“Look out for a little door with a portico-drive on about twenty yards beyond—and then stop close to the wall,” answered a squeaking voice, impatiently, and with an Italian accent.
“Here is a beggarly Dutchman, that will make me as savage as a bear?” muttered the angry Jehu to himself. Then he added: “Thousand thunders! I tell you that I can’t see. How the devil can I find out your little door?”
“Have you no sense? Follow the wall to the right, brush against it, and you will easily find the little door. It is next to No. 50. If you do not find it, you must be drunk,” answered the Italian, with increased bitterness.
The coachman only replied by swearing like a trooper, and whipping up his jaded horses. Then, keeping close to the wall, he strained his eyes in trying to read the numbers of the houses, by the aid of his carriage lamps.
After some moments, the coach again stopped. “I have passed No. 50, and here is a little door with a portico,” said the coachman. “Is that the one?”
“Yes,” said the voice. “Now go forward some twenty yards, and then stop.”
“Well! I never—”
“Then get down from your box, and give twice three knocks at the little door we have just passed—you understand me?—twice three knocks.”
“Is that all you give me to drink?” cried the exasperated coachman.
“When you have taken me back to the Faubourg Saint-Germain, where I live, you shall have something handsome, if you do but manage matters well.”
“Ha! now the Faubourg Saint-Germain! Only that little bit of distance!” said the driver, with repressed rage. “And I who have winded my horses, wanted to be on the boulevard by the time the play was out. Well, I’m blowed!” Then, putting a good face on his bad luck, and consoling himself with the thought of the promised drink-money, he resumed: “I am to give twice three knocks at the little door?”
“Yes; three knocks first—then pause—then three other knocks. Do you understand?”
“Tell the person who comes, that he is waited for, and bring him here to the coach.”
“The devil burn you!” said the coachman to himself, as he turned round on the box, and whipped up his horses, adding: “this crusty old Dutchman has something to do with Free-masons, or, perhaps, smugglers, seeing we are so near the gates. He deserves my giving him in charge, for bringing me all the way from the Rue de Vaugirard.”
At twenty steps beyond the little door, the coach again stopped, and the coachman descended from the box to execute the orders he had received. Going to the little door, he knocked three times; then paused, as he had been desired, and then knocked three times more. The clouds, which had hitherto been so thick as entirely to conceal the disk of the moon, just then withdrew sufficiently to afford a glimmering light, so that when the door opened at the signal, the coachman saw a middle-sized person issue from it, wrapped in a cloak, and wearing a colored cap.