Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 64


CHAPTER 64
The Beggar.

The evening passed on; Madame de Villefort expressed a
desire to return to Paris, which Madame Danglars had not
dared to do, notwithstanding the uneasiness she experienced.
On his wife's request, M. de Villefort was the first to give
the signal of departure. He offered a seat in his landau to
Madame Danglars, that she might be under the care of his
wife. As for M. Danglars, absorbed in an interesting
conversation with M. Cavalcanti, he paid no attention to
anything that was passing. While Monte Cristo had begged the
smelling-bottle of Madame de Villefort, he had noticed the
approach of Villefort to Madame Danglars, and he soon
guessed all that had passed between them, though the words
had been uttered in so low a voice as hardly to be heard by
Madame Danglars. Without opposing their arrangements, he
allowed Morrel, Chateau-Renaud, and Debray to leave on
horseback, and the ladies in M. de Villefort's carriage.
Danglars, more and more delighted with Major Cavalcanti, had
offered him a seat in his carriage. Andrea Cavalcanti found
his tilbury waiting at the door; the groom, in every respect
a caricature of the English fashion, was standing on tiptoe
to hold a large iron-gray horse.

Andrea had spoken very little during dinner; he was an
intelligent lad, and he feared to utter some absurdity
before so many grand people, amongst whom, with dilating
eyes, he saw the king's attorney. Then he had been seized
upon by Danglars, who, with a rapid glance at the
stiff-necked old major and his modest son, and taking into
consideration the hospitality of the count, made up his mind
that he was in the society of some nabob come to Paris to
finish the worldly education of his heir. He contemplated
with unspeakable delight the large diamond which shone on
the major's little finger; for the major, like a prudent
man, in case of any accident happening to his bank-notes,
had immediately converted them into an available asset.
Then, after dinner, on the pretext of business, he
questioned the father and son upon their mode of living; and
the father and son, previously informed that it was through
Danglars the one was to receive his 48,000 francs and the
other 50,000 livres annually, were so full of affability
that they would have shaken hands even with the banker's
servants, so much did their gratitude need an object to
expend itself upon. One thing above all the rest heightened
the respect, nay almost the veneration, of Danglars for
Cavalcanti. The latter, faithful to the principle of Horace,
nil admirari, had contented himself with showing his
knowledge by declaring in what lake the best lampreys were
caught. Then he had eaten some without saying a word more;
Danglars, therefore, concluded that such luxuries were
common at the table of the illustrious descendant of the
Cavalcanti, who most likely in Lucca fed upon trout brought
from Switzerland, and lobsters sent from England, by the
same means used by the count to bring the lampreys from Lake
Fusaro, and the sterlet from the Volga. Thus it was with
much politeness of manner that he heard Cavalcanti pronounce
these words, "To-morrow, sir, I shall have the honor of
waiting upon you on business."

"And I, sir," said Danglars, "shall be most happy to receive
you." Upon which he offered to take Cavalcanti in his
carriage to the Hotel des Princes, if it would not be
depriving him of the company of his son. To this Cavalcanti
replied by saying that for some time past his son had lived
independently of him, that he had his own horses and
carriages, and that not having come together, it would not
be difficult for them to leave separately. The major seated
himself, therefore, by the side of Danglars, who was more
and more charmed with the ideas of order and economy which
ruled this man, and yet who, being able to allow his son
60,000 francs a year, might be supposed to possess a fortune
of 500,000 or 600,000 livres.

As for Andrea, he began, by way of showing off, to scold his
groom, who, instead of bringing the tilbury to the steps of
the house, had taken it to the outer door, thus giving him
the trouble of walking thirty steps to reach it. The groom
heard him with humility, took the bit of the impatient
animal with his left hand, and with the right held out the
reins to Andrea, who, taking them from him, rested his
polished boot lightly on the step. At that moment a hand
touched his shoulder. The young man turned round, thinking
that Danglars or Monte Cristo had forgotten something they
wished to tell him, and had returned just as they were
starting. But instead of either of these, he saw nothing but
a strange face, sunburnt, and encircled by a beard, with
eyes brilliant as carbuncles, and a smile upon the mouth
which displayed a perfect set of white teeth, pointed and
sharp as the wolf's or jackal's. A red handkerchief
encircled his gray head; torn and filthy garments covered
his large bony limbs, which seemed as though, like those of
a skeleton, they would rattle as he walked; and the hand
with which he leaned upon the young man's shoulder, and
which was the first thing Andrea saw, seemed of gigantic
size. Did the young man recognize that face by the light of
the lantern in his tilbury, or was he merely struck with the
horrible appearance of his interrogator? We cannot say; but
only relate the fact that he shuddered and stepped back
suddenly. "What do you want of me?" he asked.

"Pardon me, my friend, if I disturb you," said the man with
the red handkerchief, "but I want to speak to you."

"You have no right to beg at night," said the groom,
endeavoring to rid his master of the troublesome intruder.

"I am not begging, my fine fellow," said the unknown to the
servant, with so ironical an expression of the eye, and so
frightful a smile, that he withdrew; "I only wish to say two
or three words to your master, who gave me a commission to
execute about a fortnight ago."

