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Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle

The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

The Characters of Theophrastus


The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Edmond Dantes

by Alexandre Dumas



It Was the month of December, but on the little Island of Salmis in the Grecian Archipelago the temperature was as mild and genial as that of June. The grass was rank and thick, while the blooming almond trees filled the atmosphere with fragrance. On a narrow strip of sandy beach three or four fishermen were preparing their nets and boats for a fishing expedition to the waters beyond. They chatted as they toiled. The eldest of them, a man about sixty, with silvered locks and a long gray beard, said:

"You may talk of storms as much as you please, but I maintain that the most severe tempest ever experienced in this neighborhood was the one I witnessed ten years ago last October, when we had the earthquake and the strange man, who now owns this island, was washed ashore."

"The Count of Monte-Cristo you mean?" remarked one of the party.

"Yes, the Count of Monte-Cristo, who has done so much for us all and whose wife is nothing less than an angel of goodness and charity."

"You rescued him, did you not, Alexis?"

"I found him lying upon the beach, with the lady who is now his wife tightly clasped in his arms, so tightly that I had no end of trouble to separate them. Both were unconscious at the time, and no wonder, for the sea was furious and they must have been dashed about at a fearful rate. It was a miracle they escaped with their lives. Near them lay that darkskinned African, their servant, who styles himself Ali, as well as the corpses of several sailors. The African, however, revived just as I approached him. He's a man of iron, I tell you, for he immediately leaped to his feet and helped me to restore his master and mistress. When they came to, I took the whole party to my hut and cared for them. The next day I rowed the Count and the African out to the wreck of their vessel on that rock you see away over there, and they brought back with them a fabulous amount of money and jewels that they found in the strangest closets I ever saw in the cabin. Then the Count bought this island and has lived here ever since. He took the lady to Athens and was married to her there, and on his return he had the palace they now occupy built in the midst of the palm grove."

By this time the fishermen had completed their preparations and, leaping into their boats, they started on their expedition.

The palace in the palm grove to which old Alexis had alluded was, indeed, a magnificent dwelling, suitable in every respect for the residence of an oriental monarch. It was built in the Turkish fashion and its exterior was singularly beautiful and imposing. Huge palm trees surrounded it; they were planted in regular rows upon a vast lawn that was adorned with costly statues and fountains, while at intervals were scattered great flower beds filled with choice exotics and blooming plants of endless variety. A wide graveled walk and carriage-road led to the palace, the main entrance to which was flanked on either side by columns of dark-veined marble. The edifice itself was of green stone, and sparkled in the sunlight like a colossal emerald. It was surrounded by three zinc-covered domes, about each of which towered a gilded crescent.

Within all was elegance and luxury. There were immense salons, with marble floors, and walls covered with Smyrna hangings of the most beautiful description that of themselves must have cost a fortune. These salons were furnished with rich divans, tables of malachite, cabinets of ebony, and oriental rugs of the most artistic and complicated workmanship. There were dazzling reception-rooms filled with exquisite statues and superb paintings, the works of the greatest sculptors and artists of the east and west, of the past and the present. Figures by Thorwaldsen, Powers and other modern celebrities of the block and chisel stood beside antique masterpieces framed by the genius of Phidias and his brother sculptors of old Greece and Rome, masterpieces that had been torn from the ruins of antiquity by the hand of the untiring and enterprising excavator. Among the paintings were fine specimens of the skill of Albert Durer, Murillo, Rubens, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Sir Joshua Reynolds and other votaries of the brush whose names are immortal. These paintings did not hang on the walls, for they were covered with rich tapestry from the looms of Benares and the Gobelins, but rested on delicately fashioned easejs, themselves entitled to a high rank as works of art. In the salons were statues by Michael Angelo, Pierre Puget and Pompeo Marchesi, and paintings by Claude Lorraine, Titian, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Correggio and Salvator Rosa.

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