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= ROOT|Alexandre_Dumas|The_Count_of_Monte_Cristo-99.txt =

page 2 of 618



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
everybody else."

"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 25,000 francs for the profits of
the voyage."

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
onwards.

"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
honest man."

"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,"
replied Danglars.

"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
needed repairs."

"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
else."

"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.

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