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Chapter 56


CHAPTER 56
Andrea Cavalcanti.

The Count of Monte Cristo entered the adjoining room, which
Baptistin had designated as the drawing-room, and found
there a young man, of graceful demeanor and elegant
appearance, who had arrived in a cab about half an hour
previously. Baptistin had not found any difficulty in
recognizing the person who presented himself at the door for
admittance. He was certainly the tall young man with light
hair, red heard, black eyes, and brilliant complexion, whom
his master had so particularly described to him. When the
count entered the room the young man was carelessly
stretched on a sofa, tapping his boot with the gold-headed
cane which he held in his hand. On perceiving the count he
rose quickly. "The Count of Monte Cristo, I believe?" said
he.

"Yes, sir, and I think I have the honor of addressing Count
Andrea Cavalcanti?"

"Count Andrea Cavalcanti," repeated the young man,
accompanying his words with a bow.

"You are charged with a letter of introduction addressed to
me, are you not?" said the count.

"I did not mention that, because the signature seemed to me
so strange."

"The letter signed `Sinbad the Sailor,' is it not?"

"Exactly so. Now, as I have never known any Sinbad, with the
exception of the one celebrated in the `Thousand and One
Nights'" --

"Well, it is one of his descendants, and a great friend of
mine; he is a very rich Englishman, eccentric almost to
insanity, and his real name is Lord Wilmore."

"Ah, indeed? Then that explains everything that is
extraordinary," said Andrea. "He is, then, the same
Englishman whom I met -- at -- ah -- yes, indeed. Well,
monsieur, I am at your service."

"If what you say be true," replied the count, smiling,
"perhaps you will be kind enough to give me some account of
yourself and your family?"

"Certainly, I will do so," said the young man, with a
quickness which gave proof of his ready invention. "I am (as
you have said) the Count Andrea Cavalcanti, son of Major
Bartolomeo Cavalcanti, a descendant of the Cavalcanti whose
names are inscribed in the golden book at Florence. Our
family, although still rich (for my father's income amounts
to half a million), has experienced many misfortunes, and I
myself was, at the age of five years, taken away by the
treachery of my tutor, so that for fifteen years I have not
seen the author of my existence. Since I have arrived at
years of discretion and become my own master, I have been
constantly seeking him, but all in vain. At length I
received this letter from your friend, which states that my
father is in Paris, and authorizes me to address myself to
you for information respecting him."

"Really, all you have related to me is exceedingly
interesting," said Monte Cristo, observing the young man
with a gloomy satisfaction; "and you have done well to
conform in everything to the wishes of my friend Sinbad; for
your father is indeed here, and is seeking you."

The count from the moment of first entering the
drawing-room, had not once lost sight of the expression of
the young man's countenance; he had admired the assurance of
his look and the firmness of his voice; but at these words,
so natural in themselves, "Your father is indeed here, and
is seeking you," young Andrea started, and exclaimed, "My
father? Is my father here?"

"Most undoubtedly," replied Monte Cristo; "your father,
Major Bartolomeo Cavalcanti." The expression of terror
which, for the moment, had overspread the features of the
young man, had now disappeared. "Ah, yes, that is the name,
certainly. Major Bartolomeo Cavalcanti. And you really mean
to say; monsieur, that my dear father is here?"

"Yes, sir; and I can even add that I have only just left his
company. The history which he related to me of his lost son
touched me to the quick; indeed, his griefs, hopes, and
fears on that subject might furnish material for a most
touching and pathetic poem. At length, he one day received a
letter, stating that the abductors of his son now offered to
restore him, or at least to give notice where he might be
found, on condition of receiving a large sum of money, by
way of ransom. Your father did not hesitate an instant, and
the sum was sent to the frontier of Piedmont, with a
passport signed for Italy. You were in the south of France,
I think?"

"Yes," replied Andrea, with an embarrassed air, "I was in
the south of France."

"A carriage was to await you at Nice?"

"Precisely so; and it conveyed me from Nice to Genoa, from
Genoa to Turin, from Turin to Chambery, from Chambery to
Pont-de-Beauvoisin, and from Pont-de-Beauvoisin to Paris."

"Indeed? Then your father ought to have met with you on the
road, for it is exactly the same route which he himself
took, and that is how we have been able to trace your
journey to this place."

"But," said Andrea, "if my father had met me, I doubt if he
would have recognized me; I must be somewhat altered since
he last saw me."

