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第34节 庇皮诺 【
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本文地址:http://www.yeidj.com.cn/book/story.php?id=668
文章摘要:庇皮诺 ,呈献河清海宴第九十,第六期知人下士大主教。

在那艘汽船消失在摩琴岬后面的同时,一个人乘着驿车从佛罗伦萨赶往罗马的人,经过阿瓜本特小镇。他的驿车赶得相当快,但还没有快到会令人发生怀疑的程度。这人穿着一件外套,确切地说,是一件紧身长外套,穿了这种衣服旅行是不十分舒服的,但它却把鲜明灿烂的荣誉团军官的缎带显示出来,他外套下面的上装上佩着一枚勋章,这两个标志以及他对车夫讲话时的口音都可以看出他是一个法国人。另外还有一点可以证明他是来自这个世界语言[这时指法语当时流行于欧洲各国。—— 译注]的国家的,就是,他只知道乐谱上用作术语的那几个意大利字,象费加罗老说“goddam”[法国最流行的外国字之一;十五世纪时,法国人叫英国人为goddam。——译注]一样,这些字能代替特殊语言的一切奥妙。

当马车上坡的时候,他就对车夫大喊“Allegro”[意大利语,音乐术语:“急调,加快!”——译注]当他下坡的时候,他就喊“Moderato!”[意大利语,音乐术语:“不疾不徐,稍慢!”——译注]凡是走过那条路的人,都知道佛罗伦萨经阿瓜本特到罗马,途中有许多的上坡和下坡!这两个字使听话的人感到极其有趣。车到勒斯多塔,罗马业已在望,一般旅客到这里总会表露出强烈的好奇心,站起来去看那最先闯入眼帘的圣·彼得教堂的圆顶,但这位旅客却没有这种好奇心。他只是从口袋里摸出一只皮夹,从皮夹里抽出一张折成两叠的纸片,用一种恭敬的态度把它察看了一遍以后,说:“好!它还在我身边呢。”

马车从波波罗门进城。向左转,在爱斯巴旅馆门口停下来。我们的老相识派里尼老板恭恭敬敬地在门口迎接那位旅客。那位旅客下车,吩咐给他预备一顿丰盛的午餐,然后便打听汤姆生·弗伦奇银行的地址。当然一问就知道了,因为汤姆生·弗伦奇银行是罗马最有名的银行之一,它就在圣·彼得教堂附近的银行街上。罗马,象在其他各地一样,来一辆驿车是一件大事。十几个年轻的闲汉,示脚露肘,一手叉腰,一手有模有样地放到后脑勺上,凝视着那旅客、驿车和马;此外还有五十个左右游手好闲的二流子,他们是从教皇统治下的各省来的,因为教皇重征人头税,要从圣·安琪罗桥抽水灌入梯伯河[梯伯河经意大利中部诸省,该河比海平面高出二百四十四尺。——译注],所以无力纳税的人民只能让他们的孩子流浪出来乞讨为生。但罗马的闲汉和流民比巴黎的幸运,他们懂得各国语言,尤其是法语,他们听到那旅客吩咐要一个房间,一顿午餐,后来又打听汤姆生·弗伦奇银行的地址。结果是:当那位客带着一个向导离开旅馆的时候,一个闲汉离开他的同伴,象巴黎警局的密探那样巧妙地跟着那旅客,未被那旅客发现,也未被向导注意。

那个法国人是急于要到汤姆生·弗伦奇银行去,以致他也不等驾马,只是留话给车夫,叫车夫驾好马以后追上来,或到银行门口去等他。他比马车先到银行。那法国人走进银行把向导留在外厅里,向导便立刻和两三个职业闲汉拉起话来。

在罗马的银行、教堂、废墟、博物馆和剧院门口,总是有这些职业闲汉在那儿的,跟踪法国人的那个家伙也走进银行。那法国人敲一敲内门,走进第一个房间,跟踪他的闲汉也这样做。

“经理先生在吗?”那旅客问道。

坐在第一张写字台前的一个重要职员打了一个手势,一个仆役便站起身来。“您是哪一位?”那仆役问。

“腾格拉尔男爵。”

“请跟我来!”那个人说。

一扇门开了,那仆役和男爵都消失到门里面。那个跟腾格拉尔来的人在一条长凳上坐下来。以后的五分钟内,那职员继续写字,凳子上的那个人也保持着沉默,一动不动地坐在那儿。然后,当那职员停笔的时候,他抬起头来,向四下看一看,确定房间里只有两个人,便说:“啊,啊!你来啦,庇皮诺!”

