No one could have said what caused the Count’s voice to vibrate so deeply, and what made his eye flash, which was usually so clear, lustrous, and limpid . . . ‘Let me go on, captain. And we have just heard,’ continued Albert ‘of a fresh action of monsieur, and so heroic a one, that, though I have seen him to-day for the first time, I request you to allow me to introduce him as my friend.’ At these words it was still possible to notice in Monte Cristo that fixed gaze, that passing colour, and that slight trembling of the eyelid, that showed his emotion.
It was the portrait of a young woman of five- or six-and-twenty, with a dark complexion, and light and lustrous eyes veiled beneath long lashes. She wore the picturesque costume of a Catalan fisherwoman . . . ‘You do not know my mother; she it is whom you see here . . . The countess had this portrait painted during the count’s absence. She doubtless intended giving him an agreeable surprise, but, strange to say, this portrait seemed to displease my father.’
The countess bent her head as if beneath a heavy wave of bitter thoughts. ‘And has this man displayed friendship for you, Albert?’ she asked with a nervous shudder . . . ‘Albert,’ she said, in a voice which was altered by emotion, ‘I have always put you on your guard against new acquaintances. Now you are a man and can give me advice; yet, I repeat to you, Albert, be prudent.’
‘Monsieur,’ said the steward, ‘it is fatality, I am sure. First, you purchase a house at Auteuil—this house is the one where I committed murder; you descend to the garden by the same staircase by which he descended; you stop at the spot where he took the blow; and two paces farther is the grave in which he had just buried his child. This is not chance; for chance, in this case, resembles Providence too much.’
‘God made this infant the instrument of our punishment. Never did a perverse nature declare itself more prematurely; and yet it was not owing to any fault in his upbringing. He was a lovely child, with large blue eyes, of that deep colour that harmonises so well with a fair complexion . . . [E]ven in his infancy he manifested the worst disposition. It is true that the indulgences of his mother encouraged him. This child . . . preferred to the grapes of Palma, or the preserves of Genoa, the chestnuts stolen from a neighbour’s orchard[.]’