"Oh, the voice of nature," said Monte Cristo.

"True," interrupted the young man, "I had not looked upon it
in that light."

"Now," replied Monte Cristo "there is only one source of
uneasiness left in your father's mind, which is this -- he
is anxious to know how you have been employed during your
long absence from him, how you have been treated by your
persecutors, and if they have conducted themselves towards
you with all the deference due to your rank. Finally, he is
anxious to see if you have been fortunate enough to escape
the bad moral influence to which you have been exposed, and
which is infinitely more to be dreaded than any physical
suffering; he wishes to discover if the fine abilities with
which nature had endowed you have been weakened by want of
culture; and, in short, whether you consider yourself
capable of resuming and retaining in the world the high
position to which your rank entitles you."

"Sir!" exclaimed the young man, quite astounded, "I hope no
false report" --

"As for myself, I first heard you spoken of by my friend
Wilmore, the philanthropist. I believe he found you in some
unpleasant position, but do not know of what nature, for I
did not ask, not being inquisitive. Your misfortunes engaged
his sympathies, so you see you must have been interesting.
He told me that he was anxious to restore you to the
position which you had lost, and that he would seek your
father until he found him. He did seek, and has found him,
apparently, since he is here now; and, finally, my friend
apprised me of your coming, and gave me a few other
instructions relative to your future fortune. I am quite
aware that my friend Wilmore is peculiar, but he is sincere,
and as rich as a gold-mine, consequently, he may indulge his
eccentricities without any fear of their ruining him, and I
have promised to adhere to his instructions. Now, sir, pray
do not be offended at the question I am about to put to you,
as it comes in the way of my duty as your patron. I would
wish to know if the misfortunes which have happened to you
-- misfortunes entirely beyond your control, and which in no
degree diminish my regard for you -- I would wish to know if
they have not, in some measure, contributed to render you a
stranger to the world in which your fortune and your name
entitle you to make a conspicuous figure?"

"Sir," returned the young man, with a reassurance of manner,
"make your mind easy on this score. Those who took me from
my father, and who always intended, sooner or later, to sell
me again to my original proprietor, as they have now done,
calculated that, in order to make the most of their bargain,
it would be politic to leave me in possession of all my
personal and hereditary worth, and even to increase the
value, if possible. I have, therefore, received a very good
education, and have been treated by these kidnappers very
much as the slaves were treated in Asia Minor, whose masters
made them grammarians, doctors, and philosophers, in order
that they might fetch a higher price in the Roman market."
Monte Cristo smiled with satisfaction; it appeared as if he
had not expected so much from M. Andrea Cavalcanti.
"Besides," continued the young man, "if there did appear
some defect in education, or offence against the established
forms of etiquette, I suppose it would be excused, in
consideration of the misfortunes which accompanied my birth,
and followed me through my youth."

"Well," said Monte Cristo in an indifferent tone, "you will
do as you please, count, for you are the master of your own
actions, and are the person most concerned in the matter,
but if I were you, I would not divulge a word of these
adventures. Your history is quite a romance, and the world,
which delights in romances in yellow covers, strangely
mistrusts those which are bound in living parchment, even
though they be gilded like yourself. This is the kind of
difficulty which I wished to represent to you, my dear
count. You would hardly have recited your touching history
before it would go forth to the world, and be deemed
unlikely and unnatural. You would be no longer a lost child
found, but you would be looked upon as an upstart, who had
sprung up like a mushroom in the night. You might excite a
little curiosity, but it is not every one who likes to be
made the centre of observation and the subject of unpleasant
remark."

"I agree with you, monsieur," said the young man, turning
pale, and, in spite of himself, trembling beneath the
scrutinizing look of his companion, "such consequences would
be extremely unpleasant."

"Nevertheless, you must not exaggerate the evil," said Monte
Cristo, "for by endeavoring to avoid one fault you will fall
into another. You must resolve upon one simple and single
line of conduct, and for a man of your intelligence, this
plan is as easy as it is necessary; you must form honorable
friendships, and by that means counteract the prejudice
which may attach to the obscurity of your former life."
Andrea visibly changed countenance. "I would offer myself as
your surety and friendly adviser," said Monte Cristo, "did I
not possess a moral distrust of my best friends, and a sort
of inclination to lead others to doubt them too; therefore,
in departing from this rule, I should (as the actors say) be
playing a part quite out of my line, and should, therefore,
run the risk of being hissed, which would be an act of
folly."

