CHAPTER I. STORM AND SHIPWRECK.
The Count of Monte-Cristo, with the beautiful Haydée clinging lovingly about his neck, her head pillowed upon his shoulder, stood on the deck of his superb yacht, the Alcyon, gazing at the fast-vanishing isle where he had left Maximilian Morrel and Valentine de Villefort.
It was just daybreak, but by the faint glimmering light he could plainly distinguish the figures of a man and a woman upon the distant beach. They were walking arm in arm. Presently another figure, a man's, approached them and seemed to deliver something.
"Look," said the Count to Haydée, "Jacopo has given Maximilian my letter; he reads it to Valentine, and now they know all. Jacopo points toward the yacht; they see us and are waving their handkerchiefs in token of adieu."
Haydée raised her head and glanced in the direction of the Isle of Monte-Cristo.
"I see them, my lord," she replied, in a joyous tone; "they are happy."
"Yes," said the Count, "they are happy, but they deserve their happiness, and all is well."
"They owe their happiness to you, my lord," resumed Haydée, meekly.
"They owe it to God," answered Monte-Cristo, solemnly; "I was but His humble instrument, and He has allowed me in this to make some slight atonement for the wrong I committed in taking vengeance into my own mortal hands."
Haydée was silent. She knew the sad history of Edmond Dantès, and was aware of how remorselessly the Count of Monte-Cristo had avenged the wrongs of the humble sailor of Marseilles. This she had learned from her lord's own lips within the past few days. The strict seclusion in which she had lived in Paris had necessarily excluded her from all personal knowledge of the Count's subtle war upon his enemies; true, she had emerged from her retirement to testify against Morcerf at his trial before the House of Peers, but at that time she was ignorant of the fact that by causing the foe of her family to be convicted of felony, treason and outrage she had simply promoted Monte-Cristo's vengeance on Fernand, the Catalan. But, though silent, the beautiful Greek girl, with her thoroughly oriental ideas, could not realize that the man who stood beside her, the being she almost worshiped, had been guilty of the least wrong in avenging himself. Besides, she would never have admitted, even in the most secret recesses of her own heart, that Monte-Cristo, who to her mind symbolized all that was good, pure and heroic in human nature, could have been wrong in anything he did.
Meanwhile the Count also had been silent, and a shade of the deepest sadness had settled upon his pallid but intellectual visage. He gazed at the Isle of Monte-Cristo until it became a mere dot in the distance; then, putting his arm tenderly about his lovely companion's waist, he drew her gently toward the cabin.
As they vanished down the companion-way, Bertuccio and the captain of the Alcyon, followed by Ali, the Nubian, advanced to the prow of the yacht.
"Captain," said Bertuccio, "can you tell me whither we are bound? I feel an irresistible desire to know."
"Yes," answered the captain, "I can tell you. The Count ordered me to make with all possible speed for the Island of Crete."
Bertuccio gave a sigh of relief.
"I feared we were bound for Italy," he said. "But," he added, after an instant's thought, "why should we go to Rome? Luigi Vampa is amply able to care for all the Count's interests there, if, indeed, any remain now that the Baron Danglars has been attended to."
The captain, who was an old Italian smuggler, placed his finger warningly upon his lips and glanced warily around when Luigi Vampa's name was mentioned, but said nothing. Bertuccio took the hint and the conversation was dropped....