The chapter begins with Maximilien Morrel, dressed as a gardener, paying court to Valentine de Villefort over the garden wall to her father’s estate. Maximilien reveals in his conversation that Valentine was to be married to Franz D’Epinay of the earlier chapters, but that Valentine has resisted this marriage. Maximilien also reveals that he has purchased the fallow property next-door to the Villeforts, and that he plans to work there, in the alfalfa fields, having given up his military commission so he can be close to his beloved.
At this point the reader might have wondered what has become of Franz. Whereas Albert has remained central to the narrative, being the son of Fernand, Franz appears to have drifted into the shadows. He will return later, however, when it is revealed that Villefort’s father once interacted with his own father. But at this point, the reader learns only that Franz is to be married to Valentine.
In the second part of their conversation, Valentine wonders aloud if there isn’t some ancient hatred between their families, for when Maximilien’s name once came up in the Villefort home, her father was deeply angered at the sound of it; but her grandfather, Noirtier, who can barely speak on account of a stroke, demonstrated that he was pleased that Maximilien had been awarded the Legion of Honor. Maximilien wonders if the rumor is true, that, despite Villefort’s impeccable Royalist credentials, his father is in fact a longtime Bonapartist. At the sound of Valentine’s stepmother, Heloise, Maximilien heads back over the wall to his side, the alfalfa field.
Villefort, of course, pretended long ago not to have remembered the details of Dantes imprisonment, when Old Morrel visited him to plead on Dantes’ account. Villefort is therefore invested in rejecting any connection to Old Morrel, whom he believes to be too close to Dantes. And it is the memory of Dantes, along with the memory of his child out of wedlock, that most haunt sVillefort. Thus he wishes to ignore even the smallest mention of the name of any Morrel – and, of course, whatever his father might know on the subject cannot be interpreted readily, for Noirtier has been felled by a stroke.