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´╗┐Title: Tartarin of Tarascon
Author: Daudet, Alphonse, 1840-1897
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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By Alphonse Daudet


I. The Garden Round the Giant Trees.

MY first visit to Tartarin of Tarascon has remained a
never-to-be-forgotten date in my life; although quite ten or a dozen
years ago, I remember it better than yesterday.

At that time the intrepid Tartarin lived in the third house on the left
as the town begins, on the Avignon road. A pretty little villa in
the local style, with a front garden and a balcony behind, the walls
glaringly white and the venetians very green; and always about the
doorsteps a brood of little Savoyard shoe-blackguards playing hopscotch,
or dozing in the broad sunshine with their heads pillowed on their

Outwardly the dwelling had no remarkable features, and none would ever
believe it the abode of a hero; but when you stepped inside, ye gods and
little fishes! what a change! From turret to foundation-stone--I mean,
from cellar to garret,--the whole building wore a heroic front; even so
the garden!

O that garden of Tartarin's! there's not its match in Europe! Not a
native tree was there--not one flower of France; nothing hut exotic
plants, gum-trees, gourds, cotton-woods, cocoa and cacao, mangoes,
bananas, palms, a baobab, nopals, cacti, Barbary figs--well, you would
believe yourself in the very midst of Central Africa, ten thousand
leagues away. It is but fair to say that these were none of full growth;
indeed, the cocoa-palms were no bigger than beet root and the baobab
(arbos gigantea--"giant tree," you know) was easily enough circumscribed
by a window-pot; but, notwithstanding this, it was rather a sensation
for Tarascon, and the townsfolk who were admitted on Sundays to the
honour of contemplating Tartarin's baobab, went home chokeful of

Try to conceive my own emotion, which I was bound to feel on that day of
days when I crossed through this marvellous garden, and that was capped
when I was ushered into the hero's sanctum.

His study, one of the lions--I should say, lions' dens--of the town, was
at the end of the garden, its glass door opening right on to the baobab.

You are to picture a capacious apartment adorned with firearms and steel
blades from top to bottom: all the weapons of all the countries in the
wide world--carbines, rifles, blunderbusses, Corsican, Catalan, and
dagger knives, Malay kreeses, revolvers with spring-bayonets, Carib and
flint arrows, knuckle-dusters, life-preservers, Hottentot clubs, Mexican
lassoes--now, can you expect me to name the rest? Upon the whole fell a
fierce sunlight, which made the blades and the brass butt-plate of the
muskets gleam as if all the more to set your flesh creeping. Still,
the beholder was soothed a little by the tame air of order and tidiness
reigning over the arsenal. Everything was in place, brushed, dusted,
labelled, as in a museum; from point to point the eye descried some
obliging little card reading:

       I             Poisoned Arrows!          I
       I               Do Not Touch!           I


       I                Loaded!                I
       I             Take care, please!        I

If it had not been for these cautions I never should have dared venture

In the middle of the room was an occasional table, on which stood
a decanter of rum, a siphon of soda-water, a Turkish tobacco-pouch,
"Captain Cook's Voyages," the Indian tales of Fenimore Cooper and
Gustave Aimard, stories of hunting the bear, eagle, elephant, and so
on. Lastly, beside the table sat a man of between forty and forty-five,
short, stout, thick-set, ruddy, with flaming eyes and a strong stubbly
beard; he wore flannel tights, and was in his shirt sleeves; one hand
held a book, and the other brandished a very large pipe with an iron
bowl-cap. Whilst reading heaven only knows what startling adventure of
scalp-hunters, he pouted out his lower lip in a terrifying way, which
gave the honest phiz of the man living placidly on his means the same
impression of kindly ferocity which abounded throughout the house.

This man was Tartarin himself--the Tartarin of Tarascon, the great,
dreadnought, incomparable Tartarin of Tarascon.

II. A general glance bestowed upon the good town of Tarascon, and a
particular one on "the cap-poppers."

AT the time I am telling of, Tartarin of Tarascon had not become the
present-day Tartarin, the great one so popular in the whole South of
France: but yet he was even then the cock of the walk at Tarascon.

Let us show whence arose this sovereignty.

In the first place you must know that everybody is shooting mad in these
parts, from the greatest to the least. The chase is the local craze, and
so it has ever been since the mythological times when the Tarasque, as
the county dragon was called, flourished himself and his tail in the
town marshes, and entertained shooting parties got up against him. So
you see the passion has lasted a goodish bit.

It follows that, every Sunday morning, Tarascon flies to arms, lets
loose the dogs of the hunt, and rushes out of its walls, with game-bag
slung and fowling-piece on the shoulder, together with a hurly-burly of
hounds, cracking of whips, and blowing of whistles and hunting-horns.
It's splendid to see! Unfortunately, there's a lack of game, an absolute

Stupid as the brute creation is, you can readily understand that, in
time, it learnt some distrust.

For five leagues around about Tarascon, forms, lairs, and burrows are
empty, and nesting-places abandoned. You'll not find a single quail or
blackbird, one little leveret, or the tiniest tit. And yet the pretty
hillocks are mightily tempting, sweet smelling as they are of myrtle,
lavender, and rosemary; and the fine muscatels plumped out with
sweetness even unto bursting, as they spread along the banks of the
Rhone, are deucedly tempting too. True, true; but Tarascon lies behind
all this, and Tarascon is down in the black books of the world of fur
and feather. The very birds of passage have ticked it off on their
guide-books, and when the wild ducks, coming down towards the Camargue
in long triangles, spy the town steeples from afar, the outermost flyers
squawk out loudly:

"Look out! there's Tarascon! give Tarascon the go-by, duckies!"

And the flocks take a swerve.

In short, as far as game goes, there's not a specimen left in the land
save one old rogue of a hare, escaped by miracle from the massacres, who
is stubbornly determined to stick to it all his life! He is very well
known at Tarascon, and a name has been given him. "Rapid" is what
they call him. It is known that he has his form on M. Bompard's
grounds--which, by the way, has doubled, ay, tripled, the value of the
property--but nobody has yet managed to lay him low. At present, only
two or three inveterate fellows worry themselves about him. The rest
have given him up as a bad job, and old Rapid has long ago passed
into the legendary world, although your Tarasconer is very slightly
superstitious naturally, and would eat cock-robins on toast, or the
swallow, which is Our Lady's own bird, for that matter, if he could find

"But that won't do!" you will say. Inasmuch as game is so scarce, what
can the sportsmen do every Sunday?

What can they do?

Why, goodness gracious! they go out into the real country two or
three leagues from town. They gather in knots of five or six, recline
tranquilly in the shade of some well, old wall, or olive tree, extract
from their game-bags a good-sized piece of boiled beef, raw onions, a
sausage, and anchovies, and commence a next to endless snack, washed
down with one of those nice Rhone wines, which sets a toper laughing and
singing. After that, when thoroughly braced up, they rise, whistle the
dogs to heel, set the guns on half cock, and go "on the shoot"--another
way of saying that every man plucks off his cap, "shies" it up with all
his might, and pops it on the fly with No. 5, 6, or 2 shot, according to
what he is loaded for.

The man who lodges most shot in his cap is hailed as king of the hunt,
and stalks back triumphantly at dusk into Tarascon, with his riddled
cap on the end of his gun-barrel, amid any quantity of dog-barks and

It is needless to say that cap-selling is a fine business in the town.
There are even some hatters who sell hunting-caps ready shot, torn, and
perforated for the bad shots; but the only buyer known is the chemist
Bezuquet. This is dishonourable!

As a marksman at caps, Tartarin of Tarascon never had his match.

Every Sunday morning out he would march in a new cap, and back he would
strut every Sunday evening with a mere thing of shreds. The loft of
Baobab Villa was full of these glorious trophies. Hence all Tarascon
acknowledged him as master; and as Tartarin thoroughly understood
hunting, and had read all the handbooks of all possible kinds of venery,
from cap-popping to Burmese tiger-shooting, the sportsmen constituted
him their great cynegetical judge, and took him for referee and
arbitrator in all their differences.

Between three and four daily, at Costecalde the gunsmith's, a stout
stern pipe-smoker might be seen in a green leather-covered arm-chair in
the centre of the shop crammed with cap-poppers, they all on foot and
wrangling. This was Tartarin of Tarascon delivering judgement--Nimrod
plus Solomon.

III. "Naw, naw, naw!" The general glance protracted upon the good town.

AFTER the craze for sporting, the lusty Tarascon race cherishes one
love: ballad-singing. There's no believing what a quantity of ballads
is used up in that little region. All the sentimental stuff turning into
sere and yellow leaves in the oldest portfolios, are to be found in full
pristine lustre in Tarascon. Ay, the entire collection. Every family has
its own pet, as is known to the town.

For instance, it is an established fact that this is the chemist
Bezuquet's family's:

"Thou art the fair star that I adore!"

The gunmaker Costecalde's family's:

"Would'st thou come to the land Where the log-cabins rise?"

The official registrar's family's:

"If I wore a coat of invisible green, Do you think for a moment
I could be seen?"

And so on for the whole of Tarascon. Two or three times a week there
were parties where they were sung. The singularity was their being
always the same, and that the honest Tarasconers had never had an
inclination to change them during the long, long time they had been
harping on them. They were handed down from father to son in the
families, without anybody improving on them or bowdlerising them:
they were sacred. Never did it occur to Costecalde's mind to sing
the Bezuquets', or the Bezuquets to try Costecalde's. And yet you may
believe that they ought to know by heart what they had been singing for
two-score years! But, nay! everybody stuck to his own,and they were all

In ballad-singing, as in cap-popping, Tartarin was still the foremost.
His superiority over his fellow-townsmen consisted in his not having
any one song of his own, but in knowing the lot, the whole, mind you!
But--there's a but--it was the devil's own work to get him to sing them.

Surfeited early in life with his drawing-room successes, our hero
preferred by far burying himself in his hunting story-books, or spending
the evening at the club, to making a personal exhibition before a Nimes
piano between a pair of home-made candles. These musical parades seemed
beneath him. Nevertheless, at whiles, when there was a harmonic party at
Bezuquet's, he would drop into the chemist's shop, as if by chance,
and, after a deal of pressure, consent to do the grand duo in Robert
le Diable with old Madame Bezuquet. Whoso never heard that never heard
anything! For my part, even if I lived a hundred years, I should always
see the mighty Tartarin solemnly stepping up to the piano, setting
his arms akimbo, working up his tragic mien, and, beneath the green
reflection from the show-bottles in the window, trying to give his
pleasant visage the fierce and satanic expression of Robert the Devil.
Hardly would he fall into position before the whole audience would be
shuddering with the foreboding that something uncommon was at
hand. After a hush, old Madame Bezuquet would commence to her own

  "Robert, my love is thine!
  To thee I my faith did plight,
  Thou seest my affright,--
  Mercy for thine own sake,
  And mercy for mine!"

In an undertone she would add: "Now, then, Tartarin!" Whereupon Tartarin
of Tarascon, with crooked arms, clenched fists, and quivering nostrils,
would roar three times in a formidable voice, rolling like a thunderclap
in the bowels of the instrument:

"No! no! no!" which, like the thorough southerner he was, he pronounced
nasally as "Naw! naw! naw!" Then would old Madame Bezuquet again sing:

  "Mercy for thine own sake,
   And mercy for mine!"

"Naw! naw! naw!" bellowed Tartarin at his loudest, and there the gem

Not long, you see; but it was so handsomely voiced forth, so clearly
gesticulated, and so diabolical, that a tremor of terror overran the
chemist's shop, and the "Naw! naw! naw!" would be encored several times

Upon this Tartarin would sponge his brow, smile on the ladies, wink to
the sterner sex, and withdraw upon his triumph to go remark at the club
with a trifling, offhand air:

"I have just come from the Bezuquets', where I was forced to sing 'em
the duo from Robert le Diable."

The cream of the joke was that he really believed it!

IV. "They!"

CHIEFLY to the account of these diverse talents did Tartarin owe his
lofty position in the town of Tarascon. Talking of captivating, though,
this deuce of a fellow knew how to ensnare everybody. Why, the army,
at Tarascon, was for Tartarin. The brave commandant, Bravida, honorary
captain retired--in the Military Clothing Factory Department--called him
a game fellow; and you may well admit that the warrior knew all about
game fellows, he played such a capital knife and fork on game of all

So was the legislature on Tartarin's side. Two or three times, in open
court, the old chief judge, Ladevese, had said, in alluding to him:

"He is a character!"

Lastly, the masses were for Tartarin. He had become the swell bruiser,
the aristocratic pugilist, the crack bully of the local Corinthians
for the Tarasconers, from his build, bearing, style--that aspect of a
guard's-trumpeter's charger which fears no noise; his reputation as a
hero coming from nobody knew whence or for what, and some scramblings
for coppers and a few kicks to the little ragamuffins basking at his

Along the waterside, when Tartarin came home from hunting on Sunday
evenings, with his cap on the muzzle of his gun, and his fustian
shooting-jacket belted in tightly, the sturdy river-lightermen would
respectfully bob, and blinking towards the huge biceps swelling out his
arms, would mutter among one another in admiration:

"Now, there's a powerful chap if you like! he has double-muscles!"

"Double muscles!" why, you never heard of such a thing outside of

For all this, with all his numberless parts, double-muscles, the
popular favour, and the so precious esteem of brave Commandant Bravida,
ex-captain (in the Army Clothing Factory), Tartarin was not happy: this
life in a petty town weighed upon him and suffocated him.

The great man of Tarascon was bored in Tarascon.

The fact is, for a heroic temperament like his, a wild adventurous
spirit which dreamt of nothing but battles, races across the pampas,
mighty battues, desert sands, blizzards and typhoons, it was not enough
to go out every Sunday to pop at a cap, and the rest of the time to
ladle out casting-votes at the gunmaker's. Poor dear great man! If this
existence were only prolonged, there would be sufficient tedium in it to
kill him with consumption.

In vain did he surround himself with baobabs and other African trees,
to widen his horizon, and some little to forget his club and the
market-place; in vain did he pile weapon upon weapon, and Malay kreese
upon Malay kreese; in vain did he cram with romances, endeavouring like
the immortal Don Quixote to wrench himself by the vigour of his fancy
out of the talons of pitiless reality. Alas! all that he did to appease
his thirst for deeds of daring only helped to augment it. The sight of
all the murderous implements kept him in a perpetual stew of wrath and
exaltation. His revolvers, repeating rifles, and ducking-guns shouted
"Battle! battle!" out of their mouths. Through the twigs of his baobab,
the tempest of great voyages and journeys soughed and blew bad advice.
To finish him came Gustave Aimard, Mayne Reid, and Fenimore Cooper.

Oh, how many times did Tartarin with a howl spring up on the sultry
summer afternoons, when he was reading alone amidst his blades, points,
and edges; how many times did he dash down his book and rush to the wall
to unhook a deadly arm! The poor man forgot he was at home in Tarascon,
in his underclothes, and with a handkerchief round his head. He would
translate his readings into action, and, goading himself with his own
voice, shout out whilst swinging a battle-axe or tomahawk:

"Now, only let 'em come!"

"Them"? who were they?

Tartarin did not himself any too clearly understand. "They" was all
that should be attacked and fought with, all that bites, claws, scalps,
whoops, and yells--the Sioux Indians dancing around the war-stake to
which the unfortunate pale-face prisoner is lashed. The grizzly of the
Rocky Mountains, who wobbles on his hind legs, and licks himself with a
tongue full of blood. The Touareg, too, in the desert, the Malay pirate,
the brigand of the Abruzzi--in short, "they" was warfare, travel,
adventure, and glory.

But, alas!! it was to no avail that the fearless Tarasconer called for
and defied them; never did they come. Odsboddikins! what would they have
come to do in Tarascon?

Nevertheless Tartarin always expected to run up against them,
particularly some evening in going to the club.

V. How Tartarin went round to his club.

LITTLE, indeed, beside Tartarin of Tarascon, arming himself capa-pie
to go to his club at nine, an hour after the retreat had sounded on the
bugle, was the Templar Knight preparing for a sortie upon the infidel,
the Chinese tiger equipping himself for combat, or the Comanche warrior
painting up for going on the war-path. "All hands make ready for
action!" as the men-of-war's men say.

