Meet us on:
 
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "Those who know how to win are much more numerous than those who know how to make proper use of their victories."
     

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Chapter 114

    • Rate it:
    • Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 28 ratings
    • 49 Favorites on Read Print
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 114
    Previous Chapter
    CHAPTER 114
    Peppino.

    At the same time that the steamer disappeared behind Cape
    Morgion, a man travelling post on the road from Florence to
    Rome had just passed the little town of Aquapendente. He was
    travelling fast enough to cover a great deal of ground
    without exciting suspicion. This man was dressed in a
    greatcoat, or rather a surtout, a little worse for the
    journey, but which exhibited the ribbon of the Legion of
    Honor still fresh and brilliant, a decoration which also
    ornamented the under coat. He might be recognized, not only
    by these signs, but also from the accent with which he spoke
    to the postilion, as a Frenchman. Another proof that he was
    a native of the universal country was apparent in the fact
    of his knowing no other Italian words than the terms used in
    music, and which like the "goddam" of Figaro, served all
    possible linguistic requirements. "Allegro!" he called out
    to the postilions at every ascent. "Moderato!" he cried as
    they descended. And heaven knows there are hills enough
    between Rome and Florence by the way of Aquapendente! These
    two words greatly amused the men to whom they were
    addressed. On reaching La Storta, the point from whence Rome
    is first visible, the traveller evinced none of the
    enthusiastic curiosity which usually leads strangers to
    stand up and endeavor to catch sight of the dome of St.
    Peter's, which may be seen long before any other object is
    distinguishable. No, he merely drew a pocketbook from his
    pocket, and took from it a paper folded in four, and after
    having examined it in a manner almost reverential, he said
    -- "Good! I have it still!"

    The carriage entered by the Porto del Popolo, turned to the
    left, and stopped at the Hotel d'Espagne. Old Pastrini, our
    former acquaintance, received the traveller at the door, hat
    in hand. The traveller alighted, ordered a good dinner, and
    inquired the address of the house of Thomson & French, which
    was immediately given to him, as it was one of the most
    celebrated in Rome. It was situated in the Via dei Banchi,
    near St. Peter's. In Rome, as everywhere else, the arrival
    of a post-chaise is an event. Ten young descendants of
    Marius and the Gracchi, barefooted and out at elbows, with
    one hand resting on the hip and the other gracefully curved
    above the head, stared at the traveller, the post-chaise,
    and the horses; to these were added about fifty little
    vagabonds from the Papal States, who earned a pittance by
    diving into the Tiber at high water from the bridge of St.
    Angelo. Now, as these street Arabs of Rome, more fortunate
    than those of Paris, understand every language, more
    especially the French, they heard the traveller order an
    apartment, a dinner, and finally inquire the way to the
    house of Thomson & French. The result was that when the
    new-comer left the hotel with the cicerone, a man detached
    himself from the rest of the idlers, and without having been
    seen by the traveller, and appearing to excite no attention
    from the guide, followed the stranger with as much skill as
    a Parisian police agent would have used.

    The Frenchman had been so impatient to reach the house of
    Thomson & French that he would not wait for the horses to be
    harnessed, but left word for the carriage to overtake him on
    the road, or to wait for him at the bankers' door. He
    reached it before the carriage arrived. The Frenchman
    entered, leaving in the anteroom his guide, who immediately
    entered into conversation with two or three of the
    industrious idlers who are always to be found in Rome at the
    doors of banking-houses, churches, museums, or theatres.
    With the Frenchman, the man who had followed him entered
    too; the Frenchman knocked at the inner door, and entered
    the first room; his shadow did the same.

    "Messrs. Thomson & French?" inquired the stranger.

    An attendant arose at a sign from a confidential clerk at
    the first desk. "Whom shall I announce?" said the attendant.

    "Baron Danglars."

