List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V1, by Eugene Sue
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were dimly visible by the light of another lantern.

Dagobert, having turned the dog into the room, shut the door after him,
and advanced two steps on the landing-place, which was sufficiently
spacious to hold several persons, and had in one corner a wooden bench
with a back to it.  The burgomaster, as he ascended the last stair, was
surprised to see Dagobert close the door of the chamber, as though he
wished to forbid his entrance.  "Why do you shut that door?" asked he in
an abrupt tone.

"First, because two girls, whom I have the charge of, are in bed in that
room; secondly, because your examination would alarm them," replied
Dagobert.  "Sit down upon this bench, Mr. Burgomaster, and examine me
here; it will not make any difference, I should think."

"And by what right," asked the judge, with a displeased air, "do you
pretend to dictate to me the place of your examination?"

"Oh, I have no such pretension, Mr. Burgomaster!" said the soldier
hastily, fearing above all things to prejudice the judge against him:
"only, as the girls are in bed, and already much frightened, it would be
a proof of your good heart to examine me where I am."

"Humph!" said the magistrate, with ill-humor; "a pretty state of things,
truly!--It was much worth while to disturb me in the middle of the night.
But, come, so be it; I will examine you here."  Then, turning to the
landlord, he added:  "Put your lantern upon this bench, and leave us."

The innkeeper obeyed, and went down, followed by his people, as
dissatisfied as they were at being excluded from the examination.  The
veteran was left alone with the magistrate.



The worthy burgomaster of Mockern wore a cloth cap, and was enveloped in
a cloak.  He sat down heavily on the bench.  He was a corpulent man,
about sixty, with an arrogant, morose countenance; and he frequently
rubbed with his red, fat fist, eyes that were still swollen and blood-
shot, from his having been suddenly roused from sleep.

Dagobert stood bareheaded before him, with a submissive, respectful air,
holding his old foraging cap in his hands, and trying to read in the
sullen physiognomy of his judge what chance there might be to interest
him in his favor--that is, in favor of the orphans.

In this critical juncture, the poor soldier summoned to his aid all his
presence of mind, reason, eloquence and resolution.  He, who had twenty
times braved death with the utmost coolness--who, calm and serene,
because sincere and tried, had never quailed before the eagle-glance of
the Emperor, his hero and idol--now felt himself disconcerted and
trembling before the ill-humored face of a village burgomaster.  Even so,
a few hours before, he had submitted, impassive and resigned, to the
insults of the Prophet--that he might not compromise the sacred mission
with which a dying mother had entrusted him--thus showing to what a
height of heroic abnegation it is possible for a simple and honest heart
to attain.

"What have you to say in your justification?  Come, be quick!" said the
judge roughly, with a yawn of impatience.

"I have not got to justify myself--I have to make a complaint, Mr.
Burgomaster," replied Dagobert in a firm voice.

"Do you think you are to teach me in what terms I am to put my
questions?" exclaimed the magistrate, in so sharp a tone that the soldier
reproached himself with having begun the interview so badly.  Wishing to
pacify his judge, he made haste to answer with submission:

"Pardon me, Mr. Burgomaster, I have ill-explained my meaning.  I only
wished to say that I was not wrong in this affair."

"The Prophet says the contrary."

"The Prophet?" repeated the soldier, with an air of doubt.

"The Prophet is a pious and honest man," resumed the judge, "incapable of

"I cannot say anything upon that subject; but you are too just, and have
too good a heart, Mr. Burgomaster, to condemn without hearing me.  It is
not a man like you that would do an injustice; oh, one can see that at a

In resigning himself thus to play the part of a courtier, Dagobert
softened as much as possible his gruff voice, and strove to give to his
austere countenance a smiling, agreeable, and flattering expression.  "A
man like you," he added, with redoubled suavity of manner, "a respectable
judge like you, never shuts his ears to one side or the other."

"Ears are not in question, but eyes; and, though mine smart as if I had
rubbed them with nettles, I have seen the hand of the brute-tamer, with a
frightful wound on it."

"Yes, Mr. Burgomaster, it is very true; but consider, if he had shut his
cages and his door, all this would not have happened."

"Not so; it is your fault.  You should have fastened your horse securely
to the manger."

"You are right, Mr. Burgomaster, certainly, you are right," said the
soldier, in a still more affable and conciliating voice.  "It is not for
a poor devil like me to contradict you.  But supposing my horse was let
loose out of pure malice, in order that he might stray into the
menagerie--you will then acknowledge that it was not my fault.  That is,
you will acknowledge it if you think fit," hastily added the soldier "I
have no right to dictate to you in anything."