In his left hand Tartarin took a steel-pointed knuckle-duster; in the
right he carried a sword-cane; in his left pocket a life-preserver; in
the right a revolver. On his chest, betwixt outer and under garment,
lay a Malay kreese. But never any poisoned arrows--they are weapons
altogether too unfair.

Before starting, in the silence and obscurity of his study, he exercised
himself for a while, warding off imaginary cuts and thrusts, lunging at
the wall, and giving his muscles play; then he took his master-key and
went through the garden leisurely; without hurrying, mark you. "Cool and
calm--British courage, that is the true sort, gentlemen." At the garden
end he opened the heavy iron door, violently and abruptly so that it
should slam against the outer wall. If "they" had been skulking behind
it, you may wager they would have been jam. Unhappily, they were not

The way being open, out Tartarin would sally, quickly glancing to the
right and left, ere banging the door to and fastening it smartly with
double-locking. Then, on the way.

Not so much as a cat upon the Avignon road--all the doors closed, and
no lights in the casements. All was black, except for the parish lamps,
well spaced apart, blinking in the river mist.

Calm and proud, Tartarin of Tarascon marched on in the night, ringing
his heels with regularity, and sending sparks out of the paving-stones
with the ferule of his stick. Whether in avenues, streets, or lanes,
he took care to keep in the middle of the road--an excellent method of
precaution, allowing one to see danger coming, and, above all, to avoid
any droppings from windows, as happens after dark in Tarascon and the
Old Town of Edinburgh. On seeing so much prudence in Tartarin, pray do
not conclude that Tartarin had any fear--dear, no! he only was on his

The best proof that Tartarin was not scared is, that instead of going to
the club by the shortest cut, he went over the town by the longest and
darkest way round, through a mass of vile, paltry alleys, at the mouth
of which the Rhone could be seen ominously gleaming. The poor knight
constantly hoped that, beyond the turn of one of these cut-throats'
haunts, "they" would leap from the shadow and fall on his back. I
warrant you, "they" would have been warmly received, though; but, alack!
by reason of some nasty meanness of destiny, never indeed did Tartarin
of Tarascon enjoy the luck to meet any ugly customers--not so much as a
dog or a drunken man--nothing at all!

Still, there were false alarms somewhiles. He would catch a sound of
steps and muffled voices.

"Ware hawks!" Tartarin would mutter, and stop short, as if taking root
on the spot, scrutinising the gloom, sniffing the wind, even glueing his
ear to the ground in the orthodox Red Indian mode. The steps would
draw nearer, and the voices grow more distinct, till no more doubt was
possible. "They" were coming--in fact, here "they" were!

Steady, with eye afire and heaving breast, Tartarin would gather
himself like a jaguar in readiness to spring forward whilst uttering his
war-cry, when, all of a sudden, out of the thick of the murkiness, he
would hear honest Tarasconian voices quite tranquilly hailing him with:

"Hullo! you, by Jove! it's Tartarin! Good night, old fellow!"

Maledictions upon it! It was the chemist Bezuquet, with his family,
coming from singing their family ballad at Costecalde's.

"Oh, good even, good even!" Tartarin would growl, furious at his
blunder, and plunging fiercely into the gloom with his cane waved on

On arriving in the street where stood his club-house, the dauntless one
would linger yet a moment, walking up and down before the portals ere
entering. But, finally, weary of awaiting "them," and certain "they"
would not show "themselves," he would fling a last glare of defiance
into the shades and snarl wrathfully:

"Nothing, nothing at all! there never is nothing!"

Upon which double negation, which he meant as a stronger affirmative,
the worthy champion would walk in to play his game of bezique with the

VI. The two Tartarins.

ANSWER me, you will say, how the mischief is it that Tartarin of
Tarascon never left Tarascon with all this mania for adventure, need of
powerful sensations, and folly about travel, rides, and journeys from
the Pole to the Equator?

For that is a fact: up to the age of five-and-forty, the dreadless
Tarasconian had never once slept outside his own room. He had not even
taken that obligatory trip to Marseilles which every sound Provencal
makes upon coming of age. The most of his knowledge included Beaucaire,
and yet that's not far from Tarascon, there being merely the bridge to
go over. Unfortunately, this rascally bridge has so often been blown
away by the gales, it is so long and frail, and the Rhone has such
a width at this spot that--well, faith! you understand! Tartarin of
Tarascon preferred terra firma.

We are afraid we must make a clean breast of it: in our hero there were
two very distinct characters. Some Father of the Church has said: "I
feel there are two men in me." He would have spoken truly in saying this
about Tartarin, who carried in his frame the soul of Don Quixote, the
same chivalric impulses, heroic ideal, and crankiness for the grandiose
and romantic; but, worse is the luck! he had not the body of the
celebrated hidalgo, that thin and meagre apology for a body, on which
material life failed to take a hold; one that could get through twenty
nights without its breast-plate being unbuckled off, and forty-eight
hours on a handful of rice. On the contrary, Tartarin's body was a stout
honest bully of a body, very fat, very weighty, most sensual and fond
of coddling, highly touchy, full of low-class appetite and homely
requirements--the short, paunchy body on stumps of the immortal Sancho

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in the one same man! you will readily
comprehend what a cat-and-dog couple they made! what strife! what
clapper-clawing! Oh, the fine dialogue for Lucian or Saint-Evremond to
write, between the two Tartarins--Quixote-Tartarin and Sancho-Tartarin!
Quixote-Tartarin firing up on the stories of Gustave Aimard, and
shouting: "Up and at 'em!" and Sancho-Tartarin thinking only of the
rheumatics ahead, and murmuring: "I mean to stay at home."

                       THE DUET.

  (Highly excited.)              (Quite calmly.)
  Cover yourself with glory,     Tartarin, cover yourself
  Tartarin.                      with flannel.

  (Still more excitedly.)        (Still more calmly.)
  O for the terrible double-     O for the thick knitted
  barrelled rifle! O for         waistcoats! and warm
  bowie-knives, lassoes,         knee-caps! O for the
  and moccasins!                 welcome padded caps
                                 with ear-flaps!

  (Above all self-control.)     (Ringing up the maid.)
  A battle-axe! fetch me a       Now, then, Jeannette, do
  battle-axe!                    bring up that chocolate!

Whereupon Jeannette would appear with an unusually good cup of
chocolate, just right in warmth, sweetly smelling, and with the play
of light on watered silk upon its unctuous surface, and with succulent
grilled steak flavoured with anise-seed, which would set Sancho-Tartarin
off on the broad grin, and into a laugh that drowned the shouts of

Thus it came about that Tartarin of Tarascon never had left Tarascon.

VII. Tartarin--The Europeans at Shanghai--Commerce--The Tartars--Can
Tartarin of Tarascon be an Impostor?--The Mirage.

UNDER one conjunction of circumstances, Tartarin did, however, once
almost start out upon a great voyage.

The three brothers Garcio-Camus, relatives of Tarascon, established
in business at Shanghai, offered him the managership of one of their
branches there. This undoubtedly presented the kind of life he hankered
after. Plenty of active business, a whole army of under-strappers to
order about, and connections with Russia, Persia, Turkey in Asia--in
short, to be a merchant prince!

In Tartarin's mouth, the title of Merchant Prince thundered out as
something stunning!

The house of Garcio-Camus had the further advantage of sometimes being
favoured with a call from the Tartars. Then the doors would be slammed
shut, all the clerks flew to arms, up ran the consular flag, and zizz!
phit! bang! out of the windows upon the Tartars.

I need not tell you with what enthusiasm Quixote-Tartarin clutched this
proposition; sad to say, Sancho-Tartarin did not see it in the same
light, and, as he was the stronger party, it never came to anything. But
in the town there was much talk about it. Would he go or would he not?
"I'll lay he will!"--and "I'll wager he won't!" It was the event of the
week. In the upshot, Tartarin did not depart, but the matter redounded
to his credit none the less. Going or not going to Shanghai was all one
to Tarascon. Tartarin's journey was so much talked about that people got
to believe he had done it and returned, and at the club in the evening
members would actually ask for information on life at Shanghai, the
manners and customs and climate, about opium, and commerce.

Deeply read up, Tartarin would graciously furnish the particulars
desired, and, in the end, the good fellow was not quite sure himself
about not having gone to Shanghai, so that, after relating for the
hundredth time how the Tartars came down on the trading post, it would
most naturally happen him to add:

"Then I made my men take up arms and hoist the consular flag, and zizz!
phit! bang! out of the windows upon the Tartars."

On hearing this, the whole club would quiver.

"But according to that, this Tartarin of yours is an awful liar."

"No, no, a thousand times over, no! Tartarin was no liar."

"But the man ought to know that he has never been to Shanghai"--

"Why, of course, he knows that; but still"--

"But still," you see--mark that! It is high time for the law to be laid
down once for all on the reputation as drawers of the long bow which
Northerners fling at Southerners. There are no Baron Munchausens in the
south of France, neither at Nimes nor Marseilles, Toulouse nor Tarascon.
The Southerner does not deceive but is self-deceived. He does not always
tell the cold-drawn truth, but he believes he does. His falsehood is not
any such thing, but a kind of mental mirage.

Yes, purely mirage! The better to follow me, you should actually follow
me into the South, and you will see I am right. You have only to look at
that Lucifer's own country, where the sun transmogrifies everything,
and magnifies it beyond life-size. The little hills of Provence are no
bigger than the Butte Montmartre, but they will loom up like the Rocky
Mountains; the Square House at Nimes--a mere model to put on your
sideboard--will seem grander than St. Peter's. You will see--in brief,
the only exaggerator in the South is Old Sol, for he does enlarge
everything he touches. What was Sparta in its days of splendour? a
pitiful hamlet. What was Athens? at the most, a second-class town; and
yet in history both appear to us as enormous cities. This is a sample of
what the sun can do.

Are you going to be astonished after this that the same sun falling upon
Tarascon should have made of an ex-captain in the Army Clothing Factory,
like Bravida, the "brave commandant;" of a sprout an Indian fig-tree;
and of a man who had missed going to Shanghai one who had been there?

VIII. Mitaine's Menagerie--A Lion from the Atlas at Tarascon--A Solemn
and Fearsome Confrontation.

EXHIBITING Tartarin of Tarascon, as we are, in his private life, before
Fame kissed his brow and garlanded him with her well-worn laurel wreath,
and having narrated his heroic existence in a modest state, his delights
and sorrows, his dreams and his hopes, let us hurriedly skip to the
grandest pages of his story, and to the singular event which was to give
the first flight to his incomparable career.

It happened one evening at Costecalde the gunmaker's, where Tartarin was
engaged in showing several sportsmen the working of the needle-gun,
then in its first novelty. The door suddenly flew open, and in rushed a
bewildered cap-popper, howling "A lion, a lion!" General was the alarm,
stupor, uproar and tumult. Tartarin prepared to resist cavalry with
the bayonet, whilst Costecalde ran to shut the door. The sportsman was
surrounded and pressed and questioned, and here follows what he told
them: Mitaine's Menagerie, returning from Beaucaire Fair, had consented
to stay over a few days at Tarascon, and was just unpacking, to set up
the show on the Castle-green, with a lot of boas, seals, crocodiles, and
a magnificent lion from the Atlas Mountains.

An African lion in Tarascon?

Never in the memory of living man had the like been seen. Hence our
dauntless cap-poppers looked at one another how proudly! What a beaming
on their sunburned visages! and in every nook of Costecalde's shop what
hearty congratulatory grips of the hand were silently exchanged! The
sensation was so great and unforeseen that nobody could find a word to
say--not even Tartarin.

Blanched and agitated, with the needle-gun still in his fist, he
brooded, erect before the counter. A lion from the Atlas Range at pistol
range from him, a couple of strides off? a lion, mind you--the beast
heroic and ferocious above all others, the King of the Brute Creation,
the crowning game of his fancies, something like the leading actor in
the ideal company which played such splendid tragedies in his mind's
eye. A lion, heaven be thanked! and from the Atlas, to boot! It was more
than the great Tartarin could bear.

Suddenly a flush of blood flew into his face. His eyes flashed. With one
convulsive movement he shouldered the needle-gun, and turning towards
the brave Commandant Bravida (formerly captain in the Army Clothing
Department, please to remember), he thundered to him--

"Let's go have a look at him, commandant."

"Here, here, I say! that's my gun--my needle-gun you are carrying off,"
timidly ventured the wary Costecalde; but Tartarin had already got round
the corner, with all the cap-poppers proudly lock-stepping behind him.

When they arrived at the menagerie, they found a goodly number of people
there. Tarascon, heroic but too long deprived of sensational shows, had
rushed upon Mitaine's portable theatre, and had taken it by storm. Hence
the voluminous Madame Mitaine was highly contented. In an Arab costume,
her arms bare to the elbow, iron anklets on, a whip in one hand and a
plucked though live pullet in the other, the noted lady was doing the
honours of the booth to the Tarasconians; and, as she also had "double
muscles," her success was almost as great as her animals.

The entrance of Tartarin with the gun on his shoulder was a damper.

All our good Tarasconians, who had been quite tranquilly strolling
before the cages, unarmed and with no distrust, without even any idea
of danger, felt momentary apprehension, naturally enough, on beholding
their mighty Tartarin rush into the enclosure with his formidable engine
of war. There must be something to fear when a hero like he was, came
weaponed; so, in a twinkling, all the space along the cage fronts was
cleared. The youngsters burst out squalling for fear, and the women
looked round for the nearest way out. The chemist Bezuquet made off
altogether, alleging that he was going home for his gun.

Gradually, however, Tartarin's bearing restored courage. With head
erect, the intrepid Tarasconian slowly and calmly made the circuit
of the booth, passing the seal's tank without stopping, glancing
disdainfully on the long box filled with sawdust in which the boa would
digest its raw fowl, and going to take his stand before the lion's cage.

A terrible and solemn confrontation, this! The lion of Tarascon and the
lion of Africa face to face!

On the one part, Tartarin erect, with his hamstrings in tension, and
his arms folded on his gun barrel; on the other, the lion, a gigantic
specimen, humped up in the straw, with blinking orbs and brutish mien,
resting his huge muzzle and tawny full-bottomed wig on his forepaws.
Both calm in their gaze.

Singular thing! whether the needle-gun had given him "the needle," if
the popular idiom is admissible, or that he scented an enemy of
his race, the lion, who had hitherto regarded the Tarasconians with
sovereign scorn, and yawned in their faces, was all at once affected by
ire. At first he sniffed; then he growled hollowly, stretching out his
claws; rising, he tossed his head, shook his mane, opened a capacious
maw, and belched a deafening roar at Tartarin.

A yell of fright responded, as Tarascon precipitated itself madly
towards the exit, women and children, lightermen, cap-poppers, even the
brave Commandant Bravida himself. But, alone, Tartarin of Tarascon
had not budged. There he stood, firm and resolute, before the cage,
lightnings in his eyes, and on his lip that gruesome grin with which
all the town was familiar. In a moment's time, when all the cap-poppers,
some little fortified by his bearing and the strength of the bars,
re-approached their leader, they heard him mutter, as he stared Leo out
of countenance:

"Now, this is something like a hunt!"

All the rest of that day, never a word farther could they draw from
Tartarin of Tarascon.

IX. Singular effects of Mental Mirage.

CONFINING his remarks to the sentence last recorded, Tartarin had
unfortunately still said overmuch.

On the morrow, there was nothing talked about through town but the
near-at-hand departure of Tartarin for Algeria and lion-hunting. You
are all witness, dear readers, that the honest fellow had not breathed
a word on that head; but, you know, the mirage had its usual effect. In
brief, all Tarascon spoke of nothing but the departure.

On the Old Walk, at the club, in Costecalde's, friends accosted one
another with a startled aspect:

"And furthermore, you know the news, at least?"

"And furthermore, rather? Tartarin's setting out, at least?"

