Chapter 81 The Room of the Retired Baker
EVENING of the day on which the Count of Morcerf had left Danglars' house
with feelings of shame and anger at the rejection of the projected
alliance, M. Andrea Cavalcanti, with curled hair, mustaches in perfect
order, and white gloves which fitted admirably, had entered the courtyard
of the banker's house in La Chaussée
d'Antin. He had not been more than ten minutes in the drawing-room before
he drew Danglars aside into the recess of a bow-window, and, after an
ingenious preamble, related to him all his anxieties and cares since his
noble father's departure. He acknowledged the extreme kindness which had
been shown him by the banker's family, in which he had been received as a
son, and where, besides, his warmest affections had found an object on
which to centre in Mademoiselle Danglars. Danglars listened with the most
profound attention; he had expected this declaration for the last two or
three days, and when at last it came his eyes glistened as much as they
had lowered on listening to Morcerf. He would not, however, yield
immediately to the young man's request, but made a few conscientious
objections. "Are you not rather young, M. Andrea, to think of
think not, sir," replied M. Cavalcanti; "in Italy the nobility
generally marry young. Life is so uncertain, that we ought to secure
happiness while it is within our reach."
sir," said Danglars, "in case your proposals, which do me honor,
are accepted by my wife and daughter, by whom shall the preliminary
arrangements be settled? So important a negotiation should, I think, be
conducted by the respective fathers of the young people."
my father is a man of great foresight and prudence. Thinking that I might
wish to settle in France, he left me at his departure, together with the
papers establishing my identity, a letter promising, if he approved of my
choice, 150,000 livres per annum from the day I was married. So far as I
can judge, I suppose this to be a quarter of my father's revenue."
said Danglars, "have always intended giving my daughter 500,000
francs as her dowry; she is, besides, my sole heiress."
would then be easily arranged if the baroness and her daughter are
willing. We should command an annuity of 175,000 livres. Supposing, also,
I should persuade the marquis to give me my capital, which is not likely,
but still is possible, we would place these two or three millions in your
hands, whose talent might make it realize ten per cent."
never give more than four per cent, and generally only three and a half;
but to my son-in-law I would give five, and we would share the
good, father-in-law," said Cavalcanti, yielding to his low-born
nature, which would escape sometimes through the aristocratic gloss with
which he sought to conceal it. Correcting himself immediately, he said,
"Excuse me, sir; hope alone makes me almost mad,--what will not
said Danglars,--who, on his part, did not perceive how soon the
conversation, which was at first disinterested, was turning to a business
transaction,--"there is, doubtless, a part of your fortune your
father could not refuse you?"
asked the young man.
you inherit from your mother."
from my mother, Leonora Corsinari."
much may it amount to?"
sir," said Andrea, "I assure you I have never given the subject
a thought, but I suppose it must have been at least two millions."
Danglars felt as much overcome with joy as the miser who finds a lost
treasure, or as the shipwrecked mariner who feels himself on solid ground
instead of in the abyss which he expected would swallow him up.
sir," said Andrea, bowing to the banker respectfully, "may I
may not only hope," said Danglars, "but consider it a settled
thing, if no obstacle arises on your part."
am, indeed, rejoiced," said Andrea.
said Danglars thoughtfully, "how is it that your patron, M. de Monte
Cristo, did not make his proposal for you?" Andrea blushed
imperceptibly. "I have just left the count, sir," said he;
"he is, doubtless, a delightful man but inconceivably peculiar in his
ideas. He esteems me highly. He even told me he had not the slightest
doubt that my father would give me the capital instead of the interest of
my property. He has promised to use his influence to obtain it for me; but
he also declared that he never had taken on himself the responsibility of
making proposals for another, and he never would. I must, however, do him
the justice to add that he assured me if ever he had regretted the
repugnance he felt to such a step it was on this occasion, because he
thought the projected union would be a happy and suitable one. Besides, if
he will do nothing officially, he will answer any questions you propose to
him. And now," continued he, with one of his most charming smiles,
"having finished talking to the father-in-law, I must address myself
to the banker."
