‘It is quite immaterial to me,’ said Monte Cristo, ‘and it was very unnecessary to disturb me at the Opera for such a trifle. In France people fight with the sword or pistol, in the colonies with the carbine, in Arabia with the dagger. Tell your client, that although I am the insulted party, in order to prove my eccentricity, I leave him the choice of arms and will accept, without discussion, without dispute, anything, even combat by drawing lots, which is always stupid, but less so with me as with other people, as I am sure to win.’
The stranger cast one look around her, to be certain they were quite alone, then bending, as if she would have knelt, and joining her hands, she said with an accent of despair:
‘Edmond, you will not kill my son?’
The count retreated a step, uttered a slight exclamation, and dropped the pistol he was holding.
‘Well, if you die,’ said she, ‘bequeath your fortune to others; for, if you die, I shall require nothing;’ and, taking the paper, she tore it in four pieces and threw it in the middle of the room. Then the effort having exhausted her strength, she fell, not asleep this time, but fainting on the floor. The count leant over her and raised her in his arms; and seeing that sweet face pale, those lovely eyes closed, that beautiful form motionless, and to all appearance lifeless, the idea occurred to him for the first time that perhaps she loved him otherwise than a daughter loves a father.
‘Approach, gentlemen,’ said Albert; ‘I wish you not to miss one word of what I am about to have the honour of saying to the Count of Monte Cristo; for it must be repeated by you to all who will listen to it, strange as it may appear to you . . . Sir . . . I reproached you with exposing the conduct of M. de Morcerf in Epirus, for, guilty as I knew he was, I thought you had no right to punish him; but I have since learned you have that right . . . I say, and proclaim it publicly, that you were justified in revenging yourself on my father[.]’
‘Fernand,’ cried he, ‘of my hundred names I need only tell you one to overwhelm you! But you guess it now; do you not? —or, rather, you remember it? For, notwithstanding all my sorrows and my tortures, I show you to-day a face which the happiness of revenge makes young again — a face you must often have seen in your dreams since your marriage to Mercédès, my betrothed!’