"And why the devil should any one do you this ill-turn?"

"I do not know, Mr. Burgomaster--but--"

"You do not know--well, nor I either," said the burgomaster impatiently.
"Zounds! what a many words about the carcass of an old horse!"

The countenance of the soldier, losing on a sudden its expression of
forced suavity, became once more severe; he answered in a grave voice,
full of emotion: "My horse is dead--he is no more than a carcass--that is
true; but an hour ago, though very old, he was full of life and
intelligence.  He neighed joyously at my voice--and, every evening, he
licked the hands of the two poor children, whom he had carried all the
day--as formerly he had carried their mother.  Now he will never carry
any one again; they will throw him to the dogs, and all will be finished.
You need not have reminded me harshly of it, Mr. Burgomaster--for I loved
my horse!"

By these words, pronounced with noble and touching simplicity, the
burgomaster was moved in spite of himself, and regretted his hasty
speech.  "It is natural that you should be sorry for your horse," said
he, in a less impatient tone; "but what is to be done?--It is a

"A misfortune?--Yes, Mr. Burgomaster, a very great misfortune.  The
girls, who accompany me, were too weak to undertake a long journey on
foot, too poor to travel in a carriage--and yet we have to arrive in
Paris before the month of February.  When their mother died, I promised
her to take them to France, for these children have only me to take care
of them."

"You are then their--"

"I am their faithful servant, Mr. Burgomaster; and now that my horse has
been killed, what can I do for them?  Come, you are good, you have
perhaps children of your own; if, one day, they should find themselves in
the position of my two little orphans--with no wealth, no resources in
the world, but an old soldier who loves them, and an old horse to carry
them along--if, after being very unfortunate from their birth--yes, very
unfortunate, for my orphans are the daughters of exiles--they should see
happiness before them at the end of a journey, and then, by the death of
their horse, that journey become impossible--tell me, Mr. Burgomaster, if
this would not touch your heart?  Would you not find, as I do, that the
loss of my horse is irreparable?"

"Certainly," answered the burgomaster, who was not ill natured at bottom,
and who could not help taking part in Dagobert's emotion; "I now
understand the importance of the loss you have suffered.  And then your
orphans interest me: how old are they?"

"Fifteen years and two months.  They are twins."

"Fifteen years and two months--that is about the age of my Frederica."

"You have a young lady of that age?" cried Dagobert, once more awaking to
hope; "ah, Mr. Burgomaster!, I am really no longer uneasy about my poor
children.  You will do us justice."

"To do justice is my duty.  After all, in this affair, the faults are
about equal on both sides.  You tied up your horse badly, and the brute-
tamer left his door open.  He says: 'I am wounded in the hand.'  You
answer: 'My horse has been killed--and, for a thousand reasons, the loss
of my horse is irreparable.'"

"You make me speak better than I could ever speak on my own account, Mr.
Burgomaster," said the soldier, with a humble, insinuating smile; "but
'tis what I meant to express--and, as you say yourself, Mr. Burgomaster,
my horse being my whole fortune, it is only fair--"

"Exactly so," resumed the magistrate, interrupting the soldier; "your
reasons are excellent.  The Prophet--who is a good and pious man with all
has related the facts to me in his own way; and then, you see, he is an
old acquaintance.  We are nearly all zealous Catholics here, and he sells
to our wives such cheap and edifying little books, with chaplets and
amulets of the best manufacture, at less than the prime cost.  All this,
you will say, has nothing to do with the affair; and you will be right in
saying so: still I must needs confess that I came here with the

"Of deciding against me, eh, Mr. Burgomaster?" said Dagobert, gaining
more and more confidence.  "You see, you were not quite awake, and your
justice had only one eye open."

"Really, master soldier," answered the judge with good humor, "it is not
unlikely; for I did not conceal from Morok that I gave it in his favor.
Then he said to me (very generously, by the way): 'Since you condemn my
adversary, I will not aggravate his position by telling you certain

"What! against me?"

"Apparently so; but, like a generous enemy, when I told him that I should
most likely condemn you to pay him damages, he said no more about it.
For I will not hide from you, that, before I heard your reasons, I fully
intended that you should make compensation for the Prophet's wound."

