List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v8, by Eugene Sue
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"A hunchback! is that all?  There will always be enough hunchbacks," said
the lounger, brutally, with a coarse laugh.

"Hunchback or not, if she dies of hunger," answered the young man,
scarcely able to restrain his indignation, "it will be no less sad--and
there is really nothing to laugh at, sir."

"Die of hunger! pooh!" said the lounger, shrugging his shoulders.  "It is
only lazy scoundrels, that will not work, who die of hunger.  And it
serves them right."

"I wager, sir, there is one death you will never die of," cried the young
man, incensed at the cruel insolence of the lounger.

"What do you mean?" answered the other, haughtily.

"I mean, sir, that your heart is not likely to kill you."

"Sir!" cried the lounger in an angry tone.

"Well! what, sir?" replied the young man, looking full in his face.

"Nothing," said the lounger, turning abruptly on his heel, and grumbling
as he sauntered towards an orange-colored cabriolet, on which was
emblazoned an enormous coat-of-arms, surmounted by a baron's crest.  A
servant in green livery, ridiculously laced with gold, was standing
beside the horse, and did not perceive his master.

"Are you catching flies, fool?" said the latter, pushing him with his
cane.  The servant turned round in confusion.  "Sir," said he.

"Will you never learn to call me Monsieur le Baron, rascal?" cried his
master, in a rage--"Open the door directly!"

The lounger was Baron Tripeaud, the manufacturing baron the stock-jobber.
The poor hunchback was Mother Bunch, who had, indeed fallen with hunger
and fatigue, whilst on her way to Mdlle. de Cardoville's.  The
unfortunate creature had found courage to brave the shame of the ridicule
she so much feared, by returning to that house from which she was a
voluntary exile; but this time, it was not for herself, but for her
sister Cephyse--the Bacchanal Queen, who had returned to Paris the
previous day, and whom Mother Bunch now sought, through the means of
Adrienne, to rescue from a most dreadful fate.

Two hours after these different scenes, an enormous crowd pressed round
the doors of the Porte-Saint-Martin, to witness the exercises of Morok,
who was about to perform a mock combat with the famous black panther of
Java, named Death.  Adrienne, accompanied by Lord and Lady de Morinval,
now stepped from a carriage at the entrance of the theatre.  They were to
be joined in the course of the evening by M. de Montbron, whom they had
dropped, in passing, at his club.



The large theatre of the Porte-Saint-Martin was crowded by an impatient
multitude.  All Paris had hurried with eager and burning curiosity to
Morok's exhibition.  It is quite unnecessary to say that the lion-tamer
had completely abandoned his small taste in religious baubles, which he
had so successfully carried on at the White Falcon Inn at Leipsic.  There
were, moreover, numerous tokens by which the surprising effects of
Morok's sudden conversion had been blazoned in the most extraordinary
pictures: the antiquated baubles in which he had formerly dealt would
have found no sale in Paris.  Morok had nearly finished dressing himself,
in one of the actor's rooms, which had been lent to him.  Over a coat of
mail, with cuishes and brassarts, he wore an ample pair of red trousers,
fastened round his ankles by broad rings of gilt brass.  His long caftan
of black cloth, embroidered with scarlet and gold, was bound round his
waist and wrist by other large rings of gilt metal.  This sombre costume
imparted to him an aspect still more ferocious.  His thick and red-haired
beard fell in large quantities down to his chest, and a long piece of
white muslin was folded round his red head.  A devout missionary in
Germany and an actor in Paris, Morok knew as well as his employers, the
Jesuits, how to accommodate himself to circumstances.

Seated in one corner of the room, and contemplating with a sort of stupid
admiration, was Jacques Rennepont, better known as "Sleepinbuff" (from
the likelihood that he would end his days in rags, or his present
antipathy to great care in dress).  Since the day Hardy's factory had
been destroyed by fire, Jacques had not quitted Morok, passing the nights
in excesses, which had no baneful effects on the iron constitution of the
lion-tamer.  On the other's features, on the contrary, a great alteration
was perceptible; his hollow cheeks, marble pallor, his eyes, by turns
dull and heavy, or gleaming with lurid fire, betrayed the ravages of
debauchery, his parched lips were almost constantly curled by a bitter
and sardonic smile.  His spirit, once gay and sanguine, still struggled
against the besotting influence of habitual intoxication.  Unfitted for
labor, no longer able to forego gross pleasures, Jacques sought to drown
in wine a few virtuous impulses which he still possessed, and had sunk so
low as to accept without shame the large dole of sensual gratification
proffered him by Morok, who paid all the expenses of their orgies, but
never gave him money, in order that he might be completely dependent on
him.  After gazing at Morok for some time in amazement, Jacques said to
him, in a familiar tone: "Well, yours is a famous trade; you may boast
that, at this moment, there are not two men like you in the whole world
That's flattering.  It's a pity you don't stick to this fine trade."