    "Follow me," said the man. A door opened, through which the
    attendant and the baron disappeared. The man who had
    followed Danglars sat down on a bench. The clerk continued
    to write for the next five minutes; the man preserved
    profound silence, and remained perfectly motionless. Then
    the pen of the clerk ceased to move over the paper; he
    raised his head, and appearing to be perfectly sure of
    privacy, -- "Ah, ha," he said, "here you are, Peppino!"

    "Yes," was the laconic reply. "You have found out that there
    is something worth having about this large gentleman?"

    "There is no great merit due to me, for we were informed of
    it."

    "You know his business here, then."

    "Pardieu, he has come to draw, but I don't know how much!"

    "You will know presently, my friend."

    "Very well, only do not give me false information as you did
    the other day."

    "What do you mean? -- of whom do you speak? Was it the
    Englishman who carried off 3,000 crowns from here the other
    day?"

    "No; he really had 3,000 crowns, and we found them. I mean
    the Russian prince, who you said had 30,000 livres, and we
    only found 22,000."

    "You must have searched badly."

    "Luigi Vampa himself searched."

    "Indeed? But you must let me make my observations, or the
    Frenchman will transact his business without my knowing the
    sum." Peppino nodded, and taking a rosary from his pocket
    began to mutter a few prayers while the clerk disappeared
    through the same door by which Danglars and the attendant
    had gone out. At the expiration of ten minutes the clerk
    returned with a beaming countenance. "Well?" asked Peppino
    of his friend.

    "Joy, joy -- the sum is large!"

    "Five or six millions, is it not?"

    "Yes, you know the amount."

    "On the receipt of the Count of Monte Cristo?"

    "Why, how came you to be so well acquainted with all this?"

    "I told you we were informed beforehand."

    "Then why do you apply to me?"

    "That I may be sure I have the right man."

    "Yes, it is indeed he. Five millions -- a pretty sum, eh,
    Peppino?"

    "Hush -- here is our man!" The clerk seized his pen, and
    Peppino his beads; one was writing and the other praying
    when the door opened. Danglars looked radiant with joy; the
    banker accompanied him to the door. Peppino followed
    Danglars.

    According to the arrangements, the carriage was waiting at
    the door. The guide held the door open. Guides are useful
    people, who will turn their hands to anything. Danglars
    leaped into the carriage like a young man of twenty. The
    cicerone reclosed the door, and sprang up by the side of the
    coachman. Peppino mounted the seat behind.

    "Will your excellency visit St. Peter's?" asked the
    cicerone.

    "I did not come to Rome to see," said Danglars aloud; then
    he added softly, with an avaricious smile, "I came to
    touch!" and he rapped his pocket-book, in which he had just
    placed a letter.

    "Then your excellency is going" --

    "To the hotel."

    "Casa Pastrini!" said the cicerone to the coachman, and the
    carriage drove rapidly on. Ten minutes afterwards the baron
    entered his apartment, and Peppino stationed himself on the
    bench outside the door of the hotel, after having whispered
    something in the ear of one of the descendants of Marius and
    the Gracchi whom we noticed at the beginning of the chapter,
    who immediately ran down the road leading to the Capitol at
    his fullest speed. Danglars was tired and sleepy; he
    therefore went to bed, placing his pocketbook under his
    pillow. Peppino had a little spare time, so he had a game of
    mora with the facchini, lost three crowns, and then to
    console himself drank a bottle of Orvieto.

    The next morning Danglars awoke late, though he went to bed
    so early; he had not slept well for five or six nights, even
    if he had slept at all. He breakfasted heartily, and caring
    little, as he said, for the beauties of the Eternal City,
    ordered post-horses at noon. But Danglars had not reckoned
    upon the formalities of the police and the idleness of the
    posting-master. The horses only arrived at two o'clock, and
    the cicerone did not bring the passport till three. All
    these preparations had collected a number of idlers round
    the door of Signor Pastrini's; the descendants of Marius and
    the Gracchi were also not wanting. The baron walked
    triumphantly through the crowd, who for the sake of gain
    styled him "your excellency." As Danglars had hitherto
    contented himself with being called a baron, he felt rather
    flattered at the title of excellency, and distributed a
    dozen silver coins among the beggars, who were ready, for
    twelve more, to call him "your highness."

