我终于下定决心写水爷了 但是……我觉得我没梗 😨
The kitchens of the château were busy.
The gambling tables demanded a constant supply of drinks and petit four【注1】. Jean Rollet, thechef, and his staff would be working all night until the very last guest hadleft or retired. The arrival of two more in the kitchen went almost unnoticedexcept as extra pairs of hands to help.
“Hey, you there,” a valetshouted at Yann,
“the viscount needs this traytaken up to him at once.”
Yann shook his head. “We are the entertainers, hired for the count’sshow.”
The valet threw up his hands in disgust. “What are you doing in here,then?”
Yann felt bewildered. He had never been in such a large kitchen before,with servants running backward and forward, the chef swearing and stamping hisfoot, bells ringing, the noise, the smells, the heat. It was like a furnace.
Têtu started to sway. He was going to fall over if he didn’t sit down.Yann grabbed a stool.
“No you don’t,” said one ofthe cooks, snatching it back and lifting her wooden spoon as if it were a weapon.“Away with you, Gypsies.”
“We have to get back toParis.”
“Well, what are you doingasking me? Do I look as if I have a magic carpet?” Then, seeing the state of Têtu,she softened. “You’d better go and ask the coachmen in there.”
Yann helped Têtu through the kitchen to a small antechamber where agroup of men were sitting at a table.
“My friend needs to sit down,”said Yann, and one of the men pulled out a chair for him.
“He don’t look too perky.What’s wrong with him?”
“We need help. Are any of youParis-bound tonight?”
“Not if I can help it.” saidone of the men.
“With luck, I’ll be playingcards till dawn and then some.”
Suddenly Yann felt as if he had hit a wall. Just when there seemed hopethat they might escape, all was lost. Time was slipping away; he knew it wouldnot be long before the count found out about the secret passages.
“Here,” said a man with ashining bald head, pouring some wine into a glass. “Give this to Titch. Helooks as if he could do with it.”
“Thank you,” said Yann,helping Têtu with the wine.
Slowly he began to look more like his old self.
“Has he always been thatsmall, or will he grow?” asked the bald-headed man, laughing.
If Yann had been given a gold coin every time he had heard Têtuinsulted they would be rich by now.
Although it riled him, he knew better than to react.
A footman opened the door and poked his head around. “The Viscomtess deLisle will be staying.”
“Good to know it,” said hercoachman. “First sensible thing the old bat’s done in ages.”
“You think so?” laughed thefootman. “Well, she wants her pet monkey brought back from Paris. She thinksit’ll be lonely. It’s not your night, Dufort, my old friend.”
“Hasn’t she seen the snowoutside?” said Dufort, gesturing toward the window.
“That’s why she wants hermonkey.”
“Oh well,” sighed Dufort,"here we go again. I’ll tell you this much,” he muttered into the lastdregs of his wine, “one day I’ll be my own master. No more of this come here,go there, lucky-to-have-a-job nonsense.”
All the men laughed. “You know what you can do?” said the bald-headedone. “Write all your grievances out and send them to the king.”
“That’s a good one,” said another,“Maybe the king will be able to get her to behave.”
Everyone burst out laughing, everyone except Dufort, who looked furiousas he pulled on his heavy coat, loath to be leaving the warmth and comfort ofthe kitchens.
“To make matters worse, theroads aren’t safe these days, what with all the bandits and brigands,” he grumbled.
Yann seized his chance. “We will keep you company.”
“What, take a couple ofGypsies like you? Forget it.”
“Wou—Would moneychange your mind?” asked Yann.
“Would the man in the moongiving me a silver eye make me think different? Of course it would.”
As if from thin air, Yann conjured up five coins and handed one toDufort. He looked at it carefully, then put it in his mouth and gave it a good biteto check its worth. He didn’t know what to make of this strange pair, thestreet urchin and the little fellow with the girly, squeaky voice.
