Morrel," said Dantes, approaching, "the vessel now rides at anchor, and I am at your service.
Morrel looked around him, and then, drawing Dantes on one side, he said suddenly -- "And how is the emperor?"
"Why, it was he who spoke to me, sir," said Dantes, with a smile.
Dantes, you must tell my uncle that the emperor remembered him, and you will see it will bring tears into the old soldier's eyes.
"How could that bring me into trouble, sir?" asked Dantes; "for I did not even know of what I was the bearer; and the emperor merely made such inquiries as he would of the first comer.
"Dantes has done his," replied the owner, "and that is not saying much.
"Talking of Captain Leclere, has not Dantes given you a letter from him?"
"I was passing close to the door of the captain's cabin, which was half open, and I saw him give the packet and letter to Dantes."
Morrel, I beg of you," said he, "not to say a word to Dantes on the subject.
"Well, my dear Dantes, are you now free?" inquired the owner.
"And," inquired Dantes, with some hesitation, "do you know how my father is?"
"True, Dantes, I forgot that there was at the Catalans some one who expects you no less impatiently than your father -- the lovely Mercedes."
"Very good; have what time you require, Dantes. It will take quite six weeks to unload the cargo, and we cannot get you ready for sea until three months after that; only be back again in three months, for the Pharaon," added the owner, patting the young sailor on the back, "cannot sail without her captain."
"Without her captain!" cried Dantes, his eyes sparkling with animation; "pray mind what you say, for you are touching on the most secret wishes of my heart.
"If I were sole owner we'd shake hands on it now, my dear Dantes, and call it settled; but I have a partner, and you know the Italian proverb -- Chi ha compagno ha padrone --