List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v2, by Eugene Sue
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gigantic vampire bat sucks the blood of its victims whilst it prolongs
their sleep, by surrounding them with a fresh and balmy air, no fan
moving so rapidly as the great perfumed wings of this monster!

The month of October, 1831, draws near its close.  It is noon--an hour
well nigh mortal to him who encounters the fiery heat of the sun, which
spreads a sheet of dazzling light over the deep blue enamel of the sky.

An ajoupa, or hut, made of cane mats, suspended from long bamboos, which
are driven far into the ground, rises in the midst of the bluish shadows
cast by a tuft of trees, whose glittering verdure resembles green
porcelain.  These quaintly formed trees, rounded into arches, pointing
like spires, overspreading like parasols, are so thick in foliage, so
entangled one with the other, that their dome is impenetrable to the

The soil, ever marshy, notwithstanding the insupportable heat, disappears
beneath an inextricable mass of creepers, ferns, and tufted reeds, of a
freshness and vigor of vegetation almost incredible, reaching nearly to
the top of the ajoupa, which lies hid like a nest among the grass.

Nothing can be more suffocating than the atmosphere, heavily laden with
moist exhalations like the steam of hot water, and impregnated with the
strongest and sharpest scents; for the cinnamon-tree, ginger-plant,
stephanotis and Cape jasmine, mixed with these trees and creepers, spread
around in puffs their penetrating odors.  A roof, formed of large Indian
fig-leaves, covers the cabin; at one end is a square opening, which
serves for a window, shut in with a fine lattice-work of vegetable
fibres, so as to prevent the reptiles and venomous insects from creeping
into the ajoupa.  The huge trunk of a dead tree, still standing, but much
bent, and with its summit reaching to the roof of the ajoupa, rises from
the midst of the brushwood.  From every crevice in its black, rugged,
mossy bark, springs a strange, almost fantastic flower; the wing of a
butterfly is not of a finer tissue, of a more brilliant purple, of a more
glossy black: those unknown birds we see in our dreams, have no more
grotesque forms than these specimens of the orchis--winged flowers, that
seem always ready to fly from their frail and leafless stalks.  The long,
flexible stems of the cactus, which might be taken for reptiles, encircle
also this trunk, and clothe it with their bunches of silvery white,
shaded inside with bright orange.  These flowers emit a strong scent of

A serpent, of a brick-red, about the thickness of a large quill, and five
or six inches long, half protrudes its flat head from one of those
enormous, perfumed calyces, in which it lies closely curled up.

Within the ajoupa, a young man is extended on a mat in a profound sleep.
His complexion of a clear golden yellow, gives him the appearance of a
statue of pale bronze, on which a ray of sun is playing.  His attitude is
simple and graceful; his right arm sustains his head, a little raised and
turned on one side; his ample robe of white muslin, with hanging sleeves,
leaves uncovered his chest and arms worthy of the Antoinous.  Marble is
not more firm, more polished than his skin, the golden hue of which
contracts strongly with the whiteness of his garments.  Upon his broad
manly chest a deep scar is visible--the mark of the musket-ball he
received in defending the life of General Simon, the father of Rose and

Suspended from his neck, he wears a medal similar to that in the
possession of the two sisters.  This Indian is Djalma.

His features are at once very noble and very beautiful.  His hair of a
blue black, parted upon his forehead, falls waving, but not curled over
his shoulders; whilst his eyebrows, boldly and yet delicately defined,
are of as deep a jet as the long eyelashes, that cast their shadow upon
his beardless cheek.  His bright, red lips are slightly apart, and he
breathes uneasily; his sleep is heavy and troubled, for the heat becomes
every moment more and more suffocating.

Without, the silence is profound.  Not a breath of air is stirring.  Yet
now the tall ferns, which cover the soil, begin to move almost
imperceptibly, as though their stems were shaken by the slow progress of
some crawling body.  From time to time, this trifling oscillation
suddenly ceases, and all is again motionless.  But, after several of
these alternations of rustling and deep silence, a human head appears in
the midst of the jungle, a little distance from the trunk of the dead

The man to whom it belonged was possessed of a grim countenance, with a
complexion the color of greenish bronze, long black hair bound about his
temples, eyes brilliant with savage fire, and an expression remarkable
for its intelligence and ferocity.  Holding his breath, he remained quite
still for a moment; then, advancing upon his hands and knees, pushing
aside the leaves so gently, that not the slightest noise could be heard,
he arrived cautiously and slowly at the trunk of the dead tree, the
summit of which nearly touched the roof of the ajoupa.

