The Count of Monte Cristo – Day 297 of 400

“Yes, I do, or may the devil take me. I know it is a weakness,” said Caderousse, “but it overpowers me.”

“And yet it has not prevented your sending for me to play me some trick.”

“Come,” 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’hote of the Hotel des Princes, or the Cafe 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 you?”

“That I may have the pleasure of seeing you, my little fellow.”

“What is the use of seeing me after we have made all our arrangements?”

“Eh, 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 Hotel des Princes.”

“Come, 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.”

“I can still say it is a dream; a retired baker, my poor Benedetto, is rich—he has an annuity.”

“Well, you have an annuity.”

“I have?”

“Yes, 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 of Danglars.”

“What? of Danglars?”

“Yes, 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.”

“Come, your jealousy represents everything to you in the wrong light.”

“That 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!”

“Faith, yes,” replied Andrea, whose hunger prevailed over every other feeling.

“So you like it, you rogue?”

“So much that I wonder how a man who can cook thus can complain of hard living.”

“Do you see,” said Caderousse, “all my happiness is marred by one thought?”

“What is that?”

“That I am dependent on another, I who have always gained my own livelihood honestly.”

“Do not let that disturb you, I have enough for two.”

“No, truly; you may believe me if you will; at the end of every month I am tormented by remorse.”

“Good Caderousse!”

“So much so, that yesterday I would not take the two hundred francs.”

“Yes, you wished to speak to me; but was it indeed remorse, tell me?”

“True 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?”

“Yes; 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.”

“There 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?”

“Ah, 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.”


“I was going to say, if I were in your place”—


“I would realize”—

“How would you realize?”

“I 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, well,” said Andrea, “that isn’t a bad idea.”

“My dear friend,” said Caderousse, “eat of my bread, and take my advice; you will be none the worse off, physically or morally.”

“But,” 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.”

“But how the devil would you have me retire on twelve hundred francs?”

“Ah, Caderousse,” said Andrea, “how covetous you are! Two months ago you were dying with hunger.”

“The 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 pretty one.”

“Why 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!”

“I do not say,” replied Andrea, “that you never make a good one; but let us see your plan.”

“Well,” 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 thousand francs.”

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