“是的。”回答很简单。

“你认为这个人有值得探听的事情吗?”

“我没有多少事情要打听,因为我们已经得到情报了。”

“那么你知道他到这儿干什么来的罗?”

“当然,他是来提款的,但我不知道数目。”

“你不久就可以知道的了,我的朋友。”

“好极了,你大概还是象前次那样,给我错误的消息。”

“你是什么意思?你指哪一个人?是不久以前从这儿拿走三万艾居的那个英国人吗?”

“不,他真的有三万艾居,我们找到了。我是指那个俄国王子,你说他有三万里弗,而我们却只找到两万四千。”

“你一定搜得不仔细。”

“是罗吉·万帕亲自搜查的。”

“如果那样,他大概是还了债——”

“一个俄国人还肯还债!”

“——不然就是花掉了一部分。”

“那倒是可能的。”

“一定是的,你必须让我去听一听,不然,那个法国人在我还知道数目以前就要办完手续了。”

庇皮诺点点头,从他的口袋里拿出一串念珠来,开始低声地祈祷,而那职员则走进了腾格拉尔和仆役进去的那间房子十分钟以后,那职员满面光彩地回来了。

“怎么样?”庇皮诺问他的朋友。

“小心,小心!数目很大。”

“五六百万,是不是?”

“是的,你知道那数目了吗?”

“记在基督山伯爵大人的账上?”

“你认识伯爵吗?”

“那笔钱,他们给他开立户头,任他在罗马、威尼斯和维也纳提取?”

“正是如此!”那职员喊道,“你怎么打听得这样清楚呢?”

“我告诉过你,我们是事先就得到情报了。”

“那么你为什么要来问我呢?”

“我要确定我有没有认错了人。”

“是的,的确是他!五百万,——一笔很可观的数目,是吗,庇皮诺?”

“是的。”

“嘘!我们的人来啦!”

那职员抓起他的笔,庇皮诺抓起他的念珠。门开的时候,一个在写字,一个在祈祷。腾格拉尔满面喜色,银行经理一直陪他到门口。庇皮诺跟着腾格拉尔出去。约定马车等在门口。导游拉开车门,他们很能干,什么事情可以派到他的用场。腾格拉尔跳进车子。动作轻捷得象个小伙子,导游关上车门,跳上去坐在车夫旁边。庇皮诺跳上车坐在车厢外的后座上。

“大人是要到圣·彼得教堂去吗?”导游问道。

“去做什么呀?”

“当然是去观光啦!”

“我不是到罗马来观光的,”腾格拉尔大声说,然后,他又带着一个贪婪的微笑轻轻地说,“我是来取钱的!”于是他拍一拍他的皮夹,皮夹里刚才已装进一份信用卡。

“那么大人是到——”

“到旅馆去。”

“到派时尼旅馆去!”导游对车夫说,马车疾驶而去。十分钟后,男爵回到他的房间,庇皮诺则在旅馆门外的长凳上坐下来,他与本章开始时提及的那些闲汉中的一个,咬耳说了几句话,那个闲汉便立刻顺着通到朱庇特殿的那条路飞一般地跑去。腾格拉尔觉得疲乏而满足,睡意很浓,他上了床,把他的皮夹塞在枕头底下。庇皮诺闲得无事,便和闲汉们玩骰子,输了三个艾居,为了安慰自己,喝了一瓶奥维多酒。

腾格拉尔虽然睡得很早,但第二天早晨却醒得很迟,他有五六夜没有睡好了。有时甚至根本没有睡觉时间。他美美地吃了早餐,然后,正如他所说的,因为对这“不朽之城”的美景并不关心,便吩咐车夫在中午给他备好马车。但腾格拉尔可没有计算到警察局的手续会如此麻烦,驿站站长又是如此的懒惰。驿马到两点钟才来,去代领护照的向导直到三点钟才到。而备好的马车在派里尼老板的门口早吸引了一群游手好闲的人。这些人之中当然有不少职业闲汉。男爵得意洋洋地穿过这些看热闹的人,有不少为了想得些赏钱,那些闲汉便齐声唤他“大人。”在那以前,腾格拉尔一向以被称为男爵自满。大人这个称呼使他有点受宠若惊,便撒了十几个铜板给那群人,那群人为了再多得十几个铜板,立刻改称他为“殿下”。

