having in its infinite wanderings run up against various，
But Arthur's laughter almost proved infectious when Marcasse said to me with incomparable gravity:
"Monsieur Bernard, I have had the honour of searching for you for a long time."
"For a long time, in truth, my good Marcasse," I replied, as I shook my old friend's hand with delight. "But, tell me by what strange power I have been lucky enough to draw you hither. In the old days you passed for a sorcerer; is it possible that I have become one too without knowing it?"
"I will explain all that, my dear general," answered Marcasse, who was apparently dazzled by my captain's uniform. "If you will allow me to accompany you I will tell you many things--many things!"
On hearing Marcasse repeat his words in a low voice, as if furnishing an echo for himself, a habit which only a minute before I was in the act of imitating, Arthur burst out laughing again. Marcasse turned toward him and after surveying him intently bowed with imperturbable gravity. Arthur, suddenly recovering his serious mood, rose and, with comic dignity, bowed in return almost to the ground.
We returned to the camp together. On the way Marcasse told me his story in that brief style of his, which, as it forced his hearer to ask a thousand wearisome questions, far from simplifying his narrative, made it extraordinarily complicated. It afforded Arthur great amusement; but as you would not derive the same pleasure from listening to an exact reproduction of this interminable dialogue, I will limit myself to telling you how Marcasse had come to leave his country and his friends, in order to give the American cause the help of his sword.
M. de la Marche happened to be setting out for America at the very time when Marcasse came to his castle in Berry for a week, to make his annual round among the beams and joists in the barns. The inmates of the chateau, in their excitement at the count's departure, indulged in wonderful commentaries on that far country, so full of dangers and marvels, from which, according to the village wiseacres, no man ever returned without a vast fortune, and so many gold and silver ingots that he needed ten ships to carry them all. Now, under his icy exterior, Don Marcasse, like some hyperborean volcano, concealed a glowing imagination, a passionate love of the marvellous. Accustomed to live in a state of equilibrium on narrow beams in evidently loftier regions than other men, and not insensible to the glory of astounding the bystanders every day by the calm daring of his acrobatic movements, he let himself be fired by these pictures of Eldorado; and his dreams were the more extravagant because, as usual, he unbosomed himself to no one. M. de la Marche, therefore, was very much surprised when, on the eve of his departure, Marcasse presented himself, and proposed to accompany him to America as his valet. In vain did M. de la Marche remind him that he was very old to abandon his calling and run the risks of a new kind of life. Marcasse displayed so much firmness that in the end he gained his point. Various reasons led M. de la Marche to consent to the strange request. He had resolved to take with him a servant older still than the weasel-hunter, a man who was accompanying him only with great reluctance. But this man enjoyed his entire confidence, a favour which M. de la Marche was very slow to grant, since he was only able to keep up the outward show of a man of quality, and wished to be served faithfully, and with economy and prudence. He knew, however, that Marcasse was scrupulously honest, and even singularly unselfish; for there was something of Don Quixote in the man's soul as well as in his appearance. He had found in some ruins a sort of treasure-trove, that is to say, an earthenware jar containing a sum of about ten thousand francs in old gold and silver coins; and not only had he handed it over to the owner of the ruins, whom he might easily have deceived, but further he had refused to accept any reward, declaring emphatically in his abbreviated jargon, "honesty would die selling itself."
Marcasse's economy, his discretion, his punctuality, seemed likely to make him a valuable man, if he could be trained to put these qualities at the service of others. The one thing to be feared was that he might not be able to accustom himself to his loss of independence. However, M. de la Marche thought that, before M. de Ternay's squadron sailed, he would have time to test his new squire sufficiently.
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