THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
by Alexandre Dumas [Pere]
Marseilles -- The Arrival.
On the 24th of February 1810 the look-out at Notre-Dame de
la Garde signalled the three-master the Pharaon from
Smyrna Trieste and Naples.
As usual a pilot put off immediately and rounding the
Chateau d'If got on board the vessel between Cape Morgion
and Rion island.
Immediately and according to custom the ramparts of Fort
Saint-Jean were covered with spectators; it is always an
event at Marseilles for a ship to come into port especially
when this ship like the Pharaon has been built rigged
and laden at the old Phocee docks and belongs to an owner
of the city.
The ship drew on and had safely passed the strait which
some volcanic shock has made between the Calasareigne and
Jaros islands; had doubled Pomegue and approached the
harbor under topsails jib and spanker but so slowly and
sedately that the idlers with that instinct which is the
forerunner of evil asked one another what misfortune could
have happened on board. However those experienced in
navigation saw plainly that if any accident had occurred it
was not to the vessel herself for she bore down with all
the evidence of being skilfully handled the anchor
a-cockbill the jib-boom guys already eased off and
standing by the side of the pilot who was steering the
Pharaon towards the narrow entrance of the inner port was a
young man who with activity and vigilant eye watched
every motion of the ship and repeated each direction of the
The vague disquietude which prevailed among the spectators
had so much affected one of the crowd that he did not await
the arrival of the vessel in harbor but jumping into a
small skiff desired to be pulled alongside the Pharaon
which he reached as she rounded into La Reserve basin.
When the young man on board saw this person approach he
left his station by the pilot and hat in hand leaned over
the ship's bulwarks.
He was a fine tall slim young fellow of eighteen or
twenty with black eyes and hair as dark as a raven's wing;
and his whole appearance bespoke that calmness and
resolution peculiar to men accustomed from their cradle to
contend with danger.
"Ah is it you Dantes?" cried the man in the skiff. "What's
the matter? and why have you such an air of sadness aboard?"
"A great misfortune M. Morrel" replied the young man --
"a great misfortune for me especially! Off Civita Vecchia
we lost our brave Captain Leclere."
"And the cargo?" inquired the owner eagerly.
"Is all safe M. Morrel; and I think you will be satisfied
on that head. But poor Captain Leclere -- "
"What happened to him?" asked the owner with an air of
considerable resignation. "What happened to the worthy
"Fell into the sea?"
"No sir he died of brain-fever in dreadful agony." Then
turning to the crew he said "Bear a hand there to take in
All hands obeyed and at once the eight or ten seamen who
composed the crew sprang to their respective stations at
the spanker brails and outhaul topsail sheets and halyards
the jib downhaul and the topsail clewlines and buntlines.
The young sailor gave a look to see that his orders were
promptly and accurately obeyed and then turned again to the
"And how did this misfortune occur?" inquired the latter
resuming the interrupted conversation.
"Alas sir in the most unexpected manner. After a long talk
with the harbor-master Captain Leclere left Naples greatly
disturbed in mind. In twenty-four hours he was attacked by a
fever and died three days afterwards. We performed the
usual burial service and he is at his rest sewn up in his
hammock with a thirty-six pound shot at his head and his
heels off El Giglio island. We bring to his widow his sword
and cross of honor. It was worth while truly" added the
young man with a melancholy smile "to make war against the
English for ten years and to die in his bed at last like
"Why you see Edmond" replied the owner who appeared more
comforted at every moment "we are all mortal and the old
must make way for the young. If not why there would be no
promotion; and since you assure me that the cargo -- "
"Is all safe and sound M. Morrel take my word for it; and
I advise you not to take 25000 francs for the profits of
Then as they were just passing the Round Tower the young
man shouted: "Stand by there to lower the topsails and jib;
brail up the spanker!"
The order was executed as promptly as it would have been on
board a man-of-war.
"Let go -- and clue up!" At this last command all the sails
were lowered and the vessel moved almost imperceptibly
"Now if you will come on board M. Morrel" said Dantes
observing the owner's impatience "here is your supercargo
M. Danglars coming out of his cabin who will furnish you
with every particular. As for me I must look after the
anchoring and dress the ship in mourning."
The owner did not wait for a second invitation. He seized a
rope which Dantes flung to him and with an activity that
would have done credit to a sailor climbed up the side of
the ship while the young man going to his task left the
conversation to Danglars who now came towards the owner. He
was a man of twenty-five or twenty-six years of age of
unprepossessing countenance obsequious to his superiors
insolent to his subordinates; and this in addition to his
position as responsible agent on board which is always
obnoxious to the sailors made him as much disliked by the
crew as Edmond Dantes was beloved by them.
"Well M. Morrel" said Danglars "you have heard of the
misfortune that has befallen us?"
"Yes -- yes: poor Captain Leclere! He was a brave and an
"And a first-rate seaman one who had seen long and
honorable service as became a man charged with the
interests of a house so important as that of Morrel & Son"
"But" replied the owner glancing after Dantes who was
watching the anchoring of his vessel "it seems to me that a
sailor needs not be so old as you say Danglars to
understand his business for our friend Edmond seems to
understand it thoroughly and not to require instruction
from any one."
"Yes" said Danglars darting at Edmond a look gleaming with
hate. "Yes he is young and youth is invariably
self-confident. Scarcely was the captain's breath out of his
body when he assumed the command without consulting any one
and he caused us to lose a day and a half at the Island of
Elba instead of making for Marseilles direct."
"As to taking command of the vessel" replied Morrel "that
was his duty as captain's mate; as to losing a day and a
half off the Island of Elba he was wrong unless the vessel
"The vessel was in as good condition as I am and as I hope
you are M. Morrel and this day and a half was lost from
pure whim for the pleasure of going ashore and nothing
"Dantes" said the shipowner turning towards the young man
"come this way!"
"In a moment sir" answered Dantes "and I'm with you."
Then calling to the crew he said -- "Let go!"
The anchor was instantly dropped and the chain ran rattling
through the port-hole. Dantes continued at his post in spite
of the presence of the pilot until this manoeuvre was
completed and then he added "Half-mast the colors and
square the yards!"
"You see" said Danglars "he fancies himself captain
already upon my word."
"And so in fact he is" said the owner.
"Except your signature and your partner's M. Morrel."
"And why should he not have this?" asked the owner; "he is
young it is true but he seems to me a thorough seaman and
of full experience."
A cloud passed over Danglars' brow. "Your pardon M.
Morrel" said Dantes approaching "the vessel now rides at
anchor and I am at your service. You hailed me I think?"
Danglars retreated a step or two. "I wished to inquire why
you stopped at the Island of Elba?"
"I do not know sir; it was to fulfil the last instructions
of Captain Leclere who when dying gave me a packet for
"Then did you see him Edmond?"
Morrel looked around him and then drawing Dantes on one
side he said suddenly -- "And how is the emperor?"
"Very well as far as I could judge from the sight of him."
"You saw the emperor then?"
"He entered the marshal's apartment while I was there."
"And you spoke to him?"
"Why it was he who spoke to me sir" said Dantes with a
"And what did he say to you?"
"Asked me questions about the vessel the time she left
Marseilles the course she had taken and what was her
cargo. I believe if she had not been laden and I had been