For at Tarascon all phrases begin with "and furthermore," and conclude
with "at least," with a strong local accent. Hence, on this occasion
more than upon others, these peculiarities rang out till the windows

The most surprised of men in the town on hearing that Tartarin was
going away to Africa, was Tartarin himself. But only see what vanity is!
Instead of plumply answering that he was not going at all, and had not
even had the intention, poor Tartarin, on the first of them mentioning
the journey to him, observed with a neat little evasive air, "Aha!
maybe I shall--but I do not say as much." The second time; a trifle more
familiarised with the idea, he replied, "Very likely;" and the third
time, "It's certain."

Finally, in the evening, at Costecalde's and the club, carried away by
the egg-nogg, cheers, and illumination; intoxicated by the impression
that bare announcement of his departure had made on the town, the
hapless fellow formally declared that he was sick of banging away at
caps, and that he would shortly be on the trail of the great lions of
the Atlas. A deafening hurrah greeted this assertion. Whereupon more
egg-nogg, bravoes, handshaking, slappings of the shoulder, and a
torchlight serenade up to midnight before Baobab Villa.

It was Sancho-Tartarin who was anything but delighted. This idea of
travel in Africa and lion-hunting made him shudder beforehand; and
when the house was re-entered, and whilst the complimentary concert
was sounding under the windows, he had a dreadful "row" with
Quixote-Tartarin, calling him a cracked head, a visionary, imprudent,
and thrice an idiot, and detailing by the card all the catastrophes
awaiting him on such an expedition--shipwreck, rheumatism, yellow fever,
dysentery, the black plague, elephantiasis, and the rest of them.

In vain did Quixote-Tartarin vow that he had not committed any
imprudence--that he would wrap himself up well, and take even
superfluous necessaries with him. Sancho-Tartarin would listen to
nothing. The poor craven saw himself already torn to tatters by the
lions, or engulfed in the desert sands like his late royal highness
Cambyses, and the other Tartarin only managed to appease him a little by
explaining that the start was not immediate, as nothing pressed.

It is clear enough, indeed, that none embark on such an enterprise
without some preparations. A man is bound to know whither he goes,
hang it all! and not fly off like a bird. Before anything else, the
Tarasconian wanted to peruse the accounts of great African tourists, the
narrations of Mungo Park, Du Chaillu, Dr. Livingstone, Stanley, and so

In them, he learnt that these daring explorers, before donning their
sandals for distant excursions, hardened themselves well beforehand to
support hunger and thirst, forced marches, and all kinds of privation.
Tartarin meant to act like they did, and from that day forward he lived
upon water broth alone. The water broth of Tarascon is a few slices of
bread drowned in hot water, with a clove of garlic, a pinch of thyme,
and a sprig of laurel. Strict diet, at which you may believe poor Sancho
made a wry face.

To the regimen of water broth Tartarin of Tarascon joined other
wise practices. To break himself into the habit of long marches,
he constrained himself to go round the town seven or eight times
consecutively every morning, either at the fast walk or run, his elbows
well set against his body, and a couple of white pebbles in the mouth,
according to the antique usage.

To get inured to fog, dew, and night coolness, he would go down into his
garden every dusk, and stop out there till ten or eleven, alone with his
gun, on the lookout, behind the baobab.

Finally, so long as Mitaine's wild beast show tarried in Tarascon, the
cap-poppers who were belated at Costecalde's might spy in the shadow
of the booth, as they crossed the Castle-green, a mysterious figure
stalking up and down. It was Tartarin of Tarascon, habituating himself
to hear without emotion the roarings of the lion in the sombre night.

X. Before the Start.

PENDING Tartarin's delay of the event by all sorts of heroic means,
all Tarascon kept an eye upon him, and nothing else was busied about.
Cap-popping was winged, and ballad-singing dead. The piano in Bezuquet's
shop mouldered away under a green fungus, and the Spanish flies
dried upon it, belly up. Tartarin's expedition had a put a stopper on

Ah, you ought to have seen his success in the parlours. He was snatched
away by one from another, fought for, loaned and borrowed, ay, stolen.
There was no greater honour for the ladies than to go to Mitaine's
Menagerie on Tartarin's arms, and have it explained before the lion's
den how such large game are hunted, where they should be aimed at, at
how many paces off; if the accidents were numerous, and the like of

Tartarin furnished all the elucidation desired. He had read "The Life of
Jules Gerard, the Lion-Slayer," and had lion-hunting at his finger ends,
as if he had been through it himself. Hence he orated upon these matters
with great eloquence.

But where he shone the brightest was at dinner at Chief Judge
Ladeveze's, or brave Commandant Bravida's (the former captain in the
Army Clothing Factory, you will keep in mind), when coffee came in, and
all the chairs were brought up closer together, whilst they chatted of
his future hunts.

Thereupon, his elbow on the cloth, his nose over his Mocha, our hero
would discourse in a feeling tone of all the dangers awaiting him
thereaway. He spoke of the long moonless night lyings-in-wait, the
pestilential fens, the rivers envenomed by leaves of poison-plants,
the deep snow-drifts, the scorching suns, the scorpions, and rains of
grasshoppers; he also descanted on the peculiarities of the great lions
of the Atlas, their way of fighting, their phenomenal vigour; and their
ferocity in the mating season.

Heating with his own recital, he would rise from table, bounding to the
middle of the dining-room, imitating the roar of a lion and the
going off of a rifle crack! bang! the zizz of the explosive
bullet--gesticulating and roaring about till he had overset the chairs.

Everybody turned pale around the board: the gentlemen looking at one
another and wagging their heads, the ladies shutting their eyes with
pretty screams of fright, the elderly men combatively brandishing their
canes; and, in the side apartments, the little boys, who had been put to
bed betimes, were greatly startled by the sudden outcries and imitated
gun-fire, and screamed for lights. Meanwhile, Tartarin did not start.

XI. "Let's have it out with swords gentleman, not pins!"

A DELICATE question: whether Tartarin really had any intention of going,
and one which the historian of Tartarin would be highly embarrassed to
answer. In plain words, Mitaine's Menagerie had left Tarascon over three
months, and still the lion-slayer had not started. After all, blinded by
a new mirage, our candid hero may have imagined in perfectly good faith
that he had gone to Algeria. On the strength of having related his
future hunts, he may have believed he had performed them as sincerely
as he fancied he had hoisted the consular flag and fired on the Tartars,
zizz, phit, bang! at Shanghai.

Unfortunately, granting Tartarin was this time again dupe of an
illusion, his fellow-townsfolk were not. When, after the quarter's
expectation, they perceived that the hunter had not packed even a
collar-box, they commenced murmuring.

"This is going to turn out like the Shanghai expedition," remarked
Costecalde, smiling.

The gunsmith's comment was welcomed all over town, for nobody believed
any longer in their late idol. The simpletons and poltroons--all the
fellows of Bezuquet's stamp, whom a flea would put to flight, and who
could not fire a shot without closing their eyes--were conspicuously
pitiless. In the club-rooms or on the esplanade, they accosted poor
Tartarin with bantering mien:

"And furthermore, when is that trip coming off?"

In Costecalde's shop, his opinions gained no credence, for the
cap-poppers renounced their chief!

Next, epigrams dropped into the affair. Chief Judge Ladevese, who
willingly paid court in his leisure hours to the native Muse, composed
in local dialect a song which won much success. It told of a sportsman
called "Master Gervais," whose dreaded rifle was bound to exterminate
all the lions in Africa to the very last. Unluckily, this terrible gun
was of a strange kind: "though loaded daily, it never went off."

"It never went off"--you will catch the drift.

In less than no time, this ditty became popular; and when Tartarin came
by, the longshoremen and the little shoeblacks before his door sang in

  "Muster Jarvey's roifle
  Allus gittin' chaarged;
  Muster Jarvey's roifle
  'il hev to git enlaarged;
  Muster Jarvey's roifle's
  Loaded oft--don't scoff;
  Muster Jarvey's roifle
  Nivver do go off!"

But it was shouted out from a safe distance, on account of the double

Oh, the fragility of Tarascon's fads!

The great object himself feigned to see and hear nothing; but, under the
surface, this sullen and venomous petty warfare much afflicted him. He
felt aware that Tarascon was slipping out of his grip, and that popular
favour was going to others; and this made him suffer horribly.

Ah, the huge bowl of popularity! it's all very well to have a seat in
front of it, but what a scalding you catch when it is overturned!

Notwithstanding his pain, Tartarin smiled and peacefully jogged on in
the same life as if nothing untoward had happened. Still, the mask
of jovial heedlessness glued by pride on his face would sometimes
be suddenly detached. Then, in lieu of laughter, one saw grief and
indignation. Thus it was that one morning, when the little blackguards
yelped "Muster Jarvey's Roifle" beneath his window, the wretches' voices
rose even into the poor great man's room, where he was shaving before
the glass. (Tartarin wore a full beard, but as it grew very thick, he
was obliged to keep it trimmed orderly.)

All at once the window was violently opened, and Tartarin appeared in
shirt-sleeves and nightcap, smothered in lather, flourishing his razor
and shaving-brush, and roaring with a formidable voice:

"Let's have it out with swords, gentlemen, not pins!"

Fine words, worthy of history's record, with only the blemish that they
were addressed to little scamps not higher than their boot-boxes, and
who were quite incapable of holding a smallsword.

XII. A memorable Dialogue in the little Baobab Villa.

AMID the general falling off, the army alone stuck out firmly for
Tartarin. Brave Commandant Bravida (the former captain in the Army
Clothing Department) continued to show him the same esteem as ever.
"He's game!" he persisted in saying--an assertion, I beg to believe,
fully worth the chemist Bezuquet's. Not once did the brave officer let
out any allusion to the trip to Africa; but when the public clamour grew
too loud, he determined to have his say.

One evening the luckless Tartarin was in his study, in a brown study
himself, when he saw the commandant stride in, stern, wearing black
gloves, buttoned up to his ears.

"Tartarin," said the ex-captain authoritatively, "Tartarin, you'll have
to go!"

And there he dwelt, erect in the doorway frame, grand and rigid as
embodied Duty. Tartarin of Tarascon comprehended all the sense in
"Tartarin, you'll have to ago!"

Very pale, he rose and looked around with a softened eye upon the cosy
snuggery, tightly closed in, full of warmth and tender light--upon the
commodious easy chair, his books, the carpet, the white blinds of the
windows, beyond which trembled the slender twigs of the little garden.
Then, advancing towards the brave officer, he took his hand, grasped it
energetically, and said in a voice somewhat tearful, but stoical for all

"I am going, Bravida."

And go he did, as he said he would. Not straight off though, for it
takes time to get the paraphernalia together.

To begin with, he ordered of Bompard two large boxes bound with brass,
and an inscription to be on them:

         I         TARTARIN, OF TARASCON         I
         I             Firearms, &c.             I

The binding in brass and the lettering took much time. He also
ordered at Tastavin's a showy album, in which to keep a diary and his
impressions of travel; for a man cannot help having an idea or two
strike him even when he is busy lion-hunting.

Next, he had over from Marseilles a downright cargo of tinned
eatables, pemmican compressed in cakes for making soup, a new pattern
shelter-tent, opening out and packing up in a minute, sea-boots, a
couple of umbrellas, a waterproof coat, and blue spectacles to ward off
ophthalmia. To conclude, Bezuquet the chemist made him up a miniature
portable medicine chest stuffed with diachylon plaister, arnica,
camphor, and medicated vinegar.

Poor Tartarin! he did not take these safeguards on his own behalf;
but he hoped, by dint of precaution and delicate attentions, to allay
Sancho-Tartarin's fury, who, since the start was fixed, never left off
raging day or night.

XIII. The Departure.

EFTSOON arrived the great and solemn day. From dawn all Tarascon had
been on foot, encumbering the Avignon road and the approaches to Baobab
Villa. People were up at the windows, on the roofs, and in the trees;
the Rhone bargees, porters, dredgers, shoeblacks, gentry, tradesfolk,
warpers and weavers, taffety-workers, the club members, in short the
whole town; moreover, people from Beaucaire had come over the bridge,
market-gardeners from the environs, carters in their huge carts with
ample tilts, vinedressers upon handsome mules, tricked out with ribbons,
streamers, bells, rosettes, and jingles, and even, here and there, a few
pretty maids from Arles, come on the pillion behind their sweethearts,
with bonny blue ribbons round the head, upon little iron-grey Camargue

All this swarm squeezed and jostled before our good Tartarin's door, who
was going to slaughter lions in the land of the Turks.

For Tarascon, Algeria, Africa, Greece, Persia, Turkey, and Mesopotamia,
all form one great hazy country, almost a myth, called the land of the
Turks. They say "Tur's," but that's a linguistic digression.

In the midst of all this throng, the cap-poppers bustled to and fro,
proud of their captain's triumph, leaving glorious wakes where they had

In front of the Indian fig-tree house were two large trucks. From time
to time the door would open, and allow several persons to be spied,
gravely lounging about the little garden. At every new box the throng
started and trembled. The articles were named in a loud voice:

"That there's the shelter-tent; these the potted meats; that's
the physic-chest; these the gun-cases,"--the cap-poppers giving

All of a sudden, about ten o'clock, there was a great stir in the
multitude, for the garden gate banged open.

"Here he is! here he is!" they shouted.

It was he indeed. When he appeared upon the threshold, two outcries of
stupefaction burst from the assemblage:

"He's a Turk!" "He's got on spectacles!"

In truth, Tartarin of Tarascon had deemed it his duty, on going to
Algeria, to don the Algerian costume. Full white linen trousers, small
tight vest with metal buttons, a red sash two feet wide around the
waist, the neck bare and the forehead shaven, and a vast red fez, or
chechia, on his head, with something like a long blue tassel thereto.
Together with this, two heavy guns, one on each shoulder, a broad
hunting-knife in the girdle, a bandolier across the breast, a revolver
on the hip, swinging in its patent leather case--that is all. No, I cry
your pardon, I was forgetting the spectacles--a pantomimically large
pair of azure barnacles, which came in partly to temper what was rather
too fierce in the bearing of our hero.

"Long life to Tartarin! hip, hip, hurrah for Tartarin!" roared the

The great man smiled, but did not salute, on account of the firearms
hindering him. Moreover, he knew now on what popular favour depends;
it may even be that in the depths of his soul he cursed his terrible
fellow-townsfolk, who obliged him to go away and leave his pretty little
pleasure-house with whitened walls and green venetians. But there was no
show of this.

Calm and proud, although a little pallid, he stepped out on the footway,
glanced at the hand-carts, and, seeing all was right, lustily took the
road to the railway-station, without even once looking back towards
Baobab Villa. Behind him marched the brave Commandant Bravida, Ladevese
the Chief Judge, Costecalde the gunsmith next, and then all the
sportsmen who pop at caps, preceding the hand-carts and the rag, tag,
and bobtail.

Before the station the station-master awaited them, an old African
veteran of 1830, who shook Tartarin's hand many times with fervency.

The Paris-to-Marseilles express was not yet in, so Tartarin and his
staff went into the waiting-rooms. To prevent the place being overrun,
the station-master ordered the gates to be closed.

During a quarter of an hour, Tartarin promenaded up and down in the
rooms in the midst of his brother marksmen, speaking to them of his
journey and his hunting, and promising to send them skins; they put
their names down in his memorandum-book for a lionskin apiece, as
waltzers book for a dance.

Gentle and placid as Socrates on the point of quaffing the hemlock, the
intrepid Tarasconian had a word and a smile for each. He spoke simply,
with an affable mien; it looked as if, before departing, he meant to
leave behind him a wake of charms, regrets, and pleasant memories. On
hearing their leader speak in this way, all the sportsmen felt tears
well up, and some were stung with remorse, to wit, Chief Judge Ladevese
and the chemist Bezuquet. The railway employees blubbered in the
corners, whilst the outer public squinted through the bars and bellowed:
"Long live Tartarin!"

At length the bell rang. A dull rumble was heard, and a piercing whistle
shook the vault.

"The Marseilles express, gen'lemen!"

"Good-bye, Tartarin! Good luck, old fellow!"

"Good-bye to you all!" murmured the great man, as, with his arms
around the brave Commandant Bravida, he embraced his dear native place
collectively in him. Then he leaped out upon the platform, and clambered
into a carriage full of Parisian ladies, who were ready to die with
fright at sight of this stranger with so many pistols and rifles.

