The Bell and Bottle Tavern.
And now let us leave Mademoiselle Danglars and her friend
pursuing their way to Brussels, and return to poor Andrea
Cavalcanti, so inopportunely interrupted in his rise to
fortune. Notwithstanding his youth, Master Andrea was a very
skilful and intelligent boy. We have seen that on the first
rumor which reached the salon he had gradually approached
the door, and crossing two or three rooms at last
disappeared. But we have forgotten to mention one
circumstance, which nevertheless ought not to be omitted; in
one of the rooms he crossed, the trousseau of the
bride-elect was on exhibition. There were caskets of
diamonds, cashmere shawls, Valenciennes lace, English
veilings, and in fact all the tempting things, the bare
mention of which makes the hearts of young girls bound with
joy, and which is called the "corbeille."* Now, in passing
through this room, Andrea proved himself not only to be
clever and intelligent, but also provident, for he helped
himself to the most valuable of the ornaments before him.
* Literally, "the basket," because wedding gifts were
originally brought in such a receptacle.
Furnished with this plunder, Andrea leaped with a lighter
heart from the window, intending to slip through the hands
of the gendarmes. Tall and well proportioned as an ancient
gladiator, and muscular as a Spartan, he walked for a
quarter of an hour without knowing where to direct his
steps, actuated by the sole idea of getting away from the
spot where if he lingered he knew that he would surely be
taken. Having passed through the Rue Mont Blanc, guided by
the instinct which leads thieves always to take the safest
path, he found himself at the end of the Rue Lafayette.
There he stopped, breathless and panting. He was quite
alone; on one side was the vast wilderness of the
Saint-Lazare, on the other, Paris enshrouded in darkness.
"Am I to be captured?" he cried; "no, not if I can use more
activity than my enemies. My safety is now a mere question
of speed." At this moment he saw a cab at the top of the
Faubourg Poissonniere. The dull driver, smoking his pipe,
was plodding along toward the limits of the Faubourg
Saint-Denis, where no doubt he ordinarily had his station.
"Ho, friend!" said Benedetto.
"What do you want, sir?" asked the driver.
"Is your horse tired?"
"Tired? oh, yes, tired enough -- he has done nothing the
whole of this blessed day! Four wretched fares, and twenty
sous over, making in all seven francs, are all that I have
earned, and I ought to take ten to the owner."
"Will you add these twenty francs to the seven you have?"
"With pleasure, sir; twenty francs are not to be despised.
Tell me what I am to do for this."
"A very easy thing, if your horse isn't tired."
"I tell you he'll go like the wind, -- only tell me which
way to drive."
"Towards the Louvres."
"Ah, I know the way -- you get good sweetened rum over
"Exactly so; I merely wish to overtake one of my friends,
with whom I am going to hunt to-morrow at
Chapelle-en-Serval. He should have waited for me here with a
cabriolet till half-past eleven; it is twelve, and, tired of
waiting, he must have gone on."
"It is likely."
"Well, will you try and overtake him?"
"Nothing I should like better."
"If you do not overtake him before we reach Bourget you
shall have twenty francs; if not before Louvres, thirty."
"And if we do overtake him?"
"Forty," said Andrea, after a moment's hesitation, at the
end of which he remembered that he might safely promise.
"That's all right," said the man; "hop in, and we're off!
Andrea got into the cab, which passed rapidly through the
Faubourg Saint-Denis, along the Faubourg Saint-Martin,
crossed the barrier, and threaded its way through the
interminable Villette. They never overtook the chimerical
friend, yet Andrea frequently inquired of people on foot
whom he passed and at the inns which were not yet closed,
for a green cabriolet and bay horse; and as there are a
great many cabriolets to be seen on the road to the Low
Countries, and as nine-tenths of them are green, the
inquiries increased at every step. Every one had just seen
it pass; it was only five hundred, two hundred, one hundred
steps in advance; at length they reached it, but it was not
the friend. Once the cab was also passed by a calash rapidly
whirled along by two post-horses. "Ah," said Cavalcanti to
himself, "if I only had that britzska, those two good
post-horses, and above all the passport that carries them
on!" And he sighed deeply. The calash contained Mademoiselle
Danglars and Mademoiselle d'Armilly. "Hurry, hurry!" said
Andrea, "we must overtake him soon." And the poor horse
resumed the desperate gallop it had kept up since leaving
the barrier, and arrived steaming at Louvres.