what may you have to say to him?" said Danglars, laughing in his
the day after to-morrow I shall have to draw upon you for about four
thousand francs; but the count, expecting my bachelor's revenue could not
suffice for the coming month's outlay, has offered me a draft for twenty
thousand francs. It bears his signature, as you see, which is
me a million such as that," said Danglars, "I shall be well
pleased," putting the draft in his pocket. "Fix your own hour
for to-morrow, and my cashier shall call on you with a check for eighty
ten o'clock then, if you please; I should like it early, as I am going
into the country to-morrow."
well, at ten o'clock;, you are still at the H?tel des Princes?"
following morning, with the banker's usual punctuality, the eighty
thousand francs were placed in the young man's hands as he was on the
point of starting, after having left two hundred francs for Caderousse. He
went out chiefly to avoid this dangerous enemy, and returned as late as
possible in the evening. But scarcely had be stepped out of his carriage
when the porter met him with a parcel in his hand. "Sir," said
he, "that man has been here."
man?" said Andrea carelessly, apparently forgetting him whom he but
too well recollected.
to whom your excellency pays that little annuity."
said Andrea, "my father's old servant. Well, you gave him the two
hundred francs I had left for him?"
your excellency." Andrea had expressed a wish to be thus addressed.
"But," continued the porter, "he would not take them."
Andrea turned pale, but as it was dark his pallor was not perceptible.
"What? he would not take them?" said he with slight emotion.
he wished to speak to your excellency; I told him you were gone out, and
after some dispute he believed me and gave me this letter, which he had
brought with him already sealed."
it me," said Andrea, and he read by the light of his
carriage-lamp,--"You know where I live; I expect you tomorrow morning
at nine o'clock."
examined it carefully, to ascertain if the letter had been opened, or if
any indiscreet eyes had seen its contents; but it was so carefully folded,
that no one could have read it, and the seal was perfect. "Very
well," said he. "Poor man, he is a worthy creature." He
left the porter to ponder on these words, not knowing which most to
admire, the master or the servant. "Take out the horses quickly, and
come up to me," said Andrea to his groom. In two seconds the young
man had reached his room and burnt Caderousse's letter. The servant
entered just as he had finished. "You are about my height,
Pierre," said he.
have that honor, your excellency."
had a new livery yesterday?"
have an engagement with a pretty little girl for this evening, and do not
wish to be known; lend me your livery till to-morrow. I may sleep,
perhaps, at an inn." Pierre obeyed. Five minutes after, Andrea left
the hotel, completely disguised, took a cabriolet, and ordered the driver
to take him to the Cheval Rouge, at Picpus. The next morning he left that
inn as he had left the H?tel des Princes, without being noticed, walked
down the Faubourg St. Antoine, along the boulevard to Rue Ménilmontant,
and stopping at the door of the third house on the left looked for some
one of whom to make inquiry in the porter's absence. "For whom are
you looking, my fine fellow?" asked the fruiteress on the opposite
Pailletin, if you please, my good woman," replied Andrea.
retired baker?" asked the fruiteress.
lives at the end of the yard, on the left, on the third story."
Andrea went as she directed him, and on the third floor he found a hare's
paw, which, by the hasty ringing of the bell, it was evident he pulled
with considerable ill-temper. A moment after Caderousse's face appeared at
the grating in the door. "Ah, you are punctual," said he, as he
drew back the door.
you and your punctuality!" said Andrea, throwing himself into a chair
in a manner which implied that he would rather have flung it at the head
of his host.
come, my little fellow, don't be angry. See, I have thought about
you--look at the good breakfast we are going to have; nothing but what you
are fond of." Andrea, indeed, inhaled the scent of something cooking
which was not unwelcome to him, hungry as he was; it was that mixture of
fat and garlic peculiar to provincial kitchens of an inferior order, added
to that of dried fish, and above all, the pungent smell of musk and
cloves. These odors escaped from two deep dishes which were covered and
placed on a stove, and from a copper pan placed in an old iron pot. In an
adjoining room Andrea saw also a tolerably clean table prepared for two,
two bottles of wine sealed, the one with green, the other with yellow, a
supply of brandy in a decanter, and a measure of fruit in a cabbage-leaf,
cleverly arranged on an earthenware plate.
do you think of it, my little fellow?" said Caderousse. "Ay,
that smells good! You know I used to be a famous cook; do you recollect
how you used to lick your fingers? You were among the first who tasted any
of my dishes, and I think you relished them tolerably." While
speaking, Caderousse went on peeling a fresh supply of onions.
said Andrea, ill-temperedly, "by my faith, if it was only to
breakfast with you, that you disturbed me, I wish the devil had taken
boy," said Caderousse sententiously, "one can talk while eating.
