He had urged the horse on at a wild gallop, so as to bring Benedetto's mother to the vicarage in safety. His own safety was of secondary importance to him, when it was a question of protecting a mother from the knife of her son. He intended to alarm the house; that Benedetto would arrive there before them he had not imagined.
The very indifferent picture above the altar represented the martyr Anatolia offering, from Paradise, the symbolical palms to Audax, the young pagan who had attempted to seduce her, but whom, instead, she had led to Christ. Jeanne Dessalle had seduced Benedetto; of this Don Clemente had no doubts, notwithstanding Benedetto's attempt to exonerate her and accuse himself.
Madame Danglars, however, became terribly excited, and, sobbing bitterly, cowered in a corner of the carriage. Around about her, as within her, all was dark. She still thought she heard the rattling of Benedetto's chains in the roar and fury of the storm she thought she could distinguish the soft voice of Benedetto.
"No, Monsieur de Villefort, Benedetto's sentence was commuted to life imprisonment," said Monsieur de Flambois. "That is worse than the gallows," stammered the sick man. "My first and my second wife, Benedetto and myself deserved to have our names looked upon with loathing, but Valentine, my poor innocent Valentine, did not deserve this shame, and on her account I speak to-day."
If I should miss the lion, then you can take your turn." A new uproar was heard, followed by the report of a gun. "A man seems to have attacked the beast," said the count, running in the direction whence the sound proceeded. To his horror he saw a man lying on the ground, and the lion standing over him with one paw on his breast. It was Bertuccio, Benedetto's foster-father.
Oh, he was always a wretch to-morrow at four o'clock we can take the train we will go to England and from there to America." He paused, and, going to the window, listened. Everything was quiet and Anselmo noticed that a rain shed connected the count's house with that of Madame Vollard. Benedetto's visit was probably undiscovered, and a great deal depended on that.
It failed in everything in which antique sculpture had succeeded; it accomplished what Antiquity had left undone. Its sense of bodily beauty was rudimentary; its knowledge of the nude alternately insufficient and pedantic; the forms of Donatello's David and of Benedetto's St. John are clumsy, stunted, and inharmonious; even Michelangelo's Bacchus is but a comely lout.
Struggling in the shadow of death, his glassy eyes fixed on Benedetto, eyes which shone with an intense longing, and with the fear of being unable to express it, the poor young man who had misunderstood Benedetto's words, and thought he must confess to him, began telling him of his sins.
On his return from the University he had heard the news of Benedetto's removal to the small house, with an outburst of wrath. He would not admit it to the sister, to the gardener, or to the servants, but when he looked at the list of temperatures, taken every half-hour, he was bound to admit, in his heart that this act of folly had had no sensible effect upon the course of the fever.
The wife was dead, the daughters had been led astray, and now he himself was dying slowly, there in that fourth-floor room, in Via della Marmorata, near the corner of Via Manuzio, wasted by misery, by disease, by the bitterness of his soul. A sob he could not check broke from his lips. He opened his arms, encircled Benedetto's neck, and drew his head towards him in an embrace.