XIV. The Port of Marseilles--"All aboard, all aboard!"

UPON the 1st of December 18--, in clear, brilliant, splendid weather,
under a south winter sun, the startled inhabitants of Marseilles beheld
a Turk come down the Canebiere, or their Regent Street. A Turk, a
regular Turk--never had such a one been seen; and yet, Heaven knows,
there is no lack of Turks at Marseilles.

The Turk in question--have I any necessity of telling you it was the
great Tartarin of Tarascon?--waddled along the quays, followed by
his gun-cases, medicine-chest, and tinned comestibles, to reach the
landing-stage of the Touache Company and the mail steamer the Zouave,
which was to transport him over the sea.

With his ears still ringing with the home applause, intoxicated by the
glare of the heavens and the reek of the sea, Tartarin fairly beamed as
he stepped out with a lofty head, and between his guns on his shoulders,
looking with all his eyes upon that wondrous, dazzling harbour of
Marseilles, which he saw for the first time. The poor fellow believed he
was dreaming. He fancied his name was Sinbad the Sailor, and that he
was roaming in one of those fantastic cities abundant in the "Arabian
Nights." As far as eye could reach there spread a forest of masts and
spars, cris-crossing in every way.

Flags of all countries floated--English, American, Russian, Swedish,
Greek and Tunisian.

The vessels lay alongside the wharves--ay, head on, so that their
bowsprits stuck up out over the strand like rows of bayonets. Over it,
too, sprawled the mermaids, goddesses, madonnas, and other figure-heads
in carved and painted wood which gave names to the ships--all worn by
sea-water, split, mildewed, and dripping. Ever and anon, between the
hulls, a patch of harbour like watered silk splashed with oil. In the
intervals of the yards and booms, what seemed swarms of flies prettily
spotted the blue sky. These were the shipboys, hailing one another in
all languages.

On the waterside, amidst thick green or black rivulets coming down
from the soap factories loaded with oil and soda, bustled a mass of
custom-house officers, messengers, porters, and truckmen with their
bogheys, or trolleys, drawn by Corsican ponies.

There were shops selling quaint articles, smoky shanties where sailors
were cooking their own queer messes, dealers in pipes, monkeys,
parrots, ropes, sailcloth, fanciful curios, amongst which were mingled
higgledy-piggledy old culverins, huge gilded lanterns, worn-out
pulley-blocks, rusty flukeless anchors, chafed cordage, battered
speaking-trumpets, and marine glasses almost contemporary with the Ark.
Sellers of mussels and clams squatted beside their heaps of shellfish
and yawped their goods. Seamen rolled by with tar-pots, smoking
soup-bowls, and big baskets full of cuttlefish, from which they went to
wash the ink in the milky waters of the fountains.

Everywhere a prodigious collection of all kinds of goods: silks,
minerals, wood in stacks, lead in pigs, cloths, sugars, caruba wood
logs, colza seed, liquorice sticks, sugar-canes. The East and the West
cheek by jowl, even to pyramids of Dutch cheeses which the Genoese were
dyeing red by contact with their hands.

Yonder was the corn market: porters discharging sacks down the shoots
of lofty elevators upon the pier, and loose grain rolling as a golden
torrent through a blonde dust. Men in red skullcaps were sifting it as
they caught it in large asses'-skin sieves, and loading it upon carts
which took their millward way, followed by a regiment of women and
youngsters with wisps and gleaning baskets. Farther on, the dry docks,
where large vessels were laid low on their sides till their yards dipped
in the water; they were singed with thorn-bushes to free them of sea
weed; there rose an odour of pitch, and the deafening clatter of the
sheathers coppering the bottoms with broad sheets of yellow metal.

At whiles a gap in between the masts, in which Tartarin could see the
haven mouth, where the vessels came and went: a British frigate off for
Malta, dainty and thoroughly washed down, with the officer in primrose
gloves, or a large home-port brig hauling out in the midst of uproar and
oaths, whilst the fat captain, in a high silk hat and frockcoat, ordered
the operations in Provencal dialect. Other craft were making forth under
all sail, and, still farther out, more were slowly looming up in the
sunshine as if they were sailing in the air.

All the time a frightful riot, the rumbling of carts, the "Haul all,
haul away!" of the shipmen, oaths, songs, steamboat whistles, the bugles
and drums in Forts Saint Jean and Saint Nicolas, the bells of the Major,
the Accoules, and Saint Victor; with the mistral atop of all, catching
up the noises and clamour, and rolling them up together with a furious
shaking, till confounded with its own voice, which intoned a mad, wild,
heroic melody like a grand charging tune--one that filled hearers with a
longing to be off, and the farther the better--a craving for wings.

It was to the sound of this splendid blast that the intrepid Tartarin
Tarasco of Tarascon embarked for the land of lions.


I. The Passage--The Five Positions of the Fez--The Third Evening
Out--Mercy upon us!

JOYFUL would I be, my dear readers, if I were a painter--a great artist,
I mean--in order to set under your eyes, at the head of this second
episode, the various positions taken by Tartarin's red cap in the
three days' passage it made on board of the Zouave, between France and

First would I show you it at the steaming out, upon deck, arrogant and
heroic as it was, forming a glory round that handsome Tarasconian head.
Next would I show you it at the harbour-mouth, when the bark began
to caper upon the waves; I would depict it for you all of a quake in
astonishment, and as though already experiencing the preliminary qualms
of sea-sickness. Then, in the Gulf of the Lion, proportionably to the
nearing the open sea, where the white caps heaved harder, I would make
you behold it wrestling with the tempest, and standing on end upon the
hero's cranium, with its mighty mane of blue wool bristling out in the
spray and breeze. Position Fourth: at six in the afternoon, with the
Corsican coast in view; the unfortunate chechia hangs over the ship's
side, and lamentably stares down as though to plumb the depths of
ocean. Finally and lastly, the Fifth Position: at the back of a narrow
state-room, in a box-bed so small it seemed one drawer in a nest of
them, something shapeless rolled on the pillow with moans of desolation.
This was the fez--the fez so defiant at the sailing, now reduced to the
vulgar condition of a nightcap, and pulled down over the very ears of
the head of a pallid and convulsed sufferer.

How the people of Tarascon would have kicked themselves for having
constrained the great Tartarin to leave home, if they had but seen him
stretched in the bunk in the dull, wan gleam through the dead-light,
amid the sickly odour of cooking and wet wood--the heart-heaving perfume
of mail-boats; if they had but heard him gurgle at every turn of the
screw, wail for tea every five minutes, and swear at the steward in a
childish treble!

On my word of honour as a story-teller, the poor Turk would have made
a paste-board dummy pity him. Suddenly, overcome by the nausea, the
hapless victim had not even the power to undo the Algerian girdle-cloth,
or lay aside his armoury; the lumpy-handled hunting-sword pounded his
ribs, and the leather revolver-case made his thigh raw. To finish him
arose the taunts of Sancho-Tartarin, who never ceased to groan and

"Well, for the biggest kind of imbecile, you are the finest specimen! I
told you truly how it would be. Ha, ha! you were bound to go to Africa,
of course! Well, old merriman, now you are going to Africa, how do you
like it?"

The cruellest part of it was that, from the retreat where he was
moaning, the hapless invalid could hear the passengers in the grand
saloon laughing, munching, singing, and playing at cards. On board the
Zouave the company was as jolly as numerous, composed of officers going
back to join their regiments, ladies from the Marseilles Alcazar Music
Hall, strolling-players, a rich Mussulman returning from Mecca, and a
very jocular Montenegrin prince, who favoured them with imitations
of the low comedians of Paris. Not one of these jokers felt the
sea-sickness, and their time was passed in quaffing champagne with the
steamer captain, a good fat born Marseillais, who had a wife and family
as well at Algiers as at home, and who answered to the merry name of

Tartarin of Tarascon hated this pack of wretches; their mirthfulness
deepened his ails.

At length, on the third afternoon, there was such an extraordinary
hullabaloo on the deck that our hero was roused out of his long torpor.
The ship's bell was ringing and the seamen's heavy boots ran over the

"Go ahead! Stop her! Turn astern!" barked the hoarse voice of Captain
Barbassou; and then, "Stop her dead!"

There was an abrupt check of movement, a shock, and no more, save the
silent rolling of the boat from side to side like a balloon in the air.
This strange stillness alarmed the Tarasconian.

"Heaven ha' mercy upon us!" he yelled in a terrifying voice, as,
recovering his strength by magic, he bounded out of his berth, and
rushed upon deck with his arsenal.

II. "To arms! to arms"

ONLY the arrival, not a foundering.

The Zouave was just gliding into the roadstead--a fine one of black,
deep water, but dull and still, almost deserted. On elevated ground
ahead rose Algiers, the White City, with its little houses of a dead
cream-colour huddling against one another lest they slid into the sea.
It was like Meudon slope with a laundress's washing hung out to dry.
Over it a vast blue satin sky--and such a blue!

A little restored from his fright, the illustrious Tartarin gazed on
the landscape, and listened with respect to the Montenegrin prince, who
stood by his side, as he named the different parts of the capital, the
Kasbah, the upper town, and the Rue Bab-Azoon. A very finely-brought-up
prince was this Montenegrin; moreover, knowing Algeria thoroughly, and
fluently speaking Arabic. Hence Tartarin thought of cultivating his

All at once, along the bulwark against which they were leaning, the
Tarasconian perceived a row of large black hands clinging to it from
over the side. Almost instantly a Negro's woolly head shot up before
him, and, ere he had time to open his mouth, the deck was overwhelmed
on every side by a hundred black or yellow desperadoes, half naked,
hideous, and fearsome. Tartarin knew who these pirates were--"they," of
course, the celebrated "they" who had too often been hunted after by him
in the by-ways of Tarascon. At last they had decided to meet him face to
face. At the outset surprise nailed him to the spot. But when he saw
the outlaws fall upon the luggage, tear off the tarpaulin covering, and
actually commence the pillage of the ship, then the hero awoke. Whipping
out his hunting-sword, "To arms! to arms!" he roared to the passengers;
and away he flew, the foremost of all, upon the buccaneers. "Ques
aco? What's the stir? What's the matter with you?" exclaimed Captain
Barbassou, coming out of the 'tweendecks.

"About time you did turn up, captain! Quick, quick, arm your men!"

"Eh, what for? dash it all!"

"Why, can't you see?"

"See what?"

"There, before you, the corsairs"

Captain Barbassou stared, bewildered. At this juncture a tall blackamoor
tore by with our hero's medicine-chest upon his back.

"You cut-throat! just wait for me!" yelled the Tarasconer as he ran
after, with the knife uplifted.

But Barbassou caught him in the spring, and holding him by the
waist-sash, bade him be quiet.

"Tron de ler! by the throne on high! they're no pirates. It's long since
there were any pirates hereabout. Those dark porters are light porters.
Ha, ha!"


"Rather, only come after the luggage to carry it ashore. So put up
your cook's galley knife, give me your ticket, and walk off behind that
nigger--an honest dog, who will see you to land, and even into a hotel,
if you like."

A little abashed, Tartarin handed over his ticket, and falling in
behind the representative of the Dark Continent, clambered down by the
hanging-ladder into a big skiff dancing alongside. All his effects were
already there--boxes, trunks, gun-cases, tinned food,--so cramming up
the boat that there was no need to wait for any other passengers. The
African scrambled upon the boxes, and squatted there like a baboon,
with his knees clutched by his hands. Another Negro took the oars. Both
laughingly eyed Tartarin, and showed their white teeth.

Standing in the stern-sheets, making that terrifying face which had
daunted his fellow-countrymen, the great Tarasconian feverishly fumbled
with his hunting-knife haft; for, despite what Barbassou had told
him, he was only half at ease as regarded the intention of these
ebony-skinned porters, who so little resembled their honest mates of

Five minutes afterwards the skiff landed Tartarin, and he set foot upon
the little Barbary wharf, where, three hundred years before, a Spanish
galley-slave yclept Miguel Cervantes devised, under the cane of the
Algerian taskmaster, a sublime romance which was to bear the title of
"Don Quixote."

III. An Invocation to Cervantes--The Disembarkation--Where are the
Turks?--Not a sign of them--Disenchantment

O MIGUEL CERVANTES SAAVEDRA, if what is asserted be true, to wit,
that wherever great men have dwelt some emanation of their spirits
wanderingly hovers until the end of ages, then what remained of your
essence on the Barbary coast must have quivered with glee on beholding
Tartarin of Tarascon disembark, that marvellous type of the French
Southerner, in whom was embodied both heroes of your work, Don Quixote
and Sancho Panza.

The air was sultry on this occasion. On the wharf, ablaze with sunshine,
were half a dozen revenue officers, some Algerians expecting news from
France, several squatting Moors who drew at long pipes, and some Maltese
mariners dragging large nets, between the meshes of which thousands of
sardines glittered like small silver coins.

But hardly had Tartarin set foot on earth before the quay sprang into
life and changed its aspect. A horde of savages, still more hideous than
the pirates upon the steamer, rose between the stones on the strand and
rushed upon the new-comer. Tall Arabs were there, nude under woollen
blankets, little Moors in tatters, Negroes, Tunisians, Port Mahonese,
M'zabites, hotel servants in white aprons, all yelling and shouting,
hooking on his clothes, fighting over his luggage, one carrying away the
provender, another his medicine-chest, and pelting him in one fantastic
medley with the names of preposterously-entitled hotels.

Bewildered by all this tumult, poor Tartarin wandered to and fro, swore
and stormed, went mad, ran after his property, and not knowing how
to make these barbarians understand him, speechified them in French,
Provencal, and even in dog Latin: "Rosa, the rose; bonus, bona,
bonum!"--all that he knew--but to no purpose. He was not heeded.
Happily, like a god in Homer, intervened a little fellow in a
yellow-collared tunic, and armed with a long running-footman's cane, who
dispersed the whole riff-raff with cudgel-play. He was a policeman of
the Algerian capital. Very politely, he suggested Tartarin should put up
at the Hotel de l'Europe, and he confided him to its waiters, who carted
him and his impedimenta thither in several barrows.

At the first steps he took in Algiers, Tartarin of Tarascon opened his
eyes widely. Beforehand he had pictured it as an Oriental city--a fairy
one, mythological, something between Constantinople and Zanzibar; but
it was back into Tarascon he fell. Cafes, restaurants, wide streets,
four-storey houses, a little market-place, macadamised, where the
infantry band played Offenbachian polkas, whilst fashionably clad
gentlemen occupied chairs, drinking beer and eating pancakes, some
brilliant ladies, some shady ones, and soldiers--more soldiers--no end
of soldiers, but not a solitary Turk, or, better to say, there was a
solitary Turk, and that was he.

Hence he felt a little abashed about crossing the square, for everybody
looked at him. The musicians stopped, the Offenbachian polka halting
with one foot in the air.

With both guns on his shoulders, and the revolver flapping on his
hip, as fierce and stately as Robinson Crusoe, Tartarin gravely passed
through the groups; but on arriving at the hotel his powers failed
him. All spun and mingled in his head: the departure from Tarascon, the
harbour of Marseilles, the voyage, the Montenegrin prince, the corsairs.
They had to help him up into a room and disarm and undress him. They
began to talk of sending for a medical adviser; but hardly was our
hero's head upon the pillow than he set to snoring, so loudly and so
heartily that the landlord judged the succour of science useless, and
everybody considerately withdrew.

IV. The First Lying in Wait.

THREE o'clock was striking by the Government clock when Tartarin awoke.
He had slept all the evening, night, and morning, and even a goodish
piece of the afternoon. It must be granted, though, that in the last
three days the red fez had caught it pretty hot and lively!

Our hero's first thought on opening his eyes was, "I am in the land of
the lions!" And--well, why should we not say it?--at the idea that lions
were nigh hereabouts, within a couple of steps, almost at hand's reach,
and that he would have to disentangle a snarled skein with them, ugh! a
deadly chill struck him, and he dived intrepidly under the coverlet.

