List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v1, by Eugene Sue
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

taste, is divided into three parts, each presenting an important phase
in the life of the convert, surnamed "The Prophet."  In the first,
behold a long-bearded man, the hair almost white, with uncouth face, and
clad in reindeer skin, like the Siberian savage.  His black foreskin cap
is topped with a raven's head; his features express terror.  Bent
forward in his sledge, which half-a-dozen huge tawny dogs draw over the
snow, he is fleeing from the pursuit of a pack of foxes, wolves, and big
bears, whose gaping jaws, and formidable teeth, seem quite capable of
devouring man, sledge, and dogs, a hundred times over.  Beneath this
section, reads:


In the second picture, Morok, decently clad in a catechumen's white gown
kneels, with clasped hands, to a man who wears a white neckcloth, and
flowing black robe.  In a corner, a tall angel, of repulsive aspect,
holds a trumpet in one hand, and flourishes a flaming sword with the
other, while the words which follow flow out of his mouth, in red
letters on a black ground:


Thus, in the last compartment, the new convert proudly, boastfully, and
triumphantly parades himself in a flowing robe of blue; head up, left
arm akimbo, right hand outstretched, he seems to scare the wits out of a
multitude of lions, tigers, hyenas, and bears, who, with sheathed claws,
and masked teeth, crouch at his feet, awestricken, and submissive.

Under this, is the concluding moral:


Not far from this canvas are several parcels of halfpenny books,
likewise from the Friburg press, which relate by what an astounding
miracle Morok, the Idolater, acquired a supernatural power almost
divine, the moment he was converted--a power which the wildest animal
could not resist, and which was testified to every day by the lion
tamer's performances, "given less to display his courage than to show
his praise unto the Lord."

Through the trap-door which opens into the loft, reek up puffs of a
rank, sour, penetrating odor.  From time to time are heard sonorous
growls and deep breathings, followed by a dull sound, as of great bodies
stretching themselves heavily along the floor.

A man is alone in this loft.  It is Morok, the tamer of wild beasts,
surnamed the Prophet.

He is forty years old, of middle height, with lank limbs, and an
exceedingly spare frame; he is wrapped in a long, blood-red pelisse,
lined with black fur; his complexion, fair by nature is bronzed by the
wandering life he has led from childhood; his hair, of that dead yellow
peculiar to certain races of the Polar countries, falls straight and
stiff down his shoulders; and his thin, sharp, hooked nose, and
prominent cheek-bones, surmount a long beard, bleached almost to
whiteness.  Peculiarly marking the physiognomy of this man is the wide-
open eye, with its tawny pupil ever encircled by a rim of white.  This
fixed, extraordinary look, exercises a real fascination over animals--
which, however, does not prevent the Prophet from also employing, to
tame them, the terrible arsenal around him.

Seated at a table, he has just opened the false bottom of a box, filled
with chaplets and other toys, for the use of the devout.  Beneath this
false bottom, secured by a secret lock, are several sealed envelopes,
with no other address than a number, combined with a letter of the
alphabet.  The Prophet takes one of these packets, conceals it in the
pocket of his pelisse, and, closing the secret fastening of the false
bottom, replaces the box upon a shelf.

This scene occurs about four o'clock in the afternoon, in the White
Falcon, the only hostelry in the little village of Mockern, situated
near Leipsic, as you come from the north towards France.

After a few moments, the loft is shaken by a hoarse roaring from below.

"Judas! be quiet!" exclaims the Prophet, in a menacing tone, as he turns
his head towards the trap door.

Another deep growl is heard, formidable as distant thunder.

"Lie down, Cain!" cries Morok, starting from his seat.

A third roar, of inexpressible ferocity, bursts suddenly on the ear.

"Death! Will you have done," cries the Prophet, rushing towards the trap
door, and addressing a third invisible animal, which bears this ghastly

Notwithstanding the habitual authority of his voice--notwithstanding his
reiterated threats--the brute-tamer cannot obtain silence: on the
contrary, the barking of several dogs is soon added to the roaring of
the wild beasts.  Morok seizes a pike, and approaches the ladder; he is
about to descend, when he sees some one issuing from the aperture.

The new-comer has a brown, sun-burnt face; he wears a gray hat, bell-
crowned and broad-brimmed, with a short jacket, and wide trousers of
green cloth; his dusty leathern gaiters show that he has walked some
distance; a game-bag is fastened by straps to his back.