And then, you ungrateful being, you are not pleased to see an old friend?
I am weeping with joy." He was truly crying, but it would have been
difficult to say whether joy or the onions produced the greatest effect on
the lachrymal glands of the old inn-keeper of the Pont-du-Gard. "Hold
your tongue, hypocrite," said Andrea; "you love me!"
I do, or may the devil take me. I know it is a weakness," said
Caderousse, "but it overpowers me."
yet it has not prevented your sending for me to play me some trick."
said Caderousse, wiping his large knife on his apron, "if I did not
like you, do you think I should endure the wretched life you lead me?
Think for a moment. You have your servant's clothes on--you therefore keep
a servant; I have none, and am obliged to prepare my own meals. You abuse
my cookery because you dine at the table d'h&ocitc;te of the H?tel des
Princes, or the Café de Paris. Well, I too could keep
a servant; I too could have a tilbury; I too could dine where I like; but
why do I not? Because I would not annoy my little Benedetto. Come, just
acknowledge that I could, eh?" This address was accompanied by a look
which was by no means difficult to understand. "Well," said
Andrea, "admitting your love, why do you want me to breakfast with
I may have the pleasure of seeing you, my little fellow."
is the use of seeing me after we have made all our arrangements?"
dear friend," said Caderousse, "are wills ever made without
codicils? But you first came to breakfast, did you not? Well, sit down,
and let us begin with these pilchards, and this fresh butter; which I have
put on some vine-leaves to please you, wicked one. Ah, yes; you look at my
room, my four straw chairs, my images, three francs each. But what do you
expect? This is not the H?tel des Princes."
you are growing discontented, you are no longer happy; you, who only wish
to live like a retired baker." Caderousse sighed. "Well, what
have you to say? you have seen your dream realized."
can still say it is a dream; a retired baker, my poor Benedetto, is
rich--he has an annuity."
you have an annuity."
since I bring you your two hundred francs." Caderousse shrugged his
shoulders. "It is humiliating," said he, "thus to receive
money given grudgingly, ---an uncertain supply which may soon fail. You
see I am obliged to economize, in case your prosperity should cease. Well,
my friend, fortune is inconstant, as the chaplain of the regiment said. I
know your prosperity is great, you rascal; you are to marry the daughter
to be sure; must I say Baron Danglars? I might as well say Count Benedetto.
He was an old friend of mine and if he had not so bad a memory he ought to
invite me to your wedding, seeing he came to mine. Yes, yes, to mine; gad,
he was not so proud then,--he was an under-clerk to the good M. Morrel. I
have dined many times with him and the Count of Morcerf, so you see I have
some high connections and were I to cultivate them a little, we might meet
in the same drawing-rooms."
your jealousy represents everything to you in the wrong light."
is all very fine, Benedetto mio, but I know what I am saying. Perhaps I
may one day put on my best coat, and presenting myself at the great gate,
introduce myself. Meanwhile let us sit down and eat." Caderousse set
the example and attacked the breakfast with good appetite, praising each
dish he set before his visitor. The latter seemed to have resigned
himself; he drew the corks, and partook largely of the fish with the
garlic and fat. "Ah, mate," said Caderousse, "you are
getting on better terms with your old landlord!"
yes," replied Andrea, whose hunger prevailed over every other
you like it, you rogue?"
much that I wonder how a man who can cook thus can complain of hard
you see," said Caderousse, "all my happiness is marred by one
I am dependent on another, I who have always gained my own livelihood
not let that disturb you, I have enough for two."
truly; you may believe me if you will; at the end of every month I am
tormented by remorse."
much so, that yesterday I would not take the two hundred francs."
you wished to speak to me; but was it indeed remorse, tell me?"
remorse; and, besides, an idea had struck me." Andrea shuddered; he
always did so at Caderousse's ideas. "It is miserable--do you
see?--always to wait till the end of the month.--"Oh," said
Andrea philosophically, determined to watch his companion narrowly,
"does not life pass in waiting? Do I, for instance, fare better?
