List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V4, by Eugene Sue
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a workman out for a spree?"

"You a workman? why, we are getting into the Arabian Nights!" cried
Dumoulin, more and more surprised.  "You give us a Belshazzar's banquet,
with accompaniment of carriages and four, and yet are a workman?  Only
tell me your trade, and I will join you, leaving the Vine of the Divine
to take care of itself."

"Come, I say! don't think that I am a printer of flimsies, and a
smasher!" replied Jacques, laughing.

"Oh, comrade! no such suspicion--"

"It would be excusable, seeing the rigs I run.  But I'll make you easy on
that point.  I am spending an inheritance."

"Eating and drinking an uncle, no doubt?" said Dumoulin, benevolently.

"Faith, I don't know."

"What! you don't know whom you are eating and drinking?"

"Why, you see, in the first place, my father was a bone-grubber."

"The devil he was!" said Dumoulin, somewhat out of countenance, though in
general not over-scrupulous in the choice of his bottle-companions: but,
after the first surprise, he resumed, with the most charming amenity:
"There are some rag-pickers very high by scent--I mean descent!"

"To be sure! you may think to laugh at me," said Jacques, "but you are
right in this respect, for my father was a man of very great merit.  He
spoke Greek and Latin like a scholar, and often told me that he had not
his equal in mathematics; besides, he had travelled a good deal."

"Well, then," resumed Dumoulin, whom surprise had partly sobered, "you
may belong to the family of the Counts of Rennepont, after all."

"In which case," said Rose-Pompon, laughing, "your father was not a
gutter-snipe by trade, but only for the honor of the thing."

"No, no--worse luck! it was to earn his living," replied Jacques; "but,
in his youth, he had been well off.  By what appeared, or rather by what
did not appear, he had applied to some rich relation, and the rich
relation had said to him:  'Much obliged!  try the work'us.'  Then he
wished to make use of his Greek, and Latin, and mathematics.  Impossible
to do anything--Paris, it seems, being choke-full of learned men--so my
father had to look for his bread at the end of a hooked stick, and there,
too, he must have found it, for I ate of it during two years, when I came
to live with him after the death of an aunt, with whom I had been staying
in the country."

"Your respectable father must have been a sort of philosopher," said
Dumoulin; "but, unless he found an inheritance in a dustbin, I don't see
how you came into your property."

"Wait for the end of the song.  At twelve years of age I was an
apprentice at the factory of M. Tripeaud; two years afterwards, my father
died of an accident, leaving me the furniture of our garret--a mattress,
a chair, and a table--and, moreover, in an old Eau de Cologne box, some
papers (written, it seems, in English), and a bronze medal, worth about
ten sous, chain and all.  He had never spoken to me of these papers, so,
not knowing if they were good for anything, I left them at the bottom of
an old trunk, instead of burning them--which was well for me, since it is
upon these papers that I have had money advanced."

"What a godsend!" said Dumoulin.  "But somebody must have known that you
had them?"

"Yes; one of those people that are always looking out for old debts came
to Cephyse, who told me all about it; and, after he had read the papers,
he said that the affair was doubtful, but that he would lend me ten
thousand francs on it, if I liked.  Ten thousand francs was a large sum,
so I snapped him up!"

"But you must have supposed that these old papers were of great value."

"Faith, no! since my father, who ought to have known their value, had
never realized on them--and then, you see, ten thousand francs in good,
bright coin, falling as it were from the clouds, are not to be sneezed
at--so I took them--only the man made me do a bit of stiff as guarantee,
or something of that kind."

"Did you sign it?"

"Of course--what did I care about it?  The man told me it was only a
matter of form.  He spoke the truth, for the bill fell due a fortnight
ago, and I have heard nothing of it.  I have still about a thousand
francs in his hands, for I have taken him for my banker.  And that's the
way, old pal, that I'm able to flourish and be jolly all day long, as
pleased as Punch to have left my old grinder of a master, M. Tripeaud."

As he pronounced this name, the joyous countenance of Jacques became
suddenly overcast.  Cephyse, no longer under the influence of the painful
impression she had felt for a moment, looked uneasily at Jacques, for she
knew the irritation which the name of M. Tripeaud produced within him.

"M. Tripeaud," resumed Sleepinbuff, "is one that would make the good bad,
and the bad worse.  They say that a good rider makes a good horse; they
ought to say that a good master makes a good workman.  Zounds! when I
think of that fellow!" cried Sleepinbuff, striking his hand violently on
the table.

"Come, Jacques--think of something else!" said the Bacchanal Queen.
"Make him laugh, Rose-Pompon."