“Where did you get this kindof money?” he said.
“We were brought here fromParis to entertain the guests. We were paid handsomely for our trouble,” saidTêtu.
“Then where’s your driver,Titch?”
“We can’t find him. He musthave left earlier to avoid the worst of the weather.”
Yann knew that Dufort was wavering between doubt and the certainty ofthe
coin that he held in his hand. “I’ll give you this now and as muchagain when we reach the city. Is that fair?”
“All right,” said Dufortreluctantly, “as long as you don’t tell anyone. The old bat’s most particularabout who is allowed in her carriage. Monkeys yes, dwarfs and dogs no.”
The coachman led the way across the yard to the carriage and let Têtuin.
“If you don’t mind, I’d likethe boy to ride with me and keep an eye out for thieves. When we’re near Paris,I’ll lock you both inside. Don’t want the riffraff trying to hitch a ride, dowe?”
He handed Yann a heavy coat to wear. It nearly drowned him.
It was a small carriage with two young horses to pull it, both of whomseemed high-strung and reluctant to leave the warmth of the stable. Finally,with much urging, they made their way down the avenue of trees whose brancheswere full of little lights that twinkled like stars. Beyond the estate lay avast black abyss, waiting to swallow them up.
“I hate driving at night,”said Dufort miserably, his breath coming out of him in a foggy mist. “It givesme the creeps.”
“Ah, what’s that?” Heflinched as the sky above the château erupted with the sound of fireworks. Theyexploded into the darkness, painting patterns of light in the shape of stars,serpents, comets, and chrysanthemums. It was an astounding sight in this landscapeof ice and snow.
Terrified by the noise, the horses reared up. Dufort, lost control ofthe reins, grabbing at the sides of the carriage to stop himself from beingthrown to the ground. The horses, now wild with fear, were galloping. Up aheadthe road turned, and Yann could see that at this speed the coach would skid onthe ice. With difficulty he scrambled down from the coachman’s seat.
“You’re mad!” yelled Dufort,as with one measured leap Yann managed to mount the first horse. Holding on toits neck for all he was worth, he leaned forward and whispered into itspinned-back ears. At the sound of his soft voice both horses became calmer and sloweddown until they finally came to a halt, steam rising from their glossy coats. Yannclimbed down and stroked their muzzles, talking to them.
“You’re a brave one and nomistake,” said Dufort, wiping the sweat from his forehead. “I thought I was a gonerback there. What did you say to them?”
Yann shrugged, looking back to see the last of the fireworks.
“The only other person I’veseen talk to horses like that was a Gypsy man. I had a feeling you two had Gypsyblood.”
Yann wasn’t listening. He was wondering if Sido had been allowed to seethe fireworks, or if she was still locked in her chamber. He smiled as hestared at the road in front of him. The thought of how angry the count would beto discover that the purse and the red necklace were missing warmed him.
Dufort shivered. “I always think them forests are full of eyes, allwatching and waiting.” He laughed. “Tell you this, boy, I’ll be glad when I seethe lights of Paris.”
Count Kalliovski, returning to his chamber in the early hours of themorning, looked into the heart of the fire. It had been a good night on thegaming tables. The little black leather-bound notebook that he privately calledthe Book of Tears was full of IOUs with trembling signatures of desperate soulslonging to borrow more, sure that their luck would change.
He had bought himself more foolish-minded men and women, who would soonbe asked to pay him back with interest. He put the Book of Tears on the desk.It was only then that he noticed the absence of the red necklace. A cold furyovertook him. He went over to the bed, felt in the drapes for the purse, andcursed out loud when he found it gone.
With rising anger he summoned Milkeye.
“Where are they?”
“We’re still looking,master.”
“Why haven’t you found them?”
“We did not know there were passagesbehind the walls.”
“Show me,” said the countcoldly.
Milkeye opened the hidden door.
The count turned his icy gaze upon his servant, and pinned him upagainst the wall.