"However, your excellency," said Andrea, "in consideration
of Lord Wilmore, by whom I was recommended to you -- "

"Yes, certainly," interrupted Monte Cristo; "but Lord
Wilmore did not omit to inform me, my dear M. Andrea, that
the season of your youth was rather a stormy one. Ah," said
the count, watching Andrea's countenance, "I do not demand
any confession from you; it is precisely to avoid that
necessity that your father was sent for from Lucca. You
shall soon see him. He is a little stiff and pompous in his
manner, and he is disfigured by his uniform; but when it
becomes known that he has been for eighteen years in the
Austrian service, all that will be pardoned. We are not
generally very severe with the Austrians. In short, you will
find your father a very presentable person, I assure you."

"Ah, sir, you have given me confidence; it is so long since
we were separated, that I have not the least remembrance of
him, and, besides, you know that in the eyes of the world a
large fortune covers all defects."

"He is a millionaire -- his income is 500,000 francs."

"Then," said the young man, with anxiety, "I shall be sure
to be placed in an agreeable position."

"One of the most agreeable possible, my dear sir; he will
allow you an income of 50,000 livres per annum during the
whole time of your stay in Paris."

"Then in that case I shall always choose to remain there."

"You cannot control circumstances, my dear sir; `man
proposes, and God disposes.'" Andrea sighed. "But," said he,
"so long as I do remain in Paris, and nothing forces me to
quit it, do you mean to tell me that I may rely on receiving
the sum you just now mentioned to me?"

"You may."

"Shall I receive it from my father?" asked Andrea, with some
uneasiness.

"Yes, you will receive it from your father personally, but
Lord Wilmore will be the security for the money. He has, at
the request of your father, opened an account of 6,000
francs a month at M. Danglars', which is one of the safest
banks in Paris."

"And does my father mean to remain long in Paris?" asked
Andrea.

"Only a few days," replied Monte Cristo. "His service does
not allow him to absent himself more than two or three weeks
together."

"Ah, my dear father!" exclaimed Andrea, evidently charmed
with the idea of his speedy departure.

"Therefore," said Monte Cristo feigning to mistake his
meaning -- "therefore I will not, for another instant,
retard the pleasure of your meeting. Are you prepared to
embrace your worthy father?"

"I hope you do not doubt it."

"Go, then, into the drawing-room, my young friend, where you
will find your father awaiting you." Andrea made a low bow
to the count, and entered the adjoining room. Monte Cristo
watched him till he disappeared, and then touched a spring
in a panel made to look like a picture, which, in sliding
partly from the frame, discovered to view a small opening,
so cleverly contrived that it revealed all that was passing
in the drawing-room now occupied by Cavalcanti and Andrea.
The young man closed the door behind him, and advanced
towards the major, who had risen when he heard steps
approaching him. "Ah, my dear father!" said Andrea in a loud
voice, in order that the count might hear him in the next
room, "is it really you?"

"How do you do, my dear son?" said the major gravely.

"After so many years of painful separation," said Andrea, in
the same tone of voice, and glancing towards the door, "what
a happiness it is to meet again!"

"Indeed it is, after so long a separation."

"Will you not embrace me, sir?" said Andrea.

"If you wish it, my son," said the major; and the two men
embraced each other after the fashion of actors on the
stage; that is to say, each rested his head on the other's
shoulder.

"Then we are once more reunited?" said Andrea.

"Once more," replied the major.

"Never more to be separated?"

"Why, as to that -- I think, my dear son, you must be by
this time so accustomed to France as to look upon it almost
as a second country."

"The fact is," said the young man, "that I should be
exceedingly grieved to leave it."

"As for me, you must know I cannot possibly live out of
Lucca; therefore I shall return to Italy as soon as I can."

"But before you leave France, my dear father, I hope you
will put me in possession of the documents which will be
necessary to prove my descent."

"Certainly; I am come expressly on that account; it has cost
me much trouble to find you, but I had resolved on giving
them into your hands, and if I had to recommence my search,
it would occupy all the few remaining years of my life."

"Where are these papers, then?"

"Here they are."