Well, I wait patiently, do I not?"
because instead of expecting two hundred wretched francs, you expect five
or six thousand, perhaps ten, perhaps even twelve, for you take care not
to let any one know the utmost. Down there, you always had little presents
and Christmas-boxes which you tried to hide from your poor friend
Caderousse. Fortunately he is a cunning fellow, that friend Caderousse."
you are beginning again to ramble, to talk again and again of the past!
But what is the use of teasing me with going all over that again?"
you are only one and twenty, and can forget the past; I am fifty, and am
obliged to recollect it. But let us return to business."
was going to say, if I were in your place"--
would you realize?"
would ask for six months' in advance, under pretence of being able to
purchase a farm, then with my six months I would decamp."
well," said Andrea, "that isn't a bad idea."
dear friend," said Caderousse, "eat of my bread, and take my
advice; you will be none the worse off, physically or morally."
said Andrea, "why do you not act on the advice you gave me? Why do
you not realize a six months', a year's advance even, and retire to
Brussels? Instead of living the retired baker, you might live as a
bankrupt, using his privileges; that would be very good."
how the devil would you have me retire on twelve hundred francs?"
Caderousse," said Andrea, "how covetous you are! Two months ago
you were dying with hunger."
appetite grows by what it feeds on," said Caderousse, grinning and
showing his teeth, like a monkey laughing or a tiger growling.
"And," added he, biting off with his large white teeth an
enormous mouthful of bread, "I have formed a plan." Caderousse's
plans alarmed Andrea still more than his ideas; ideas were but the germ,
the plan was reality. "Let me see your plan; I dare say it is a
not? Who formed the plan by which we left the establishment of M ----! eh?
was it not I? and it was no bad one I believe, since here we are!"
do not say," replied Andrea, "that you never make a good one;
but let us see your plan."
pursued Caderousse, "can you without expending one sou, put me in the
way of getting fifteen thousand francs? No, fifteen thousand are not
enough,--I cannot again become an honest man with less than thirty
replied Andrea, dryly, "no, I cannot."
do not think you understand me," replied Caderousse, calmly; "I
said without your laying out a sou."
you want me to commit a robbery, to spoil all my good fortune--and yours
with mine--and both of us to be dragged down there again?"
would make very little difference to me," said Caderousse, "if I
were retaken, I am a poor creature to live alone, and sometimes pine for
my old comrades; not like you, heartless creature, who would be glad never
to see them again." Andrea did more than tremble this time, he turned
Caderousse, no nonsense!" said he.
alarm yourself, my little Benedetto, but just point out to me some means
of gaining those thirty thousand francs without your assistance, and I
will contrive it."
I'll see--I'll try to contrive some way," said Andrea.
you will raise my monthly allowance to five hundred francs, my little
fellow? I have a fancy, and mean to get a housekeeper."
you shall have your five hundred francs," said Andrea; "but it
is very hard for me, my poor Caderousse--you take advantage"--
said Caderousse, "when you have access to countless stores." One
would have said Andrea anticipated his companion's words, so did his eye
flash like lightning, but it was but for a moment. "True," he
replied, "and my protector is very kind."
dear protector," said Caderousse; "and how much does he give you
many thousands as you give me hundreds! Truly, it is only bastards who are
thus fortunate. Five thousand francs per month! What the devil can you do
with all that?"
it is no trouble to spend that; and I am like you, I want capital."
understand--every one would like capital."
and I shall get it."
will give it to you--your prince?"
my prince. But unfortunately I must wait."
must wait for what?" asked Caderousse.
his death "
death of your prince?"
he has made his will in my favor."
five hundred thousand."
that? It's little enough "
so it is."
it cannot be!"
you my friend, Caderousse?"
in life or death."
I will tell you a secret."
mute as a carp."