"The devil take the brutes!" cried he, as he set foot on the floor; "one
would think they'd forgotten me in three days.  Judas thrust his paw
through the bars of his cage, and Death danced like a fury.  They don't
know me any more, it seems?"

This was said in German.  Morok answered in the same language, but with
a slightly foreign accent.

"Good or bad news, Karl?" he inquired, with some uneasiness.

"Good news."

"You've met them!"

"Yesterday; two leagues from Wittenberg."

"Heaven be praised!" cried Morok, clasping his hands with intense

"Oh, of course, 'tis the direct road from Russia to France, 'twas a
thousand to one that we should find them somewhere between Wittenberg
and Leipsic."

"And the description?"

"Very close: two young girls in mourning; horse, white; the old man has
long moustache, blue forage-cap; gray topcoat and a Siberian dog at his

"And where did you leave them?"

"A league hence.  They will be here within the hour."

"And in this inn--since it is the only one in the village," said Morok,
with a pensive air.

"And night drawing on," added Karl.

"Did you get the old man to talk?"

"Him!--you don't suppose it!"

"Why not?"

"Go, and try yourself."

"And for what reason?"



"You shall know all about it.  Yesterday, as if I had fallen in with
them by chance, I followed them to the place where they stopped for the
night. I spoke in German to the tall old man, accosting him, as is usual
with wayfarers, 'Good-day, and a pleasant journey, comrade!'  But, for
an answer, he looked askant at me, and pointed with, the end of his
stick to the other side of the road."

"He is a Frenchman, and, perhaps, does not understand German."

"He speaks it, at least as well as you; for at the inn I heard him ask
the host for whatever he and the young girls wanted."

"And did you not again attempt to engage him in conversation?"

"Once only; but I met with such a rough reception, that for fear of
making mischief, I did not try again.  Besides, between ourselves, I can
tell you this man has a devilish ugly look; believe me, in spite of his
gray moustache, he looks so vigorous and resolute, though with no more
flesh on him than a carcass, that I don't know whether he or my mate
Giant Goliath, would have the best of it in a struggle.  "I know not
your plans: only take care, master--take care!"

"My black panther of Java was also very vigorous and very vicious," said
Morok, with a grim, disdainful, smile.

"What, Death?  Yes; in truth; and she is vigorous and vicious as ever.
Only to you she is almost mild."

"And thus I will break this tall old man; notwithstanding his strength
and surliness."

"Humph! humph! be on your guard, master.  You are clever, you are as
brave as any one; but, believe me, you will never make a lamb out of the
old wolf that will be here presently."

"Does not my lion, Cain--does not my tiger, Judas, crouch in terror
before me?"

"Yes, I believe you there--because you have means--"

"Because I have faith: that is all--and it is all," said Morok,
imperiously interrupting Karl, and accompanying these words with such a
look, that the other hung his head and was silent.

"Why should not he whom the Lord upholds in his struggle with wild
beasts, be also upheld in his struggle with men, when those men are
perverse and impious?" added the Prophet, with a triumphant, inspired

Whether from belief in his master's conviction, or from inability to
engage in a controversy with him on so delicate a subject, Karl answered
the Prophet, humbly: "you are wiser than I am, master; what you do must
be well done."

"Did you follow this old man and these two young girls all day long?"
resumed the Prophet, after a moment's silence.

"Yes; but at a distance.  As I know the country well, I sometimes cut
across a valley, sometimes over a hill, keeping my eye upon the road,
where they were always to be seen.  The last time I saw them, I was hid
behind the water-mill by the potteries.  As they were on the highway for
this place, and night was drawing on, I quickened my pace to get here
before them, and be the bearer of what you call good news."

"Very good--yes--very good: and you shall be rewarded; for if these
people had escaped me--"

The Prophet started, and did not conclude the sentence.  The expression
of his face, and the tones of his voice, indicated the importance of the
intelligence which had just been brought him.

"In truth," rejoined Karl, "it may be worth attending to; for that
Russian courier, all plastered with lace, who came, without slacking
bridle, from St. Petersburg to Leipsic, only to see you, rode so fast,
perhaps, for the purpose--"

Morok abruptly interrupted Karl, and said:

"Who told you that the arrival of the courier had anything to do with
these travellers?  You are mistaken; you should only know what I choose
to tell you."