Andrea seized the certificate of his father's marriage and
his own baptismal register, and after having opened them
with all the eagerness which might be expected under the
circumstances, he read them with a facility which proved
that he was accustomed to similar documents, and with an
expression which plainly denoted an unusual interest in the
contents. When he had perused the documents, an indefinable
expression of pleasure lighted up his countenance, and
looking at the major with a most peculiar smile, he said, in
very excellent Tuscan, -- "Then there is no longer any such
thing, in Italy as being condemned to the galleys?" The
major drew himself up to his full height.

"Why? -- what do you mean by that question?"

"I mean that if there were, it would be impossible to draw
up with impunity two such deeds as these. In France, my dear
sir, half such a piece of effrontery as that would cause you
to be quickly despatched to Toulon for five years, for
change of air."

"Will you be good enough to explain your meaning?" said the
major, endeavoring as much as possible to assume an air of
the greatest majesty.

"My dear M. Cavalcanti," said Andrea, taking the major by
the arm in a confidential manner, "how much are you paid for
being my father?" The major was about to speak, when Andrea
continued, in a low voice.

"Nonsense, I am going to set you an example of confidence,
they give me 50,000 francs a year to be your son;
consequently, you can understand that it is not at all
likely I shall ever deny my parent." The major looked
anxiously around him. "Make yourself easy, we are quite
alone," said Andrea; "besides, we are conversing in
Italian."

"Well, then," replied the major, "they paid me 50,000 francs
down."

"Monsieur Cavalcanti," said Andrea, "do you believe in fairy
tales?"

"I used not to do so, but I really feel now almost obliged
to have faith in them."

"You have, then, been induced to alter your opinion; you
have had some proofs of their truth?" The major drew from
his pocket a handful of gold. "Most palpable proofs," said
he, "as you may perceive."

"You think, then, that I may rely on the count's promises?"

"Certainly I do."

"You are sure he will keep his word with me?"

"To the letter, but at the same time, remember, we must
continue to play our respective parts. I, as a tender
father" --

"And I as a dutiful son, as they choose that I shall be
descended from you."

"Whom do you mean by they?"

"Ma foi, I can hardly tell, but I was alluding to those who
wrote the letter; you received one, did you not?"

"Yes."

"From whom?"

"From a certain Abbe Busoni."

"Have you any knowledge of him?"

"No, I have never seen him."

"What did he say in the letter?"

"You will promise not to betray me?"

"Rest assured of that; you well know that our interests are
the same."

"Then read for yourself;" and the major gave a letter into
the young man's hand. Andrea read in a low voice --

"You are poor; a miserable old age awaits you. Would you
like to become rich, or at least independent? Set out
immediately for Paris, and demand of the Count of Monte
Cristo, Avenue des Champs Elysees, No. 30, the son whom you
had by the Marchesa Corsinari, and who was taken from you at
five years of age. This son is named Andrea Cavalcanti. In
order that you may not doubt the kind intention of the
writer of this letter, you will find enclosed an order for
2,400 francs, payable in Florence, at Signor Gozzi's; also a
letter of introduction to the Count of Monte Cristo, on whom
I give you a draft of 48,000 francs. Remember to go to the
count on the 26th May at seven o'clock in the evening.

(Signed)

"Abbe Busoni."

"It is the same."

"What do you mean?" said the major.

"I was going to say that I received a letter almost to the
same effect."

"You?"

"Yes."

"From the Abbe Busoni?"

"No."

"From whom, then?"

"From an Englishman, called Lord Wilmore, who takes the name
of Sinbad the Sailor."

"And of whom you have no more knowledge than I of the Abbe
Busoni?"

"You are mistaken; there I am ahead of you."

"You have seen him, then?"

"Yes, once."

"Where?"

"Ah, that is just what I cannot tell you; if I did, I should
make you as wise as myself, which it is not my intention to
do."

"And what did the letter contain?"

"Read it."

"`You are poor, and your future prospects are dark and
gloomy. Do you wish for a name? should you like to be rich,
and your own master?'"

"Ma foi," said the young man; "was it possible there could
be two answers to such a question?"

"Take the post-chaise which you will find waiting at the
Porte de Genes, as you enter Nice; pass through Turin,
Chambery, and Pont-de-Beauvoisin. Go to the Count of Monte
Cristo, Avenue des Champs Elysees, on the 26th of May, at
seven o'clock in the evening, and demand of him your father.
You are the son of the Marchese Cavalcanti and the Marchesa
Oliva Corsinari. The marquis will give you some papers which
will certify this fact, and authorize you to appear under
that name in the Parisian world. As to your rank, an annual
income of 50,000 livres will enable you to support it
admirably. I enclose a draft for 5,000 livres, payable on M.
Ferrea, banker at Nice, and also a letter of introduction to
the Count of Monte Cristo, whom I have directed to supply
all your wants.

