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Chapter 26 The Pont du Gard Inn.

  • Such of my readers as have made a pedestrian excursion to the south of Franc_ay perchance have noticed, about midway between the town of Beaucaire and th_illage of Bellegarde, — a little nearer to the former than to the latter, — _mall roadside inn, from the front of which hung, creaking and flapping in th_ind, a sheet of tin covered with a grotesque representation of the Pont d_ard. This modern place of entertainment stood on the left-hand side of th_ost road, and backed upon the Rhone. It also boasted of what in Languedoc i_tyled a garden, consisting of a small plot of ground, on the side opposite t_he main entrance reserved for the reception of guests. A few dingy olives an_tunted fig-trees struggled hard for existence, but their withered dust_oliage abundantly proved how unequal was the conflict. Between these sickl_hrubs grew a scanty supply of garlic, tomatoes, and eschalots; while, lon_nd solitary, like a forgotten sentinel, a tall pine raised its melanchol_ead in one of the corners of this unattractive spot, and displayed it_lexible stem and fan-shaped summit dried and cracked by the fierce heat o_he sub-tropical sun.
  • In the surrounding plain, which more resembled a dusty lake than solid ground, were scattered a few miserable stalks of wheat, the effect, no doubt, of _urious desire on the part of the agriculturists of the country to see whethe_uch a thing as the raising of grain in those parched regions was practicable.
  • Each stalk served as a perch for a grasshopper, which regaled the passers b_hrough this Egyptian scene with its strident, monotonous note.
  • For about seven or eight years the little tavern had been kept by a man an_is wife, with two servants, — a chambermaid named Trinette, and a hostle_alled Pecaud. This small staff was quite equal to all the requirements, for _anal between Beaucaire and Aiguemortes had revolutionized transportation b_ubstituting boats for the cart and the stagecoach. And, as though to add t_he daily misery which this prosperous canal inflicted on the unfortunate inn- keeper, whose utter ruin it was fast accomplishing, it was situated betwee_he Rhone from which it had its source and the post-road it had depleted, no_ hundred steps from the inn, of which we have given a brief but faithfu_escription.
  • The inn-keeper himself was a man of from forty to fifty-five years of age, tall, strong, and bony, a perfect specimen of the natives of those souther_atitudes; he had dark, sparkling, and deep-set eyes, hooked nose, and teet_hite as those of a carnivorous animal; his hair, like his beard, which h_ore under his chin, was thick and curly, and in spite of his age but slightl_nterspersed with a few silvery threads. His naturally dark complexion ha_ssumed a still further shade of brown from the habit the unfortunate man ha_cquired of stationing himself from morning till eve at the threshold of hi_oor, on the lookout for guests who seldom came, yet there he stood, day afte_ay, exposed to the meridional rays of a burning sun, with no other protectio_or his head than a red handkerchief twisted around it, after the manner o_he Spanish muleteers. This man was our old acquaintance, Gaspard Caderousse.
  • His wife, on the contrary, whose maiden name had been Madeleine Radelle, wa_ale, meagre, and sickly-looking. Born in the neighborhood of Arles, she ha_hared in the beauty for which its women are proverbial; but that beauty ha_radually withered beneath the devastating influence of the slow fever s_revalent among dwellers by the ponds of Aiguemortes and the marshes o_amargue. She remained nearly always in her second-floor chamber, shivering i_er chair, or stretched languid and feeble on her bed, while her husband kep_is daily watch at the door — a duty he performed with so much the greate_illingness, as it saved him the necessity of listening to the endless plaint_nd murmurs of his helpmate, who never saw him without breaking out int_itter invectives against fate; to all of which her husband would calml_eturn an unvarying reply, in these philosophic words: —
  • "Hush, La Carconte. It is God's pleasure that things should be so."
  • The sobriquet of La Carconte had been bestowed on Madeleine Radelle from th_act that she had been born in a village, so called, situated between Salo_nd Lambesc; and as a custom existed among the inhabitants of that part o_rance where Caderousse lived of styling every person by some particular an_istinctive appellation, her husband had bestowed on her the name of L_arconte in place of her sweet and euphonious name of Madeleine, which, in al_robability, his rude gutteral language would not have enabled him t_ronounce. Still, let it not be supposed that amid this affected resignatio_o the will of Providence, the unfortunate inn-keeper did not writhe under th_ouble misery of seeing the hateful canal carry off his customers and hi_rofits, and the daily infliction of his peevish partner's murmurs an_amentations.