This man, of Malay origin, belonging to the sect of the Lughardars
(Stranglers), after having again listened, rose almost entirely from
amongst the brushwood.  With the exception of white cotton drawers,
fastened around his middle by a parti-colored sash, he was completely
naked.  His bronze, supple, and nervous limbs were overlaid with a thick
coat of oil.  Stretching himself along the huge trunk on the side
furthest from the cabin, and thus sheltered by the whole breadth of the
tree with its surrounding creepers, he began to climb silently, with as
much patience as caution.  In the undulations of his form, in the
flexibility of his movements, in the restrained vigor, which fully put
forth would have been alarming, there was some resemblance to the
stealthy and treacherous advance of the tiger upon its prey.

Having reached, completely unperceived, the inclined portion of the tree,
which almost touched the roof of the cabin, he was only separated from
the window by a distance of about a foot.  Cautiously advancing his head,
he looked down into the interior, to see how he might best find an

At sight of Djalma in his deep sleep, the Thug's bright eyes glittered
with increased brilliancy; a nervous contraction, or rather a mute,
ferocious laugh, curling the corners of his mouth, drew them up towards
the cheekbones, and exposed rows of teeth, filed sharp like the points of
a saw, and dyed of a shining black.

Djalma was lying in such a manner and so near the door of the ajoupa,
which opened inwards, that, were it moved in the least, he must be
instantly awakened.  The Strangler, with his body still sheltered by the
tree, wishing to examine more attentively the interior of the cabin,
leaned very forward, and in order to maintain his balance, lightly rested
his hand on the ledge of the opening that served for a window.  This
movement shook the large cactus-flowers, within which the little serpent
lay curled, and, darting forth it twisted itself rapidly round the wrist
of the Strangler.  Whether from pain or surprise, the man uttered a low
cry; and as he drew back swiftly, still holding by the trunk of the tree,
he perceived that Djalma had moved.

The young Indian, though retaining his supine posture, had half opened
his eyes, and turned his head towards the window, whilst his breast
heaved with a deep-drawn sigh, for, beneath that thick dome of moist
verdure, the concentrated heat was intolerable.

Hardly had he moved, when, from behind the tree, was heard the shrill,
brief, sonorous note, which the bird of paradise titters when it takes
its flight--a cry which resembles that of the pheasant.  This note was
soon repeated, but more faintly, as though the brilliant bird were
already at a distance.  Djalma, thinking he had discovered the cause of
the noise which had aroused him for an instant, stretched out the arm
upon which his head had rested, and went to sleep again, with scarcely
any change of position.

For some minutes, the most profound silence once more reigned in this
solitude, and everything remained motionless.

The Strangler, by his skillful imitation of the bird, had repaired the
imprudence of that exclamation of surprise and pain, which the reptile
bite had forced from him.  When he thought all was safe, he again
advanced his head, and saw the young Indian once more plunged in sleep.
Then he descended the tree with the same precautions, though his left
hand was somewhat swollen from the sting of the serpent, and disappeared
in the jungle.

At that instant a song of monotonous and melancholy cadence was heard in
the distance.  The Strangler raised himself, and listened attentively,
and his face took an expression of surprise and deadly anger.  The song
came nearer and nearer to the cabin, and, in a few seconds, an Indian,
passing through an open space in the jungle, approached the spot where
the Thug lay concealed.

The latter unwound from his waist a long thin cord, to one of the ends of
which was attached a leaden ball, of the form and size of an egg; having
fastened the other end of this cord to his right wrist, the Strangler
again listened, and then disappeared, crawling through the tall grass in
the direction of the Indian, who still advanced slowly, without
interrupting his soft and plaintive song.

He was a young fellow scarcely twenty, with a bronzed complexion, the
slave of Djalma, his vest of blue cotton was confined at the waist by a
parti-colored sash; he wore a red turban, and silver rings in his ears
and about his wrists.  He was bringing a message to his master, who,
during the great heat of the day was reposing in the ajoupa, which stood
at some distance from the house he inhabited.

Arriving at a place where two paths separated, the slave, without
hesitation took that which led to the cabin, from which he was now scarce
forty paces distant.