“I made you and I can destroyyou, and I will. I want both of them. Do you understand?”
注1：petit four：一种小甜食，这是个法文名字，意思是“小烤箱”，之所以叫这个名字可能是最早的petit four是在主烤箱旁边的小烤箱烤制的。如图：
Monsieur Aulard, the theater manager, was not a morning person. The previousnight he had been out drinking with some actors. Now, red-faced and snoring, hewas fast asleep.
It took him a few minutes to realize that theterrible banging sound was not coming from the inside of his head. The knockingjust kept on, getting louder and more urgent. Finally, barefoot and shivering,Monsieur Aulard dragged himself out of his warm bed. His head felt like arotten apple. The source of the noise was coming from the front door. Hefumbled with the lock until finally he managed to open it. Two Yanns and twoTêtus floated before him. They were swaying back and forth, overlapping eachother.
Something was missing from this unsettling picture.
Têtu walked into the apartment, followed by Yann. Even half awake andwith a thumping headache, Monsieur Aulard could see that Têtu was in a bad way.
“My dear friend, are youunwell?” He looked back at the door, expecting to see Topolain come panting up thestairs behind.
“Topolain’s dead,” said Têtu witha sob.
“Dead?” repeated MonsieurAulard. “How can he be dead?”
“A bullet,” said Têtu, hisface collapsing as tears appeared in his watery red eyes. “He was shot like a dog.”
“No, no, no! Mort bleu! Yann,speak to me, tell me this is a nightmare!” He grabbed hold of the boy’s flimsycoat so that the sleeve came away with an unforgiving ripping sound.
“Count Kalliovski shot him,”said Yann.
“But why?” Monsieur Aulard’s teethwere beginning to chatter. He sat down heavily on an armchair whose horsehairinsides were spilling out. It creaked alarmingly under the weight of hishangover.
“The trick must have gonewrong. It must have been an accident.”
“It was no accident,” saidTêtu. “The count tampered with the pistol.”
“But why would CountKalliovski murder a mere magician?” It was the question Yann had been askinghimself all the way back to Paris.
"Because,” said Têtu wearily, “Topolain recognized Kalliovski, andinstead of keeping quiet he let his tongue get the better of him. Topolain knewhim from a long time ago, when he was called by another name.”
Yann could see that if Kalliovski was a fraud he would want no oneknowing it. Still, Têtu’s explanation raised more questions than it answered.Yann put a half-frozen pan of wine on the fire to boil, searched through themess to find some glasses, and cleared the table as Têtu took a loaf from outof his jacket, where it sat before them like a golden brown sun.
At the sight of it, Monsieur Aulard’s attention wavered from hisimmediate grief. “Where did you get that?” he asked.
“From the Marquis deVilleduval’s kitchen.” Têtu broke off a piece and handed it to him.
The hot wine and bread worked their magic on Monsieur Aulard. With ahuge sigh he went to get dressed, reappearing with his wig placed lopsidedly onhis head, his waistcoat buttons done up wrong, and his shirt hanging out.
“I have a full house, alltickets sold and no performer!”
“You’ll have to find someoneelse,” said Têtu.
“Mort bleu,” said MonsieurAulard. “I tell you, if I weren’t so kindhearted, I would have you two thrown ontothe streets for your failure to protect Topolain. Why, he was one of thegreatest magicians France has ever seen!” He wiped his eyes and, putting on hisheavy outer coat and muffler, opened the front door, letting in a blast of icywind from the stone stairwell.
“You can’t stay here, youknow.”
"Don’t worry, we’ll soon be gone,” said Têtu. “Count Kalliovski isafter us. We had trouble getting out of the château alive.”
Monsieur Aulard stopped his tracks and turned around，“Mort bleu! Youknow who he is too, don’t you?”
“Yes, for my sins, I do.”
“Who is he, then?”
