Chapter 49 Haidée
WILL BE recollected that the new, or rather old, acquaintances of the
Count of Monte Cristo, residing in the Rue Meslay, were no other than
Maximilian, Julie, and Emmanuel. The very anticipations of delight to be
enjoyed in his forthcoming visits--the bright, pure gleam of heavenly
happiness it diffused over the almost deadly warfare in which he had
voluntarily engaged, illumined his whole countenance with a look of
ineffable joy and calmness, as, immediately after Villefort's departure,
his thoughts flew back to the cheering prospect before him, of tasting, at
least, a brief respite from the fierce and stormy passions of his mind.
Even Ali, who had hastened to obey the Count's summons, went forth from
his master's presence in charmed amazement at the unusual animation and
pleasure depicted on features ordinarily so stern and cold; while, as
though dreading to put to flight the agreeable ideas hovering over his
patron's meditations, whatever they were, the faithful Nubian walked on
tiptoe towards the door, holding his breath, lest its faintest sound
should dissipate his master's happy reverie.
was noon, and Monte Cristo had set apart one hour to be passed in the
apartments of Haidée,
as though his oppressed spirit could not all at once admit the feeling of
pure and unmixed joy, but required a gradual succession of calm and gentle
emotions to prepare his mind to receive full and perfect happiness, in the
same manner as ordinary natures demand to be inured by degrees to the
reception of strong or violent sensations. The young Greek, as we have
already said, occupied apartments wholly unconnected with those of the
count. The rooms had been fitted up in strict accordance with Oriental
ideas; the floors were covered with the richest carpets Turkey could
produce; the walls hung with brocaded silk of the most magnificent designs
and texture; while around each chamber luxurious divans were placed, with
piles of soft and yielding cushions, that needed only to be arranged at
the pleasure or convenience of such as sought repose. Haidée
and three French maids, and one who was a Greek. The first three remained
constantly in a small waiting-room, ready to obey the summons of a small
golden bell, or to receive the orders of the Romaic slave, who knew just
enough French to be able to transmit her mistress's wishes to the three
other waiting-women; the latter had received most peremptory instructions
from Monte Cristo to treat Haidée
with all the deference they would observe to a queen.
young girl herself generally passed her time in the chamber at the farther
end of her apartments. This was a sort of boudoir, circular, and lighted
only from the roof, which consisted of rose-colored glass. Haidée was reclining upon soft downy
cushions, covered with blue satin spotted with silver; her head, supported
by one of her exquisitely moulded arms, rested on the divan immediately
behind her, while the other was employed in adjusting to her lips the
coral tube of a rich narghile, through whose flexible pipe she drew the
smoke fragrant by its passage through perfumed water. Her attitude, though
perfectly natural for an Eastern woman would, in a European, have been
deemed too full of coquettish straining after effect. Her dress, which was
that of the women of Epirus, consisted of a pair of white satin trousers,
embroidered with pink roses, displaying feet so exquisitely formed and so
delicately fair, that they might well have been taken for Parian marble,
had not the eye been undeceived by their movements as they constantly
shifted in and out of a pair of little slippers with upturned toes,
beautifully ornamented with gold and pearls. She wore a blue and
white-striped vest, with long open sleeves, trimmed with silver loops and
buttons of pearls, and a sort of bodice, which, closing only from the
centre to the waist, exhibited the whole of the ivory throat and upper
part of the bosom; it was fastened with three magnificent diamond clasps.
The junction of the bodice and drawers was entirely concealed by one of
the many-colored scarfs, whose brilliant hues and rich silken fringe have
rendered them so precious in the eyes of Parisian belles. Tilted on one
side of her head she had a small cap of gold-colored silk, embroidered
with pearls; while on the other a purple rose mingled its glowing colors
with the luxuriant masses of her hair, of which the blackness was so
intense that it was tinged with blue. The extreme beauty of the
countenance, that shone forth in loveliness that mocked the vain attempts
of dress to augment it, was peculiarly and purely Grecian; there were the
large, dark, melting eyes, the finely formed nose, the coral lips, and
pearly teeth, that belonged to her race and country. And, to complete the
whole, Haidée was in the very springtide and
fulness of youthful charms--she had not yet numbered more than twenty
Cristo summoned the Greek attendant, and bade her inquire whether it would
be agreeable to her mistress to receive his visit. Haidée's only reply was to direct her
servant by a sign to withdraw the tapestried curtain that hung before the
door of her boudoir, the framework of the opening thus made serving as a
sort of border to the graceful tableau presented by the young girl's
picturesque attitude and appearance. As Monte Cristo approached, she
leaned upon the elbow of the arm that held the narghile, and extending to
him her other hand, said, with a smile of captivating sweetness, in the
sonorous language spoken by the women of Athens and Sparta, "Why
demand permission ere you enter? Are you no longer my master, or have I
ceased to be your slave?" Monte Cristo returned her smile. "Haidée,"
said he, "you well know."
do you address me so coldly--so distantly?" asked the young Greek.