  • Like other dwellers in the south, he was a man of sober habits and moderat_esires, but fond of external show, vain, and addicted to display. During th_ays of his prosperity, not a festivity took place without himself and wif_eing among the spectators. He dressed in the picturesque costume worn upo_rand occasions by the inhabitants of the south of France, bearing equa_esemblance to the style adopted both by the Catalans and Andalusians; whil_a Carconte displayed the charming fashion prevalent among the women of Arles, a mode of attire borrowed equally from Greece and Arabia. But, by degrees, watch-chains, necklaces, parti-colored scarfs, embroidered bodices, velve_ests, elegantly worked stockings, striped gaiters, and silver buckles for th_hoes, all disappeared; and Gaspard Caderousse, unable to appear abroad in hi_ristine splendor, had given up any further participation in the pomps an_anities, both for himself and wife, although a bitter feeling of enviou_iscontent filled his mind as the sound of mirth and merry music from th_oyous revellers reached even the miserable hostelry to which he still clung, more for the shelter than the profit it afforded.
  • Caderousse, then, was, as usual, at his place of observation before the door, his eyes glancing listlessly from a piece of closely shaven grass — on whic_ome fowls were industriously, though fruitlessly, endeavoring to turn up som_rain or insect suited to their palate — to the deserted road, which led awa_o the north and south, when he was aroused by the shrill voice of his wife, and grumbling to himself as he went, he mounted to her chamber, first takin_are, however, to set the entrance door wide open, as an invitation to an_hance traveller who might be passing.
  • At the moment Caderousse quitted his sentry-like watch before the door, th_oad on which he so eagerly strained his sight was void and lonely as a deser_t mid-day. There it lay stretching out into one interminable line of dust an_and, with its sides bordered by tall, meagre trees, altogether presenting s_ninviting an appearance, that no one in his senses could have imagined tha_ny traveller, at liberty to regulate his hours for journeying, would choos_o expose himself in such a formidable Sahara. Nevertheless, had Caderouss_ut retained his post a few minutes longer, he might have caught a dim outlin_f something approaching from the direction of Bellegarde; as the movin_bject drew nearer, he would easily have perceived that it consisted of a ma_nd horse, between whom the kindest and most amiable understanding appeared t_xist. The horse was of Hungarian breed, and ambled along at an easy pace. Hi_ider was a priest, dressed in black, and wearing a three-cornered hat; and, spite of the ardent rays of a noonday sun, the pair came on with a fair degre_f rapidity.
  • Having arrived before the Pont du Gard, the horse stopped, but whether for hi_wn pleasure or that of his rider would have been difficult to say. Howeve_hat might have been, the priest, dismounting, led his steed by the bridle i_earch of some place to which he could secure him. Availing himself of _andle that projected from a half-fallen door, he tied the animal safely an_aving drawn a red cotton handkerchief, from his pocket, wiped away th_erspiration that streamed from his brow, then, advancing to the door, struc_hrice with the end of his iron-shod stick. At this unusual sound, a hug_lack dog came rushing to meet the daring assailant of his ordinarily tranqui_bode, snarling and displaying his sharp white teeth with a determine_ostility that abundantly proved how little he was accustomed to society. A_hat moment a heavy footstep was heard descending the wooden staircase tha_ed from the upper floor, and, with many bows and courteous smiles, mine hos_f the Pont du Gard besought his guest to enter.
  • "You are welcome, sir, most welcome!" repeated the astonished Caderousse.
  • "Now, then, Margotin," cried he, speaking to the dog, "will you be quiet? Pra_on't heed him, sir! — he only barks, he never bites. I make no doubt a glas_f good wine would be acceptable this dreadfully hot day." Then perceiving fo_he first time the garb of the traveller he had to entertain, Caderouss_astily exclaimed: "A thousand pardons! I really did not observe whom I ha_he honor to receive under my poor roof. What would the abbe please to have?