“That,” said Têtu, closinghis eyes, “would not be worth my life to tell you.”
Monsieur Aulard arrived at the theater to make inquiries to see whocould fill Topolain’s place for the evening performance. He sat at his desk andopened the bottom drawer, where he found a none-too-clean glass and a bottle ofwine. He pulled out the cork and poured himself a drink. It tasted good. Heclosed his eyes, taking another sip.
He opened his eyes with a start. There, sitting in the chair beforehim, was Count Kalliovski. It was as if the devil himself had appeared fromnowhere.
The shock made him choke on his wine, "Mort bleu, you gave me thefright of my life, I didn’t hear you, monsieur!”
“Where are they?” demandedthe count.
“Where are who?” saidMonsieur Aulard, hurriedly refilling his glass.
The count’s hand in its black leather glove moved effortlessly towardthe stem. “You know very well who I am after. The boy and the dwarf.”
“I know no such thing,” saidMonsieur Aulard, trying to summon up much-needed indignation. “Perhaps youwould be kind enough to tell me where Topolain is.” “Topolain is dead. I’llwager you’ve been told as much. It was I who pulled the trigger. A most unfortunateaccident,” said the count.
Monsieur Aulard felt an icy trickle of sweat creep down his back.
“You will tell me where theyare hiding. I know you know where they are,” said the count, standing up.
“I assure you I do not.” saidMonsieur Aulard. Each word sounded shakier than the last.
“You have until the curtaingoes up at seven to tell me,” said the count. “If you fail”—here he gave a mean,thin-lipped smile—“I hope for your sake that you have made peace with yourMaker.”
The door closed behind him. Poor Monsieur Aulard waited to make surethat he had gone. Then, grabbing hold of the bottle, he drank what was left.
The lights and smoky warmth of Moet’s Tavern seemed like a slice ofheaven in this frozen city. As usual, it was full of hot-headed youths and men arguingover the state of the kingdom. Têtu and Yann found a table tucked away in thecorner out of sight. And ordered the dish of the day. Only when Têtu’s fingersfinally felt that they belonged to him again did he begin to sew the sleeve backonto the boy’s coat.
Yann felt not only that his coat had come apart but that his world hadbeen torn to pieces. Everything had changed the minute the pistol had gone off,killing Topolain.
What he knew about the past amounted to no more than a few facts,bright beads from an unthreaded necklace, reluctantly given to him by Têtu, whorefused to join them together. Yann had no father that he knew of; his motherhad been a dancer in a circus, and had died soon after he was born; Margoza wasthe name of a village of which Têtu had fond memories. His survival had beendue to Têtu, and Têtu alone.
What he knew about the dwarf was not much more. He had once been ajester to a king; which king, he wouldn’t say. He had traveled the world with adancing bear. All that had happened a long time before he had found himselfwith a baby to care for. Never once had he mentioned Count Kalliovski, or whohe might be. So why had the count tampered with the pistol? What exactly was itthat Topolain and Têtu knew?
The more Yann thought about it, the more certain he was that there wasone question which if answered truthfully, might string together all the beadson the necklace.
“Who is Count Kalliovski?”
Têtu shrugged his shoulders.
“One day I will tell you,” hesaid finally, cutting the thread with his teeth. He shook out the coat and handedit back to Yann.
“I’m old enough to know rightaway.”
“Yannick, you know I love you as if you were my son. Don’t you trustme?”
“Then believe me, I willanswer all your questions, but not now. Now is not the time. Now is not the place.”
Three tables away sat a group of young men, one of whom had a nose thatlooked as if it had been in an argument with a fist. His skin was pockmarkedand he was talking loudly about the rights of citizens. He had no doubt drunkmore than a skinful of wine, for he kept standing up and shouting out:“Citizens, the wind is changing! The old regime will be blown away. All is dust,all is dust!”
His friends quickly pulled him back down onto his seat.