"What do you mean?"

"Why, how is the conspiracy going on, in whose honor you make me keep it
up all day and all night?"

"It is working, but the time is not yet come; that is why I wish to have
you always at hand, till the great day.  Do you complain?"

"Hang it, no!" said Jacques.  "What could I do?  Burnt up with brandy as
I am, if I wanted to work, I've no longer the strength to do so.  I have
not, like you, a head of marble, and a body of iron; but as for fuddling
myself with gunpowder, instead of anything else, that'll do for me; I'm
only fit for that work now--and then, it will drive away thought."

"Oh what kind?"

"You know that when I do think, I think only of one thing," said Jacques,

"The Bacchanal queen?--still?" said Morok, in a disdainful tone.

"Still! rather: when I shall think of her no longer, I shall be dead--or
stupefied.  Fiend!"

"You were never better or more intelligent, you fool!" replied Morok,
fastening his turban.  The conversation was here interrupted.  Morok's
aider entered hastily.

The gigantic form of this Hercules had increased in width.  He was
habited like Alcides; his enormous limbs, furrowed with veins as thick as
whipcord, were covered with a close-fitting flesh-colored garment, to
which a pair of red drawers formed a strong contrast.

"Why do you rush in like a storm, Goliath?" said Morok.

"There's a pretty storm in the house; they are beginning to get
impatient, and are calling out like madmen.  But if that were all!"

"Well, what else?"

"Death will not be able to play this evening."

Morok turned quickly around.  He seemed uneasy.  "Why so?" he exclaimed.

"I have just seen her! she's crouching at the bottom of her cage; her
ears lie so close to her head, she looks as if they had been cut off.
You know what that means."

"Is that all?" said Morok, turning to the glass to complete his head-

"It's quite enough; she's in one of her tearing fits.  Since that night
in Germany, when she ripped up that old hack of a white horse, I've not
seen her look so savage! her eyes shine like burning candles."

"Then she must have her fine collar on," said Morok, quietly.

"Her fine collar?"

"Yes; her spring-collar."

"And I must be lady's-maid," said the giant.  "A nice toilet to attend

"Hold your tongue!"

"That's not all--" continued Goliath, hesitating.

"What more?"

"I might as well tell you at once."

"Will you speak?"

"Well! he is here."

"Who, you stupid brute?"

"The Englishman!"

Morok started; his arms fell powerless by his side.  Jacques was struck
with the lion-tamer's paleness and troubled countenance.

"The Englishman!--you have seen him?" cried Morok, addressing Goliath.
"You are quite sure?"

"Quite sure.  I was looking through the peep-hole in the curtain; I saw
him in one of the stage-boxes--he wishes to see things close; he's easy
to recognize, with his pointed forehead, big nose, and goggle eyes."

Morok shuddered again; usually fierce and unmoved, he appeared to be more
and more agitated, and so alarmed, that Jacques said to him: "Who is this

"He has followed me from Strasburg, where he fell in with me," said
Morok, with visible dejection.  "He travelled with his own horses, by
short stages, as I did; stopping where I stopped, so as never to miss one
of my exhibitions.  But two days before I arrived at Paris, he left me--I
thought I was rid of him," said Morok, with a sigh.

"Rid of him!--how you talk!" replied Jacques, surprised; "such a good
customer, such an admirer!"

"Aye!" said Morok, becoming more and more agitated; "this wretch has
wagered an enormous sum, that I will be devoured in his presence, during
one of my performances:  he hopes to win his wager--that is why he
follows me about."

Sleepinbuff found the John Bull's idea so amusingly eccentric, that, for
the first time since a very long period, he burst into a peal of hearty
laughter.  Morok, pale with rage, rushed towards him with so menacing an
air, that Goliath was obliged to interpose.

"Come, come," said Jacques, "don't be angry; if it is serious, I will not
laugh any more."

Morok was appeased, and said to Sleepinbuff in a hoarse voice: "Do you
think me a coward?"

"No, by heaven!"

"Well!  And yet this Englishman, with his grotesque face, frightens me
more than any tiger or my panther!"

"You say so, and I believe it," replied Jacques; "but I cannot understand
why the presence of this man should alarm you."