"Come," said Andrea, with sufficient nerve for his servant
not to perceive his agitation, "what do you want? Speak
quickly, friend."

The man said, in a low voice: "I wish -- I wish you to spare
me the walk back to Paris. I am very tired, and as I have
not eaten so good a dinner as you, I can scarcely stand."
The young man shuddered at this strange familiarity. "Tell
me," he said -- "tell me what you want?"

"Well, then, I want you to take me up in your fine carriage,
and carry me back." Andrea turned pale, but said nothing.

"Yes," said the man, thrusting his hands into his pockets,
and looking impudently at the youth; "I have taken the whim
into my head; do you understand, Master Benedetto?"

At this name, no doubt, the young man reflected a little,
for he went towards his groom, saying, "This man is right; I
did indeed charge him with a commission, the result of which
he must tell me; walk to the barrier, there take a cab, that
you may not be too late." The surprised groom retired. "Let
me at least reach a shady spot," said Andrea.

"Oh, as for that, I'll take you to a splendid place," said
the man with the handkerchief; and taking the horse's bit he
led the tilbury where it was certainly impossible for any
one to witness the honor that Andrea conferred upon him.

"Don't think I want the glory of riding in your fine
carriage," said he; "oh, no, it's only because I am tired,
and also because I have a little business to talk over with
you."

"Come, step in," said the young man. It was a pity this
scene had not occurred in daylight, for it was curious to
see this rascal throwing himself heavily down on the cushion
beside the young and elegant driver of the tilbury. Andrea
drove past the last house in the village without saying a
word to his companion, who smiled complacently, as though
well-pleased to find himself travelling in so comfortable a
vehicle. Once out of Auteuil, Andrea looked around, in order
to assure himself that he could neither be seen nor heard,
and then, stopping the horse and crossing his arms before
the man, he asked, -- "Now, tell me why you come to disturb
my tranquillity?"

"Let me ask you why you deceived me?"

"How have I deceived you?"

"`How,' do you ask? When we parted at the Pont du Var, you
told me you were going to travel through Piedmont and
Tuscany; but instead of that, you come to Paris."

"How does that annoy you?"

"It does not; on the contrary, I think it will answer my
purpose."

"So," said Andrea, "you are speculating upon me?"

"What fine words he uses!"

"I warn you, Master Caderousse, that you are mistaken."

"Well, well, don't be angry, my boy; you know well enough
what it is to be unfortunate; and misfortunes make us
jealous. I thought you were earning a living in Tuscany or
Piedmont by acting as facchino or cicerone, and I pitied you
sincerely, as I would a child of my own. You know I always
did call you my child."

"Come, come, what then?"

"Patience -- patience!"

"I am patient, but go on."

"All at once I see you pass through the barrier with a
groom, a tilbury, and fine new clothes. You must have
discovered a mine, or else become a stockbroker."

"So that, as you confess, you are jealous?"

"No, I am pleased -- so pleased that I wished to
congratulate you; but as I am not quite properly dressed, I
chose my opportunity, that I might not compromise you."

"Yes, and a fine opportunity you have chosen!" exclaimed
Andrea; "you speak to me before my servant."

"How can I help that, my boy? I speak to you when I can
catch you. You have a quick horse, a light tilbury, you are
naturally as slippery as an eel; if I had missed you
to-night, I might not have had another chance."

"You see, I do not conceal myself."

"You are lucky; I wish I could say as much, for I do conceal
myself; and then I was afraid you would not recognize me,
but you did," added Caderousse with his unpleasant smile.
"It was very polite of you."

"Come," said Andrea, "what do want?"

"You do not speak affectionately to me, Benedetto, my old
friend, that is not right -- take care, or I may become
troublesome." This menace smothered the young man's passion.
He urged the horse again into a trot. "You should not speak
so to an old friend like me, Caderousse, as you said just
now; you are a native of Marseilles, I am" --

"Do you know then now what you are?"

"No, but I was brought up in Corsica; you are old and
obstinate, I am young and wilful. Between people like us
threats are out of place, everything should be amicably
arranged. Is it my fault if fortune, which has frowned on
you, has been kind to me?"

"Fortune has been kind to you, then? Your tilbury, your
groom, your clothes, are not then hired? Good, so much the
better," said Caderousse, his eyes sparkling with avarice.

"Oh, you knew that well enough before speaking to me," said
Andrea, becoming more and more excited. "If I had been
wearing a handkerchief like yours on my head, rags on my
back, and worn-out shoes on my feet, you would not have
known me."

"You wrong me, my boy; now I have found you, nothing
prevents my being as well-dressed as any one, knowing, as I
do, the goodness of your heart. If you have two coats you
will give me one of them. I used to divide my soup and beans
with you when you were hungry."

"True," said Andrea.

"What an appetite you used to have! Is it as good now?"

"Oh, yes," replied Andrea, laughing.

"How did you come to be dining with that prince whose house
you have just left?"

"He is not a prince; simply a count."