  • What refreshment can I offer? All I have is at his service."
  • The priest gazed on the person addressing him with a long and searching gaze — there even seemed a disposition on his part to court a similar scrutiny on th_art of the inn-keeper; then, observing in the countenance of the latter n_ther expression than extreme surprise at his own want of attention to a_nquiry so courteously worded, he deemed it as well to terminate this dum_how, and therefore said, speaking with a strong Italian accent, "You are, _resume, M. Caderousse?"
  • "Yes, sir," answered the host, even more surprised at the question than he ha_een by the silence which had preceded it; "I am Gaspard Caderousse, at you_ervice."
  • "Gaspard Caderousse," rejoined the priest. "Yes, — Christian and surname ar_he same. You formerly lived, I believe in the Allees de Meillan, on th_ourth floor?"
  • "I did."
  • "And you followed the business of a tailor?"
  • "True, I was a tailor, till the trade fell off. It is so hot at Marseilles, that really I believe that the respectable inhabitants will in time go withou_ny clothing whatever. But talking of heat, is there nothing I can offer yo_y way of refreshment?"
  • "Yes; let me have a bottle of your best wine, and then, with your permission, we will resume our conversation from where we left off."
  • "As you please, sir," said Caderousse, who, anxious not to lose the presen_pportunity of finding a customer for one of the few bottles of Cahors stil_emaining in his possession, hastily raised a trap-door in the floor of th_partment they were in, which served both as parlor and kitchen. Upon issuin_orth from his subterranean retreat at the expiration of five minutes, h_ound the abbe seated upon a wooden stool, leaning his elbow on a table, whil_argotin, whose animosity seemed appeased by the unusual command of th_raveller for refreshments, had crept up to him, and had established himsel_ery comfortably between his knees, his long, skinny neck resting on his lap, while his dim eye was fixed earnestly on the traveller's face.
  • "Are you quite alone?" inquired the guest, as Caderousse placed before him th_ottle of wine and a glass.
  • "Quite, quite alone," replied the man — "or, at least, practically so, for m_oor wife, who is the only person in the house besides myself, is laid up wit_llness, and unable to render me the least assistance, poor thing!"
  • "You are married, then?" said the priest, with a show of interest, glancin_ound as he spoke at the scanty furnishings of the apartment.
  • "Ah, sir," said Caderousse with a sigh, "it is easy to perceive I am not _ich man; but in this world a man does not thrive the better for bein_onest." The abbe fixed on him a searching, penetrating glance.
  • "Yes, honest — I can certainly say that much for myself," continued the inn- keeper, fairly sustaining the scrutiny of the abbe's gaze; "I can boast wit_ruth of being an honest man; and," continued he significantly, with a hand o_is breast and shaking his head, "that is more than every one can sa_owadays."
  • "So much the better for you, if what you assert be true," said the abbe; "fo_ am firmly persuaded that, sooner or later, the good will be rewarded, an_he wicked punished."
  • "Such words as those belong to your profession," answered Caderousse, "and yo_o well to repeat them; but," added he, with a bitter expression o_ountenance, "one is free to believe them or not, as one pleases."
  • "You are wrong to speak thus," said the abbe; "and perhaps I may, in my ow_erson, be able to prove to you how completely you are in error."
  • "What mean you?" inquired Caderousse with a look of surprise.
  • "In the first place, I must be satisfied that you are the person I am i_earch of."
  • "What proofs do you require?"
  • "Did you, in the year 1814 or 1815, know anything of a young sailor name_antes?"
  • "Dantes? Did I know poor dear Edmond? Why, Edmond Dantes and myself wer_ntimate friends!" exclaimed Caderousse, whose countenance flushed darkly a_e caught the penetrating gaze of the abbe fixed on him, while the clear, cal_ye of the questioner seemed to dilate with feverish scrutiny.
  • "You remind me," said the priest, "that the young man concerning whom I aske_ou was said to bear the name of Edmond."
  • "Said to bear the name!" repeated Caderousse, becoming excited and eager.
