The evening passed on; Madame de Villefort expressed a desire to return t_aris, which Madame Danglars had not dared to do, notwithstanding th_neasiness she experienced. On his wife's request, M. de Villefort was th_irst to give the signal of departure. He offered a seat in his landau t_adame Danglars, that she might be under the care of his wife. As for M.
Danglars, absorbed in an interesting conversation with M. Cavalcanti, he pai_o attention to anything that was passing. While Monte Cristo had begged th_melling-bottle of Madame de Villefort, he had noticed the approach o_illefort to Madame Danglars, and he soon guessed all that had passed betwee_hem, though the words had been uttered in so low a voice as hardly to b_eard by Madame Danglars. Without opposing their arrangements, he allowe_orrel, Chateau-Renaud, and Debray to leave on horseback, and the ladies in M.
de Villefort's carriage. Danglars, more and more delighted with Majo_avalcanti, had offered him a seat in his carriage. Andrea Cavalcanti foun_is tilbury waiting at the door; the groom, in every respect a caricature o_he 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 h_eared to utter some absurdity before so many grand people, amongst whom, wit_ilating eyes, he saw the king's attorney. Then he had been seized upon b_anglars, who, with a rapid glance at the stiff-necked old major and hi_odest son, and taking into consideration the hospitality of the count, mad_p his mind that he was in the society of some nabob come to Paris to finis_he worldly education of his heir. He contemplated with unspeakable deligh_he 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, ha_mmediately converted them into an available asset. Then, after dinner, on th_retext of business, he questioned the father and son upon their mode o_iving; and the father and son, previously informed that it was throug_anglars the one was to receive his 48,000 francs and the other 50,000 livre_nnually, were so full of affability that they would have shaken hands eve_ith the banker's servants, so much did their gratitude need an object t_xpend itself upon. One thing above all the rest heightened the respect, na_lmost the veneration, of Danglars for Cavalcanti. The latter, faithful to th_rinciple of Horace, nil admirari, had contented himself with showing hi_nowledge by declaring in what lake the best lampreys were caught. Then he ha_aten some without saying a word more; Danglars, therefore, concluded tha_uch luxuries were common at the table of the illustrious descendant of th_avalcanti, 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 brin_he lampreys from Lake Fusaro, and the sterlet from the Volga. Thus it wa_ith 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 whic_e offered to take Cavalcanti in his carriage to the Hotel des Princes, if i_ould not be depriving him of the company of his son. To this Cavalcant_eplied by saying that for some time past his son had lived independently o_im, that he had his own horses and carriages, and that not having com_ogether, it would not be difficult for them to leave separately. The majo_eated himself, therefore, by the side of Danglars, who was more and mor_harmed 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 posses_ 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 th_uter 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 wit_is left hand, and with the right held out the reins to Andrea, who, takin_hem from him, rested his polished boot lightly on the step. At that moment _and touched his shoulder. The young man turned round, thinking that Danglar_r Monte Cristo had forgotten something they wished to tell him, and ha_eturned just as they were starting. But instead of either of these, he sa_othing but a strange face, sunburnt, and encircled by a beard, with eye_rilliant as carbuncles, and a smile upon the mouth which displayed a perfec_et of white teeth, pointed and sharp as the wolf's or jackal's. A re_andkerchief encircled his gray head; torn and filthy garments covered hi_arge bony limbs, which seemed as though, like those of a skeleton, they woul_attle as he walked; and the hand with which he leaned upon the young man'_houlder, 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 hi_ilbury, or was he merely struck with the horrible appearance of hi_nterrogator? We cannot say; but only relate the fact that he shuddered an_tepped back suddenly. "What do you want of me?" he asked.
"Pardon me, my friend, if I disturb you," said the man with the re_andkerchief, "but I want to speak to you."
"You have no right to beg at night," said the groom, endeavoring to rid hi_aster of the troublesome intruder.
"I am not begging, my fine fellow," said the unknown to the servant, with s_ronical 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 _ommission to execute about a fortnight ago."
"Come," said Andrea, with sufficient nerve for his servant not to perceive hi_gitation, "what do you want? Speak quickly, friend."
The man said, in a low voice: "I wish — I wish you to spare me the walk bac_o Paris. I am very tired, and as I have not eaten so good a dinner as you, _an 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 m_ack." Andrea turned pale, but said nothing.
"Yes," said the man, thrusting his hands into his pockets, and lookin_mpudently at the youth; "I have taken the whim into my head; do yo_nderstand, Master Benedetto?"
At this name, no doubt, the young man reflected a little, for he went toward_is groom, saying, "This man is right; I did indeed charge him with _ommission, the result of which he must tell me; walk to the barrier, ther_ake a cab, that you may not be too late." The surprised groom retired. "Le_e at least reach a shady spot," said Andrea.
"Oh, as for that, I'll take you to a splendid place," said the man with th_andkerchief; and taking the horse's bit he led the tilbury where it wa_ertainly impossible for any one to witness the honor that Andrea conferre_pon 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 t_alk over with you."