"Certainly," said Andrea, "I shall not overtake my friend,
but I shall kill your horse, therefore I had better stop.
Here are thirty francs; I will sleep at the Red Horse, and
will secure a place in the first coach. Good-night, friend."
And Andrea, after placing six pieces of five francs each in
the man's hand, leaped lightly on to the pathway. The cabman
joyfully pocketed the sum, and turned back on his road to
Paris. Andrea pretended to go towards the Red Horse inn, but
after leaning an instant against the door, and hearing the
last sound of the cab, which was disappearing from view, he
went on his road, and with a lusty stride soon traversed the
space of two leagues. Then he rested; he must be near
Chapelle-en-Serval, where he pretended to be going. It was
not fatigue that stayed Andrea here; it was that he might
form some resolution, adopt some plan. It would be
impossible to make use of a diligence, equally so to engage
post-horses; to travel either way a passport was necessary.
It was still more impossible to remain in the department of
the Oise, one of the most open and strictly guarded in
France; this was quite out of the question, especially to a
man like Andrea, perfectly conversant with criminal matters.
He sat down by the side of the moat, buried his face in his
hands and reflected. Ten minutes after he raised his head;
his resolution was made. He threw some dust over the
topcoat, which he had found time to unhook from the
ante-chamber and button over his ball costume, and going to
Chapelle-en-Serval he knocked loudly at the door of the only
inn in the place. The host opened. "My friend," said Andrea,
"I was coming from Montefontaine to Senlis, when my horse,
which is a troublesome creature, stumbled and threw me. I
must reach Compiegne to-night, or I shall cause deep anxiety
to my family. Could you let me hire a horse of you?"
An inn-keeper has always a horse to let, whether it be good
or bad. The host called the stable-boy, and ordered him to
saddle "Whitey," then he awoke his son, a child of seven
years, whom he ordered to ride before the gentleman and
bring back the horse. Andrea gave the inn-keeper twenty
francs, and in taking them from his pocket dropped a
visiting card. This belonged to one of his friends at the
Cafe de Paris, so that the innkeeper, picking it up after
Andrea had left, was convinced that he had let his horse to
the Count of Mauleon, 25 Rue Saint-Dominique, that being the
name and address on the card. "Whitey" was not a fast
animal, but he kept up an easy, steady pace; in three hours
and a half Andrea had traversed the nine leagues which
separated him from Compiegne, and four o'clock struck as he
reached the place where the coaches stop. There is an
excellent tavern at Compiegne, well remembered by those who
have ever been there. Andrea, who had often stayed there in
his rides about Paris, recollected the Bell and Bottle inn;
he turned around, saw the sign by the light of a reflected
lamp, and having dismissed the child, giving him all the
small coin he had about him, he began knocking at the door,
very reasonably concluding that having now three or four
hours before him he had best fortify himself against the
fatigues of the morrow by a sound sleep and a good supper. A
waiter opened the door.
"My friend," said Andrea, "I have been dining at
Saint-Jean-au-Bois, and expected to catch the coach which
passes by at midnight, but like a fool I have lost my way,
and have been walking for the last four hours in the forest.
Show me into one of those pretty little rooms which overlook
the court, and bring me a cold fowl and a bottle of
Bordeaux." The waiter had no suspicions; Andrea spoke with
perfect composure, he had a cigar in his mouth, and his
hands in the pocket of his top coat; his clothes were
fashionably made, his chin smooth, his boots irreproachable;
he looked merely as if he had stayed out very late, that was
all. While the waiter was preparing his room, the hostess
arose; Andrea assumed his most charming smile, and asked if
he could have No. 3, which he had occupied on his last stay
at Compiegne. Unfortunately, No. 3 was engaged by a young
man who was travelling with his sister. Andrea appeared in
despair, but consoled himself when the hostess assured him
that No. 7, prepared for him, was situated precisely the
same as No. 3, and while warming his feet and chatting about
the last races at Chantilly, he waited until they announced
his room to be ready.
Andrea had not spoken without cause of the pretty rooms
looking out upon the court of the Bell Tavern, which with
its triple galleries like those of a theatre, with the
jessamine and clematis twining round the light columns,
forms one of the prettiest entrances to an inn that you can
imagine. The fowl was tender, the wine old, the fire clear
and sparkling, and Andrea was surprised to find himself
eating with as good an appetite as though nothing had
happened. Then he went to bed and almost immediately fell
into that deep sleep which is sure to visit men of twenty
years of age, even when they are torn with remorse. Now,
here we are obliged to own that Andrea ought to have felt
remorse, but that he did not. This was the plan which had
appealed to him to afford the best chance of his security.