  • "Why, he was so called as truly as I myself bore the appellation of Gaspar_aderousse; but tell me, I pray, what has become of poor Edmond? Did you kno_im? Is he alive and at liberty? Is he prosperous and happy?"
  • "He died a more wretched, hopeless, heart-broken prisoner than the felons wh_ay the penalty of their crimes at the galleys of Toulon."
  • A deadly pallor followed the flush on the countenance of Caderousse, wh_urned away, and the priest saw him wiping the tears from his eyes with th_orner of the red handkerchief twisted round his head.
  • "Poor fellow, poor fellow!" murmured Caderousse. "Well, there, sir, is anothe_roof that good people are never rewarded on this earth, and that none but th_icked prosper. Ah," continued Caderousse, speaking in the highly colore_anguage of the south, "the world grows worse and worse. Why does not God, i_e really hates the wicked, as he is said to do, send down brimstone and fire, and consume them altogether?"
  • "You speak as though you had loved this young Dantes," observed the abbe, without taking any notice of his companion's vehemence.
  • "And so I did," replied Caderousse; "though once, I confess, I envied him hi_ood fortune. But I swear to you, sir, I swear to you, by everything a ma_olds dear, I have, since then, deeply and sincerely lamented his unhapp_ate." There was a brief silence, during which the fixed, searching eye of th_bbe was employed in scrutinizing the agitated features of the inn-keeper.
  • "You knew the poor lad, then?" continued Caderousse.
  • "I was called to see him on his dying bed, that I might administer to him th_onsolations of religion."
  • "And of what did he die?" asked Caderousse in a choking voice.
  • "Of what, think you, do young and strong men die in prison, when they hav_carcely numbered their thirtieth year, unless it be of imprisonment?"
  • Caderousse wiped away the large beads of perspiration that gathered on hi_row.
  • "But the strangest part of the story is," resumed the abbe, "that Dantes, eve_n his dying moments, swore by his crucified Redeemer, that he was utterl_gnorant of the cause of his detention."
  • "And so he was," murmured Caderousse. "How should he have been otherwise? Ah, sir, the poor fellow told you the truth."
  • "And for that reason, he besought me to try and clear up a mystery he ha_ever been able to penetrate, and to clear his memory should any foul spot o_tain have fallen on it."
  • And here the look of the abbe, becoming more and more fixed, seemed to res_ith ill-concealed satisfaction on the gloomy depression which was rapidl_preading over the countenance of Caderousse.
  • "A rich Englishman," continued the abbe, "who had been his companion i_isfortune, but had been released from prison during the second restoration, was possessed of a diamond of immense value; this jewel he bestowed on Dante_pon himself quitting the prison, as a mark of his gratitude for the kindnes_nd brotherly care with which Dantes had nursed him in a severe illness h_nderwent during his confinement. Instead of employing this diamond i_ttempting to bribe his jailers, who might only have taken it and the_etrayed him to the governor, Dantes carefully preserved it, that in the even_f his getting out of prison he might have wherewithal to live, for the sal_f such a diamond would have quite sufficed to make his fortune."
  • "Then, I suppose," asked Caderousse, with eager, glowing looks, "that it was _tone of immense value?"
  • "Why, everything is relative," answered the abbe. "To one in Edmond's positio_he diamond certainly was of great value. It was estimated at fifty thousan_rancs."
  • "Bless me!" exclaimed Caderousse, "fifty thousand francs! Surely the diamon_as as large as a nut to be worth all that."
  • "No," replied the abbe, "it was not of such a size as that; but you shal_udge for yourself. I have it with me."
  • The sharp gaze of Caderousse was instantly directed towards the priest'_arments, as though hoping to discover the location of the treasure. Calml_rawing forth from his pocket a small box covered with black shagreen, th_bbe opened it, and displayed to the dazzled eyes of Caderousse the sparklin_ewel it contained, set in a ring of admirable workmanship. "And tha_iamond," cried Caderousse, almost breathless with eager admiration, "you say, is worth fifty thousand francs?"
  • "It is, without the setting, which is also valuable," replied the abbe, as h_losed the box, and returned it to his pocket, while its brilliant hues seeme_till to dance before the eyes of the fascinated inn-keeper.
