List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V1, by Eugene Sue
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you will see the best soldiers (always distinguished by their fine
military appearance) take from their cartridge-box or knapsack a
housewife, furnished with needles, thread, scissors, buttons, and other
such gear, and apply themselves to all kinds of mending and darning, with
a zeal that the most industrious workwoman might envy.

We could not find a better opportunity to explain the name of Dagobert,
given to Francis Baudoin (the guide of the orphans) at a time when he was
considered one of the handsomest and bravest horse-grenadiers of the
Imperial Guard.

They had been fighting hard all day, without any decisive advantage.  In
the evening, the company to which our hero belonged was sent as outliers
to occupy the ruins of a deserted village.  Videttes being posted, half
the troopers remained in saddle, whilst the others, having picketed their
horses, were able to take a little rest.  Our hero had charged valiantly
that day without receiving any wound--for he counted as a mere memento
the deep scratch on his thigh, which a kaiserlitz had inflicted in
awkwardly attempting an upward thrust with the bayonet.

"You donkey! my new breeches!" the grenadier had exclaimed, when he saw
the wide yawning rent, which he instantly avenged by running the Austrian
through, with a thrust scientifically administered.  For, if he showed a
stoical indifference on the subject of injury to his skin, it was not so
with regard to the ripping up of his best parade uniform.

He undertook, therefore, the same evening, at the bivouac, to repair this
accident.  Selecting his best needle and thread from the stores of his
housewife, and arming his finger with a thimble, he began to play the
tailor by the light of the watch-fire, having first drawn off his
cavalry-boots, and also (if it must be confessed) the injured garment
itself, which he turned the wrong side out the better to conceal the

This partial undress was certainly a breach of discipline: but the
captain, as he went his round, could not forbear laughing at the sight of
the veteran soldier, who, gravely seated, in a squatting position, with
his grenadier cap on, his regimental coat on his back, his boots by his
side, and his galligaskins in his lap, was sewing with all the coolness
of a tailor upon his own shop-board.

Suddenly, a musket-shot is heard, and the videttes fall back upon the
detachment, calling to arms.  "To horse!" cries the captain, in a voice
of thunder.

In a moment, the troopers are in their saddles, the unfortunate clothes-
mender having to lead the first rank; there is no time to turn the
unlucky garment, so he slips it on, as well as he can, wrong side out,
and leaps upon his horse, without even stopping to put on his boots.

A party of Cossacks, profiting by the cover of a neighboring wood, had
attempted to surprise the detachment: the fight was bloody, and our hero
foamed with rage, for he set much value on his equipments, and the day
had been fatal to him.  Thinking of his torn clothes and lost boots, he
hacked away with more fury than ever; a bright moon illumined the scene
of action, and his comrades were able to appreciate the brilliant valor
of our grenadier, who killed two Cossacks, and took an officer prisoner,
with his own hand.

After this skirmish, in which the detachment had maintained its position,
the captain drew up his men to compliment them on their success, and
ordered the clothes-mender to advance from the ranks, that he might thank
him publicly for his gallant behavior.  Our hero could have dispensed
with this ovation, but he was not the less obliged to obey.

Judge of the surprise of both captain and troopers, when they saw this
tall and stern-looking figure ride forward at a slow pace, with his naked
feet in the stirrups, and naked legs pressing the sides of his charger.

The captain drew near in astonishment; but recalling the occupation of
the soldier at the moment when the alarm was given, he understood the
whole mystery.  "Ha, my old comrade!" he exclaimed, "thou art like King
Dagobert--wearing thy breeches inside out."

In spite of discipline, this joke of the captain's was received with
peals of ill-repressed laughter.  But our friend, sitting upright in his
saddle, with his left thumb pressing the well adjusted reins, and his
sword-hilt carried close to his right thigh, made a half-wheel, and
returned to his place in the ranks without changing countenance, after he
had duly received the congratulations of his captain.  From that day,
Francis Baudoin received and kept the nickname of Dagobert.

Now Dagobert was under the porch of the inn, occupied in washing, to the
great amazement of sundry beer-drinkers, who observed him with curious
eyes from the large common room in which they were assembled.