“走哪一条路?”车夫用意大利语问。

“去安科纳省的那条路。”男爵回答。

派里尼老板翻译了这一问一答,马便疾驶而去。腾格拉尔准备先到威尼斯,在那儿提出一部分钱,然后赴维也纳,休息几天以后,他准备在维也纳住下来,因为他听说那是一个可以寻欢作乐的好地方。

他离开罗马不到十哩路,天色便晴起来了。腾格拉尔没想到起程会这么晚,要不是这样,他宁愿在罗马多留一夜的。

他伸出头去,问车夫要多久才能到达一个市镇。

车夫用意大利语回答,“NonCapisco”[意大利语:“听不懂。——译注]腾格拉尔点一点头,意思是说:“好极了。”

马车继续向前走。“我到第一个驿站就停车。”腾格拉尔心想。昨天晚上,他美美地睡了一宿,他现在还能感受到那种舒适惬意的余味。他现在舒舒服服地躺在一辆华丽的英国马车里,身下有双重弹簧座垫,由四匹好马拉着车子疾驶。他知道离前面的驿站只有二十哩路了。一个这样幸运地破产的银行家,他的脑子里究竟在想什么呢?

腾格拉尔想到了他那在巴黎的太太,大约过了十分钟,他又想起了和亚密莱小姐一同出门的女儿,大约又过了十分钟,他的债权人以及他将来如何花他们的钱十分钟以后,他没有东西可想了,便闭上眼睛睡了。时而,一下比较猛烈的颠簸使他睁开眼睛,于是他感觉得到车子依旧载着他在依稀相似的罗马郊外急速地前进,沿途布满着残存的高架引水桥[罗马水道是罗马著名的古代建筑,最早的筑于公元前三世纪,一般都是用巨石和砖砌成的引水渠道。——译注],远看象化为花岗石的巨人挡住他们的去路。但这天晚上天气很冷,天空阴暗,而且下着雨,一个旅客坐在温暖的车厢里,在比问一个只会回答“Napisco”的车夫要舒服得多。腾格拉尔继续睡觉,心想反正到达驿站的时候他一定会醒来的。

马车停了。腾格拉尔以为他们到达了那盼望以久的地点。

他张开眼睛向窗外望出去,以为他已到了一个市镇或至少到了一个村庄里,但他看见的却是一座象废墟一样的东西,有三四个人象幽灵似的在那儿走来走去。腾格拉尔等了一会儿,心想车夫既已赶完他那一段路,一定会来向他要钱,他就可以借那个机会向新车夫问话。但马已经解辔了,另外几匹马换了上去,可是却始终没有人来向他要钱。腾格拉尔惊奇地推开车门;但一只强有力的手把他推回来,车子又开始行驶了。男爵目瞪口呆,完全醒了。“喂!”他对车夫说, “喂,miocaro[意大利语:亲爱的。——译注]!”这两个意大利字,男爵也是在听他的女儿和卡瓦尔康蒂对唱时学来的;但miocaro并没有带来回答。腾格拉尔于是把窗打开。

“喂,我的朋友,”他把头伸到窗外说,“我们是到哪儿去呀?”

“Dentrolatesta!”[意大利语:“头缩进去!”——译注]一个庄严而专横的声音喊着并伴随着一个恫吓的手势。

腾格拉尔明白了,Dentrolatesta的意思是“把头缩回去!”由此可见他的意大利语进步神速。他服从了,但心里却七上八下,而且那种不安与时俱增。他的脑子不再象开始旅行时那样无忧无虑、他的脑子里现在已充满了种种念头。这些念头无疑使他情绪激动、头脑清醒。但后来由于紧张过分又糊涂了。在我们未曾惊慌的时候,我们对外界的一切看得很清楚,当我们惊慌的时候,外界的一切在我们眼中都有了双重意义,而当我们已经吓慌了的时候,我们除了麻烦以外,便什么都看不见了。腾格拉尔看见一个披着披风的人骑着马在车子的右边疾驰。“宪兵!”他喊道。“难道当局已把我的情形发急报给教皇当局了?”他决定要解除这个疑团。“你们带我到哪儿去?”他问道。