  • "But how comes the diamond in your possession, sir? Did Edmond make you hi_eir?"
  • "No, merely his testamentary executor. `I once possessed four dear an_aithful friends, besides the maiden to whom I was betrothed' he said; `and _eel convinced they have all unfeignedly grieved over my loss. The name of on_f the four friends is Caderousse.'" The inn-keeper shivered.
  • "`Another of the number,'" continued the abbe, without seeming to notice th_motion of Caderousse, "`is called Danglars; and the third, in spite of bein_y rival, entertained a very sincere affection for me.'" A fiendish smil_layed over the features of Caderousse, who was about to break in upon th_bbe's speech, when the latter, waving his hand, said, "Allow me to finis_irst, and then if you have any observations to make, you can do s_fterwards. `The third of my friends, although my rival, was much attached t_e, — his name was Fernand; that of my betrothed was' — Stay, stay," continue_he abbe, "I have forgotten what he called her."
  • "Mercedes," said Caderousse eagerly.
  • "True," said the abbe, with a stifled sigh, "Mercedes it was."
  • "Go on," urged Caderousse.
  • "Bring me a carafe of water," said the abbe.
  • Caderousse quickly performed the stranger's bidding; and after pouring som_nto a glass, and slowly swallowing its contents, the abbe, resuming his usua_lacidity of manner, said, as he placed his empty glass on the table, — "Wher_id we leave off?"
  • "The name of Edmond's betrothed was Mercedes."
  • "To be sure. `You will go to Marseilles,' said Dantes, — for you understand, _epeat his words just as he uttered them. Do you understand?"
  • "Perfectly."
  • "`You will sell this diamond; you will divide the money into five equal parts, and give an equal portion to these good friends, the only persons who hav_oved me upon earth.'"
  • "But why into five parts?" asked Caderousse; "you only mentioned fou_ersons."
  • "Because the fifth is dead, as I hear. The fifth sharer in Edmond's bequest, was his own father."
  • "Too true, too true!" ejaculated Caderousse, almost suffocated by th_ontending passions which assailed him, "the poor old man did die."
  • "I learned so much at Marseilles," replied the abbe, making a strong effort t_ppear indifferent; "but from the length of time that has elapsed since th_eath of the elder Dantes, I was unable to obtain any particulars of his end.
  • Can you enlighten me on that point?"
  • "I do not know who could if I could not," said Caderousse. "Why, I live_lmost on the same floor with the poor old man. Ah, yes, about a year afte_he disappearance of his son the poor old man died."
  • "Of what did he die?"
  • "Why, the doctors called his complaint gastro-enteritis, I believe; hi_cquaintances say he died of grief; but I, who saw him in his dying moments, _ay he died of" — Caderousse paused.
  • "Of what?" asked the priest, anxiously and eagerly.
  • "Why, of downright starvation."
  • "Starvation!" exclaimed the abbe, springing from his seat. "Why, the viles_nimals are not suffered to die by such a death as that. The very dogs tha_ander houseless and homeless in the streets find some pitying hand to cas_hem a mouthful of bread; and that a man, a Christian, should be allowed t_erish of hunger in the midst of other men who call themselves Christians, i_oo horrible for belief. Oh, it is impossible — utterly impossible!"
  • "What I have said, I have said," answered Caderousse.
  • "And you are a fool for having said anything about it," said a voice from th_op of the stairs. "Why should you meddle with what does not concern you?"
  • The two men turned quickly, and saw the sickly countenance of La Carcont_eering between the baluster rails; attracted by the sound of voices, she ha_eebly dragged herself down the stairs, and, seated on the lower step, head o_nees, she had listened to the foregoing conversation. "Mind your ow_usiness, wife," replied Caderousse sharply. "This gentleman asks me fo_nformation, which common politeness will not permit me to refuse."
  • "Politeness, you simpleton!" retorted La Carconte. "What have you to do wit_oliteness, I should like to know? Better study a little common prudence. Ho_o you know the motives that person may have for trying to extract all he ca_rom you?"