I think"--Andrea stopped and looked around.
think? Do not fear; pardieu, we are alone."
think I have discovered my father."
for he has gone again; the true one, as you say."
that father is"--
Caderousse, it is Monte Cristo."
you understand, that explains all. He cannot acknowledge me openly, it
appears, but he does it through M. Cavalcanti, and gives him fifty
thousand francs for it."
thousand francs for being your father? I would have done it for half that,
for twenty thousand, for fifteen thousand; why did you not think of me,
I know anything about it, when it was all done when I was down
truly? And you say that by his will"--
leaves me five hundred thousand livres."
you sure of it?"
showed it me; but that is not all--there is a codicil, as I said just
in that codicil he acknowledges me."
the good father, the brave father, the very honest father!" said
Caderousse, twirling a plate in the air between his two hands.
say if I conceal anything from you?"
and your confidence makes you honorable in my opinion; and your princely
father, is he rich, very rich?"
he is that; he does not himself know the amount of his fortune."
is evident enough to me, who am always at his house. The other day a
banker's clerk brought him fifty thousand francs in a portfolio about the
size of your plate; yesterday his banker brought him a hundred thousand
francs in gold." Caderousse was filled with wonder; the young man's
words sounded to him like metal, and he thought he could hear the rushing
of cascades of louis. "And you go into that house?" cried he
was thoughtful for a moment. It was easy to perceive he was revolving some
unfortunate idea in his mind. Then suddenly,--"How I should like to
see all that," cried he; "how beautiful it must be!"
is, in fact, magnificent," said Andrea.
does he not live in the Champs-Elysées?"
said Caderousse, "No. 30."
a fine house standing alone, between a court-yard and a garden,--you must
but it is not the exterior I care for, it is the interior. What beautiful
furniture there must be in it!"
you ever seen the Tuileries?"
it surpasses that."
must be worth one's while to stoop, Andrea, when that good M. Monte Cristo
lets fall his purse."
is not worth while to wait for that," said Andrea; "money is as
plentiful in that house as fruit in an orchard."
you should take me there one day with you."
can I? On what plea?"
are right; but you have made my mouth water. I must absolutely see it; I
shall find a way."
will offer myself as floor-polisher."
rooms are all carpeted."
then, I must be contented to imagine it."
is the best plan, believe me."
at least, to give me an idea of what it is."
is easier. Is it large?"
is it arranged?"
I should require pen, ink, and paper to make a plan."
are all here," said Caderousse, briskly. He fetched from an old
secretary a sheet of white paper and pen and ink. "Here," said
Caderousse, "draw me all that on the paper, my boy." Andrea took
the pen with an imperceptible smile and began. "The house, as I said,
is between the court and the garden; in this way, do you see?" Andrea
drew the garden, the court and the house.
more than eight or ten feet."
is not prudent," said Caderousse.
the court are orange-trees in pots, turf, and clumps of flowers."
on either side of the gate, which you see there." And Andrea
continued his plan.
us see the ground floor," said Caderousse.
the ground-floor, dining-room, two drawing-rooms, billiard-room, staircase
in the hall, and a little back staircase."
windows, so beautiful, so large, that I believe a man of your size should
pass through each frame."
the devil have they any stairs with such windows?"
but they are never used. That Count of Monte Cristo is an original, who
loves to look at the sky even at night."
where do the servants sleep?"
they have a house to themselves. Picture to yourself a pretty coach-house
at the right-hand side where the ladders are kept. Well, over that
coach-house are the servants' rooms, with bells corresponding with the
diable--bells did you say?"
do you mean?"
nothing! I only say they cost a load of money to hang, and what is the use
of them, I should like to know?"
used to be a dog let loose in the yard at night, but it has been taken to
the house at Auteuil, to that you went to, you know."
was saying to him only yesterday, 'You are imprudent, Monsieur Count; for
when you go to Auteuil and take your servants the house is left
unprotected.' Well,' said he, 'what next?' 'Well, next, some day you will
did he answer?"
quietly said, 'What do I care if I am?'"
he has some secretary with a spring."
do you know?"
which catches the thief in a trap and plays a tune. I was told there were
such at the last exhibition."
has simply a mahogany secretary, in which the key is always kept."
he is not robbed?"
his servants are all devoted to him."
ought to be some money in that secretary?"
may be. No one knows what there is."
where is it?"
the first floor."
me the plan of that floor, as you have done of the ground floor, my
is very simple." Andrea took the pen. "On the first story, do
you see, there is the anteroom and the drawing-room; to the right of the
drawing-room, a library and a study; to the left, a bedroom and a
dressing-room. The famous secretary is in the dressing-room."
there a window in the dressing-room?"
here and one there." Andrea sketched two windows in the room, which
formed an angle on the plan, and appeared as a small square added to the
rectangle of the bedroom. Caderousse became thoughtful. "Does he
often go to Auteuil?" added he.
or three times a week. To-morrow, for instance, he is going to spend the
day and night there."
you sure of it?"
has invited me to dine there."
a life for you," said Caderousse; "a town house and a country
is what it is to be rich."
shall you dine there?"
you dine there, do you sleep there?"