"I am not in a humor to laugh," replied Jacques, abruptly, for he was
getting excited from the effects of the wine; "it is more than I can bear
to think of that man.  It exasperates me! it drives me mad!  You should
have heard him saying: 'Beggarly workmen! rascally workmen! they grumble
that they have no food in their bellies; well, then, we'll give them
bayonets to stop their hunger.'[11]  And there's the children in his
factory--you should see them, poor little creatures!--working as long as
the men--wasting away, and dying by the dozen--what odds? as soon as they
were dead plenty of others came to take their places--not like horses,
which can only be replaced with money."

"Well, it is clear, that you do not like your old master," said Dumoulin,
more and more surprised at his Amphitryon's gloomy and thoughtful air,
and, regretting that the conversation had taken this serious turn, he
whispered a few words in the ear of the Bacchanal Queen, who answered by
a sign of intelligence.

"I don't like M. Tripeaud!" exclaimed Jacques.  "I hate him--and shall I
tell you why?  Because it is as much his fault as mine, that I have
become a good-for-nothing loafer.  I don't say it to screen myself; but
it is the truth.  When I was 'prenticed to him as a lad, I was all heart
and ardor, and so bent upon work, that I used to take my shirt off to my
task, which, by the way, was the reason that I was first called
Sleepinbuff.  Well! I might have toiled myself to death; not one word of
encouragement did I receive.  I came first to my work, and was the last
to leave off; what matter? it was not even noticed.  One day, I was
injured by the machinery.  I was taken to the hospital.  When I came out,
weak as I was, I went straight to my work; I was not to be frightened;
the others, who knew their master well, would often say to me: `What a
muff you must be, little one!  What good will you get by working so
hard?'--still I went on.  But, one day, a worthy old man, called Father
Arsene, who had worked in the house many years, and was a model of good
conduct, was suddenly turned away, because he was getting too feeble.  It
was a death-blow to him; his wife was infirm, and, at his age, he could
not get another place.  When the foreman told him he was dismissed, he
could not believe it, and he began to cry for grief.  At that moment, M.
Tripeaud passes; Father Arsene begs him with clasped hands to keep him at
half-wages. `What!' says M. Tripeaud, shrugging his shoulders; `do you
think that I will turn my factory into a house of invalids?  You are no
longer able to work--so be off!' `But I have worked forty years of my
life; what is to become of me?' cried poor Father Arsene.  `That is not
my business,' answered M. Tripeaud; and, addressing his clerk, he added:
`Pay what is due for the week, and let him cut his stick.'  Father Arsene
did cut his stick; that evening, he and his old wife suffocated
themselves with charcoal.  Now, you see, I was then a lad; but that story
of Father Arsene taught me, that, however hard you might work, it would
only profit your master, who would not even thank you for it, and leave
you to die on the flags in your old age.  So all my fire was damped, and
I said to myself: `What's the use of doing more than I just need?  If I
gain heaps of gold for M. Tripeaud, shall I get an atom of it?'
Therefore, finding neither pride nor profit in my work, I took a disgust
for it--just did barely enough to earn my wages--became an idler and a
rake--and said to myself: `When I get too tired of labor, I can always
follow the example of Father Arsene and his wife."'

Whilst Jacques resigned himself to the current of these bitter thoughts,
the other guests, incited by the expressive pantomime of Dumoulin and the
Bacchanal Queen, had tacitly agreed together; and, on a signal from the
Queen, who leaped upon the table, and threw down the bottles and glasses
with her foot, all rose and shouted, with the accompaniment of Ninny
Moulin's rattle "The storm blown Tulip! the quadrille of the Storm-blown

At these joyous cries, which burst suddenly, like shell, Jacques started;
then gazing with astonishment at his guests, he drew his hand across his
brow, as if to chase away the painful ideas that oppressed him, and
exclaimed: "You are right.  Forward the first couple!  Let us be merry!"

In a moment, the table, lifted by vigorous arms, was removed to the
extremity of the banqueting-room; the spectators, mounted upon chairs,
benches, and window-ledges, began to sing in chorus the well-known air of
les Etudiants, so as to serve instead of orchestra, and accompany the
quadrille formed by Sleepinbuff, the Queen, Ninny Moulin, and Rose-

Dumoulin, having entrusted his rattle to one of the guests, resumed his
extravagant Roman helmet and plume; he had taken off his great-coat at
the commencement of the feast, so that he now appeared in all the
splendor of his costume.  His cuirass of bright scales ended in a tunic
of feathers, not unlike those worn by the savages, who form the oxen's
escort on Mardi Gras.  Ninny Moulin had a huge paunch and thin legs, so
that the latter moved about at pleasure in the gaping mouths of his large
top boots.