  • "I pledge you my word, madam," said the abbe, "that my intentions are good; and that you husband can incur no risk, provided he answers me candidly."
  • "Ah, that's all very fine," retorted the woman. "Nothing is easier than t_egin with fair promises and assurances of nothing to fear; but when poor, silly folks, like my husband there, have been persuaded to tell all they know, the promises and assurances of safety are quickly forgotten; and at som_oment when nobody is expecting it, behold trouble and misery, and all sort_f persecutions, are heaped on the unfortunate wretches, who cannot even se_hence all their afflictions come."
  • "Nay, nay, my good woman, make yourself perfectly easy, I beg of you. Whateve_vils may befall you, they will not be occasioned by my instrumentality, tha_ solemnly promise you."
  • La Carconte muttered a few inarticulate words, then let her head again dro_pon her knees, and went into a fit of ague, leaving the two speakers t_esume the conversation, but remaining so as to be able to hear every wor_hey uttered. Again the abbe had been obliged to swallow a draught of water t_alm the emotions that threatened to overpower him. When he had sufficientl_ecovered himself, he said, "It appears, then, that the miserable old man yo_ere telling me of was forsaken by every one. Surely, had not such been th_ase, he would not have perished by so dreadful a death."
  • "Why, he was not altogether forsaken," continued Caderousse, "for Mercedes th_atalan and Monsieur Morrel were very kind to him; but somehow the poor ol_an had contracted a profound hatred for Fernand — the very person," adde_aderousse with a bitter smile, "that you named just now as being one o_antes' faithful and attached friends."
  • "And was he not so?" asked the abbe.
  • "Gaspard, Gaspard!" murmured the woman, from her seat on the stairs, "min_hat you are saying!" Caderousse made no reply to these words, thoug_vidently irritated and annoyed by the interruption, but, addressing the abbe, said, "Can a man be faithful to another whose wife he covets and desires fo_imself? But Dantes was so honorable and true in his own nature, that h_elieved everybody's professions of friendship. Poor Edmond, he was cruell_eceived; but it was fortunate that he never knew, or he might have found i_ore difficult, when on his deathbed, to pardon his enemies. And, whateve_eople may say," continued Caderousse, in his native language, which was no_ltogether devoid of rude poetry, "I cannot help being more frightened at th_dea of the malediction of the dead than the hatred of the living."
  • "Imbecile!" exclaimed La Carconte.
  • "Do you, then, know in what manner Fernand injured Dantes?" inquired the abb_f Caderousse.
  • "Do I? No one better."
  • "Speak out then, say what it was!"
  • "Gaspard!" cried La Carconte, "do as you will; you are master — but if yo_ake my advice you'll hold your tongue."
  • "Well, wife," replied Caderousse, "I don't know but what you're right!"
  • "So you will say nothing?" asked the abbe.
  • "Why, what good would it do?" asked Caderousse. "If the poor lad were living, and came to me and begged that I would candidly tell which were his true an_hich his false friends, why, perhaps, I should not hesitate. But you tell m_e is no more, and therefore can have nothing to do with hatred or revenge, s_et all such feeling be buried with him."
  • "You prefer, then," said the abbe, "that I should bestow on men you say ar_alse and treacherous, the reward intended for faithful friendship?"
  • "That is true enough," returned Caderousse. "You say truly, the gift of poo_dmond was not meant for such traitors as Fernand and Danglars; besides, wha_ould it be to them? no more than a drop of water in the ocean."
  • "Remember," chimed in La Carconte, "those two could crush you at a singl_low!"
  • "How so?" inquired the abbe. "Are these persons, then, so rich and powerful?"
  • "Do you not know their history?"
  • "I do not. Pray relate it to me!" Caderousse seemed to reflect for a fe_oments, then said, "No, truly, it would take up too much time."
  • "Well, my good friend," returned the abbe, in a tone that indicated utte_ndifference on his part, "you are at liberty, either to speak or be silent, just as you please; for my own part, I respect your scruples and admire you_entiments; so let the matter end. I shall do my duty as conscientiously as _an, and fulfil my promise to the dying man. My first business will be t_ispose of this diamond." So saying, the abbe again draw the small box fro_is pocket, opened it, and contrived to hold it in such a light, that a brigh_lash of brilliant hues passed before the dazzled gaze of Caderousse.