Yann had been watching all this intently and did not at first noticeTêtu wrapping his muffler about him and putting on his hat.
“Where are you going?”
“I have someone to see. I’llbe back in a couple of hours. You are to wait here for me. If Milkeye comes lookingfor us, make yourself scarce.”
Têtu set off purposefully, acrossthe Pont Marie toward the left bank.
He knew that he had to get the boy out of Paris. The only hope of doingso lay with a friend of his, the English banker Charles Cordell. He walked on,remembering the night all those years ago at the theater in Le Havre, where hehad first met Cordell. The two of them had struck up an unlikely friendship.Their mutual interest, to begin with at least, was magic, for Cordell fanciedhimself something of an amateur conjurer.
Cordell soon realized that prejudice made people underestimate thedwarf. Têtu was not taken seriously, so he was told things other men would neverhave heard. Ladies confided in him, young men spouted their views. The dwarflistened to the gossip of the coffeehouses, the prittle-prattle of the salons, andthe oratory of the clubs. Cordell, like Têtu, knew that these places were wherethe real intrigue lay.
The two would meet regularly at the Café Royal, where Têtu would tellCordell all he had heard and seen. This information gave the banker a cleareridea of what was going on and how best to advise his clients.
The snow was still falling as Têtu made his way toward the rue duDragon, with its grand, imposing houses. He stood waiting for what felt like alifetime before a housekeeper came hurrying out, carrying a lantern.“Is MonsieurCordell in? I need to see him urgently. Will you say that Têtu is here?”
The housekeeper went inside, closing the door behind her. Têtu stood waiting,stamping his feet and blowing on his frozen hands. The door opened again and hewas shown into the hall. His teeth were chattering as the housekeeper took hiscoat, hat, and muffler. He stamped the rest off his shoes as he heard the doorabove him open, and looked up the stairwell at Charles Cordell.
Têtu had never been more pleased to see his friend’s grave,bespectacled face.“Why, my dear friend, youlook half frozen,” said Cordell, coming forward with his hand outstretched.
“I need your help. I am in agreat deal of trouble,” said Têtu. And before he had even been taken into theelegant drawing room he had told Cordell the story of Topolain’s death.
“He is a great loss,” saidCordell, taking Têtu over to the fire and bringing out a bottle of cognac. “So. . .Kalliovski . . .”
Têtu nodded. “I have been a complete idiot,” he said angrily. “I knewhe was a master of disguise, yet I too was nearly taken in by him. Do you knowwhat gave him away? His hands, his large, ugly hands.”
He made a sound that could have been mistaken for a laugh, thoughCordell heard it as pent-up fury.
“May I ask why you are soafraid of Kalliovski?”
“Sometimes you meet someoneyou know is touched by evil. Kalliovski is such a man. We met when Topolain andI were working in St. Petersburg, where the count made his money by cheating atthe card tables. He was interested in us because of the magic; we didn’t muchlike him, stayed out of his way. But he became obsessed with a friend of ours,a young dancer. In the end, in fear of her life, she ran away from him and wewent with her. The idea was that we would protect her, for we had seen what hewas like when he didn’t get what he wanted.”
“He followed us to France. Hefound us, and he killed her with his bare hands. I could do nothing to saveher. After that he disappeared. I first heard the name Kalliovski shortly afterI met you, but I had no inkling that it was the same man. The Count was amysterious figure, who claimed to be on the verge of creating an automaton thatcould pass as a human. From all accounts, he was a man who would sell his soulto the devil to learn the secret of creating life.”
“My dear friend,” saidCordell, “it seems to me that you have unwittingly turned over a stone andfound there a deadly creature.”
“There is one other thing youshould know,” said Têtu, and he pulled from his pocket the red necklace.“Yann found thisin Kalliovski’s room.” He handed Cordell the thin red ribbon with seven crimsongarnets set into it like drops of blood.
“If this were to be wornround the neck,” said Cordell, examining it, “it would look as if your throat hadbeen cut.”