Before daybreak he would awake, leave the inn after
rigorously paying his bill, and reaching the forest, he
would, under presence of making studies in painting, test
the hospitality of some peasants, procure himself the dress
of a woodcutter and a hatchet, casting off the lion's skin
to assume that of the woodman; then, with his hands covered
with dirt, his hair darkened by means of a leaden comb, his
complexion embrowned with a preparation for which one of his
old comrades had given him the recipe, he intended, by
following the wooded districts, to reach the nearest
frontier, walking by night and sleeping in the day in the
forests and quarries, and only entering inhabited regions to
buy a loaf from time to time.
Once past the frontier, Andrea proposed making money of his
diamonds; and by uniting the proceeds to ten bank-notes he
always carried about with him in case of accident, he would
then find himself possessor of about 50,000 livres, which he
philosophically considered as no very deplorable condition
after all. Moreover, he reckoned much on the interest of the
Danglars to hush up the rumor of their own misadventures.
These were the reasons which, added to the fatigue, caused
Andrea to sleep so soundly. In order that he might awaken
early he did not close the shutters, but contented himself
with bolting the door and placing on the table an unclasped
and long-pointed knife, whose temper he well knew, and which
was never absent from him. About seven in the morning Andrea
was awakened by a ray of sunlight, which played, warm and
brilliant, upon his face. In all well-organized brains, the
predominating idea -- and there always is one -- is sure to
be the last thought before sleeping, and the first upon
waking in the morning. Andrea had scarcely opened his eyes
when his predominating idea presented itself, and whispered
in his ear that he had slept too long. He jumped out of bed
and ran to the window. A gendarme was crossing the court. A
gendarme is one of the most striking objects in the world,
even to a man void of uneasiness; but for one who has a
timid conscience, and with good cause too, the yellow, blue,
and white uniform is really very alarming.
"Why is that gendarme there?" asked Andrea of himself. Then,
all at once, he replied, with that logic which the reader
has, doubtless, remarked in him, "There is nothing
astonishing in seeing a gendarme at an inn; instead of being
astonished, let me dress myself." And the youth dressed
himself with a facility his valet de chambre had failed to
rob him of during the two months of fashionable life he had
led in Paris. "Now then," said Andrea, while dressing
himself, "I'll wait till he leaves, and then I'll slip
away." And, saying this, Andrea, who had now put on his
boots and cravat, stole gently to the window, and a second
time lifted up the muslin curtain. Not only was the first
gendarme still there, but the young man now perceived a
second yellow, blue, and white uniform at the foot of the
staircase, the only one by which he could descend, while a
third, on horseback, holding a musket in his fist, was
posted as a sentinel at the great street door which alone
afforded the means of egress.
The appearance of the third gendarme settled the matter, for
a crowd of curious loungers was extended before him,
effectually blocking the entrance to the hotel. "They're
after me!" was Andrea's first thought. "The devil!" A pallor
overspread the young man's forehead, and he looked around
him with anxiety. His room, like all those on the same
floor, had but one outlet to the gallery in the sight of
everybody. "I am lost!" was his second thought; and, indeed,
for a man in Andrea's situation, an arrest meant the
assizes, trial, and death, -- death without mercy or delay.
For a moment he convulsively pressed his head within his
hands, and during that brief period he became nearly mad
with terror; but soon a ray of hope glimmered in the
multitude of thoughts which bewildered his mind, and a faint
smile played upon his white lips and pallid cheeks. He
looked around and saw the objects of his search upon the
chimney-piece; they were a pen, ink, and paper. With forced
composure he dipped the pen in the ink, and wrote the
following lines upon a sheet of paper: --
"I have no money to pay my bill, but I am not a dishonest
man; I leave behind me as a pledge this pin, worth ten times
the amount. I shall be excused for leaving at daybreak, for
I was ashamed."
He then drew the pin from his cravat and placed it on the
paper. This done, instead of leaving the door fastened, he
drew back the bolts and even placed the door ajar, as though
he had left the room, forgetting to close it, and slipping
into the chimney like a man accustomed to that kind of
gymnastic exercise, having effaced the marks of his feet
upon the floor, he commenced climbing the only opening which
afforded him the means of escape. At this precise time, the
first gendarme Andrea had noticed walked up-stairs, preceded
by the commissary of police, and supported by the second
gendarme who guarded the staircase and was himself
re-enforced by the one stationed at the door.