  • "Wife, wife!" cried he in a hoarse voice, "come here!"
  • "Diamond!" exclaimed La Carconte, rising and descending to the chamber with _olerably firm step; "what diamond are you talking about?"
  • "Why, did you not hear all we said?" inquired Caderousse. "It is a beautifu_iamond left by poor Edmond Dantes, to be sold, and the money divided betwee_is father, Mercedes, his betrothed bride, Fernand, Danglars, and myself. Th_ewel is worth at least fifty thousand francs."
  • "Oh, what a magnificent jewel!" cried the astonished woman.
  • "The fifth part of the profits from this stone belongs to us then, does i_ot?" asked Caderousse.
  • "It does," replied the abbe; "with the addition of an equal division of tha_art intended for the elder Dantes, which I believe myself at liberty t_ivide equally with the four survivors."
  • "And why among us four?" inquired Caderousse.
  • "As being the friends Edmond esteemed most faithful and devoted to him."
  • "I don't call those friends who betray and ruin you," murmured the wife in he_urn, in a low, muttering voice.
  • "Of course not!" rejoined Caderousse quickly; "no more do I, and that was wha_ was observing to this gentleman just now. I said I looked upon it as _acrilegious profanation to reward treachery, perhaps crime."
  • "Remember," answered the abbe calmly, as he replaced the jewel and its case i_he pocket of his cassock, "it is your fault, not mine, that I do so. You wil_ave the goodness to furnish me with the address of both Fernand and Danglars, in order that I may execute Edmond's last wishes." The agitation of Caderouss_ecame extreme, and large drops of perspiration rolled from his heated brow.
  • As he saw the abbe rise from his seat and go towards the door, as though t_scertain if his horse were sufficiently refreshed to continue his journey, Caderousse and his wife exchanged looks of deep meaning.
  • "There, you see, wife," said the former, "this splendid diamond might all b_urs, if we chose!"
  • "Do you believe it?"
  • "Why, surely a man of his holy profession would not deceive us!"
  • "Well," replied La Carconte, "do as you like. For my part, I wash my hands o_he affair." So saying, she once more climbed the staircase leading to he_hamber, her body convulsed with chills, and her teeth rattling in her head, in spite of the intense heat of the weather. Arrived at the top stair, sh_urned round, and called out, in a warning tone, to her husband, "Gaspard, consider well what you are about to do!"
  • "I have both reflected and decided," answered he. La Carconte then entered he_hamber, the flooring of which creaked beneath her heavy, uncertain tread, a_he proceeded towards her arm-chair, into which she fell as though exhausted.
  • "Well," asked the abbe, as he returned to the apartment below, "what have yo_ade up your mind to do?"
  • "To tell you all I know," was the reply.
  • "I certainly think you act wisely in so doing," said the priest. "Not becaus_ have the least desire to learn anything you may please to conceal from me, but simply that if, through your assistance, I could distribute the legac_ccording to the wishes of the testator, why, so much the better, that i_ll."
  • "I hope it may be so," replied Caderousse, his face flushed with cupidity.
  • "I am all attention," said the abbe.
  • "Stop a minute," answered Caderousse; "we might be interrupted in the mos_nteresting part of my story, which would be a pity; and it is as well tha_our visit hither should be made known only to ourselves." With these words h_ent stealthily to the door, which he closed, and, by way of still greate_recaution, bolted and barred it, as he was accustomed to do at night. Durin_his time the abbe had chosen his place for listening at his ease. He remove_is seat into a corner of the room, where he himself would be in deep shadow, while the light would be fully thrown on the narrator; then, with head ben_own and hands clasped, or rather clinched together, he prepared to give hi_hole attention to Caderousse, who seated himself on the little stool, exactl_pposite to him.
  • "Remember, this is no affair of mine," said the trembling voice of L_arconte, as though through the flooring of her chamber she viewed the scen_hat was enacting below.
  • "Enough, enough!" replied Caderousse; "say no more about it; I will take al_he consequences upon myself." And he began his story.