"Well, master, forgive me, and let's say no more about it.  So!  I will
get rid of my game-bag, and go help Goliath to feed the brutes, for
their supper time draws near, if it is not already past.  Does our big
giant grow lazy, master?"

"Goliath is gone out; he must not know that you are returned; above all,
the tall old man and the maidens must not see you here--it would make
them suspect something."

"Where do you wish me to go, then?"

"Into the loft, at the end of the stable, and wait my orders; you may
this night have to set out for Leipsic."

"As you please; I have some provisions left in my pouch, and can sup in
the loft whilst I rest myself."


"Master, remember what I told you.  Beware of that old fellow with the
gray moustache; I think he's devilish tough; I'm up to these things--
he's an ugly customer--be on your guard!"

"Be quite easy!  I am always on my guard," said Morok.

"Then good luck to you, master!"--and Karl, having reached the ladder,
suddenly disappeared.

After making a friendly farewell gesture to his servant, the Prophet
walked up and down for some time, with an air of deep meditation; then,
approaching the box which contained the papers, he took out a pretty
long letter, and read it over and over with profound attention.  From
time to time he rose and went to the closed window, which looked upon
the inner court of the inn, and appealed to listen anxiously; for he
waited with impatience the arrival of the three persons whose approach
had just been announced to him.



While the above scene was passing in the White Falcon at Mockern, the
three persons whose arrival Morok was so anxiously expecting, travelled
on leisurely in the midst of smiling meadows, bounded on one side by a
river, the current of which turned a mill; and on the other by the
highway leading to the village, which was situated on an eminence, at
about a league's distance.

The sky was beautifully serene; the bubbling of the river, beaten by the
mill-wheel and sparkling with foam, alone broke upon the silence of an
evening profoundly calm.  Thick willows, bending over the river, covered
it with their green transparent shadow; whilst, further on, the stream
reflected so splendidly the blue heavens and the glowing tints of the
west, that, but for the hills which rose between it and the sky, the gold
and azure of the water would have mingled in one dazzling sheet with the
gold and azure of the firmament.  The tall reeds on the bank bent their
black velvet heads beneath the light breath of the breeze that rises at
the close of day--for the sun was gradually sinking behind a broad streak
of purple clouds, fringed with fire.  The tinkling bells of a flock of
sheep sounded from afar in the clear and sonorous air.

Along a path trodden in the grass of the meadow, two girls, almost
children--for they had but just completed their fifteenth year--were
riding on a white horse of medium size, seated upon a large saddle with a
back to it, which easily took them both in, for their figures were slight
and delicate.

A man of tall stature, with a sun-burnt face, and long gray moustache,
was leading the horse by the bridle, and ever and anon turned towards the
girls, with an air of solicitude at once respectful and paternal.  He
leaned upon a long staff; his still robust shoulders carried a soldier's
knapsack; his dusty shoes, and step that began to drag a little, showed
that he had walked a long way.

One of those dogs which the tribes of Northern Siberia harness to their
sledges--a sturdy animal, nearly of the size, form, and hairy coat of the
wolf--followed closely in the steps of the leader of this little caravan,
never quitting, as it is commonly said, the heels of his master.

Nothing could be more charming than the group formed by the girls.  One
held with her left hand the flowing reins, and with her right encircled
the waist of her sleeping sister, whose head reposed on her shoulder.
Each step of the horse gave a graceful swaying to these pliant forms, and
swung their little feet, which rested on a wooden ledge in lieu of a

These twin sisters, by a sweet maternal caprice, had been called Rose and
Blanche; they were now orphans, as might be seen by their sad mourning
vestments, already much worn.  Extremely, like in feature, and of the
same size, it was necessary to be in the constant habit of seeing them,
to distinguish one from the other.  The portrait of her who slept not,
might serve them for both of them; the only difference at the moment
being, that Rose was awake and discharging for that day the duties of
elder sister--duties thus divided between then, according to the fancy of
their guide, who, being an old soldier of the empire, and a martinet, had
judged fit thus to alternate obedience and command between the orphans.

Greuze would have been inspired by the sight of those sweet faces, coifed
in close caps of black velvet, from beneath which strayed a profusion of
thick ringlets of a light chestnut color, floating down their necks and
shoulders, and setting, as in a frame, their round, firm, rosy, satin-

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: