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= ROOT|Alexandre_Dumas|The_Count_of_Monte_Cristo-99.txt =

page 3 of 618



"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
Marshal Bertrand."

"Then did you see him, Edmond?"

"Who?"

"The marshal."

"Yes."

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
smile.

"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
her master, he would have bought her. But I told him I was
only mate, and that she belonged to the firm of Morrel &
Son. `Ah, yes,' he said, `I know them. The Morrels have been
shipowners from father to son; and there was a Morrel who
served in the same regiment with me when I was in garrison
at Valence.'"

"Pardieu, and that is true!" cried the owner, greatly
delighted. "And that was Policar Morrel, my uncle, who was
afterwards a captain. Dantes, you must tell my uncle that
the emperor remembered him, and you will see it will bring
tears into the old soldier's eyes. Come, come," continued
he, patting Edmond's shoulder kindly, "you did very right,
Dantes, to follow Captain Leclere's instructions, and touch
at Elba, although if it were known that you had conveyed a
packet to the marshal, and had conversed with the emperor,
it might bring you into trouble."

"How could that bring me into trouble, sir?" asked Dantes;
"for I did not even know of what I was the bearer; and the
emperor merely made such inquiries as he would of the first
comer. But, pardon me, here are the health officers and the
customs inspectors coming alongside." And the young man went
to the gangway. As he departed, Danglars approached, and
said, --

"Well, it appears that he has given you satisfactory reasons
for his landing at Porto-Ferrajo?"

"Yes, most satisfactory, my dear Danglars."

"Well, so much the better," said the supercargo; "for it is
not pleasant to think that a comrade has not done his duty."

"Dantes has done his," replied the owner, "and that is not
saying much. It was Captain Leclere who gave orders for this
delay."

"Talking of Captain Leclere, has not Dantes given you a
letter from him?"

"To me? -- no -- was there one?"

"I believe that, besides the packet, Captain Leclere
confided a letter to his care."

"Of what packet are you speaking, Danglars?"

"Why, that which Dantes left at Porto-Ferrajo."

"How do you know he had a packet to leave at Porto-Ferrajo?"

Danglars turned very red.

"I was passing close to the door of the captain's cabin,
which was half open, and I saw him give the packet and
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