“Precisely,” said Têtu. “Theonly people who have ever been found wearing such a thing, so I have been told,are dead. I am sure that Kalliovski is in some way involved. This being foundin his chamber proves it.”
“Têtu, my dear friend. What canI do to help?”
“I need to disappear. I can’ttake the boy with me, it would be impossible. I want him out of the way, for a whileat least. Just a few months, that’s all, then he can come back.”
“I am sure my colleague inLondon, Henry Laxton, wouldn’t mind looking after the boy until things are backto normal. Coincidentally, Laxton has some knowledge of Kalliovski,” saidCordell, refilling Têtu’s glass. “Laxton has a French wife, whose sister was marriedto the Marquis de Villeduval. Some years ago, when Mrs. Laxton’s sister waskilled in an accident, Laxton went to Normandy, to the château of the Villeduvals.It was very odd. The marquis appeared to have no interest in his wife’s death,or in what would happen to their only daughter, Sido.”
“We met the marquis’sdaughter,” said Têtu. “She helped us escape.”
“What small circles we alltravel in. It was Kalliovski who stopped Henry Laxton from bringing Sido backto London to be brought up by his wife. The marquis didn’t care one way oranother, yet for some peculiar reason Kalliovski did.” Cordell handed Têtu an envelope.“Now, here is enough money to pay for your expenses.”
“No, I don’t need it.”
“My dear friend, take it. Iknow the proprietor at the Hôtel d’Angleterre, a Madame Saltaire. You’ll besafe there. I take it that the boy has no passport?”
“Then I will have to get thatorganized. You must stay in your room until you hear from me. By the way, howold is the boy?”
“Fourteen. He is like a sonto me. I love him as if he were my own flesh and blood.”
Charles Cordell smiled. “I will let Henry Laxton know to expect him.”
The two men shook hands.
Monsieur Aulard returned to the theater just before seven to be toldthat he had had no visitors and that no one had asked after him. He went up thestairs to his office and opened the door. The room was dark.
Why had no one bothered to light the lamp? He thought irritably,fumbling for the tinderbox. He stumbled, steadying himself on his desk. In thedark he could see an unfamiliar shape.
“Who’s there?” he called.
He lit the wick. Slowly and terribly, the dead body of Topolain was revealed,sitting in his chair. Around his neck was a thin line of dried beads of blood.In his lap was the sawn-off head of the Pierrot, its glass eyes glinting in thelamplight.
Monsieur Aulard’s scream could be heard all the way through the theaterand out on the rue du Temple.
Yann had waited in Moet’s Tavern until it had grown dark. He wasbeginning to think that Têtu was never coming back when, to his great relief,he saw the dwarf’s small shape push and jostle his way to where he was sitting.
“Everything is arranged,”said Têtu. “Come, we must get out of here.”
They walked down a tangle of narrow streets.“Where are wegoing?” asked Yann.
“To a hotel. We’ll stay therefor the night, and then you’ll get the coach to Calais and go to London,” said Têtu.
“London!” said Yann, stunned.
“Come on, keep up.” Têtu wasnow walking as fast as his legs would allow him. “The sooner we’re off thesestreets the better.”
The entrance to the Hôtel d’Angleterre was a wooden door that openedinto a courtyard. Here Têtu, as Cordell had suggested, took a room for thenight.
“Why are we going to London?”
“Not we; you. You are goingto London Paris is not safe. Kalliovski wants us bothdead. I can disappear—”
Yann started to interrupt.
“Wait, wait. Before you sayanything, listen. I have a great friend, an English banker called Charles Cordell.He has agreed to send you to London and put you in the care of his partnerHenry Laxton”
“I’m not leaving you.”
Têtu’s face looked as hard as ever Yann had seen it.“Listen to me. Youare not a baby. It will only be for a few months. You will do this and that isthe end of it.”