"But consider, you dull knave!" cried Morok, "that, obliged to watch
incessantly the least movement of the ferocious beast, whom I keep in
subjection by my action and my looks, there is something terrible in
knowing that two eyes are there--always there--fixed--waiting till the
least absence of mind shall expose me to be torn in pieces by the

"Now, I understand," said Jacques, shuddering in his turn.  "It is

"Yes; for once there, though I may not see this cursed Englishman, I
fancy I have his two round eyes, fixed and wide open, always before me.
My tiger Cain once nearly mutilated my arm, when my attention was drawn
away by this Englishman, whom the devil take!  Blood and thunder!" cried
Morok: "this man will be fatal to me."  And Morok paced the room in great

"Besides, Death lays her ears close to her skull," said Goliath,
brutally.  "If you persist--mind, I tell you--the Englishman will win his
wager this evening."

"Go away, you brute!--don't vex my head with your confounded
predictions," cried Morok: "go and prepare Death's collar."

"Well, every one to his taste; you wish the panther to taste you," said
the giant, stalking heavily away, after this joke.

"But if you feel these fears," said Jacques, "why do you not say that the
panther is ill?"

Morok shrugged his shoulders, and replied with a sort of feverish
ferocity, "Have you ever heard of the fierce pleasure of the gamester,
who stakes his honor, his life, upon a card?  Well!  I too--in these
daily exhibitions where my life is at stake--find a wild, fierce pleasure
in braving death, before a crowded assembly, shuddering and terrified at
my audacity.  Yes, even in the fear with which this Englishman inspires
me, I find, in spite of myself, a terrible excitement, which I abhor, and
which yet subjugates me."

At this moment, the stage-manager entered the room, and interrupted the
beast-tamer.  "May we give the signal, M. Morok?" said the stage-manager.
"The overture will not last above ten minutes."

"I am ready," said Morok.

"The police-inspector has just now given orders, that the double chain of
the panther, and the iron ring riveted to the floor of the stage, at the
end of the cavern in the foreground, shall be again examined; and
everything has been reported quite secure."

"Yes--secure--except for me," murmured the beast-tamer.

"So, M. Morok, the signal may be given?"

"The signal may--be given," replied Morok.  And the manager went out.



The usual bell sounded with solemnity behind the scenes the overture
began, and, to say the truth, but little attention was paid to it.  The
interior of the theatre offered a very animated view.  With the exception
of two stage-boxes even with the dress circle, one to the left, the other
to the right of the audience, every seat was occupied.  A great number of
very fashionable ladies, attracted, as is always the case, by the strange
wildness of the spectacle, filled the boxes.  The stalls were crowded by
most of the young men who; in the morning, had walked their horses on the
Champs-Elysees.  The observations which passed from one stall to another,
will give some idea of their conversation.

"Do you know, my dear boy, there would not be so crowded or fashionable
an audience to witness Racine's Athalia?"

"Undoubtedly.  What is the beggarly howling of an actor, compared to the
roaring of the lion?"

"I cannot understand how the authorities permit this Morok to fasten his
panther with a chain to an iron ring in the corner of the stage.  If the
chain were to break?"

"Talking of broken chains--there's little Mme. de Blinville, who is no
tigress.  Do you see her in the second tier, opposite?"

"It becomes her very well to have broken, as you say, the marriage chain;
she looks very well this season."

"Oh! there is the beautiful Duchess de Saint-Prix; all the world is here
to-night--I don't speak of ourselves."

"It is a regular opera night--what a festive scene!"

"Well, after all, people do well to amuse themselves, perhaps it will not
be for long."

"Why so?"

"Suppose the cholera were to come to Paris?"

"Oh! nonsense!"

"Do you believe in the cholera?"

"To be sure I do!  He's coming from the North, with his walking-stick
under his arm."

"The devil take him on the road! don't let us see his green visage here."

"They say he's at London."

"A pleasant journey to him."

"Come, let us talk of something else; it may be a weakness, if you
please, but I call this a dull subject."

"I believe you."

"Oh! gentlemen--I am not mistaken--no--it is she!"

"Who, then?"

"Mdlle. de Cardoville!  She is coming into the stage-box with Morinval
and his wife.  It is a complete resuscitation: this morning on the
Champs-Elysees; in the evening here."

"Faith, you are right!  It is Mdlle. de Cardoville."

"Good heaven! how lovely she is!"

"Lend me your eyeglass."

"Well, what do you think of her?"


"And in addition to her beauty, an inexhaustible flow of wit, three
hundred thousand francs a year, high birth, eighteen years of age, and--
free as air."

"Yes, that is to say, that, provided it pleased her, I might be to-

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