But, before a moment was over, the outward gaiety, the blue sky, the
glowing sun that streamed into the bedchamber, a nice little breakfast
that he ate in bed, his window wide open upon the sea, the whole
flavoured with an uncommonly good bottle of Crescia wine--it very
speedily restored him his former pluckiness.

"Let's out and at the lion!" he exclaimed, throwing off the clothes and
briskly dressing himself.

His plan was as follows: he would go forth from the city without saying
a word to a soul, plunge into the great desert, await nightfall to
ambush himself, and bang away at the first lion who walked up. Then
would he return to breakfast in the morning at the hotel, receive the
felicitations of the natives, and hire a cart to bring in the quarry.

So he hurriedly armed himself, attached upright on his back the
shelter-tent (which, when rolled up, left its centre pole sticking out
a clear foot above his head), and descended to the street as stiffly as
though he had swallowed it. Not caring to ask the way of anybody, from
fear of letting out his project, he turned fairly to the right, and
threaded the Bab-Azoon arcade to the very end, where swarms of Algerian
Jews watched him pass from their corner ambushes like so many spiders;
crossing the Theatre place, he entered the outer ward, and lastly came
upon the dusty Mustapha highway.

Upon this was a quaint conglomeration: omnibuses, hackney coaches,
corricolos, the army service waggons, huge hay-carts drawn by bullocks,
squads of Chasseurs d'Afrique, droves of microscopic asses, trucks
of Alsatian emigrants, spahis in scarlet cloaks--all filed by in a
whirlwind cloud of dust, amidst shouts, songs, and trumpetcalls, between
two rows of vile-looking booths, at the doors of which lanky Mahonnais
women might be seen doing their hair, drinking-dens filled with
soldiers, and shops of butchers and knackers.

"What rubbish, to din me about the Orient!" grumbled the great Tartarin;
"there are not even as many Turks here as at Marseilles."

All of a sudden he saw a splendid camel strut by him quite closely,
stretching its long legs and puffing out its throat like a turkey-cock,
and that made his heart throb. Camels already, eh? Lions could not be
far Off now; and, indeed, in five minutes' time he did see a whole band
of lion-hunters coming his way under arms.

"Cowards!" thought our hero as he skirted them; "downright cowards, to
go at a lion in companies and with dogs!"

For it never could occur to him that anything but lions were objects of
the chase in Algeria. For all that, these Nimrods wore such complacent
phizzes of retired tradesmen, and their style of lion-hunting with
dogs and game-bags was so patriarchal, that the Tarasconian, a little
perplexed, deemed it incumbent to question one of the gentlemen.

"And furthermore, comrade, is the sport good?"

"Not bad," responded the other, regarding the speaker's imposing warlike
equipment with a scared eye.

"Killed any?"

"Rather! Not so bad--only look." Whereupon the Algerian sportsman showed
that it was rabbits and woodcock stuffing out the bag.

"What! do you call that your bag? Do you put such-like in your bag?"

"Where else should I put 'em?"

"But it's such little game."

"Some run small and some run large," observed the hunter.

In haste to catch up with his companions, he joined them with several
long strides. The dauntless Tartarin remained rooted in the middle of
the road with stupefaction. "Pooh!" he ejaculated, after a moment's
reflection, "these are jokers. They haven't killed anything whatever,"
and he went his way.

Already the houses became scarcer, and so did the passengers. Dark came
on and objects were blurred, though Tartarin walked on for half an hour
more, when he stopped, for it was night. A moonless night, too, but
sprinkled with stars. On the highroad there was nobody. The hero
concluded that lions are not stage-coaches, and would not of their own
choice travel the main ways. So he wheeled into the fields, where there
were brambles and ditches and bushes at every step, but he kept on

But suddenly he halted.

"I smell lions about here!" said our friend, sniffing right and left.

V. Bang, bang!

CERTAINLY a great wilderness, bristling with odd plants of that Oriental
kind which look like wicked creatures. Under the feeble starlight their
magnified shadows barred the ground in every way. On the right loomed up
confusedly the heavy mass of a mountain--perhaps the Atlas range. On the
heart-hand, the invisible sea hollowly rolling. The very spot to attract
wild beasts.

With one gun laid before him and the other in his grasp, Tartarin of
Tarascon went down on one knee and waited an hour, ay, a good couple,
and nothing turned up. Then he bethought him how, in his books, the
great lion-slayers never went out hunting without having a lamb or a
kid along with them, which they tied up a space before them, and set
bleating or baa-ing by jerking its foot with a string. Not having any
goat, the Tarasconer had the idea of employing an imitation, and he set
to crying in a tremulous voice:


At first it was done very softly, because at bottom he was a little
alarmed lest the lion should hear him; but as nothing came, he baa-ed
more loudly. Still nothing. Losing patience, he resumed many times
running at the top of his voice, till the "Baa, baa, baa!" came out with
so much power that the goat began to be mistakable for a bull.

Unexpectedly, a few steps in front, some gigantic black thing appeared.
He was hushed. This thing lowered its head, sniffed the ground, bounded
up, rolled over, and darted off at the gallop, but returned and stopped
short. Who could doubt it was the lion? for now its four short legs
could plainly be seen, its formidable mane and its large eyes gleaming
in the gloom.

Up went his gun into position. Fire's the word! and bang, bang! it
was done. And immediately there was a leap back and the drawing of the
hunting-knife. To the Tarasconian's shot a terrible roaring replied.

"He's got it!" cried our good Tartarin as, steadying himself on his
sturdy supporters, he prepared to receive the brute's charge.

But it had more than its fill, and galloped off; howling. He did not
budge, for he expected to see the female mate appear, as the story-books
always lay it down she should.

Unhappily, no female came. After two or three hours' waiting the
Tarasconian grew tired. The ground was damp, the night was getting cool,
and the sea-breeze pricked sharply.

"I have a good mind to take a nap till daylight," he said to himself.

To avoid catching rheumatism, he had recourse to his patent tent. But
here's where Old Nick interfered! This tent was of so very ingenious a
construction that he could not manage to open it. In vain did he toil
over it and perspire an hour through--the confounded apparatus would
not come unfolded. There are some umbrellas which amuse themselves under
torrential rains with just such tricks upon you. Fairly tired out
with the struggle, the victim dashed down the machine and lay upon it,
swearing like the regular Southron he was. "Tar, tar, rar, tar! tar,
rar, tar!"

"What on earth's that?" wondered Tartarin, suddenly aroused.

It was the bugles of the Chasseurs d'Afrique sounding the turn-out in
the Mustapha barracks. The stupefied lion-slayer rubbed his eyes, for
he had believed himself out in the boundless wilderness; and do you know
where he really was?--in a field of artichokes, between a cabbage-garden
and a patch of beets. His Sahara grew kitchen vegetables.

Close to him, on the pretty verdant slope of Upper Mustapha, the snowy
villas glowed in the rosy rising sun: anybody would believe himself in
the neighbourhood of Marseilles, amongst its bastides and bastidons.

The commonplace and kitchen-gardenish aspect of this sleep-steeped
country much astonished the poor man, and put him in bad humour.

"These folk are crazy," he reasoned, "to plant artichokes in the
prowling-ground of lions; for, in short, I have not been dreaming. Lions
have come here, and there's the proof."

What he called the proof was blood-spots left behind the beast in its
flight. Bending over this ruddy trail with his eye on the lookout and
his revolver in his fist, the valiant Tarasconian went from artichoke to
artichoke up to a little field of oats. In the trampled grass was a pool
of blood, and in the midst of the pool, lying on its flank, with a large
wound in the head, was a--guess what?

"A lion, of course!"

Not a bit of it! An ass!--one of those little donkeys so common in
Algeria, where they are called bourriquots.

VI. Arrival of the Female--A Terrible Combat--"Game Fellows Meet Here!"

LOOKING on his hapless victim, Tartarin's first impulse was one of
vexation. There is such a wide gap between a lion and poor Jack! His
second feeling was one of pity. The poor bourriquot was so pretty and
looked so kindly. The hide on his still warm sides heaved and fell like
waves. Tartarin knelt down, and strove with the end of his Algerian sash
to stanch the blood; and all you can imagine in the way of touchingness
was offered by the picture of this great man tending this little ass.

At the touch of the silky cloth the donkey, who had not twopennyworth of
life in him, opened his large grey eye and winked his long ears two or
three times, as much as to say, "Oh, thank you!" before a final spasm
shook it from head to tail, whereafter it stirred no more.

"Noiraud! Blackey!" suddenly screamed a voice, choking with anguish, as
the branches in a thicket hard by moved at the same time.

Tartarin had no more than enough time to rise and stand upon guard. This
was the female!

She rushed up, fearsome and roaring, under form of an old Alsatian
woman, her hair in a kerchief, armed with large red umbrella, and
calling for her ass, till all the echoes of Mustapha rang. It certainly
would have been better for Tartarin to have had to deal with a lioness
in fury than this old virago. In vain did the luckless sportsman try to
make her understand how the blunder had occurred, and he had mistaken
"Noiraud" for a lion. The harridan believed he was making fun of her,
and uttering energetical "Der Teufels!" fell upon our hero to bang him
with the gingham. A little bewildered, Tartarin defended himself as
best he could, warding off the blows with his rifle, streaming with
perspiration, panting, jumping about, and crying out:

"But, Madame, but"--

Much good his buts were! Madame was dull of hearing, and her blows
continued hard as ever.

Fortunately a third party arrived on the battlefield, the Alsatian's
husband, of the same race; a roadside innkeeper, as well as a very good
ready-reckoner, which was better. When he saw what kind of a customer he
had to deal with--a slaughterer who only wanted to pay the value of his
victim--he disarmed his better-half, and they came to an understanding.

Tartarin gave two hundred francs, the donkey being worth about ten--at
least that is the current price in the Arab markets. Then poor Blackey
was laid to rest at the root of a fig-tree, and the Alsatian, raised to
joviality by the colour of the Tarascon ducats, invited the hero to have
a quencher with him in his wine-shop, which stood only a few steps off
on the edge of the highway. Every Sunday the sportsmen from the city
came there to regale of a morning, for the plain abounded with game, and
there was no better place for rabbits for two leagues around.

"How about lions?" inquired Tartarin.

The Alsatian stared at him, greatly astounded.


"Yes, lions. Don't you see them sometimes?" resumed the poor fellow,
with less confidence.

The Boniface burst out in laughter.

"Ho, ho! bless us! lions! What would we do with lions here?"

"Are there, then, none in Algeria?"

"'Pon my faith, I never saw any, albeit I have been twenty years in the
colony. Still, I believe I have heard tell of such a thing--leastwise, I
fancy the newspapers said--but that is ever so much farther inland--down
South, you know"--

At this point they reached the hostelry, a suburban pothouse, with a
withered green bough over the door, crossed billiard-cues painted on the
wall, and this harmless sign over a picture of wild rabbits, feeding:


"Game fellows!" It made Tartarin think of Captain Bravida.

VII. About an Omnibus, a Moorish Beauty, and a Wreath of Jessamine.

COMMON people would have been discouraged by such a first adventure, but
men of Tartarin's mettle do not easily get cast down.

"The lions are in the South, are they?" mused the hero. "Very well,
then. South I go."

As soon as he had swallowed his last mouthful he jumped up, thanked his
host, nodded good-bye to the old hag without any ill-will, dropped a
final tear over the hapless Blackey, and quickly returned to Algiers,
with the firm intention of packing up and starting that very day for the

The Mustapha highroad seemed, unfortunately, to have stretched since
overnight; and what a sun and dust there were, and what a weight in that
shelter-tent! Tartarin did not feel to have the courage to walk to the
town, and he beckoned to the first omnibus coming along, and climbed in.

Oh, our poor Tartarin of Tarascon! how much better it would have been
for his name and fame not to have stepped into that fatal ark on
wheels, but to have continued on his road afoot, at the risk of falling
suffocated beneath the burden of the atmosphere, the tent, and his heavy
double-barrelled rifles.

When Tartarin got in the 'bus was full. At the end, with his nose in his
prayer-book, sat a large and black-bearded vicar from town; facing him
was a young Moorish merchant smoking coarse cigarettes, and a Maltese
sailor and four or five Moorish women muffled up in white cloths, so
that only their eyes could be spied.

These ladies had been to offer up prayers in the Abdel Kader cemetery;
but this funereal visit did not seem to have much saddened them, for
they could be heard chuckling and chattering between themselves under
their coverings whilst munching pastry. Tartarin fancied that they
watched him narrowly. One in particular, seated over against him, had
fixed her eyes upon his, and never took them off all the drive. Although
the dame was veiled, the liveliness of the big black eyes, lengthened
out by k'hol; a delightfully slender wrist loaded with gold bracelets,
of which a glimpse was given from time to time among the folds; the
sound of her voice, the graceful, almost childlike, movements of the
head, all revealed that a young, pretty, and loveable creature bloomed
underneath the veil. The unfortunate Tartarin did not know where to
shrink. The fond, mute gaze of these splendrous Oriental orbs agitated
him, perturbed him, and made him feel like dying with flushes of heat
and fits of cold shivers.

To finish him, the lady's slipper meddled in the onslaught: he felt the
dainty thing wander and frisk about over his heavy hunting boots like a
tiny red mouse. What could he do? Answer the glance and the pressure,
of course. Ay, but what about the consequences? A loving intrigue in the
East is a terrible matter! With his romantic southern nature, the honest
Tarasconian saw himself already falling into the grip of the eunuchs,
to be decapitated, or better--we mean, worse--than that, sewn up in a
leather sack and sunk in the sea with his head under his arm beside him.
This somewhat cooled him. In the meantime the little slipper continued
its proceedings, and the eyes, widely open opposite him like twin black
velvet flowers, seemed to say:

"Come, cull us!"

The 'bus stopped on the Theatre place, at the mouth of the Rue
Bab-Azoon. One by one, embedded in their voluminous trousers, and
drawing their mufflers around them with wild grace, the Moorish women
alighted. Tartarin's confrontatress was the last to rise, and in doing
so her countenance skimmed so closely to our hero's that her breath
enveloped him--a veritable nosegay of youth and freshness, with an
indescribable after-tang of musk, jessamine, and pastry.

The Tarasconian stood out no longer. Intoxicated with love, and ready
for anything, he darted out after the beauty. At the rumpling sound of
his belts and boots she turned, laid a finger on her veiled mouth, as
one who would say, "Hush!" and with the other hand quickly tossed him a
little wreath of sweet-scented jessamine flowers. Tartarin of
Tarascon stooped to pick it up; but as he was rather clumsy, and much
overburdened with implements of war, the operation took rather long.
When he did straighten up, with the jessamine garland upon his heart,
the donatrix had vanished.

VIII. Ye Lions of the Atlas, repose in peace!

LIONS of the Atlas, sleep!--sleep tranquilly at the back of your lairs
amid the aloes and cacti. For a few days to come, any way, Tartarin
of Tarascon will not massacre you. For the time being, all his warlike
paraphernalia, gun-cases, medicine chest, alimentary preserves, dwelt
peacefully under cover in a corner of room 36 in the Hotel de l'Europe.

Sleep with no fear, great red lions, the Tarasconian is engaged in
looking up that Moorish charmer. Since the adventure in the omnibus,
the unfortunate swain perpetually fancied he felt the fidgeting of
that pretty red mouse upon his huge backwoods trapper's foot; and the
sea-breeze fanning his lips was ever scented, do what he would, with a
love-exciting odour of sweet cakes and patchouli.

He hungered for his indispensable light of the harem! and he meant to
behold her anew.

But it was no joke of a task. To find one certain person in a city of
a hundred thousand souls, only known by the eyes, breath, and
slipper,--none but a son of Tarascon, panoplied by love, would be
capable of attempting such an adventure.

The plague is that, under their broad white mufflers, all the Moorish
women resemble one another; besides, they do not go about much, and to
see them, a man has to climb up into the native or upper town, the city
of the "Turks," and that is a regular cut-throat's den.