Andrea was indebted for this visit to the following
circumstances. At daybreak, the telegraphs were set at work
in all directions, and almost immediately the authorities in
every district had exerted their utmost endeavors to arrest
the murderer of Caderousse. Compiegne, that royal residence
and fortified town, is well furnished with authorities,
gendarmes, and commissaries of police; they therefore began
operations as soon as the telegraphic despatch arrived, and
the Bell and Bottle being the best-known hotel in the town,
they had naturally directed their first inquiries there.
Now, besides the reports of the sentinels guarding the Hotel
de Ville, which is next door to the Bell and Bottle, it had
been stated by others that a number of travellers had
arrived during the night. The sentinel who was relieved at
six o'clock in the morning, remembered perfectly that just
as he was taking his post a few minutes past four a young
man arrived on horseback, with a little boy before him. The
young man, having dismissed the boy and horse, knocked at
the door of the hotel, which was opened, and again closed
after his entrance. This late arrival had attracted much
suspicion, and the young man being no other than Andrea, the
commissary and gendarme, who was a brigadier, directed their
steps towards his room.
They found the door ajar. "Oh, ho," said the brigadier, who
thoroughly understood the trick; "a bad sign to find the
door open! I would rather find it triply bolted." And,
indeed, the little note and pin upon the table confirmed, or
rather corroborated, the sad truth. Andrea had fled. We say
corroborated, because the brigadier was too experienced to
be convinced by a single proof. He glanced around, looked in
the bed, shook the curtains, opened the closets, and finally
stopped at the chimney. Andrea had taken the precaution to
leave no traces of his feet in the ashes, but still it was
an outlet, and in this light was not to be passed over
without serious investigation.
The brigadier sent for some sticks and straw, and having
filled the chimney with them, set a light to it. The fire
crackled, and the smoke ascended like the dull vapor from a
volcano; but still no prisoner fell down, as they expected.
The fact was, that Andrea, at war with society ever since
his youth, was quite as deep as a gendarme, even though he
were advanced to the rank of brigadier, and quite prepared
for the fire, he had climbed out on the roof and was
crouching down against the chimney-pots. At one time he
thought he was saved, for he heard the brigadier exclaim in
a loud voice, to the two gendarmes, "He is not here!" But
venturing to peep, he perceived that the latter, instead of
retiring, as might have been reasonably expected upon this
announcement, were watching with increased attention.
It was now his turn to look about him; the Hotel de Ville, a
massive sixteenth century building, was on his right; any
one could descend from the openings in the tower, and
examine every corner of the roof below, and Andrea expected
momentarily to see the head of a gendarme appear at one of
these openings. If once discovered, he knew he would be
lost, for the roof afforded no chance of escape; he
therefore resolved to descend, not through the same chimney
by which he had come up, but by a similar one conducting to
another room. He looked around for a chimney from which no
smoke issued, and having reached it, he disappeared through
the orifice without being seen by any one. At the same
minute, one of the little windows of the Hotel de Ville was
thrown open, and the head of a gendarme appeared. For an
instant it remained motionless as one of the stone
decorations of the building, then after a long sigh of
disappointment the head disappeared. The brigadier, calm and
dignified as the law he represented, passed through the
crowd, without answering the thousand questions addressed to
him, and re-entered the hotel.
"Well?" asked the two gendarmes.
"Well, my boys," said the brigadier, "the brigand must
really have escaped early this morning; but we will send to
the Villers-Coterets and Noyon roads, and search the forest,
when we shall catch him, no doubt." The honorable
functionary had scarcely expressed himself thus, in that
intonation which is peculiar to brigadiers of the
gendarmerie, when a loud scream, accompanied by the violent
ringing of a bell, resounded through the court of the hotel.
"Ah, what is that?" cried the brigadier.
"Some traveller seems impatient," said the host. "What
number was it that rang?"
"Run, waiter!" At this moment the screams and ringing were
redoubled. "Ah," said the brigadier, stopping the servant,
"the person who is ringing appears to want something more
than a waiter; we will attend upon him with a gendarme. Who
occupies Number 3?"
"The little fellow who arrived last night in a post-chaise
with his sister, and who asked for an apartment with two
beds." The bell here rang for the third time, with another
shriek of anguish.
"Follow me, Mr. Commissary!" said the brigadier; "tread in
"Wait an instant," said the host; "Number 3 has two
staircases, -- inside and outside."