"Sinbad the Sailor."

"Humph," said the major; "very good. You have seen the
count, you say?"

"I have only just left him "

"And has he conformed to all that the letter specified?"

"He has."

"Do you understand it?"

"Not in the least."

"There is a dupe somewhere."

"At all events, it is neither you nor I."

"Certainly not."

"Well, then" --

"Why, it does not much concern us, do you think it does?"

"No; I agree with you there. We must play the game to the
end, and consent to be blindfold."

"Ah, you shall see; I promise you I will sustain my part to
admiration."

"I never once doubted your doing so." Monte Cristo chose
this moment for re-entering the drawing-room. On hearing the
sound of his footsteps, the two men threw themselves in each
other's arms, and while they were in the midst of this
embrace, the count entered. "Well, marquis," said Monte
Cristo, "you appear to be in no way disappointed in the son
whom your good fortune has restored to you."

"Ah, your excellency, I am overwhelmed with delight."

"And what are your feelings?" said Monte Cristo, turning to
the young man.

"As for me, my heart is overflowing with happiness."

"Happy father, happy son!" said the count.

"There is only one thing which grieves me," observed the
major, "and that is the necessity for my leaving Paris so
soon."

"Ah, my dear M. Cavalcanti, I trust you will not leave
before I have had the honor of presenting you to some of my
friends."

"I am at your service, sir," replied the major.

"Now, sir," said Monte Cristo, addressing Andrea, "make your
confession."

"To whom?"

"Tell M. Cavalcanti something of the state of your
finances."

"Ma foi, monsieur, you have touched upon a tender chord."

"Do you hear what he says, major?"

"Certainly I do."

"But do you understand?"

"I do."

"Your son says he requires money."

"Well, what would you have me do?" said the major.

"You should furnish him with some of course," replied Monte
Cristo.

"I?"

"Yes, you," said the count, at the same time advancing
towards Andrea, and slipping a packet of bank-notes into the
young man's hand.

"What is this?"

"It is from your father."

"From my father?"

"Yes; did you not tell him just now that you wanted money?
Well, then, he deputes me to give you this."

"Am I to consider this as part of my income on account?"

"No, it is for the first expenses of your settling in
Paris."

"Ah, how good my dear father is!"

"Silence," said Monte Cristo; "he does not wish you to know
that it comes from him."

"I fully appreciate his delicacy," said Andrea, cramming the
notes hastily into his pocket.

"And now, gentlemen, I wish you good-morning," said Monte
Cristo.

"And when shall we have the honor of seeing you again, your
excellency?" asked Cavalcanti.

"Ah," said Andrea, "when may we hope for that pleasure?"

"On Saturday, if you will -- Yes. -- Let me see -- Saturday
-- I am to dine at my country house, at Auteuil, on that
day, Rue de la Fontaine, No. 28. Several persons are
invited, and among others, M. Danglars, your banker. I will
introduce you to him, for it will be necessary he should
know you, as he is to pay your money."

"Full dress?" said the major, half aloud.

"Oh, yes, certainly," said the count; "uniform, cross,
knee-breeches."

"And how shall I be dressed?" demanded Andrea.

"Oh, very simply; black trousers, patent leather boots,
white waistcoat, either a black or blue coat, and a long
cravat. Go to Blin or Veronique for your clothes. Baptistin
will tell you where, if you do not know their address. The
less pretension there is in your attire, the better will be
the effect, as you are a rich man. If you mean to buy any
horses, get them of Devedeux, and if you purchase a phaeton,
go to Baptiste for it."

"At what hour shall we come?" asked the young man.

"About half-past six."

"We will be with you at that time," said the major. The two
Cavalcanti bowed to the count, and left the house. Monte
Cristo went to the window, and saw them crossing the street,
arm in arm. "There go two miscreants;" said he, "it is a
pity they are not really related!" -- then, after an instant
of gloomy reflection, "Come, I will go to see the Morrels,"
said he; "I think that disgust is even more sickening than
hatred."


Alexandre Dumas pere