Little black alleys, very narrow, climbing perpendicularly up between
mysterious house-walls, whose roofs lean to touching and form a tunnel;
low doors, and sad, silent little casements well barred and grated.
Moreover, on both hands, stacks of darksome stalls, wherein ferocious
"Turks" smoked long pipes stuck between glittering teeth in piratical
heads with white eyes, and mumbled in undertones as if hatching wicked

To say that Tartarin traversed this grisly place without any emotion
would be putting forth falsehood. On the contrary, he was much
affected, and the stout fellow only went up the obscure lanes, where his
corporation took up all the width, with the utmost precaution, his eye
skinned, and his finger on his revolver trigger, in the same manner as
he went to the clubhouse at Tarascon. At any moment he expected to have
a whole gang of eunuchs and janissaries drop upon his back, yet the
longing to behold that dark damsel again gave him a giant's strength and

For a full week the undaunted Tartarin never quitted the high town. Yes;
for all that period he might have been seen cooling his heels before
the Turkish bath-houses, awaiting the hour when the ladies came forth in
troops, shivering and still redolent of soap and hot water; or squatting
at the doorways of mosques, puffing and melting in trying to get out of
his big boots in order to enter the temples.

Betimes at nightfall, when he was returning heart-broken at not having
discovered anything at either bagnio or mosque, our man from Tarascon,
in passing mansions, would hear monotonous songs, smothered twanging
of guitars, thumping of tambourines, and feminine laughter-peals, which
would make his heart beat.

"Haply she is there!" he would say to himself.

Thereupon, granting the street was unpeopled, he would go up to one of
these dwellings, lift the heavy knocker of the low postern, and timidly
rap. The songs and merriment would instantly cease. There would be
audible behind the wall nothing excepting low, dull flutterings as in a
slumbering aviary.

"Let's stick to it, old boy," our hero would think. "Something will
befall us yet."

What most often befell him was the contents of the cold-water jug on
the head, or else peel of oranges and Barbary figs; never anything more

Well might the lions of the Atlas Mountains doze in peace.

IX. Prince Gregory of Montenegro.

IT was two long weeks that the unfortunate Tartarin had been seeking his
Algerian flame, and most likely he would have been seeking after her to
this day if the little god kind to lovers had not come to his help under
the shape of a Montenegrin nobleman.

It happened as follows.

Every Saturday night in winter there is a masked ball at the Grand
Theatre of Algiers, just as at the Paris Opera-House. It is the undying
and ever-tasteless county fancy dress ball--very few people on the
floor, several castaways from the Parisian students' ballrooms or
midnight dance-houses, Joans of Arc following the army, faded characters
out of the Java costume-book of 1840, and half-a-dozen laundress's
underlings who are aiming to make loftier conquests, but still preserve
a faint perfume of their former life--garlic and saffron sauce. The real
spectacle is not there, but in the green-room, transformed for the nonce
into a hall of green cloth or gaming saloon.

An enfevered and motley mob hustle one another around the long green
table-covers: Turcos out for the day and staking their double halfpence,
Moorish traders from the native town, Negroes, Maltese, colonists from
the inland, who have come forty leagues in order to risk on a turning
card the price of a plough or of a yoke of oxen; all a-quivering, pale,
clenching their teeth, and with that singular, wavering, sidelong look
of the gamester, become a squint from always staring at the same card in
the lay-out.

A little apart are the tribes of Algerian Jews, playing among
acquaintances. The men are in the Oriental costume; hideously varied
with blue stockings and velvet caps. The puffy and flabby women sit up
stiffly in tight golden bodices. Grouped around the tables, the whole
tribe wail, squeal, combine, reckon on the fingers, and play but little.
Now and anon, however, after long conferences, some old patriarch, with
a beard like those of saints by the Old Masters, detaches himself from
the party and goes to risk the family duro. As long as the game
lasted there would be a scintillation of Hebraic eyes directed on the
board--dreadful black diamonds, which made the gold pieces shiver, and
ended by gently attracting them, as if drawn by a thread. Then arose
wrangles, quarrels, battles, oaths of every land, mad outcries in all
tongues, knives flashing out, the guard marching in, and the money

It was into the thick of this saturnalia that the great Tartarin came
straying one evening to find oblivion and heart's ease.

He was roving alone through the gathering, brooding about his Moorish
beauty, when two angered voices arose suddenly from a gaming-table above
all the clamour and chink of coin.

"I tell you, M'sieu, that I am twenty francs short!"

"Stuff, M'sieu!"

"Stuff yourself; M'sieu!"

"You shall learn whom you are addressing, M'sieu!"

"I am dying to do that, M'sieu!"

"I am Prince Gregory of Montenegro, M'sieu."

Upon this title Tartarin, much excited, cleft the throng and placed
himself in the foremost rank, proud and happy to find his prince again,
the Montenegrin noble of such politeness whose acquaintance he had begun
on board of the mail steamer. Unfortunately the title of Highness, which
had so dazzled the worthy Tarasconian, did not produce the slightest
impression upon the Chasseurs officer with whom the noble had his

"I am much the wiser!" observed the military gentleman sneeringly; and
turning to the bystanders he added: "'Prince Gregory of Montenegro'--who
knows any such a person? Nobody!"

The indignant Tartarin took one step forward.

"Allow me. I know the prince," said he, in a very firm voice, and with
his finest Tarasconian accent.

The light cavalry officer eyed him hard for a moment, and then,
shrugging his shoulders, returned:

"Come, that is good! Just you two share the twenty francs lacking
between you, and let us talk no more on the score."

Whereupon he turned his back upon them and mixed with the crowd. The
stormy Tartarin was going to rush after him, but the prince prevented

"Let him go. I can manage my own affairs."

Taking the interventionist by the arm, he drew him rapidly out of doors.
When they were upon the square, Prince Gregory of Montenegro lifted his
hat off; extended his hand to our hero, and as he but dimly remembered
his name, he began in a vibrating voice:

"Monsieur Barbarin--"

"Tartarin!" prompted the other, timidly.

"Tartarin, Barbarin, no matter! Between us henceforward it is a league
of life and death!"

The Montenegrin noble shook his hand with fierce energy. You may infer
that the Tarasconian was proud.

"Prince, prince!" he repeated enthusiastically.

In a quarter of an hour subsequently the two gentlemen were installed in
the Platanes Restaurant, an agreeable late supper-house, with terraces
running out over the sea, where, before a hearty Russian salad, seconded
by a nice Crescia wine, they renewed the friendship.

You cannot image any one more bewitching than this Montenegrin prince.
Slender, fine, with crisp hair curled by the tongs, shaved "a week
under" and pumice-stoned on that, bestarred with out-of-the-way
decorations, he had the wily eye, the fondling gestures, and vaguely the
accent of an Italian, which gave him an air of Cardinal Mazarin without
his chin-tuft and moustaches. He was deeply versed in the Latin tongues,
and lugged in quotations from Tacitus, Horace, and Caesar's Commentaries
at every opening.

Of an old noble strain, it appeared that his brothers had had him exiled
at the age of ten, on account of his liberal opinions, since which time
he had roamed the world for pleasure and instruction as a philosophical
noble. A singular coincidence! the prince had spent three years in
Tarascon; and as Tartarin showed amazement at never having met him at
the club or on the esplanade, His Highness evasively remarked that he
never went about. Through delicacy, the Tarasconian did not dare to
question further. All great existences have such mysterious nooks.

To sum up, this Signor Gregory was a very genial aristocrat. Whilst
sipping the rosy Crescia juice he patiently listened to Tartarin's
expatiating on his lovely Moor, and he even promised to find her
speedily, as he had full knowledge of the native ladies.

They drank hard and lengthily in toasts to "The ladies of Algiers" and
"The freedom of Montenegro!"

Outside, upon the terrace, heaved the sea, and its rollers slapped the
strand in the darkness with much the sound of wet sails flapping. The
air was warm, and the sky full of stars.

In the plane-trees a nightingale was piping.

It was Tartarin who paid the piper.

X. "Tell me your father's name, and I will tell you the name of that

PRINCES of Montenegro are the ones to find the love-bird.

On the morrow early after this evening at the Platanes, Prince Gregory
was in the Tarasconian's bedroom.

"Quick! Dress yourself quickly! Your Moorish beauty is found, Her name
is Baya. She's scarce twenty--as pretty as a love, and already a widow."

"A widow! What a slice of luck!" joyfully exclaimed Tartarin, who
dreaded Oriental husbands.

"Ay, but woefully closely guarded by her brother."

"Oh, the mischief!"

"A savage chap who vends pipes in the Orleans bazaar."

Here fell a silence.

"A fig for that!" proceeded the prince; "you are not the man to be
daunted by such a trifle; and, anyhow, this old corsair can be pacified,
I daresay, by having some pipes bought of him. But be quick! On with
your courting suit, you lucky dog!"

Pale and agitated, with his heart brimming over with love, the
Tarasconian leaped out of his couch, and, as he hastily buttoned up his
capacious nether garment, wanted to know how he should act.

"Write straightway to the lady and ask for a tryst."

"Do you mean to say she knows French?" queried the Tarasconian
simpleton, with the disappointed mien of one who had believed thoroughly
in the Orient.

"Not one word of it," rejoined the prince imperturbably; "but you can
dictate the billet-doux, and I will translate it bit by bit."

"O prince, how kind you are!"

The lover began striding up and down the bedroom in silent meditation.

Naturally a man does not write to a Moorish girl in Algiers in the same
way as to a seamstress of Beaucaire. It was a very lucky thing that
our hero had in mind his numerous readings, which allowed him, by
amalgamating the Red Indian eloquence of Gustave Aimard's Apaches with
Lamartine's rhetorical flourishes in the "Voyage en Orient," and some
reminiscences of the "Song of Songs," to compose the most Eastern letter
that you could expect to see. It opened with:

"Like unto the ostrich upon the sandy waste"--

and concluded by:

"Tell me your father's name, and I will tell you the name of that

To this missive the romantic Tartarin would have much liked to join an
emblematic bouquet of flowers in the Eastern fashion; but Prince Gregory
thought it better to purchase some pipes at the brother's, which could
not fail to soften his wild temper, and would certainly please the lady
a very great deal, as she was much of a smoker.

"Let's be off at once to buy them!" said Tartarin, full of ardour.

"No, no! Let me go alone. I can get them cheaper."

"Eh, what? Would you save me the trouble? O prince, prince, you do me

Quite abashed, the good-hearted fellow offered his purse to the obliging
Montenegrin, urging him to overlook nothing by which the lady would be

Unfortunately the suit, albeit capitally commenced, did not progress
as rapidly as might have been anticipated. It appeared that the Moorish
beauty was very deeply affected by Tartarin's eloquence, and, for that
matter, three-parts won beforehand, so that she wished nothing better
than to receive him; but that brother of hers had qualms, and to lull
them it was necessary to buy pipes by the dozens; nay, the gross--well,
we had best say by the shipload at once.

"What the plague can Baya do with all these pipes?" poor Tartarin wanted
to know more than once; but he paid the bills all the same, and without

At length, after having purchased a mountainous stack of pipes and
poured forth lakes of Oriental poesy, an interview was arranged. I have
no need to tell you with what throbbings of the heart the Tarasconian
prepared himself; with what carefulness he trimmed, brilliantined, and
perfumed his rough cap-popper's beard, and how he did not forget--for
everything must be thought of--to slip a spiky life-preserver and two or
three six-shooters into his pockets.

The ever-obliging prince was coming to this first meeting in the office
of interpreter.

The lady dwelt in the upper part of the town. Before her doorway a boy
Moor of fourteen or less was smoking cigarettes; this was the brother in
question, the celebrated Ali. On seeing the pair of visitors arrive, he
gave a double knock on the postern gate and delicately glided away.

The door opened. A negress appeared, who conducted the gentlemen,
without uttering a word, across the narrow inner courtyard into a small
cool room, where the lady awaited them, reclining on a low ottoman. At
first glance she appeared smaller and stouter than the Moorish damsel
met in the omnibus by the Tarasconian. In fact, was it really the same?
But the doubt merely flashed through Tartarin's brain like a stroke of

The dame was so pretty thus, with her feet bare, and plump fingers, fine
and pink, loaded with rings. Under her bodice of gilded cloth and the
folds of her flower-patterned dress was suggested a lovable creature,
rather blessed materially, rounded everywhere, and nice enough to eat.
The amber mouthpiece of a narghileh smoked at her lips, and enveloped
her wholly in a halo of light-coloured smoke.

On entering, the Tarasconian laid a hand on his heart and bowed as
Moorlike as possible, whilst rolling his large impassioned eyes.

Baya gazed on him for a moment without making any answer; but then,
dropping her pipe-stem, she threw her head back, hid it in her hands,
and they could only see her white neck rippling with a wild laugh like a
bag full of pearls.

XI. Sidi Tart'ri Ben Tart'ri.

SHOULD you ever drop into the coffee-houses of the Algerian upper town
after dark, even at this day, you would still hear the natives chatting
among themselves, with many a wink and slight laugh, of one Sidi Tart'ri
Ben Tart'ri, a rich and good-humoured European, who dwelt, a few years
back, in that neighbourhood, with a buxom witch of local origin, named

This Sidi Tart'ri, who has left such a merry memory around the Kasbah,
is no other than our Tartarin, as will be guessed.

How could you expect things otherwise? In the lives of heroes, of
saints, too, it happens the same way--there are moments of blindness,
perturbation, and weakness. The illustrious Tarasconian was no more
exempt from this than another, and that is the reason during two months
that, oblivious of fame and lions, he revelled in Oriental amorousness,
and dozed, like Hannibal at Capua, in the delights of Algiers the white.

The good fellow took a pretty little house in the native style in
the heart of the Arab town, with inner courtyard, banana-trees, cool
verandahs, and fountains. He dwelt, afar from noise, in company with the
Moorish charmer, a thorough woman to the manner born, who pulled at her
hubble-bubble all day when she was not eating.

Stretched out on a divan in front of him, Baya would drone him
monotonous tunes with a guitar in her fist; or else, to distract her
lord and master, favour him with the Bee Dance, holding a hand-glass up,
in which she reflected her white teeth and the faces she made.

As the Esmeralda did not know a word of French, and Tartarin none in
Arabic, the conversation died away sometimes, and the Tarasconian had
plenty of leisure to do penance for the gush of language of which he had
been guilty in the shop of Bezuquet the chemist or that of Costecalde
the gunmaker.

But this penance was not devoid of charm, for he felt a kind of
enjoyable sullenness in dawdling away the whole day without speaking,
and in listening to the gurgling of the hookah, the strumming of the
guitar, and the faint splashing of the fountain on the mosaic pavement
of the yard.

The pipe, the bath, and caresses filled his entire life. They seldom
went out of doors. Sometimes with his lady-love upon a pillion, Sidi
Tart'ri would ride upon a sturdy mule to eat pomegranates in a little
garden he had purchased in the suburbs. But never, without exception,
did he go down into the European quarter. This kind of Algiers appeared
to him as ugly and unbearable as a barracks at home, with its Zouaves
in revelry, its music-halls crammed with officers, and its everlasting
clank of metal sabre-sheaths under the arcades.

The sum total is, that our Tarasconian was very happy.

Sancho-Tartarin particularly, being very sweet upon Turkish pastry,
declared that one could not be more satisfied than by this new
existence. Quixote-Tartarin had some twinges at whiles on thinking of
Tarascon and the promises of lion-skins; but this remorse did not last,
and to drive away such dampening ideas there sufficed one glance
from Baya, or a spoonful of those diabolical dizzying and odoriferous
sweetmeats like Circe's brews.

In the evening Gregory came to discourse a little about a free Black
Mountain. Of indefatigable obligingness, this amiable nobleman filled
the functions of an interpreter in the household, or those of a steward
at a pinch, and all for nothing for the sheer pleasure of it. Apart from
him, Tartarin received none but "Turks." All those fierce-headed pirates
who had given him such frights from the backs of their black stalls
turned out, when once he made their acquaintance, to be good
inoffensive tradesmen, embroiderers, dealers in spice, pipe-mouthpiece
turners--well-bred fellows, humble, clever, close, and first-class hands
at homely card games. Four or five times a week these gentry would
come and spend the evening at Sidi Tart'ri's, winning his small change,
eating his cakes and dainties, and delicately retiring on the stroke of
ten with thanks to the Prophet.

Left alone, Sidi Tart'ri and his faithful spouse by the broomstick
wedding would finish the evening on their terrace, a broad white roof
which overlooked the city.