“Dentrolatesta!”以前那个声音又气势汹汹的回答。

腾格拉尔朝车厢左边,转过身去,他看见右边也有一个人骑着马在疾驰。“一定是的了!”腾格拉尔说,额头上直冒出汗来,“我准是被捕了。”于是他便往背垫上一靠,但这一次可不是睡觉而是动脑筋了。不久,月亮升起来了。他看见了那庞大的引水渠架,就是他以前看见过的那些花岗石的鬼怪;只是以前它们在他的右边,而现在则已在他的左边。他知道他们已掉转车头。正在把他带回到罗马去。“噢,倒霉!”

他喊道,“他们一定已弄到了我的引渡权。”马车继续快驰。一小时就在这样的担惊受怕中过去了,他们所经过的每一个地点都在提醒这个逃亡者他们是在走回头路。终于,他看见一片黑压庄的庞然大物,看来马车一定会撞在那个东西上;但车子一转弯,那个庞然大物便已落在后面了,那原来是环绕在罗马四周的一个城垒。

“噢,噢!”腾格拉尔喊道,“我们不是回罗马,那么,并不是法院派人来追我,我仁慈的上帝!”另外一个念头浮上他的脑海,“但如果他们竟是——”

他的头发竖了起来。他想起了那些在巴黎很少有人相信的关于罗马强盗的有趣的故事。他想起了阿尔贝·马尔塞夫在与欧热妮小姐的婚约未破裂前讲述的那一番冒险。 “他们或许是强盗!”他自言自语地说。正当那时,车子驶上了一条比碎石路更硬的路面。腾格拉尔大着胆子向路的两边望了一望,看见两边都是一式的纪念碑,马尔塞夫那场冒险的种种细节在他的头脑里面盘桓着,他确信自己已被带上了阿匹爱氏路上,在一块象山谷似的地方,他看见有一个圆形凹陷的建筑物。那是卡拉卡勒竞技场。车子右边那个骑马的人一声令下马车便停住了。同时,车子左侧的门打开了。

“Scendi!”[意大利语:“跟着来。”——译注]一个命令式的声音喊道。腾格拉尔本能地下车,他虽然不会说意大利语,他却已经懂得这个字。半死不活的男爵向四周看了一看。除车夫以外的四个人把他围了起来。

“Diqua,”[意大利语:“下来!”——译注]其中有一个人一面说,一面带头走下一条离开阿匹爱氏路的岔道。腾格拉尔一声不吭地跟在他的身后,并不反抗,无须回头,另外那三个人一定跟在他的后面。可是,他似乎觉得每隔一段的距离就站着一个人,象哨兵似的。

这样走了大约十分钟,在这期间,腾格拉尔没有和他前面的人说一句话,最后,他发现自己已在一座小丘和一丛长得很高的杂草之间;三个人默默地站成一个三角形,而他是那个三角形的中心。他想说话但他的舌头却不听使唤。

“Avanti!”[意大利语:向前走。”——译注]是那个严厉和专横的声音说。

这一次,腾格拉尔更明白了,他不但听懂了话,而且也领会了动作的含义,因为他身后的那个人非常粗鲁地把他一推,他差点撞到在前面带路的那个人身上,这个人就是我们的朋友庇皮诺,他扎进杂草丛中,沿着一条只有蜥蜴或黄鼠狼才认为是一条大道的小径向前走去。在一块小树掩遮下的岩石前面他停了下来,那块岩石半开半掩,刚好可容一个人钻进去,那个小伙子一转身便象童话里的妖精似地不见了。腾格拉尔后面的那个人吩咐他也照样做。现在他已经毫不怀疑了,他已经落入罗马强盗手里。腾格拉尔象是一个身临险境进退维谷,却又被恐惧激起了勇气的人那样,他执行了命令,象庇皮诺那样钻了进去。尽管他的肚子给他带来了很多不便。

他闭上眼睛。直到他的脚触到地面的时候,才张开眼来。里面的路很宽,但却很黑。庇皮诺划火点燃了一支火把,他现在已到了自己的地方,不再怕被人认出了。另外那两个人也紧随着腾格拉尔下来,做他的后卫。腾格拉尔一停步,他们就推着他向前走。他们顺着一条平缓的下坡路走到一处阴森可怖的十字路口。墙上挖着一格格装棺材的墓穴,衬托着白石的墙头,就象是骷髅上黑洞洞的大眼睛一样。

一个哨兵把他的步枪拍的一声转到左手。“谁?”他喊道。

“自己人,自己人!”庇皮诺说,“队长在哪儿?”