"A count, and a rich one too, eh?"

"Yes; but you had better not have anything to say to him,
for he is not a very good-tempered gentleman."

"Oh, be easy! I have no design upon your count, and you
shall have him all to yourself. But," said Caderousse, again
smiling with the disagreeable expression he had before
assumed, "you must pay for it -- you understand?"

"Well, what do you want?"

"I think that with a hundred francs a month" --

"Well?"

"I could live" --

"Upon a hundred francs!"

"Come -- you understand me; but that with" --

"With?"

"With a hundred and fifty francs I should be quite happy."

"Here are two hundred," said Andrea; and he placed ten gold
louis in the hand of Caderousse.

"Good!" said Caderousse.

"Apply to the steward on the first day of every mouth, and
you will receive the same sum."

"There now, again you degrade me."

"How so?"

"By making me apply to the servants, when I want to transact
business with you alone."

"Well, be it so, then. Take it from me then, and so long at
least as I receive my income, you shall be paid yours."

"Come, come; I always said you were a line fellow, and it is
a blessing when good fortune happens to such as you. But
tell me all about it?"

"Why do you wish to know?" asked Cavalcanti.

"What? do you again defy me?"

"No; the fact is, I have found my father."

"What? a real father?"

"Yes, so long as he pays me" --

"You'll honor and believe him -- that's right. What is his
name?"

"Major Cavalcanti."

"Is he pleased with you?"

"So far I have appeared to answer his purpose."

"And who found this father for you?"

"The Count of Monte Cristo."

"The man whose house you have just left?"

"Yes."

"I wish you would try and find me a situation with him as
grandfather, since he holds the money-chest!"

"Well, I will mention you to him. Meanwhile, what are you
going to do?"

"I?"

"Yes, you."

"It is very kind of you to trouble yourself about me."

"Since you interest yourself in my affairs, I think it is
now my turn to ask you some questions."

"Ah, true. Well; I shall rent a room in some respectable
house, wear a decent coat, shave every day, and go and read
the papers in a cafe. Then, in the evening, I shall go to
the theatre; I shall look like some retired baker. That is
what I want."

"Come, if you will only put this scheme into execution, and
be steady, nothing could be better."

"Do you think so, M. Bossuet? And you -- what will you
become? A peer of France?"

"Ah," said Andrea, "who knows?"

"Major Cavalcanti is already one, perhaps; but then,
hereditary rank is abolished."

"No politics, Caderousse. And now that you have all you
want, and that we understand each other, jump down from the
tilbury and disappear."

"Not at all, my good friend."

"How? Not at all?"

"Why, just think for a moment; with this red handkerchief on
my head, with scarcely any shoes, no papers, and ten gold
napoleons in my pocket, without reckoning what was there
before -- making in all about two hundred francs, -- why, I
should certainly be arrested at the barriers. Then, to
justify myself, I should say that you gave me the money;
this would cause inquiries, it would be found that I left
Toulon without giving due notice, and I should then be
escorted back to the shores of the Mediterranean. Then I
should become simply No. 106, and good-by to my dream of
resembling the retired baker! No, no, my boy; I prefer
remaining honorably in the capital." Andrea scowled.
Certainly, as he had himself owned, the reputed son of Major
Cavalcanti was a wilful fellow. He drew up for a minute,
threw a rapid glance around him, and then his hand fell
instantly into his pocket, where it began playing with a
pistol. But, meanwhile, Caderousse, who had never taken his
eyes off his companion, passed his hand behind his back, and
opened a long Spanish knife, which he always carried with
him, to be ready in case of need. The two friends, as we
see, were worthy of and understood one another. Andrea's
hand left his pocket inoffensively, and was carried up to
the red mustache, which it played with for some time. "Good
Caderousse," he said, "how happy you will be."

"I will do my best," said the inn-keeper of the Pont du
Gard, shutting up his knife.

"Well, then, we will go into Paris. But how will you pass
through the barrier without exciting suspicion? It seems to
me that you are in more danger riding than on foot."

"Wait," said Caderousse, "we shall see." He then took the
great-coat with the large collar, which the groom had left
behind in the tilbury, and put it on his back; then he took
off Cavalcanti's hat, which he placed upon his own head, and
finally he assumed the careless attitude of a servant whose
master drives himself.

"But, tell me," said Andrea, "am I to remain bareheaded?"

"Pooh," said Caderousse; "it is so windy that your hat can
easily appear to have blown off."

"Come, come; enough of this," said Cavalcanti.

"What are you waiting for?" said Caderousse. "I hope I am
not the cause."

"Hush," said Andrea. They passed the barrier without
accident. At the first cross street Andrea stopped his
horse, and Caderousse leaped out.

"Well!" said Andrea, -- "my servant's coat and my hat?"

"Ah," said Caderousse, "you would not like me to risk taking
cold?"

"But what am I to do?"

"You? Oh, you are young while I am beginning to get old. Au
revoir, Benedetto;" and running into a court, he
disappeared. "Alas," said Andrea, sighing, "one cannot be
completely happy in this world!"


Alexandre Dumas pere