Yann was too exhausted to argue any more, too angry to sleep. He layfacedown on the bed, furious, only to find that when he woke up it was morning.
Yann sat up and said, “I still don’t understand why I have to go away.”
“I’m going to explain. Willyou listen, or are you going to block up your ears with anger, so that youwon’t hear anything but your own thunder?”
“You’ve often asked me aboutyour mother, and now I will tell you,” said Têtu. “Your mother loved you dearly.She wanted no harm to come to you, and I promised her I would keep your Gypsyorigins quiet.”
"Gypsy!” said Yann. It was a word had followed them wherever theywent . . . a swearword, a figure of speech, an insult. It confirmed what healready knew, that he and Têtu were misfits, outcasts living on the edges ofsociety. He had never imagined it to be the truth. He and Têtu spoke Romany fortheir own protection, Têtu had told him, because few people understood it orknew where it came from. Now he could see that these roots went far deeper thanhe had ever thought, and he wished with all his heart that it were not so.
“Yannick, we are an ancientand noble people,” said Têtu. “Take from this what is good, and learn from it.I regret that you couldn’t grow up in a Gypsy world where you would have knownour ways and secrets.”
“I’ve asked you so often ifwe were Gypsies, and you’ve always shrugged your shoulders and said no,” saidYann.
“It was for your own safety.You know there is a price on every Gypsy’s head. The gallows and the huntsman’sgun wait for us.”
The seriousness of what Têtu was saying took away all Yann’s anger.Maybe this explained why they were not like other people. Maybe it at lastexplained why he could read minds and see into the future.
Yann sat down on the edge of the bed. “Go on.”
“Your mother was called Anis,and she was beautiful. She had your eyes, dark as ebony and deep as a well.When I met her at the circus in St. Petersburg I knew straightaway that she wasRomany, like me. Anis’s mother was the keeper of the arts of sorcery among hertribe. She had extraordinary powers. She could move objects without touchingthem. Her daughter could do it too.”
“And so can you.”
“All objects have threads of light coming from them. If you can seethis light, then you can become a master, able to move things at your own will.Think, Yann, what power that would give you.”
“Is that how you work thePierrot? Is it? Tell me.”
Têtu said nothing.
“All right,” said Yann. “Ifyou won’t answer that, tell me how my mother ended up in a circus.”
“Something terrible happened.It was Anis’s wedding day. She was fourteen and the boy was sixteen. Shebelieved that they were one soul divided into two bodies, and that only whenthey were together were they whole. The ceremony started at daybreak round the campfire,when the marriage was sealed with a cut made on the bride’s right wrist and thegroom’s left wrist; then their hands were bound together and they took an oathto free one another when love had left their hearts. There was singing anddancing to celebrate—and then the huntsmen came to kill the Gypsies. Anis’s mothersaw them sitting on their fine horses watching, waiting. She ordered her peopleto carry on dancing, shouting ‘Life is life!’ The Gypsies went on playing theirfiddles and singing their songs. They didn’t run. Until the shooting started.”
“But my mother managed to getaway,” said Yann.
“Anis said she never knewhow. It was as if her mother had made her invisible. But she remembered thelast thing her bridegroom said to her: ‘In death they will never catch us, mybeloved one. We are birds, we are free.’ She remembered nothing more. When shewoke up she found herself in the hollow of a tree. It was getting dark. Shestood in the middle of that clearing and saw them all hanging in the trees likesongbirds, colorful but lifeless: her bridegroom, her mother, every one of hertribe. Even the babies had been slaughtered. Blood dripped from the oak leaves.That day, her wedding day, she lost everything. She ran far away and joined acircus, never speaking of her Gypsy roots, though her dark hair and eyes toldthe truth of it. She never spoke of it, that is, until I met her.”
Yann was very quiet.
It was Têtu who broke the silence.
“It is nothing to be ashamedof. Far from it—it is a source of pride.”