    "Which road?" asked the postilion in Italian. "The Ancona
    road," replied the baron. Signor Pastrini interpreted the
    question and answer, and the horses galloped off. Danglars
    intended travelling to Venice, where he would receive one
    part of his fortune, and then proceeding to Vienna, where he
    would find the rest, he meant to take up his residence in
    the latter town, which he had been told was a city of
    pleasure.

    He had scarcely advanced three leagues out of Rome when
    daylight began to disappear. Danglars had not intended
    starting so late, or he would have remained; he put his head
    out and asked the postilion how long it would be before they
    reached the next town. "Non capisco" (do not understand),
    was the reply. Danglars bent his head, which he meant to
    imply, "Very well." The carriage again moved on. "I will
    stop at the first posting-house," said Danglars to himself.

    He still felt the same self-satisfaction which he had
    experienced the previous evening, and which had procured him
    so good a night's rest. He was luxuriously stretched in a
    good English calash, with double springs; he was drawn by
    four good horses, at full gallop; he knew the relay to be at
    a distance of seven leagues. What subject of meditation
    could present itself to the banker, so fortunately become
    bankrupt?

    Danglars thought for ten minutes about his wife in Paris;
    another ten minutes about his daughter travelling with
    Mademoiselle d'Armilly; the same period was given to his
    creditors, and the manner in which he intended spending
    their money; and then, having no subject left for
    contemplation, he shut his eyes, and fell asleep. Now and
    then a jolt more violent than the rest caused him to open
    his eyes; then he felt that he was still being carried with
    great rapidity over the same country, thickly strewn with
    broken aqueducts, which looked like granite giants petrified
    while running a race. But the night was cold, dull, and
    rainy, and it was much more pleasant for a traveller to
    remain in the warm carriage than to put his head out of the
    window to make inquiries of a postilion whose only answer
    was "Non capisco."

    Danglars therefore continued to sleep, saying to himself
    that he would be sure to awake at the posting-house. The
    carriage stopped. Danglars fancied that they had reached the
    long-desired point; he opened his eyes and looked through
    the window, expecting to find himself in the midst of some
    town, or at least village; but he saw nothing except what
    seemed like a ruin, where three or four men went and came
    like shadows. Danglars waited a moment, expecting the
    postilion to come and demand payment with the termination of
    his stage. He intended taking advantage of the opportunity
    to make fresh inquiries of the new conductor; but the horses
    were unharnessed, and others put in their places, without
    any one claiming money from the traveller. Danglars,
    astonished, opened the door; but a strong hand pushed him
    back, and the carriage rolled on. The baron was completely
    roused. "Eh?" he said to the postilion, "eh, mio caro?"

    This was another little piece of Italian the baron had
    learned from hearing his daughter sing Italian duets with
    Cavalcanti. But mio caro did not reply. Danglars then opened
    the window.

    "Come, my friend," he said, thrusting his hand through the
    opening, "where are we going?"

    "Dentro la testa!" answered a solemn and imperious voice,
    accompanied by a menacing gesture. Danglars thought dentro
    la testa meant, "Put in your head!" He was making rapid
    progress in Italian. He obeyed, not without some uneasiness,
    which, momentarily increasing, caused his mind, instead of
    being as unoccupied as it was when he began his journey, to
    fill with ideas which were very likely to keep a traveller
    awake, more especially one in such a situation as Danglars.
    His eyes acquired that quality which in the first moment of
    strong emotion enables them to see distinctly, and which
    afterwards fails from being too much taxed. Before we are
    alarmed, we see correctly; when we are alarmed, we see
    double; and when we have been alarmed, we see nothing but
    trouble. Danglars observed a man in a cloak galloping at the
    right hand of the carriage.