In truth, it was a curious spectacle.  Dagobert had laid aside his gray
top-coat, and rolled up the sleeves of his shirt; with a vigorous hand,
and good supply of soap, he was rubbing away at a wet handkerchief,
spread out on the board, the end of which rested in a tub full of water.
Upon his right arm, tattooed with warlike emblems in red and blue colors,
two scars, deep enough to admit the finger, were distinctly visible.  No
wonder then, that, while smoking their pipes, and emptying their pots of
beer, the Germans should display some surprise at the singular occupation
of this tall, moustached, bald-headed old man, with the forbidding
countenance--for the features of Dagobert assumed a harsh and grim
expression, when he was no longer in presence of the two girls.

The sustained attention, of which he saw himself the object, began to put
him out of patience, for his employment appeared to him quite natural.
At this moment, the Prophet entered the porch, and, perceiving the
soldier, eyed him attentively for several seconds; then approaching, he
said to him in French, in a rather sly tone:  "It would seem, comrade,
that you have not much confidence in the washerwomen of Mockern?"

Dagobert, without discontinuing his work, half turned his head with a
frown, looked askant at the Prophet, and made him no answer.

Astonished at this silence, Morok resumed: "If I do not deceive myself,
you are French, my fine fellow.  The words on your arm prove it, and your
military air stamps you as an old soldier of the Empire.  Therefore I
find, that, for a hero, you have taken rather late to wear petticoats."

Dagobert remained mute, but he gnawed his moustache, and plied the soap,
with which he was rubbing the linen, in a most hurried, not to say angry
style; for the face and words of the beast-tamer displeased him more than
he cared to show.  Far from being discouraged, the Prophet continued: "I
am sure, my fine fellow, that you are neither deaf nor dumb; why, then,
will you not answer me?"

Losing all patience, Dagobert turned abruptly round, looked Morok full in
the face, and said to him in a rough voice: "I don't know you: I don't
wish to know you!  Chain up your curb!"  And he betook himself again to
his washing.

"But we may make acquaintance.  We can drink a glass of Rhine-wine
together, and talk of our campaigns.  I also have seen some service, I
assure you; and that, perhaps, will induce you to be more civil."

The veins on the bald forehead of Dagobert swelled perceptibly; he saw in
the look and accent of the man, who thus obstinately addressed him,
something designedly provoking; still he contained himself.

"I ask you, why should you not drink a glass of wine with me--we could
talk about France.  I lived there a long time; it is a fine country; and
when I meet Frenchmen abroad, I feel sociable--particularly when they
know how to use the soap as well as you do.  If I had a housewife I'd
send her to your school."

The sarcastic meaning was no longer disguised; impudence and bravado were
legible in the Prophet's looks.  Thinking that, with such an adversary,
the dispute might become serious, Dagobert, who wished to avoid a quarrel
at any price, carried off his tub to the other end of the porch, hoping
thus to put an end to the scene which was a sore trial of his temper.
A flash of joy lighted up the tawny eyes of the brute-tamer.  The white
circle, which surrounded the pupil seemed to dilate.  He ran his crooked
fingers two or three times through his yellow beard, in token of
satisfaction; then he advanced slowly towards the soldier, accompanied by
several idlers from the common-room.

Notwithstanding his coolness, Dagobert, amazed and incensed at the
impudent pertinacity of the Prophet, was at first disposed to break the
washing-board on his head; but, remembering the orphans, he thought
better of it.

Folding his arms upon his breast, Morok said to him, in a dry and
insolent tone: "It is very certain you are not civil, my man of suds!"
Then, turning to the spectators, he continued in German: "I tell this
Frenchman, with his long moustache, that he is not civil.  We shall see
what answer he'll make.  Perhaps it will be necessary to give him a
lesson.  Heaven preserve me from quarrels!" he added, with mock
compunction; "but the Lord has enlightened me--I am his creature, and I
ought to make his work respected."

The mystical effrontery of this peroration was quite to the taste of the
idlers; the fame of the Prophet had reached Mockern, and, as a
performance was expected on the morrow, this prelude much amused the
company.  On hearing the insults of his adversary, Dagobert could not
help saying in the German language: "I know German.  Speak in German--
the rest will understand you.'

New spectators now arrived, and joined the first comers; the adventure
had become exciting, and a ring was formed around the two persons most

The Prophet resumed in German: "I said that you were not civil, and I now
say you are grossly rude.  What do you answer to that?"

"Nothing!" said Dagobert, coldly, as he proceeded to rinse out another
piece of linen.

"Nothing!" returned Morok; "that is very little.  I will be less brief,
and tell you, that, when an honest man offers a glass of wine civilly to
a stranger, that stranger has no right to answer with insolence, and
deserves to be taught manners if he does so."