“在那边!”哨兵用手向背后面一指;那儿的一个大厅象是岩石挖出来的,大厅里的灯光透过拱形的大门廊照入隧道。

“好买卖,队长,好买卖!”庇皮诺用意大利语说,他抓住腾格拉尔的衣领,拖着他向门洞走,拖他穿过门洞进入大厅,看来队长就在那里。

“是这个人吗?”队长问道,他正在聚精会神地读普罗塔克的《亚历山大传》。

“是的,队长,就是他。”

“好极了,让我看看他。”

听到这一声很不客气的命令,庇皮诺便把火把举起来直逼到腾格拉尔的脸上,腾格拉尔吓得忙向后退,以免烧焦眼睫毛。他脸色苍白满是惊恐之色。

“这个人累了,”队长说,带他上床去睡吧。”

“上帝,”腾格拉尔暗暗地说,“他所说的床大概是墙壁空洞里的棺材,而我所能享受的睡眠,大概就是由那在黑影里闪闪发光的匕首所造成的长眠了。”

就是当年阿尔贝·马尔塞夫发现他在读《凯撒历史回忆录》的那个人,这位腾格拉尔发现他在研究《亚历山大传》的首领的话,他的话惊醒了他的同伴,他们从大厅四角用枯叶或狼皮铺成的床上坐起来。那位银行家发出一声呻吟,跟着领他的人向前走,他既未恳求也未哀叫。因为他已经没有精力、意志、没有感觉;不论他们领他到什么地方去,他就会乖乖地跟着走。最后他发觉自己已到了一座楼梯脚下,他机械地抬起腿,向上走了五六步。一扇矮门在他的面前打开了,他低下头,以免撞伤额角,走进一个用岩石挖成的小地室。这回地窖虽然未加粉饰,却很清洁,虽然深埋在地下,却很干燥。地窖的一个角落里有一张干草做的床,上面铺着羊皮。腾格拉尔一看见那张床,眼睛顿时发光了,他认为那是一种安全的象征。“噢,赞美上帝!”他说,这是一张真的床!”

“Ecco!”[意大利语:“到了!”——译注]那向导说,他把腾格拉尔往地窖里一推,随手把门关上。

门闩格拉一响,腾格拉尔变成一个俘虏了。而且,即使没有门闩,他也不可能从这警卫森严的圣·西伯斯坦陵墓里逃出去。至于这群强盗的首领,我们的读者一定已认出那是鼎鼎大名的罗吉·万帕。腾格拉尔也认出了他;当阿尔贝·马尔塞夫在巴黎讲到这个强盗的时候,腾格拉尔不相信他的存在,但现在,他不但认出他,而且也认出了这个曾关过阿尔贝的地窖,这个地方大概是特地留给外客用的。这些记忆给腾格拉尔带来了几分欢喜,使他的心情平静了些。那些强盗既然不想立刻结果他的性命,那么他认为他们根本不想杀他。他们捉他来的目的是为了要钱,既然他身边只带着几块金路易,他相信他们一定会放他出去,他记得马尔塞夫的赎款好象是四千艾居。因为他自认为自己比马尔塞夫重要很多,他把自己的赎款定为八千艾居。八千艾居相当于四万八千里弗;而他现在却有五百零五万法郎在身边。凭着这笔款子,他一定可以使自己恢复自由。他从来没有听说过绑票的赎款有高达五百零五万法郎的,所以,他相信自己不必破费很多钱就可以离开这个地方。他躺到床上,在翻了两三次身以后,便象罗吉·万帕所读的那本书中的主角那样宁静地睡着了。

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 H?tel 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 Eugénie. "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 quà," 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 C?sar'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.



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