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= ROOT|Alexandre_Dumas|The_Count_of_Monte_Cristo-99.txt =

page 4 of 618



letter to Dantes."

"He did not speak to me of it," replied the shipowner; "but
if there be any letter he will give it to me."

Danglars reflected for a moment. "Then, M. Morrel, I beg of
you," said he, "not to say a word to Dantes on the subject.
I may have been mistaken."

At this moment the young man returned; Danglars withdrew.

"Well, my dear Dantes, are you now free?" inquired the
owner.

"Yes, sir."

"You have not been long detained."

"No. I gave the custom-house officers a copy of our bill of
lading; and as to the other papers, they sent a man off with
the pilot, to whom I gave them."

"Then you have nothing more to do here?"

"No -- everything is all right now."

"Then you can come and dine with me?"

"I really must ask you to excuse me, M. Morrel. My first
visit is due to my father, though I am not the less grateful
for the honor you have done me."

"Right, Dantes, quite right. I always knew you were a good
son."

"And," inquired Dantes, with some hesitation, "do you know
how my father is?"

"Well, I believe, my dear Edmond, though I have not seen him
lately."

"Yes, he likes to keep himself shut up in his little room."

"That proves, at least, that he has wanted for nothing
during your absence."

Dantes smiled. "My father is proud, sir, and if he had not a
meal left, I doubt if he would have asked anything from
anyone, except from Heaven."

"Well, then, after this first visit has been made we shall
count on you."

"I must again excuse myself, M. Morrel, for after this first
visit has been paid I have another which I am most anxious
to pay."

"True, Dantes, I forgot that there was at the Catalans some
one who expects you no less impatiently than your father --
the lovely Mercedes."

Dantes blushed.

"Ah, ha," said the shipowner, "I am not in the least
surprised, for she has been to me three times, inquiring if
there were any news of the Pharaon. Peste, Edmond, you have
a very handsome mistress!"

"She is not my mistress," replied the young sailor, gravely;
"she is my betrothed."

"Sometimes one and the same thing," said Morrel, with a
smile.

"Not with us, sir," replied Dantes.

"Well, well, my dear Edmond," continued the owner, "don't
let me detain you. You have managed my affairs so well that
I ought to allow you all the time you require for your own.
Do you want any money?"

"No, sir; I have all my pay to take -- nearly three months'
wages."

"You are a careful fellow, Edmond."

"Say I have a poor father, sir."

"Yes, yes, I know how good a son you are, so now hasten away
to see your father. I have a son too, and I should be very
wroth with those who detained him from me after a three
months' voyage."

"Then I have your leave, sir?"

"Yes, if you have nothing more to say to me."

"Nothing."

"Captain Leclere did not, before he died, give you a letter
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