I like; I am at home there." Caderousse looked at the young man, as
if to get at the truth from the bottom of his heart. But Andrea drew a
cigar-case from his pocket, took a havana, quietly lit it, and began
smoking. "When do you want your twelve hundred francs?" said he
if you have them." Andrea took five and twenty louis from his pocket.
boys?" said Caderousse; "no, I thank you."
you despise them."
the contrary, I esteem them, but will not have them."
can change them, idiot; gold is worth five sous."
and he who changes them will follow friend Caderousse, lay hands on him,
and demand what farmers pay him their rent in gold. No nonsense, my good
fellow; silver simply, round coins with the head of some monarch or other
on them. Anybody may possess a five-franc piece."
do you suppose I carry five hundred francs about with me? I should want a
leave them with your porter; he is to be trusted. I will call for
to-morrow; I shall not have time to day."
to-morrow I will leave them when I go to Auteuil."
I depend on it?"
I shall secure my housekeeper on the strength of it."
see here, will that be all? Eh? And will you not torment me any
Caderousse had become so gloomy that Andrea feared he should be obliged to
notice the change. He redoubled his gayety and carelessness. "How
sprightly you are," said Caderousse; "One would say you were
already in possession of your property."
unfortunately; but when I do obtain it"--
shall remember old friends, I can tell you that."
since you have such a good memory."
do you want? It looks as if you were trying to fleece me?"
What an idea! I, who am going to give you another piece of good
leave behind you the diamond you have on your finger. We shall both get
into trouble. You will ruin both yourself and me by your folly."
so?" said Andrea.
You put on a livery, you disguise yourself as a servant, and yet keep a
diamond on your finger worth four or five thousand francs."
know something of diamonds; I have had some."
do well to boast of it," said Andrea, who, without becoming angry, as
Caderousse feared, at this new extortion, quietly resigned the ring.
Caderousse looked so closely at it that Andrea well knew that he was
examining to see if all the edges were perfect.
is a false diamond," said Caderousse.
are joking now," replied Andrea.
not be angry, we can try it." Caderousse went to the window, touched
the glass with it, and found it would cut.
said Caderousse, putting the diamond on his little finger; "I was
mistaken; but those thieves of jewellers imitate so well that it is no
longer worth while to rob a jeweller's shop--it is another branch of
you finished?" said Andrea,--"do you want anything more?--will
you have my waistcoat or my hat? Make free, now you have begun."
you are, after all, a good companion; I will not detain you, and will try
to cure myself of my ambition."
take care the same thing does not happen to you in selling the diamond you
feared with the gold."
shall not sell it--do not fear."
at least till the day after to-morrow," thought the young man.
rogue," said Caderousse; "you are going to find your servants,
your horses, your carriage, and your betrothed!"
I hope you will make a handsome wedding-present the day you marry
have already told you it is a fancy you have taken in your head."
fortune has she?"
I tell you"--
million?" Andrea shrugged his shoulders.
it be a million," said Caderousse; "you can never have so much
as I wish you."
you," said the young man.
I wish it you with all my heart!" added Caderousse with his hoarse
laugh. "Stop, let me show you the way."
is not worth while."
there is a little secret, a precaution I thought it desirable to take, one
of Huret & Fitchet's locks, revised and improved by Gaspard
Caderousse; I will manufacture you a similar one when you are a
you," said Andrea; "I will let you know a week beforehand."
They parted. Caderousse remained on the landing until he had not only seen
Andrea go down the three stories, but also cross the court. Then he
returned hastily, shut his door carefully, and began to study, like a
clever architect, the plan Andrea had left him.
Benedetto," said he, "I think he will not be sorry to inherit
his fortune, and he who hastens the day when he can touch his five hundred
thousand will not be his worst friend."