    "Some gendarme!" he exclaimed. "Can I have been intercepted
    by French telegrams to the pontifical authorities?" He
    resolved to end his anxiety. "Where are you taking me?" he
    asked. "Dentro la testa," replied the same voice, with the
    same menacing accent.

    Danglars turned to the left; another man on horseback was
    galloping on that side. "Decidedly," said Danglars, with the
    perspiration on his forehead, "I must be under arrest." And
    he threw himself back in the calash, not this time to sleep,
    but to think. Directly afterwards the moon rose. He then saw
    the great aqueducts, those stone phantoms which he had
    before remarked, only then they were on the right hand, now
    they were on the left. He understood that they had described
    a circle, and were bringing him back to Rome. "Oh,
    unfortunate!" he cried, "they must have obtained my arrest."
    The carriage continued to roll on with frightful speed. An
    hour of terror elapsed, for every spot they passed showed
    that they were on the road back. At length he saw a dark
    mass, against which it seemed as if the carriage was about
    to dash; but the vehicle turned to one side, leaving the
    barrier behind and Danglars saw that it was one of the
    ramparts encircling Rome.

    "Mon dieu!" cried Danglars, "we are not returning to Rome;
    then it is not justice which is pursuing me! Gracious
    heavens; another idea presents itself -- what if they should
    be" --

    His hair stood on end. He remembered those interesting
    stories, so little believed in Paris, respecting Roman
    bandits; he remembered the adventures that Albert de Morcerf
    had related when it was intended that he should marry
    Mademoiselle Eugenie. "They are robbers, perhaps," he
    muttered. Just then the carriage rolled on something harder
    than gravel road. Danglars hazarded a look on both sides of
    the road, and perceived monuments of a singular form, and
    his mind now recalled all the details Morcerf had related,
    and comparing them with his own situation, he felt sure that
    he must be on the Appian Way. On the left, in a sort of
    valley, he perceived a circular excavation. It was
    Caracalla's circus. On a word from the man who rode at the
    side of the carriage, it stopped. At the same time the door
    was opened. "Scendi!" exclaimed a commanding voice. Danglars
    instantly descended; although he did not yet speak Italian,
    he understood it very well. More dead than alive, he looked
    around him. Four men surrounded him, besides the postilion.

    "Di qua," said one of the men, descending a little path
    leading out of the Appian Way. Danglars followed his guide
    without opposition, and had no occasion to turn around to
    see whether the three others were following him. Still it
    appeared as though they were stationed at equal distances
    from one another, like sentinels. After walking for about
    ten minutes, during which Danglars did not exchange a single
    word with his guide, he found himself between a hillock and
    a clump of high weeds; three men, standing silent, formed a
    triangle, of which he was the centre. He wished to speak,
    but his tongue refused to move. "Avanti!" said the same
    sharp and imperative voice.

    This time Danglars had double reason to understand, for if
    the word and gesture had not explained the speaker's
    meaning, it was clearly expressed by the man walking behind
    him, who pushed him so rudely that he struck against the
    guide. This guide was our friend Peppino, who dashed into
    the thicket of high weeds, through a path which none but
    lizards or polecats could have imagined to be an open road.
    Peppino stopped before a pit overhung by thick hedges; the
    pit, half open, afforded a passage to the young man, who
    disappeared like the evil spirits in the fairy tales. The
    voice and gesture of the man who followed Danglars ordered
    him to do the same. There was no longer any doubt, the
    bankrupt was in the hands of Roman banditti. Danglars
    acquitted himself like a man placed between two dangerous
    positions, and who is rendered brave by fear.
    Notwithstanding his large stomach, certainly not intended to
    penetrate the fissures of the Campagna, he slid down like
    Peppino, and closing his eyes fell upon his feet. As he
    touched the ground, he opened his eyes. The path was wide,
    but dark. Peppino, who cared little for being recognized now
    that he was in his own territories, struck a light and lit a
    torch. Two other men descended after Danglars forming the
    rearguard, and pushing Danglars whenever he happened to
    stop, they came by a gentle declivity to the intersection of
    two corridors. The walls were hollowed out in sepulchres,
    one above the other, and which seemed in contrast with the
    white stones to open their large dark eyes, like those which
    we see on the faces of the dead. A sentinel struck the rings
    of his carbine against his left hand. "Who comes there?" he
    cried.

