‘Permit me to inform you, M. Le Comte,’ said he, bowing, ‘that I have received a letter of advice from Thomson and French of Rome . . . There is one slight difficulty . . . and that consists in my precisely comprehending the letter itself . . . I believe I have it about me . . . yes, here it is! Well, this gives M. le Comte de Monte Cristo unlimited credit on our house. . . . [A]s regards the validity of the document, I certainly have doubts.’
Two hours afterwards, Madame Danglars received a most flattering epistle from the count, in which he entreated her to receive back her favourite dappled greys, protesting that he could not endure the idea of making his début in the Parisian world of fashion with the knowledge that his splendid equipage had been obtained at the price of a lovely woman’s regrets. The horses were sent back wearing the same harness they had done in the morning; the only difference consisted in the rosettes worn on the heads of the animals being adorned with a large diamond[.]
’You are then, doubtless, the Count of Monte Cristo of whom Hermine has talked to me so much? . . . And I am Madame Héloïse de Villefort.’
The count bowed with the air of a person who hears a name for the first time.
‘How grateful will M. de Villefort be for all your goodness! How thankfully he will acknowledge that to you alone it is owing that his wife and child exist! But for the prompt assistance of your intrepid servant, I and my son would both have perished.’
‘The general remark is, “Oh, it cannot be expected that one of so stern a character as M. Villefort could lavish the tenderness some fathers do on their daughters! What, though she lost her own mother at a tender age, she has had the happiness to find a second mother in Madame de Villefort.” The world, however, is mistaken . . . my stepmother detests me with a hatred so much the more terrible as it is veiled beneath a continual smile . . . I am obliged to own that my stepmother’s aversion to me arises from a very natural source—her love for her own child, my brother Edward.’
[S]uppose, then that this poison was brucine, and you were to take a milligram the first day, two milligrams the second day, and so on. Well, at the end of ten days, you would have taken a centigram; at the end of twenty days increasing another milligram you would have taken three hundred centigrams; that is to say, a dose which you would tolerate easily but would be very dangerous for any other person who had not taken the same precautions as yourself.