"Have I by any means displeased you? Oh, if so, punish me as you
will; but do not--do not speak to me in tones and manner so formal and
"Haidée," replied the count,
"you know that you are now in France, and are free."
to do what?" asked the young girl.
to leave me."
you? Why should I leave you?"
is not for me to say; but we are now about to mix in society--to visit and
don't wish to see anybody but you."
should you see one whom you could prefer, I would not be so unjust"--
have never seen any one I preferred to you, and I have never loved any one
but you and my father."
poor child," replied Monte Cristo, "that is merely because your
father and myself are the only men who have ever talked to you."
don't want anybody else to talk to me. My father said I was his joy--you
style me your love,--and both of you have called me my child.'"
you remember your father, Haidée?"
The young Greek smiled. "He is here, and here," said she,
touching her eyes and her heart. "And where am I?" inquired
Monte Cristo laughingly.
cried she, with tones of thrilling tenderness, "you are
everywhere!" Monte Cristo took the delicate hand of the young girl in
his, and was about to raise it to his lips, when the simple child of
nature hastily withdrew it, and presented her cheek. "You now
understand, Haidée," said the count,
"that from this moment you are absolutely free; that here you
exercise unlimited sway, and are at liberty to lay aside or continue the
costume of your country, as it may suit your inclination. Within this
mansion you are absolute mistress of your actions, and may go abroad or
remain in your apartments as may seem most agreeable to you. A carriage
waits your orders, and Ali and Myrtho will accompany you whithersoever you
desire to go. There is but one favor I would entreat of you."
carefully the secret of your birth. Make no allusion to the past; nor upon
any occasion be induced to pronounce the names of your illustrious father
or ill-fated mother."
have already told you, my lord, that I shall see no one."
is possible, Haidée,
that so perfect a seclusion, though conformable with the habits and
customs of the East, may not be practicable in Paris. Endeavor, then, to
accustom yourself to our manner of living in these northern climes as you
did to those of Rome, Florence, Milan, and Madrid; it may be useful to you
one of these days, whether you remain here or return to the East."
The young girl raised her tearful eyes towards Monte Cristo as she said
with touching earnestness, "Whether we return to the East, you mean
to say, my lord, do you not?"
child," returned Monte Cristo "you know full well that whenever
we part, it will be no fault or wish of mine; the tree forsakes not the
flower--the flower falls from the tree."
lord," replied Haidée,
"I never will leave you, for I am sure I could not exist without
poor girl, in ten years I shall be old, and you will be still young."
father had a long white beard, but I loved him; he was sixty years old,
but to me he was handsomer than all the fine youths I saw."
tell me, Haidée,
do you believe you shall be able to accustom yourself to our present mode
I see you?"
what do you fear, my lord?"
might find it dull."
my lord. In the morning, I shall rejoice in the prospect of your coming,
and in the evening dwell with delight on the happiness I have enjoyed in
your presence; then too, when alone, I can call forth mighty pictures of
the past, see vast horizons bounded only by the towering mountains of
Pindus and Olympus. Oh, believe me, that when three great passions, such
as sorrow, love, and gratitude fill the heart, ennui can find no
are a worthy daughter of Epirus, Haidée, and your charming and poetical ideas prove well
your descent from that race of goddesses who claim your country as their
birthplace. Depend on my care to see that your youth is not blighted, or
suffered to pass away in ungenial solitude; and of this be well assured,
that if you love me as a father, I love you as a child."
are wrong, my lord. The love I have for you is very different from the
love I had for my father. My father died, but I did not die. If you were
to die, I should die too." The Count, with a smile of profound
tenderness, extended his hand, and she carried it to her lips. Monte
Cristo, thus attuned to the interview he proposed to hold with Morrel and
his family, departed, murmuring as he went these lines of Pindar,
"Youth is a flower of which love is the fruit; happy is he who, after
having watched its silent growth, is permitted to gather and call it his
own." The carriage was prepared according to orders, and stepping
lightly into it, the count drove off at his usual rapid pace.