Great drops of sweat ran down Dagobert's forehead and cheeks; his large
imperial was incessantly agitated by nervous trembling--but he restrained
himself.  Taking, by two of the corners, the handkerchief which he had
just dipped in the water, he shook it, wrung it, and began to hum to
himself the burden of the old camp ditty:

         "Out of Tirlemont's flea-haunted den,
          We ride forth next day of the sen,
          With sabre in hand, ah!
          Good-bye to Amanda," etc.

The silence to which Dagobert had condemned himself, almost choked him;
this song afforded him some relief.

Morok, turning towards the spectators, said to them, with an air of
hypocritical restraint: "We knew that the soldiers of Napoleon were
pagans, who stabled their horses in churches, and offended the Lord a
hundred times a day, and who, for their sins, were justly drowned in the
Beresino, like so many Pharaohs; but we did not know that the Lord, to
punish these miscreants, had deprived them of courage--their single gift.
"Here is a man, who has insulted, in me, a creature favored by divine
grace, and who affects not to understand that I require an apology; or

"What?" said Dagobert, without looking at the Prophet.

"Or you must give me satisfaction!--I have already told you that I have
seen service.  We shall easily find somewhere a couple of swords, and to-
morrow morning, at peep of day, we can meet behind a wall, and show the
color of our blood--that is, if you have any in your veins!"

This challenge began to frighten the spectators, who were not prepared
for so tragical a conclusion.

"What, fight?--a very, fine idea!" said one.  "To get yourself both
locked up in prison: the laws against duelling are strict."

"Particularly with relation to strangers or nondescripts," added another.
"If they were to find you with arms in your hands, the burgomaster would
shut you up in jail, and keep you there two or three months before

"Would you be so mean as to denounce us?"  asked Morok.

"No, certainly not," cried several; "do as you like.  We are only giving
you a friendly piece of advice, by which you may profit, if you think

"What care I for prison?" exclaimed the Prophet.  "Only give me a couple
of swords, and you shall see to-morrow morning if I heed what the
burgomaster can do or say."

"What would you do with two swords?" asked Dagobert, quietly.

"When you have one in your grasp, and I one in mine, you'd see.  The Lord
commands us to have a care of his honor!"

Dagobert shrugged his shoulders, made a bundle of his linen in his
handkerchief, dried his soap, and put it carefully into a little oil-silk
bag--then, whistling his favorite air of Tirlemont, moved to depart.

The Prophet frowned; he began to fear that his challenge would not be
accepted.  He advanced a step or so to encounter Dagobert, placed himself
before him, as if to intercept his passage, and, folding his arms, and
scanning him from head to foot with bitter insolence, said to him: "So!
an old soldier of that arch-robber, Napoleon, is only fit for a
washerwoman, and refuses to fight!"

"Yes, he refuses to fight," answered Dagobert, in a firm voice, but
becoming fearfully pale.  Never, perhaps, had the soldier given to his
orphan charge such a proof of tenderness and devotion.  For a man of his
character to let himself be insulted with impunity, and refuse to fight
--the sacrifice was immense.

"So you are a coward--you are afraid of me--and you confess it?"

At these words Dagobert made, as it were, a pull upon himself--as if a
sudden thought had restrained him the moment he was about to rush on the
Prophet.  Indeed, he had remembered the two maidens, and the fatal
hindrance which a duel, whatever might be the result, would occasion to
their journey.  But the impulse of anger, though rapid, had been so
significant--the expression of the stern, pale face, bathed in sweat, was
so daunting, that the Prophet and the spectators drew back a step.

Profound silence reigned for some seconds, and then, by a sudden
reaction, Dagobert seemed to have gained the general interest.  One of
the company said to those near him;  "This man is clearly not a coward."

"Oh, no! certainly not."

"It sometimes requires more courage to refuse a challenge than to accept

"After all the Prophet was wrong to pick a quarrel about nothing--and
with a stranger, too."

"Yes, for a stranger, if he fought and was taken up, would have a good
long imprisonment."

"And then, you see," added another, "he travels with two young girls.  In
such a position, ought a man to fight about trifles?  If he should be
killed or put in prison, what would become of them, poor children?"

Dagobert turned towards the person who had pronounced these last words.
He saw a stout fellow, with a frank and simple countenance; the soldier
offered him his hand, and said with emotion:

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