“So——My fatherwas the Gypsy boy my mother married?”
“No, Yannick, he was killedsome seven years before you were born, but Anis believed you were a gift fromthe spirit of her one true love. We Gypsies know and
understand things that those attached to houses and land will nevercomprehend. We have outlived and outwitted great civilizations.”
“Do you think I haveinherited those gifts?”
“You are a natural. You havean exceptional talent already.”
There was a knock at the door. On Cordell’s instructions, MadameSaltaire had brought a package containing Yann’s travel documents and a passport.
“I’ll take you to the PalaisRoyal, to the coach.” said Têtu after she’d gone. “A man called Tull, anEnglishman, will escort you. We must hurry.”
Yann wanted to say again that he didn’t want to go. This time, though,he knew it was useless. Instead he made up his mind that in this new country hewould let no one know of his Gypsy origins. There he would have a fresh start.For once in his life he would be like everyone else.
As they left, Têtu had pulled Yann’s coat about him and buttoned it upas if he were a child. Yann had then an image of his mother, and a terriblesense of loss rushed in upon him.
“I can do that,” he said.
Still Têtu insisted, standing on tiptoe to put the muffler aroundYann’s neck and tucking it carefully into his coat.
The hall of the hotel was empty. Far too late did Yann sense the menacein the general silence. Têtu seized Yann’s hand. "Now. We’ll make a run forit.”
A shot rang out, and suddenly Yann realized he was dragging a deadweight behind him. He stopped and stared down at Têtu, who was lying crumpledin the snow.
“Get up! Get up!”
The dwarf’s eyes were closed. His skin had already started lookingtranslucent.
“No!” shouted Yann. “No!” Hetried with all his strength to lift Têtu.
At that moment he saw the red necklace lying there in the blood.
“It’s no good,” whispered thedwarf. “Go, run like the wind. Life is life, Yannick.”
Yann felt a cold leather-gloved hand come down hard on his shoulder.
“Got you!” said a voice asthe shadow of Milkeye fell over him. “There’s no escaping.”
Yann could feel the burning heat of the pistol butt as it was pushedinto the side of his head. Suddenly everything both slowed down and speeded up.Yann shut his eyes. In that second, when life and death hung in the balance,the trigger clicked, the hammer jammed.
Yann opened his eyes to see Milkeye staring ferociously at his weapon.
Madame Saltaire ran out of the hotel screaming, hands flying. Yanntwisted himself free, conscious of nothing but escape. He was already at thestreet door when the second bullet ricocheted off the stone wall. He ran asfast as he could, soon to be lost from view in the maze of streets.
Near exhausted, he stopped, and checking that no one was following him,backtracked toward the Palais Royal.
A coach was waiting, its driver huddled against the icy wind in a greatcape, his groom beside him. The coach door opened and a man with an English accentasked, “Are you Yann Margoza? Where’s the gentleman who was supposed to bringyou here?”
“Too bad. Get in,” said theman. “There’s no time to lose.”
Stunned and grief-stricken, Yann climbed in. The man, the coach, allbecame a blur. He looked out of the window as the terrifying reality overwhelmedhim.
Topolain had performed the ultimate trick. He had taken with him Yann’sworld, the theater, the actors, the scenery—all vanished, all gone, in a wispof smoke from a pistol.
The coach rattled and shook. He could hear the horses snorting, theirbridles jangling; and he could hear too the unmistakable voice of Têtu as he whisperedto him, “Life is life.”
World famous however humble and polite like jade.
Through the Bright Eyes of his I have a glance of his beautiful mind.
Having knowing him for more than six years things changed and got better.
My love is to this great actor,also to this amazing son,husband and more importantly a father of two.
All those strong emotions had subsided and now I wish not only him but the Cumberbatchs to live a happy life.
Happy Birthday to Mr Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch
Samantha M sent her best wishes as we celebrate this be-loved man's 41st birthday.