"See, Mr. Burgomaster, how the most just and able persons are subject to
be deceived," said Dagobert, becoming once more the courtier; then,
trying to assume a prodigiously knowing look, he added: "But such persons
find out the truth at last, and are not to be made dupes of, whatever
prophets may say."

This poor attempt at a jest--the first and only one, perhaps, that
Dagobert had ever been guilty of--will show the extremity to which he was
reduced, and the desperate efforts of all kinds he was making to
conciliate the good graces of his judge.  The burgomaster did not at
first see the pleasantry; he was only led to perceive it by the self-
satisfied mien of Dagobert, and by his inquiring glance, which seemed to
say: "Is it not good, eh?--I am astonished at it myself."

The magistrate began, therefore, to smile with a patronizing air, and,
nodding his head, replied in the same jocular spirit: "Ha!  Ha!  Ha!  You
are right; the Prophet is out in his prophecy.  You shall not pay him any
damages.  The faults on both sides are equal, and the injuries balance
one another.  He has been wounded, your horse has been killed; so you may
cry quits, and have done with it."

"But how much then, do you think he owes me?" asked the soldier, with
singular simplicity.

"How much?"

"Yes, Mr. Burgomaster, what sum will he have to pay me?  Yes--but, before
you decide, I must tell you one thing, Mr. Burgomaster.  I think I shall
be entitled to spend only part of the money in buying a horse.  I am
sure, that, in the environs of Leipsic, I could get a beast very cheap
from some of the peasants; and, between ourselves, I will own to you,
that, if I could meet with only a nice little donkey--I should not be
over particular--I should even like it just as well; for, after my poor
Jovial, the company of another horse would be painful to me.  I must also
tell you--"

"Hey-day!" cried the burgomaster, interrupting Dagobert, "of what money,
what donkey, and what other horse are you talking?  I tell you, that you
owe nothing to the Prophet, and that he owes you nothing!"

"He owes me nothing?"

"You are very dull of comprehension, my good man.  I repeat, that, if the
Prophet's animals have killed your horse, the Prophet himself has been
badly wounded; so you may cry quits.  In other words, you owe him
nothing, and he owes you nothing.  Now do you understand?"

Dagobert, confounded, remained for some moments without answering, whilst
he looked at the burgomaster with an expression of deep anguish.  He saw
that his judgment would again destroy all his hopes.

"But, Mr. Burgomaster," resumed he, in an agitated voice, "you are too
just not to pay attention to one thing: the wound of the brute-tamer does
not prevent him from continuing his trade; the death of my horse prevents
me from continuing my journey; therefore, he ought to indemnify me."

The judge considered he had already done a good deal for Dagobert, in not
making him responsible for the wound of the Prophet, who, as we have
already said, exercised a certain influence over the Catholics of the
country by the sale of his devotional treasures, and also from its being
known that he was supported by some persons of eminence.  The soldier's
pertinacity, therefore, offended the magistrate, who, reassuming his
lofty air, replied, in a chilling tone: "You will make me repent my
impartiality.  How is this?  Instead of thanking me, you ask for more."

"But, Mr. Burgomaster, I ask only for what is just.  I wish I were
wounded in the hand, like the Prophet, so that I could but continue my

"We are not talking of what you wish.  I have pronounced sentence--there
is no more to say."

"But, Mr. Burgomaster--"

"Enough, enough.  Let us go to the next subject.  Your papers?"

"Yes, we will speak about my papers; but I beg of you, Mr. Burgomaster,
to have pity on those two children.  Let us have the means to continue
our journey, and--"

"I have done all I could for you--perhaps, more than I ought.  Once
again, your papers!"

"I must first explain to you--"

"No "No explanation--your papers!--Or would you like me to have you
arrested as a vagabond?"


"I tell you that, if you refuse to show me your papers, it will be as if
you had none.  Now, those people who have no papers we take into custody
till the authorities can dispose of them.  Let me see your papers, and
make haste!--I am in a hurry to get home."

Dagobert's position was the more distressing, as for a moment he had
indulged in sanguine hope.  The last blow was now added to all the
veteran had suffered since the commencement of this scene, which was a
cruel as well as dangerous trial, for a man of his character--upright,
but obstinate--faithful, but rough and absolute--a man who, for a long
time a soldier, and a victorious one, had acquired a certain despotic
mariner of treating with civilians.

At these words--"your papers," Dagobert became very pale; but he tried to
conceal his anguish beneath an air of assurance, which he thought best

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