Little Rose-Pompon, with her pinched-up cocked-hat stuck on one side, her
hands in the pockets of her trousers, her bust a little inclined forward,
and undulating from right to left, advanced to meet Ninny-Moulin; the
latter danced, or rather leaped towards her, his left leg bent under him,
his right leg stretched forward, with the toe raised, and the heel
gliding on the floor; moreover, he struck his neck with his left hand,
and by a simultaneous movement, stretched forth his right, as if he would
have thrown dust in the eyes of his opposite partner.

This first figure met with great success, and the applause was
vociferous, though it was only the innocent prelude to the step of the
Storm-blown Tulip--when suddenly the door opened, and one of the waiters,
after looking about for an instant, in search of Sleepinbuff, ran to him,
and whispered some words in his ear.

"Me!" cried Jacques, laughing; "here's a go!"

The waiter added a few more words, when Sleepinbuff's face assumed an
expression of uneasiness, as he answered.  "Very well! I come directly,"-
-and he made a step towards the door.

"What's the matter, Jacques?" asked the Bacchanal Queen, in some

"I'll be back immediately.  Some one take my place.  Go on with the
dance," said Sleepinbuff, as he hastily left the room.

"Something, that was not put down in the bill," said Dumoulin; "he will
soon be back."

"That's it," said Cephyse.  "Now cavalier suel!" she added, as she took
Jacques's place, and the dance continued.

Ninny Moulin had just taken hold of Rose Pompon with his right hand, and
of the Queen with his left, in order to advance between the two, in which
figure he showed off his buffoonery to the utmost extent, when the door
again opened, and the same waiter, who had called out Jacques, approached
Cephyse with an air of consternation, and whispered in her ear, as he had
before done to Sleepinbuff.

The Bacchanal Queen grew pale, uttered a piercing scream, and rushed out
of the room without a word, leaving her guests in stupefaction.

[11] These atrocious words were actually spoken during the Lyons Riots.



The Bacchanal Queen, following the waiter, arrived at the bottom of the
staircase.  A coach was standing before the door of the house.  In it she
saw Sleepinbuff, with one of the men who, two hours before, had been
waiting on the Place du Chatelet.

On the arrival of Cephyse, the man got down, and said to Jacques, as he
drew out his watch: "I give you a quarter of an hour; it is all that I
can do for you, my good fellow; after that we must start.  Do not try to
escape, for we'll be watching at the coach doors."

With one spring, Cephyse was in the coach.  Too much overcome to speak
before, she now exclaimed, as she took her seat by Jacques, and remarked
the paleness of his countenance: "What is it?  What do they want with

"I am arrested for debt," said Jacques, in a mournful voice.

"You!" exclaimed Cephyse, with a heart-rending sob.

"Yes, for that bill, or guarantee, they made me sign.  And yet the man
said it was only a form--the rascal!"

"But you have money in his hands; let him take that on account."

"I have not a copper; he sends me word by the bailiff, that not having
paid the bill, I shall not have the last thousand francs."

"Then let us go to him, and entreat him to leave you at liberty.  It was
he who came to propose to lend you this money.  I know it well, as he
first addressed himself to me.  He will have pity on you."

"Pity?--a money broker pity?  No! no!"

"Is there then no hope? none?" cried Cephyse clasping her hands in
anguish.  "But there must be something done," she resumed.  "He promised

"You can see how he keeps his promises," answered Jacques, with
bitterness.  "I signed, without even knowing what I signed.  The bill is
over-due; everything is in order, it would be vain to resist.  They have
just explained all that to me."

"But they cannot keep you long in prison.  It is impossible."

"Five years, if I do not pay.  As I'll never be able to do so, my fate is

"Oh! what a misfortune! and not to be able to do anything!" said Cephyse,
hiding her face in her hands.

"Listen to me, Cephyse," resumed Jacques, in a voice of mournful emotion;
"since I am here, I have thought only of one thing--what is to become of

"Never mind me!"

"Not mind you?--art mad?  What will you do?  The furniture of our two
rooms is not worth two hundred francs.  We have squandered our money so
foolishly, that we have not even paid our rent.  We owe three quarters,
and we must not therefore count upon the furniture.  I leave you without
a coin.  At least I shall be fed in prison--but how will you manage to

"What is the use of grieving beforehand?"

"I ask you how you will live to-morrow?" cried Jacques.

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