Translated from the original French. The original version can be found on Gutenberg.org.
Chapter 1: Marseille. — The arrival
On the 24th of February in the year 1815, the lookout guard of Notre Dame signals to the three-masted ship, the Pharaon, coming from Smyrne, Trieste, and Naples.
As is customary, a coastal pilot leaves immediately from the port, shaves by the Island Castle, and reaches the ship between the Morgion cape and the island of Rion.
Immediately and instinctively, the platform of Fort Saint-Jean, was covered in curiosity; because it is always a big to-do in Marseille at the arrival of a ship, especially when that ship, like the Pharaon, which had been constructed, rigged, tied up on the construction sites of the old city Phocee, and which belongs to a ship-owner in the city.
However, this ship advanced; it had happily crossed the place that some volcanic tremor had dug between the island of Calasareigne and the island of Jeros: it had cut the island Pomegue in two pieces, and it moved underneath the three topsails, the big jib and the two-masts, but slowly and with a sad speed, which made the curious, with this instinct which squeezes misfortune, ask what accident could have happened to the ship.
Nevertheless, the sailing experts recognized that if misfortune had befallen the ship, this could not have been at the ship himself, but he advanced himself in all the condition of a ship perfectly steered: his anchor was lowered, his bowsprit cables unhooked; and near the pilot, who prepared himself to steer the Pharaon by the narrow entrance of the Marseille port, was a young man with quick movements and energetic eyes, who watched every motion of the ship and repeated every order of the pilot.
The vague discomfort which lingered on the crowd had particularly reached one of the spectators at the Saint-Jean promenade, the sort who cannot wait for the entrance of a ship into the port; he jumped into a small boat and was paddling out with the hope of meeting the Pharaon, he had reached opposite the cove of the storehouse.
During the noticeable approach of the man, the young sailor abandoned his place at the side of the pilot, and went, hat in hand, to lean himself on the wall of the ship.
It was a young man who was eighteen to twenty years old, tall, slender, with beautiful black eyes and ebony hair; there was in all his personality this calm air of purpose characteristic of those men accustomed since their childhood to fight with danger.
“Oh! It is you, Dantes!” cried the man in the boat; “So, what happened, and why is this atmosphere of sadness common among all on your vessel?”
“A big misfortune, Mr. Morell!” responded the young man, “a big misfortune, for me especially: at the heights of Civita-Vecchia, we lost our brave Captain Leclere.
“And the cargo?” asked quickly the shipowner.
“It arrived at the correct port, Mr. Morrel, and I think that you would be happy because of this report; but the poor captain Leclere…
“So what happened to him?” asked the shipowner with an air of apparent relief; “what happened to him, to this brave captain?”
“He is dead.”
“Fallen in the sea?”
“No, sir; died of a fever in his head, in the middle of horrible suffering.”
Then, turned himself towards his men:
“Hey, hey!” he said, “Everyone to his post for the anchoring!”
The crew obeyed. Immediately, the eight or ten sailors who composed the crew hurled themselves ones on the sheets, the others on the long arms, the others on the downhauls of the jibs, and finally the others on the rundowns of the sails.
The young sailor cast a casual glance at the beginning of the maneuver, and, seeing that his orders were going to execute themselves, he returned to the person he was speaking to.
“And how then did this misfortune happen?” continued the shipowner, resuming the conversation where the young sailor had left off.
“My god, sir, in the most unexpected way; after a long conversation with the owner of the port, the captain Leclere left Naples very restless; at the end of twenty-four hours, the fever took hold; three hours later, he was dead…
“We made him an ordinary funeral, and he rests, properly wrapped in a hammock, with a cannonball of thirty-six at his feet and one at the head, at the height of the island of El Giglio. We brought back to his widow his cross of honor and his sword. It was well the pain,” continued the young man with a sad smile, “to make ten years the war with the English for in arriving at death, like all the world, in his bed”.
“Why! What do you want, Mr. Edmond”, took up again the shipowner who seemed to comfort himself of more and more, “we are all mortal, and it is necessary that the old are replaced by the new, without this, there would not have been promotion; and from the moment that you assured me that the cargo…
“It is in good condition”, Mr. Morrel, “I respond to you. This is a trip that I will tell you to not make light of as it brought home 25,000 francs in profit.
Then, a person poked out of the watchtower:
“Now run down the veil of the maintop, the jib and the brigantine! cried the young sailor; “be ashamed!”
The order executed itself nearly as swiftly as a war ship.
“Gather and run down every sail!”
At the last command, all the sails lowered, and the ship advanced itself in a way nearly indifferent, did not go anymore by momentum given.
“And now, if you want to climb on, Mr. Morrel,” said Dante, seeing the impatience of the shipowner, “here is your accountant, M. Danglars, who emerged from his cabin, and who will give all the details that you could want. As for me, he almost did the day before the anchoring when I put the ship in mourning”.
The shipowner did not make him say it twice.