All around them a thousand of other such white flats, placid beneath the
moonshine, were descending like steps to the sea. The breeze carried up
tinkling of guitars.

Suddenly, like a shower of firework stars, a full, clear melody would
be softly sprinkled out from the sky, and on the minaret of the
neighbouring mosque a handsome muezzin would appear, his blanched form
outlined on the deep blue of the night, as he chanted the glory of Allah
with a marvellous voice, which filled the horizon.

Thereupon Baya would let go her guitar, and with her large eyes turned
towards the crier, seem to imbibe the prayer deliciously. As long as
the chant endured she would remain thrilled there in ecstasy, like an
Oriental saint. The deeply impressed Tartarin would watch her pray, and
conclude that it must be a splendid and powerful creed that could cause
such frenzies of faith.

Tarascon, veil thy face! here is a son of thine on the point of becoming
a renegade!

XII. The Latest Intelligence from Tarascon.

PARTING from his little country seat, Sidi Tart'ri was returning alone
on his mule on a fine afternoon, when the sky was blue and the zephyrs
warm. His legs were kept wide apart by ample saddle-bags of esparto
cloth, swelled out with cedrats and water-melons. Lulled by the ring of
his large stirrups, and rocking his body to the swing and swaying of the
beast, the good fellow was thus traversing an adorable country, with
his hands folded on his paunch, three-quarters gone, through heat, in a
comfortable doze. All at once, on entering the town, a deafening appeal
aroused him.

"Ahoy! What a monster Fate is! Anybody'd take this for Monsieur

On this name, and at the jolly southern accent, the Tarasconian lifted
his head, and perceived, a couple of steps away, the honest tanned
visage of Captain Barbassou, master of the Zouave, who was taking his
absinthe at the door of a little coffee-house.

"Hey! Lord love you, Barbassou!" said Tartarin, pulling up his mule.

Instead of continuing the dialogue, Barbassou stared at him for a space
ere he burst into a peal of such hilarity that Sidi Tart'ri sat back
dumbfounded on his melons.

"What a stunning turban, my poor Monsieur Tartarin! Is it true, what
they say of your having turned Turk? How is little Baya? Is she still
singing 'Marco la Bella'?"

"Marco la Bella!" repeated the indignant Tartarin. "I'll have you to
know, captain, that the person you mention is an honourable Moorish
lady, and one who does not know a word of French."

"Baya does not know French! What lunatic asylum do you hail from, then?"

The good captain broke into still heartier laughter; but, seeing the
chops of poor Sidi Tart'ri fall he changed his course.

"Howsoever, may happen it is not the same lass. Let's reckon that I
have mixed 'em up. Still, mark you, Monsieur Tartarin, you will do well,
nonetheless, to distrust Algerian Moors and Montenegrin princes."

Tartarin rose in the stirrups, making a wry face.

"The prince is my friend, captain."

"Come, come, don't wax wrathy. Won't you have some bitters to sweeten
you? No? Haven't you anything to say to the folks at home, neither?
Well, then, a pleasant journey. By the way, mate, I have some good
French 'bacco upon me, and if you would like to carry away a few
pipefuls, you have only to take some. Take it, won't you? It's your
beastly Oriental 'baccoes that have befogged your brain."

Upon this the captain went back to his absinthe, whilst the moody
Tartarin trotted slowly on the road to his little house. Although his
great soul refused to credit anything, Barbassou's insinuations had
vexed him, and the familiar adjurations and home accent had awakened
vague remorse.

He found nobody at home, Baya having gone out to the bath. The negress
appeared sinister and the dwelling saddening. A prey to inexpressible
melancholy, he went and sat down by the fountain to load a pipe with
Barbassou's tobacco. It was wrapped up in a piece of the Marseilles
Semaphore newspaper. On flattening it out, the name of his native place
struck his eyes.

"Our Tarascon correspondent writes:--

"The city is in distress. There has been no news for several months from
Tartarin the lion-slayer, who set off to hunt the great feline tribe
in Africa. What can have become of our heroic fellow-countryman? Those
hardly dare ask who know, as we do, how hot-headed he was, and what
boldness and thirst for adventures were his. Has he, like many others,
been smothered in the sands, or has he fallen under the murderous fangs
of one of those monsters of the Atlas Range of which he had promised the
skins to the municipality? What a dreadful state of uncertainty! It is
true some Negro traders, come to Beaucaire Fair, assert having met in
the middle of the deserts a European whose description agreed with his;
he was proceeding towards Timbuctoo. May Heaven preserve our Tartarin!"

When he read this, the son of Tarascon reddened, blanched, and
shuddered. All Tarascon appeared unto him: the club, the cap-poppers,
Costecalde's green arm-chair, and, hovering over all like a spread
eagle, the imposing moustaches of brave Commandant Bravida.

At seeing himself here, as he was, cowardly lolling on a mat, whilst his
friends believed him slaughtering wild beasts, Tartarin of Tarascon was
ashamed of himself, and could have wept had he not been a hero.

Suddenly he leaped up and thundered:

"The lion, the lion! Down with him!"

And dashing into the dusty lumber-hole where mouldered the shelter-tent,
the medicine-chest, the potted meats, and the gun-cases, he dragged them
out into the middle of the court.

Sancho-Tartarin was no more: Quixote-Tartarin occupied the field of
active life.

Only the time to inspect his armament and stores, don his harness, get
into his heavy boots, scribble a couple of words to confide Baya to
the prince, and slip a few bank-notes sprinkled with tears into
the envelope, and then the dauntless Tarasconian rolled away in the
stage-coach on the Blidah road, leaving the house to the negress,
stupor-stricken before the pipe, the turban, and babooshes--all the
Moslem shell of Sidi Tart'ri which sprawled piteously under the little
white trefoils of the gallery.


I. What becomes of the Old Stage-coaches.

COME to look closely at the vehicle, it was an old stage-coach all
of the olden time, upholstered in faded deep blue cloth, with those
enormous rough woollen balls which, after a few hours' journey, finally
establish a raw spot in the small of your back.

Tartarin of Tarascon had a corner of the inside, where he installed
himself most free-and-easily: and, preliminarily to inspiring the rank
emanations of the great African felines, the hero had to content himself
with that homely old odour of the stage-coach, oddly composed of a
thousand smells, of man and woman, horses and harness, eatables and
mildewed straw.

There was a little of everything inside--a Trappist monk, some Jew
merchants, two fast ladies going to join their regiment, the Third
Hussars, a photographic artist from Orleansville, and so on. But,
however charming and varied was the company, the Tarasconian was not in
the mood for chatting; he remained quite thoughtful, with an arm in the
arm-rest sling-strap and his guns between his knees. All churned up his
wits--the precipitate departure, Baya's eyes of jet, the terrible chase
he was about to undertake, to say nothing of this European coach; with
its Noah's Ark aspect, rediscovered in the heart of Africa, vaguely
recalling the Tarascon of his youth, with its races in the suburbs,
jolly dinners on the river-side--a throng of memories, in short.

Gradually night came on. The guard lit up the lamps. The rusty diligence
danced creakingly on its old springs; the horses trotted and their bells
jangled. From time to time in the boot arose a dreadful clank of iron:
that was the war material.

Tartarin of Tarascon, nearly overcome, dwelt a moment scanning the
fellow-passengers, comically shaken by the jolts, and dancing before
him like the shadows in galanty-shows, till his eyes grew cloudy and his
mind befogged, and only vaguely he heard the wheels grind and the sides
of the conveyance squeak complainingly.

Suddenly a voice called Tartarin by his name, the voice of an old fairy
godmother, hoarse, broken, and cracked.

"Monsieur Tartarin!" three times.

"Who's calling me?"

"It's I, Monsieur Tartarin. Don't you recognise me? I am the old
stage-coach who used to do the road betwixt Nimes and Tarascon twenty
year agone. How many times I have carried you and your friends when you
went to shoot at caps over Joncquieres or Bellegarde way! I did not know
you again at the first, on account of your Turk's cap and the flesh you
have accumulated; but as soon as you began snoring--what a rascal is
good-luck!--I twigged you straight away."

"All right, that's all right enough!" observed the Tarasconian, a shade
vexed; but softening, he added, "But to the point, my poor old girl;
whatever did you come out here for?"

"Pooh! my good Monsieur Tartarin, I assure you I never came of my
own free will. As soon as the Beaucaire railway was finished I was
considered good for nought, and shipped away into Algeria. And I am not
the only one either! Bless you, next to all the old stage-coaches of
France have been packed off like me. We were regarded as too much the
conservative--'the slow-coaches'--d'ye see, and now we are here
leading the life of a dog. This is what you in France call the Algerian

Here the ancient vehicle heaved a long-drawn sigh before proceeding. "My
wheels and linchpin! Monsieur Tartarin, how I regret my lovely Tarascon!
That was the good time for me, when I was young!--You ought to have seen
me starting off in the morning, washed with no stint of water and all
a-shine, with my wheels freshly varnished, my lamps blazing like a brace
of suns, and my boot always rubbed up with oil! It was indeed lovely
when the postillion cracked his whip to the tune of 'Lagadigadeou, the
Tarasque! the Tarasque!' and the guard, his horn in its sling and laced
cap cocked well over one ear, chucking his little dog, always in a fury,
upon the top, climbed up himself with a shout: 'Right-away!'

"Then would my four horses dash off to the medley of bells, barks, and
horn-blasts, and the windows fly open for all Tarascon to look with
pride upon the royal mail coach dart over the king's highway.

"What a splendid road that was, Monsieur Tartarin, broad and well
kept, with its mile-stones, its little heaps of road-metal at regular
distances, and its pretty clumps of vines and olive-trees on either
hand! Then, again, the roadside inns so close together, and the changes
of horses every five minutes! And what jolly, honest chaps my patrons
were!--village mayors and parish priests going up to Nimes to see their
prefect or bishop, taffety-weavers returning openly from the Mazet,
collegians out on holiday leave, peasants in worked smock-frocks, all
fresh shaven for the occasion that morning; and up above, on the top,
you gentlemen-sportsmen, always in high spirits, and singing each your
own family ballad to the stars as you came back in the dark.

"Deary me! it's a change of times now! Lord knows what rubbish I am
carting here, come from nobody guesses where! They fill me with small
deer, these negroes, Bedouin Arabs, swashbucklers, adventurers from
every land, and ragged settlers who poison me with their pipes, and all
jabbering a language that the Tower of Babel itself could make nothing
of! And, furthermore, you should see how they treat me--I mean, how they
never treat me: never a brush or a wash. They begrudge me grease for my
axles. Instead of my good fat quiet horses of other days, little Arab
ponies, with the devil in their frames, who fight and bite, caper
as they run like so many goats, and break my splatterboard all to
smithereens with their lashing out behind. Ouch! ouch! there they are at
it again!

"And such roads! Just here it is bearable, because we are near the
governmental headquarters; but out a bit there's nothing, Monsieur--not
the ghost of a road at all. We get along as best we can over hill and
dale, over dwarf palms and mastic-trees. Ne'er a fixed change of horses,
the stopping being at the whim of the guard, now at one farm, again at

"Somewhiles this rogue goes a couple of leagues out of the way to have
a glass of absinthe or champoreau with a chum. After which, 'Crack on,
postillion!' to make up for the lost time. Though the sun be broiling
and the dust scorching, we whip on! We catch in the scrub and spill
over, but whip on! We swim rivers, we catch cold, we get swamped, we
drown, but whip! whip! whip! Then in the evening, streaming--a nice
thing for my age, with my rheumatics--I have to sleep in the open air
of some caravanseral yard, open to all the winds. In the dead o' night
jackals and hyaenas come sniffing of my body; and the marauders who
don't like dews get into my compartment to keep warm.

"Such is the life I lead, my poor Monsieur Tartarin, and that I shall
lead to the day when--burnt up by the sun and rotted by the damp nights
until unable to do anything else, I shall fall in some spot of bad
road, where the Arabs will boil their kouskous with the bones of my old

"Blidah! Blidah!" called out the guard as he opened the door.

II. A little gentleman drops in and "drops upon" Tartarin.

VAGUELY through the mud-dimmed glass Tartarin of Tarascon caught a
glimpse of a second-rate but pretty town market-place, regular in shape,
surrounded by colonnades and planted with orange-trees, in the midst
of which what seemed toy leaden soldiers were going through the morning
exercise in the clear roseate mist. The cafes were shedding their
shutters. In one corner there was a vegetable market. It was bewitching,
but it did not smack of lions yet.

"To the South! farther to the South!" muttered the good old desperado,
sinking back in his corner.

At this moment the door opened. A puff of fresh air rushed in, bearing
upon its wings, in the perfume of the orange-blossoms, a little person
in a brown frock-coat, old and dry, wrinkled and formal, his face no
bigger than your fist, his neckcloth of black silk five fingers wide,
a notary's letter-case, and umbrella--the very picture of a village

On perceiving the Tarasconian's warlike equipment, the little gentleman,
who was seated over against him, appeared excessively surprised, and set
to studying him with burdensome persistency.

The horses were taken out and the fresh ones put in, whereupon the coach
started off again. The little weasel still gazed at Tartarin, who in the
end took snuff at it.

"Does this astonish you?" he demanded, staring the little gentleman full
in the face in his turn.

"Oh, dear, no! it only annoys me," responded the other, very tranquilly.

And the fact is, that, with his shelter-tent, revolvers, pair of guns in
their cases, and hunting-knife, not to speak of his natural corpulence,
Tartarin of Tarascon did take up a lot of room.

The little gentleman's reply angered him.

"Do you by any chance fancy that I am going lion-hunting with your
umbrella?" queried the great man haughtily.

The little man looked at his umbrella, smiled blandly, and still with
the same lack of emotion, inquired:

"Oho, then you are Monsieur"--

"Tartarin of Tarascon, lion-killer!"

In uttering these words the dauntless son of Tarascon shook the blue
tassel of his fez like a mane.

Through the vehicle was a spell of stupefaction.

The Trappist brother crossed himself, the dubious women uttered little
screams of affright, and the Orleansville photographer bent over towards
the lion-slayer, already cherishing the unequalled honour of taking his

The little gentleman, though, was not awed.

"Do you mean to say that you have killed many lions, Monsieur Tartarin?"
he asked, very quietly.

The Tarasconian received his charge in the handsomest manner.

"Is it many have I killed, Monsieur? I wish you had only as many hairs
on your head as I have killed of them."

All the coach laughed on observing three yellow bristles standing up on
the little gentleman's skull.

In his turn, the Orleansville photographer struck in:

"Yours must be a terrible profession, Monsieur Tartarin. You must
pass some ugly moments sometimes. I have heard that poor Monsieur
Bombonnel"--"Oh, yes, the panther-killer," said Tartarin, rather

"Do you happen to be acquainted with him?" inquired the insignificant

"Eh! of course! Know him? Why, we have been out on the hunt over twenty
times together."

The little gentleman smiled.

"So you also hunt panthers, Monsieur Tartarin?" he asked.

"Sometimes, just for pastime," said the fiery Tarasconian. "But," he
added, as he tossed his head with a heroic movement that inflamed
the hearts of the two sweethearts of the regiment, "that's not worth

"When all's said and done," ventured the photographer, "a panther is
nothing but a big cat."

"Right you are!" said Tartarin, not sorry to abate the celebrated
Bombonnel's glory a little, particularly in the presence of ladies.

Here the coach stopped. The conductor came to open the door, and
addressed the insignificant little gentleman most respectfully, saying:

"We have arrived, Monsieur."

The little gentleman got up, stepped out, and said, before the door was
closed again:

"Will you allow me to give you a bit of advice, Monsieur Tartarin?"

"What is it, Monsieur?"

"Faith! you wear the look of a good sort of fellow, so I would, rather
than not, let you have it. Get you back quickly to Tarascon, Monsieur
Tartarin, for you are wasting your time here. There do remain a few
panthers in the colony, but, out upon the big cats! they are too small
game for you. As for lion-hunting, that's all over. There are none left
in Algeria, my friend Chassaing having lately knocked over the last."

Upon which the little gentleman saluted, closed the door, and trotted
away chuckling, with his document-wallet and umbrella.