    "A friend, a friend!" said Peppino; "but where is the
    captain?"

    "There," said the sentinel, pointing over his shoulder to a
    spacious crypt, hollowed out of the rock, the lights from
    which shone into the passage through the large arched
    openings. "Fine spoil, captain, fine spoil!" said Peppino in
    Italian, and taking Danglars by the collar of his coat he
    dragged him to an opening resembling a door, through which
    they entered the apartment which the captain appeared to
    have made his dwelling-place.

    "Is this the man?" asked the captain, who was attentively
    reading Plutarch's "Life of Alexander."

    "Himself, captain -- himself."

    "Very well, show him to me." At this rather impertinent
    order, Peppino raised his torch to the face of Danglars, who
    hastily withdrew that he might not have his eyelashes burnt.
    His agitated features presented the appearance of pale and
    hideous terror. "The man is tired," said the captain,
    "conduct him to his bed."

    "Oh," murmured Danglars," that bed is probably one of the
    coffins hollowed in the wall, and the sleep I shall enjoy
    will be death from one of the poniards I see glistening in
    the darkness."

    From their beds of dried leaves or wolf-skins at the back of
    the chamber now arose the companions of the man who had been
    found by Albert de Morcerf reading "Caesar's Commentaries,"
    and by Danglars studying the "Life of Alexander." The banker
    uttered a groan and followed his guide; he neither
    supplicated nor exclaimed. He no longer possessed strength,
    will, power, or feeling; he followed where they led him. At
    length he found himself at the foot of a staircase, and he
    mechanically lifted his foot five or six times. Then a low
    door was opened before him, and bending his head to avoid
    striking his forehead he entered a small room cut out of the
    rock. The cell was clean, though empty, and dry, though
    situated at an immeasurable distance under the earth. A bed
    of dried grass covered with goat-skins was placed in one
    corner. Danglars brightened up on beholding it, fancying
    that it gave some promise of safety. "Oh, God be praised,"
    he said; "it is a real bed!"

    "Ecco!" said the guide, and pushing Danglars into the cell,
    he closed the door upon him. A bolt grated and Danglars was
    a prisoner. If there had been no bolt, it would have been
    impossible for him to pass through the midst of the garrison
    who held the catacombs of St. Sebastian, encamped round a
    master whom our readers must have recognized as the famous
    Luigi Vampa. Danglars, too, had recognized the bandit, whose
    existence he would not believe when Albert de Morcerf
    mentioned him in Paris; and not only did he recognize him,
    but the cell in which Albert had been confined, and which
    was probably kept for the accommodation of strangers. These
    recollections were dwelt upon with some pleasure by
    Danglars, and restored him to some degree of tranquillity.
    Since the bandits had not despatched him at once, he felt
    that they would not kill him at all. They had arrested him
    for the purpose of robbery, and as he had only a few louis
    about him, he doubted not he would be ransomed. He
    remembered that Morcerf had been taxed at 4,000 crowns, and
    as he considered himself of much greater importance than
    Morcerf he fixed his own price at 8,000 crowns. Eight
    thousand crowns amounted to 48,000 livres; he would then
    have about 5,050,000 francs left. With this sum he could
    manage to keep out of difficulties. Therefore, tolerably
    secure in being able to extricate himself from his position,
    provided he were not rated at the unreasonable sum of
    5,050,000 francs, he stretched himself on his bed, and after
    turning over two or three times, fell asleep with the
    tranquillity of the hero whose life Luigi Vampa was
    studying.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 114
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Alexandre Dumas pere essay and need some advice, post your Alexandre Dumas pere essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Finished
    Want to read
    Abandoned

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?