the throne; Villefort, to whom Marseilles had become
filled with remorseful memories, sought and obtained the situation of
king's procureur at Toulouse, and a fortnight afterwards he married
Mademoiselle de Saint-Méran, whose father now stood
higher at court than ever.
after the Hundred Days and after Waterloo, remained in his dungeon,
forgotten of earth and heaven. Danglars comprehended the full extent of
the wretched fate that overwhelmed Dantès;
and, when Napoleon returned to France, he, after the manner of mediocre
minds, termed the coincidence, a decree of Providence. But when Napoleon
returned to Paris, Danglars' heart failed him, and he lived in constant
fear of Dantès' return on a mission of
vengeance. He therefore informed M. Morrel of his wish to quit the sea,
and obtained a recommendation from him to a Spanish merchant, into whose
service he entered at the end of March, that is, ten or twelve days after
Napoleon's return. He then left for Madrid, and was no more heard of.
understood nothing except that Dantès was absent. What had become of him he cared not to
inquire. Only, during the respite the absence of his rival afforded him,
he reflected, partly on the means of deceiving Mercédès
as to the cause of his absence, partly on plans of emigration and
abduction, as from time to time he sat sad and motionless on the summit of
Cape Pharo, at the spot from whence Marseilles and the Catalans are
visible, watching for the apparition of a young and handsome man, who was
for him also the messenger of vengeance. Fernand's mind was made up; he
would shoot Dantès, and then kill himself. But
Fernand was mistaken; a man of his disposition never kills himself, for he
this time the empire made its last conscription, and every man in France
capable of bearing arms rushed to obey the summons of the emperor. Fernand
departed with the rest, bearing with him the terrible thought that while
he was away, his rival would perhaps return and marry Mercédès. Had Fernand really meant to kill himself, he
would have done so when he parted from Mercédès.
His devotion, and the compassion he showed for her misfortunes, produced
the effect they always produce on noble minds--Mercédès
had always had a sincere regard for Fernand, and this was now strengthened
brother," said she as she placed his knapsack on his shoulders,
"be careful of yourself, for if you are killed, I shall be alone in
the world." These words carried a ray of hope into Fernand's heart.
not return, Mercédès might one day be his.
Mercédès was left alone face to face with the vast plain
that had never seemed so barren, and the sea that had never seemed so
vast. Bathed in tears she wandered about the Catalan village. Sometimes
she stood mute and motionless as a statue, looking towards Marseilles, at
other times gazing on the sea, and debating as to whether it were not
better to cast herself into the abyss of the ocean, and thus end her woes.
It was not want of courage that prevented her putting this resolution into
execution; but her religious feelings came to her aid and saved her.
Caderousse was, like Fernand, enrolled in the army, but, being married and
eight years older, he was merely sent to the frontier. Old Dantès,
who was only sustained by hope, lost all hope at Napoleon's downfall. Five
months after he had been separated from his son, and almost at the hour of
his arrest, he breathed his last in Mercédès'
arms. M. Morrel paid the expenses of his funeral, and a few small debts
the poor old man had contracted.
was more than benevolence in this action; there was courage; the south was
aflame, and to assist, even on his death-bed, the father of so dangerous a
Bonapartist as Dantès,
was stigmatized as a crime.