"Good," said the brigadier. "I will take charge of the
inside one. Are the carbines loaded?"
"Well, you guard the exterior, and if he attempts to fly,
fire upon him; he must be a great criminal, from what the
The brigadier, followed by the commissary, disappeared by
the inside staircase, accompanied by the noise which his
assertions respecting Andrea had excited in the crowd. This
is what had happened. Andrea had very cleverly managed to
descend two-thirds of the chimney, but then his foot
slipped, and notwithstanding his endeavors, he came into the
room with more speed and noise than he intended. It would
have signified little had the room been empty, but
unfortunately it was occupied. Two ladies, sleeping in one
bed, were awakened by the noise, and fixing their eyes upon
the spot whence the sound proceeded, they saw a man. One of
these ladies, the fair one, uttered those terrible shrieks
which resounded through the house, while the other, rushing
to the bell-rope, rang with all her strength. Andrea, as we
can see, was surrounded by misfortune.
"For pity's sake," he cried, pale and bewildered, without
seeing whom he was addressing, -- "for pity's sake do not
call assistance! Save me! -- I will not harm you."
"Andrea, the murderer!" cried one of the ladies.
"Eugenie! Mademoiselle Danglars!" exclaimed Andrea,
"Help, help!" cried Mademoiselle d'Armilly, taking the bell
from her companion's hand, and ringing it yet more
violently. "Save me, I am pursued!" said Andrea, clasping
his hands. "For pity, for mercy's sake do not deliver me
"It is too late, they are coming," said Eugenie.
"Well, conceal me somewhere; you can say you were needlessly
alarmed; you can turn their suspicions and save my life!"
The two ladies, pressing closely to one another, and drawing
the bedclothes tightly around them, remained silent to this
supplicating voice, repugnance and fear taking possession of
"Well, be it so," at length said Eugenie; "return by the
same road you came, and we will say nothing about you,
"Here he is, here he is!" cried a voice from the landing;
"here he is! I see him!" The brigadier had put his eye to
the keyhole, and had discovered Andrea in a posture of
entreaty. A violent blow from the butt end of the musket
burst open the lock, two more forced out the bolts, and the
broken door fell in. Andrea ran to the other door, leading
to the gallery, ready to rush out; but he was stopped short,
and he stood with his body a little thrown back, pale, and
with the useless knife in his clinched hand.
"Fly, then!" cried Mademoiselle d'Armilly, whose pity
returned as her fears diminished; "fly!"
"Or kill yourself!" said Eugenie (in a tone which a Vestal
in the amphitheatre would have used, when urging the
victorious gladiator to finish his vanquished adversary).
Andrea shuddered, and looked on the young girl with an
expression which proved how little he understood such
ferocious honor. "Kill myself?" he cried, throwing down his
knife; "why should I do so?"
"Why, you said," answered Mademoiselle Danglars, "that you
would be condemned to die like the worst criminals."
"Bah," said Cavalcanti, crossing his arms, "one has
The brigadier advanced to him, sword in hand. "Come, come,"
said Andrea, "sheathe your sword, my fine fellow; there is
no occasion to make such a fuss, since I give myself up;"
and he held out his hands to be manacled. The girls looked
with horror upon this shameful metamorphosis, the man of the
world shaking off his covering and appearing as a
galley-slave. Andrea turned towards them, and with an
impertinent smile asked, -- "Have you any message for your
father, Mademoiselle Danglars, for in all probability I
shall return to Paris?"
Eugenie covered her face with her hands. "Oh, ho!" said
Andrea, "you need not be ashamed, even though you did post
after me. Was I not nearly your husband?"
And with this raillery Andrea went out, leaving the two
girls a prey to their own feelings of shame, and to the
comments of the crowd. An hour after they stepped into their
calash, both dressed in feminine attire. The gate of the
hotel had been closed to screen them from sight, but they
were forced, when the door was open, to pass through a
throng of curious glances and whispering voices. Eugenie
closed her eyes; but though she could not see, she could
hear, and the sneers of the crowd reached her in the
carriage. "Oh, why is not the world a wilderness?" she
exclaimed, throwing herself into the arms of Mademoiselle
d'Armilly, her eyes sparkling with the same kind of rage
which made Nero wish that the Roman world had but one neck,
that he might sever it at a single blow. The next day they
stopped at the Hotel de Flandre, at Brussels. The same
evening Andrea was incarcerated in the Conciergerie.