"Come, step in," said the young man. It was a pity this scene had not occurre_n daylight, for it was curious to see this rascal throwing himself heavil_own on the cushion beside the young and elegant driver of the tilbury. Andre_rove past the last house in the village without saying a word to hi_ompanion, who smiled complacently, as though well-pleased to find himsel_ravelling in so comfortable a vehicle. Once out of Auteuil, Andrea looke_round, 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 wer_oing to travel through Piedmont and Tuscany; but instead of that, you come t_aris."
"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 b_nfortunate; and misfortunes make us jealous. I thought you were earning _iving in Tuscany or Piedmont by acting as facchino or cicerone, and I pitie_ou sincerely, as I would a child of my own. You know I always did call you m_hild."
"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, an_ine new clothes. You must have discovered a mine, or else become _tockbroker."
"So that, as you confess, you are jealous?"
"No, I am pleased — so pleased that I wished to congratulate you; but as I a_ot quite properly dressed, I chose my opportunity, that I might no_ompromise you."
"Yes, and a fine opportunity you have chosen!" exclaimed Andrea; "you speak t_e before my servant."
"How can I help that, my boy? I speak to you when I can catch you. You have _uick horse, a light tilbury, you are naturally as slippery as an eel; if _ad 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 the_ was afraid you would not recognize me, but you did," added Caderousse wit_is 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 no_ight — take care, or I may become troublesome." This menace smothered th_oung man's passion. He urged the horse again into a trot. "You should no_peak so to an old friend like me, Caderousse, as you said just now; you are _ative 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 youn_nd wilful. Between people like us threats are out of place, everything shoul_e amicably arranged. Is it my fault if fortune, which has frowned on you, ha_een 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 eye_parkling with avarice.
"Oh, you knew that well enough before speaking to me," said Andrea, becomin_ore and more excited. "If I had been wearing a handkerchief like yours on m_ead, rags on my back, and worn-out shoes on my feet, you would not have know_e."
"You wrong me, my boy; now I have found you, nothing prevents my being a_ell-dressed as any one, knowing, as I do, the goodness of your heart. If yo_ave two coats you will give me one of them. I used to divide my soup an_eans 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 jus_eft?"
"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 ver_ood-tempered gentleman."
"Oh, be easy! I have no design upon your count, and you shall have him all t_ourself. But," said Caderousse, again smiling with the disagreeabl_xpression 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" —
"I could live" —
"Upon a hundred francs!"
"Come — you understand me; but that 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 han_f Caderousse.
"Good!" said Caderousse.
"Apply to the steward on the first day of every mouth, and you will receiv_he same sum."
"There now, again you degrade me."
"By making me apply to the servants, when I want to transact business with yo_lone."
"Well, be it so, then. Take it from me then, and so long at least as I receiv_y income, you shall be paid yours."
"Come, come; I always said you were a fine fellow, and it is a blessing whe_ood 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?"
"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?"
"I wish you would try and find me a situation with him as grandfather, sinc_e holds the money-chest!"
"Well, I will mention you to him. Meanwhile, what are you going to do?"
"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 as_ou some questions."
"Ah, true. Well; I shall rent a room in some respectable house, wear a decen_oat, shave every day, and go and read the papers in a cafe. Then, in th_vening, I shall go to the theatre; I shall look like some retired baker. Tha_s what I want."
"Come, if you will only put this scheme into execution, and be steady, nothin_ould be better."
"Do you think so, M. Bossuet? And you — what will you become? A peer o_rance?"
"Ah," said Andrea, "who knows?"
"Major Cavalcanti is already one, perhaps; but then, hereditary rank i_bolished."
"No politics, Caderousse. And now that you have all you want, and that w_nderstand 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, wit_carcely any shoes, no papers, and ten gold napoleons in my pocket, withou_eckoning 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 woul_e found that I left Toulon without giving due notice, and I should then b_scorted back to the shores of the Mediterranean. Then I should become simpl_o. 106, and good-by to my dream of resembling the retired baker! No, no, m_oy; I prefer remaining honorably in the capital." Andrea scowled. Certainly, as he had himself owned, the reputed son of Major Cavalcanti was a wilfu_ellow. He drew up for a minute, threw a rapid glance around him, and then hi_and 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 h_lways carried with him, to be ready in case of need. The two friends, as w_ee, were worthy of and understood one another. Andrea's hand left his pocke_noffensively, and was carried up to the red mustache, which it played wit_or 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 hi_nife.
"Well, then, we will go into Paris. But how will you pass through the barrie_ithout exciting suspicion? It seems to me that you are in more danger ridin_han on foot."
"Wait," said Caderousse, "we shall see." He then took the great-coat with th_arge collar, which the groom had left behind in the tilbury, and put it o_is back; then he took off Cavalcanti's hat, which he placed upon his ow_ead, and finally he assumed the careless attitude of a servant whose maste_rives himself.
"But, tell me," said Andrea, "am I to remain bareheaded?"
"Pooh," said Caderousse; "it is so windy that your hat can easily appear t_ave 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 firs_ross 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!"