One of those enormous Java butterflies, whose wings extend six or eight
inches in length, and offer to the eye two streaks of gold on a ground of
ultramarine, fluttering from leaf to leaf, alighted on a bush of Cape
jasmine, within the reach of the young Indian.  The slave stopped in his
song, stood still, advanced first a foot, then a hand, and seized the

Suddenly he sees a dark figure rise before him; he hears a whizzing noise
like that of a sling; he feels a cord, thrown with as much rapidity as
force, encircle his neck with a triple band; and, almost in the same
instant, the leaden ball strikes violently against the back of his head.

This attack was so abrupt and unforseen, that Djalma's servant could not
even utter a single cry, a single groan.  He tottered--the Strangler gave
a vigorous pull at the cord--the bronzed countenance of the slave became
purple, and he fell upon his knees, convulsively moving his arms.  Then
the Strangler threw him quite down, and pulled the cord so violently,
that the blood spurted from the skin.  The victim struggled for a moment
--and all was over.

During his short but intense agony, the murderer, kneeling before his
victim, and watching with ardent eye his least convulsions, seemed
plunged into an ecstasy of ferocious joy.  His nostrils dilated, the
veins of his neck and temples were swollen, and the same savage laugh,
which had curled his lips at the aspect of the sleeping Djalma, again
displayed his pointed black teeth, which a nervous trembling of the jaws
made to chatter.  But soon he crossed his arms upon his heaving breast,
bowed his forehead, and murmured some mysterious words, which sounded
like an invocation or a prayer.  Immediately after, he returned to the
contemplation of the dead body.  The hyena and the tiger-cat, who, before
devouring, crouch beside the prey that they have surprised or hunted
down, have not a wilder or more sanguinary look than this man.

But, remembering that his task was not yet accomplished tearing himself
unwillingly from the hideous spectacle, he unbound the cord from the neck
of his victim, fastened it round his own body, dragged the corpse out of
the path, and, without attempting to rob it of its silver rings,
concealed it in a thick part of the jungle.

Then the Strangler again began to creep on his knees and belly, till he
arrived at the cabin of Djalma--that cabin constructed of mats suspended
from bamboos.  After listening attentively, he drew from his girdle a
knife, the sharp-pointed blade of which was wrapped in a fig-leaf, and
made in the matting an incision of three feet in length.  This was done
with such quickness, and with so fine a blade, that the light touch of
the diamond cutting glass would have made more noise.  Seeing, by means
of this opening, which was to serve him for a passage, that Djalma was
still fast asleep, the Thug, with incredible temerity, glided into the



The heavens, which had been till now of transparent blue, became
gradually of a greenish tint, and the sun was veiled in red, lurid vapor.
This strange light gave to every object a weird appearance, of which one
might form an idea, by looking at a landscape through a piece of copper-
colored glass.  In those climates, this phenomenon, when united with an
increase of burning heat, always announces the approach of a storm.

From time to time there was a passing odor of sulphur; then the leaves,
slightly shaken by electric currents, would tremble upon their stalks;
till again all would return to the former motionless silence.  The weight
of the burning atmosphere, saturated with sharp perfumes, became almost
intolerable.  Large drops of sweat stood in pearls on the forehead of
Djalma, still plunged in enervating sleep--for it no longer resembled
rest, but a painful stupor.

The Strangler glided like a reptile along the sides of the ajoupa, and,
crawling on his belly, arrived at the sleeping-mat of Djalma, beside
which he squatted himself, so as to occupy as little space as possible.
Then began a fearful scene, by reason of the mystery and silence which
surrounded it.

Djalma's life was at the mercy of the Strangler.  The latter, resting
upon his hands and knees, with his neck stretched forward, his eye fixed
and dilated, continued motionless as a wild beast about to spring.  Only
a slight nervous trembling of the jaws agitated that mask of bronze.

But soon his hideous features revealed a violent struggle that was
passing within him--a struggle between the thirst, the craving for the
enjoyment of murder, which the recent assassination of the slave had made
still more active, and the orders he had received not to attempt the life
of Djalma, though the design, which brought him to the ajoupa, might
perhaps be as fatal to the young Indian as death itself.  Twice did the
Strangler, with look of flame, resting only on his left hand, seize with
his right the rope's end; and twice his hand fell--the instinct of murder
yielding to a powerful will, of which the Malay acknowledged the
irresistible empire.

In him, the homicidal craving must have amounted to madness, for, in

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