"Guard," asked Tartarin, screwing up his face contemptuously, "who under
the sun is that poor little mannikin?"

"What! don't you know him? Why, that there's Monsieur Bombonnel!"

III. A Monastery of Lions.

AT Milianah, Tartarin of Tarascon alighted, leaving the stage-coach to
continue its way towards the South.

Two days' rough jolting, two nights spent with eyes open to spy out of
window if there were not discoverable the dread figure of a lion in the
fields beyond the road--so much sleeplessness well deserved some hours
repose. Besides, if we must tell everything, since his misadventure with
Bombonnel, the outspoken Tartarin felt ill at ease, notwithstanding his
weapons, his terrifying visage, and his red cap, before the Orleansville
photographer and the two ladies fond of the military.

So he proceeded through the broad streets of Milianah, full of fine
trees and fountains; but whilst looking up a suitable hotel, the poor
fellow could not help musing over Bombonnel's words. Suppose they were
true! Suppose there were no more lions in Algeria? What would be the
good then of so much running about and fatigue?

Suddenly, at the turn of a street, our hero found himself face to face
with--with what? Guess! "A donkey, of course!" A donkey? A splendid lion
this time, waiting before a coffee-house door, royally sitting up on his
hind-quarters, with his tawny mane gleaming in the sun.

"What possessed them to tell me that there were no more of them?"
exclaimed the Tarasconian, as he made a backward jump.

On hearing this outcry the lion lowered his head, and taking up in his
mouth a wooden bowl that was before him on the footway, humbly held it
out towards Tartarin, who was immovable with stupefaction. A passing
Arab tossed a copper into the bowl, and the lion wagged his tail.
Thereupon Tartarin understood it all. He saw what emotion had prevented
him previously perceiving: that the crowd was gathered around a poor
tame blind lion, and that two stalwart Negroes, armed with staves, were
marching him through the town as a Savoyard does a marmot.

The blood of Tarascon boiled over at once.

"Wretches that you are!" he roared in a voice of thunder, "thus to
debase such noble beasts!"

Springing to the lion, he wrenched the loathsome bowl from between his
royal jaws. The two Africans, believing they had a thief to contend
with, rushed upon the foreigner with uplifted cudgels. There was a
dreadful conflict: the blackamoors smiting, the women screaming, and the
youngsters laughing. An old Jew cobbler bleated out of the hollow of his
stall, "Dake him to the shustish of the beace!" The lion himself; in
his dark state, tried to roar as his hapless champion, after a desperate
struggle, rolled on the ground among the spilt pence and the sweepings.

At this juncture a man cleft the throng, made the Negroes stand back
with a word, and the women and urchins with a wave of the hand, lifted
up Tartarin, brushed him down, shook him into shape, and sat him
breathless upon a corner-post.

"What, prince, is it you?" said the good Tartarin, rubbing his ribs.

"Yes, indeed, it is I, my valiant friend. As soon as your letter was
received, I entrusted Baya to her brother, hired a post-chaise, flew
fifty leagues as fast as a horse could go, and here I am, just in time
to snatch you from the brutality of these ruffians. What have you done,
in the name of just Heaven, to bring this ugly trouble upon you?"

"What done, prince? It was too much for me to see this unfortunate lion
with a begging-bowl in his mouth, humiliated, conquered, buffeted about,
set up as a laughing-stock to all this Moslem rabble"--

"But you are wrong, my noble friend. On the contrary, this lion is an
object of respect and adoration. This is a sacred beast who belongs to a
great monastery of lions, founded three hundred years ago by Mahomet Ben
Aouda, a kind of fierce and forbidding La Trappe, full of roarings
and wild-beastly odours, where strange monks rear and feed lions by
hundreds, and send them out all over Northern Africa, accompanied by
begging brothers. The alms they receive serve for the maintenance of
the monastery and its mosques; and the two Negroes showed so much
displeasure just now because it was their conviction that the lion under
their charge would forthwith devour them if a single penny of their
collection were lost or stolen through any fault of theirs."

On hearing this incredible and yet veracious story Tartarin of Tarascon
was delighted, and sniffed the air noisily. "What pleases me in this,"
he remarked, as the summing up of his opinion, "is that, whether
Monsieur Bombonnel likes it or not, there are still lions in Algeria."--

"I should think there were!" ejaculated the prince enthusiastically.
"We will start to-morrow beating up the Shelliff Plain, and you will see
lions enough!"

"What, prince! have you an intention to go a-hunting, too?"

"Of course! Do you think I am going to leave you to march by yourself
into the heart of Africa, in the midst of ferocious tribes of whose
languages and usages you are ignorant! No, no, illustrious Tartarin,
I shall quit you no more. Go where you will, I shall make one of the

"O Prince! prince!"

The beaming Tartarin hugged the devoted Gregory to his breast at the
proud thought of his going to have a foreign prince to accompany him
in his hunting, after the example of Jules Gerard, Bombonnel, and other
famous lion-slayers.

IV. The Caravan on the March.

LEAVING Milianah at the earliest hour next morning, the intrepid
Tartarin and the no less intrepid Prince Gregory descended towards
the Shelliff Plain through a delightful gorge shaded with jessamine,
carouba, tuyas, and wild olive-trees, between hedges of little native
gardens and thousands of merry, lively rills which scampered down from
rock to rock with a singing splash--a bit of landscape meet for the

As much loaded with arms as the great Tartarin, Prince Gregory had, over
and above that, donned a queer but magnificent military cap, all covered
with gold lace and a trimming of oak-leaves in silver cord, which gave
His Highness the aspect of a Mexican general or a railway station-master
on the banks of the Danube.

This plague of a cap much puzzled the beholder; and as he timidly craved
some explanation, the prince gravely answered:

"It is a kind of headgear indispensable for travel in Algeria."

Whilst brightening up the peak with a sweep of his sleeve, he instructed
his simple companion in the important part which the military cap plays
in the French connection with the Arabs, and the terror this article of
army insignia alone has the privilege of inspiring, so that the Civil
Service has been obliged to put all its employees in caps, from the
extra-copyist to the receiver-general. To govern Algeria (the prince is
still speaking) there is no need of a strong head, or even of any head
at all. A military cap does it alone, if showy and belaced, and shining
at the top of a non-human pole, like Gessler's.

Thus chatting and philosophising, the caravan proceeded. The barefooted
porters leaped from rock to rock with ape-like screams. The guncases
clanked, and the guns themselves flashed. The natives who were passing,
salaamed to the ground before the magic cap. Up above, on the ramparts
of Milianah, the head of the Arab Department, who was out for an airing
with his wife, hearing these unusual noises, and seeing the weapons
gleam between the branches, fancied there was a revolt, and ordered the
drawbridge to be raised, the general alarm to be sounded, and the whole
town put under a state of siege. A capital commencement for the caravan!

Unfortunately, before the day ended, things went wrong. Of the black
luggage-bearers, one was doubled up with atrocious colics from having
eaten the diachylon out of the medicine-chest: another fell on the
roadside dead drunk with camphorated brandy; the third, carrier of
the travelling-album, deceived by the gilding on the clasps into the
persuasion that he was flying with the treasures of Mecca, ran off into
the Zaccar on his best legs.

This required consideration. The caravan halted, and held a council in
the broken shadow of an old fig-tree.

"It's my advice that we turn up Negro porters from this evening
forward," said the prince, trying without success to melt a cake of
compressed meat in an improved patent triple-bottomed sauce-pan. "There
is, haply, an Arab trader quite near here. The best thing to do is to
stop there, and buy some donkeys."

"No, no; no donkeys," quickly interrupted Tartarin, becoming quite red
at memory of Noiraud. "How can you expect," he added, hypocrite that he
was, "that such little beasts could carry all our apparatus?"

The prince smiled.

"You are making a mistake, my illustrious friend. However weakly and
meagre the Algerian bourriquot may appear to you, he has solid loins. He
must have them so to support all that he does. Just ask the Arabs. Hark
to how they explain the French colonial organisation. 'On the top,' they
say, 'is Mossoo, the Governor, with a heavy club to rap the staff; the
staff, for revenge, canes the soldier; the soldier clubs the settler,
and he hammers the Arab; the Arab smites the Negro, the Negro beats
the Jew, and he takes it out of the donkey. The poor bourriquot having
nobody to belabour, arches up his back and bears it all.' You see
clearly now that he can bear your boxes."

"All the same," remonstrated Tartarin, "it strikes me that jackasses
will not chime in nicely with the effect of our caravan. I want
something more Oriental. For instance, if we could only get a camel"--

"As many as you like," said His Highness; and off they started for the
Arab mart.

It was held a few miles away, on the banks of the Shelliff. There were
five or six thousand Arabs in tatters here, grovelling in the sunshine
and noisily trafficking, amid jars of black olives, pots of honey, bags
of spices; and great heaps of cigars; huge fires were roasting whole
sheep, basted with butter; in open air slaughter-houses stark naked
Negroes, with ruddy arms and their feet in gore, were cutting up kids
hanging from crosspoles, with small knives.

In one corner, under a tent patched with a thousand colours, a Moorish
clerk of the market in spectacles scrawled in a large book. Here was a
cluster of men shouting with rage: it was a spinning-jenny game, set on
a corn-measure, and Kabyles were ready to cut one another's throats over
it. Yonder were laughs and contortions of delight: it was a Jew trader
on a mule drowning in the Shelliff. Then there were dogs, scorpions,
ravens, and flies--rather flies than anything else.

But a plentiful lack of camels abounded. They finally unearthed one,
though, of which the M'zabites were trying to get rid--the real ship of
the desert, the classical, standard camel, bald, woe-begone, with a long
Bedouin head, and its hump, become limp in consequence of unduly long
fasts, hanging melancholically on one side.

Tartarin considered it so handsome that he wanted the entire party to
get upon it. Still his Oriental craze!

The beast knelt down for them to strap on the boxes.

The prince enthroned himself on the animal's neck. For the sake of the
greater majesty, Tartarin got them to hoist him on the top of the hump
between two boxes, where, proud, and cosily settled down, he saluted
the whole market with a lofty wave of the hand, and gave the signal of

Thunderation! if the people of Tarascon could only have seen him!

The camel rose, straightened up its long knotty legs, and stepped out.

Oh, stupor! At the end of a few strides Tartarin felt he was losing
colour, and the heroic chechia assumed one by one its former positions
in the days of sailing in the Zouave. This devil's own camel pitched and
tossed like a frigate.

"Prince! prince!" gasped Tartarin pallid as a ghost, as he clung to the
dry tuft of the hump, "prince, let's get down. I find--I feel that I
m-m-must get off; or I shall disgrace France."

A deal of good that talk was--the camel was on the go, and nothing could
stop it. Behind it raced four thousand barefooted Arabs, waving their
hands and laughing like mad, so that they made six hundred thousand
white teeth glitter in the sun.

The great man of Tarascon had to resign himself to circumstances. He
sadly collapsed on the hump, where the fez took all the positions it
fancied, and France was disgraced.

V. The Night-watch in a Poison-tree Grove.

SWEETLY picturesque as was their new steed, our lion-hunters had to give
it up, purely out of consideration for the red cap, of course. So
they continued the journey on foot as before, the caravan tranquilly
proceeding southwardly by short stages, the Tarasconian in the van, the
Montenegrin in the rear, and the camel, with the weapons in their cases,
in the ranks.

The expedition lasted nearly a month.

During that seeking for lions which he never found, the dreadful
Tartarin roamed from douar to douar on the immense plain of the
Shelliff, through the odd but formidable French Algeria, where the old
Oriental perfumes are complicated by a strong blend of absinthe and the
barracks, Abraham and "the Zouzou" mingled, something fairy-tale-like
and simply burlesque, like a page of the Old Testament related by Tommy

A curious sight for those who have eyes that can see.

A wild and corrupted people whom we are civilising by teaching them our
vices. The ferocious and uncontrolled authority of grotesque bashaws,
who gravely use their grand cordons of the Legion of Honour as
handkerchiefs, and for a mere yea or nay order a man to be bastinadoed.
It is the justice of the conscienceless, bespectacled cadis under
the palm-tree, Maw-worms of the Koran and Law, who dream languidly of
promotion and sell their decrees, as Esau did his birthright, for a dish
of lentils or sweetened kouskous. Drunken and libertine cadis are they,
formerly servants to some General Yusuf or the like, who get intoxicated
on champagne, along with laundresses from Port Mahon, and fatten on
roast mutton, whilst before their tents the whole tribe waste away with
hunger, and fight with the harriers for the bones of the lordly feast.

All around spread the plains in waste, burnt grass, leafless shrubs,
thickets of cactus and mastic--"the Granary of France!"--a granary void
of grain, alas! and rich alone in vermin and jackals. Abandoned camps,
frightened tribes fleeing from them and famine, they know not whither,
and strewing the road with corpses. At long intervals French villages,
with the dwellings in ruins, the fields untilled, the maddened
locusts gnawing even the window-blinds, and all the settlers in the
drinking-places, absorbing absinthe and discussing projects of reform
and the Constitution.

This is what Tartarin might have seen had he given himself the trouble;
but, wrapped up entirely in his leonine-hunger, the son of Tarascon went
straight on, looking to neither right nor left, his eyes steadfastly
fixed on the imaginary monsters which never really appeared.

As the shelter-tent was stubborn in not unfolding, and the compressed
meat-cakes would not dissolve, the caravan was obliged to stop, morn and
eve, at tribal camps. Everywhere, thanks to the gorgeous cap of Prince
Gregory, our hunters were welcomed with open arms. They lodged in the
aghas' odd palaces, large white windowless farmhouses, where they
found, pell-mell, narghilehs and mahogany furniture, Smyrna carpets
and moderator lamps, cedar coffers full of Turkish sequins, and French
statuette-decked clocks in the Louis Philippe style.

Everywhere, too, Tartarin was given splendrous galas, diffas, and
fantasias, which, being interpreted, mean feasts and circuses. In his
honour whole goums blazed away powder, and floated their burnouses in
the sun. When the powder was burnt, the agha would come and hand in his
bill. This is what is called Arab hospitality.

But always no lions, no more than on London Bridge.

Nevertheless, the Tarasconian did not grow disheartened. Ever bravely
diving more deeply into the South, he spent the days in beating up the
thickets, probing the dwarf-palms with the muzzle of his rifle, and
saying "Boh!" to every bush. And every evening, before lying down, he
went into ambush for two or three hours. Useless trouble, however, for
the lion did not show himself.

One evening, though, going on six o'clock, as the caravan scrambled
through a violet-hued mastic-grove, where fat quails tumbled about in
the grass, drowsy through the heat, Tartarin of Tarascon fancied he
heard though afar and very vague, and thinned down by the breeze--that
wondrous roaring to which he had so often listened by Mitaine's
Menagerie at home.

At first the hero feared he was dreaming; but in an instant further the
roaring recommenced more distinct, although yet remote; and this time
the camel's hump shivered in terror, and made the tinned meats and arms
in the cases rattle, whilst all the dogs in the camps were heard howling
in every corner of the horizon.

Beyond doubt this was the lion.

Quick, quick! to the ambush. There was not a minute to lose.

Near at hand there happened to be an old marabout's, or saint's, tomb,
with a white cupola, and the defunct's large yellow slippers placed in a
niche over the door, and a mass of odd offerings--hems of blankets, gold
thread, red hair--hung on the wall.

Tartarin of Tarascon left his prince and his camel and went in search of
a good spot for lying in wait. Prince Gregory wanted to follow him, but
the Tarasconian refused, bent on confronting Leo alone. But still he
besought His Highness not to go too far away, and, as a measure of
foresight, he entrusted him with his pocket-book, a good-sized one, full
of precious papers and bank-notes, which he feared would get torn by the
lion's claws. This done, our hero looked up a good place.

A hundred steps in front of the temple a little clump of rose-laurel
shook in the twilight haze on the edge of a rivulet all but dried up.
There it was that Tartarin went and ensconced himself, one knee on the
ground, according to the regular rule, his rifle in his hand, and his
huge hunting-knife stuck boldly before him in the sandy bank.

Night fell.

The rosy tint of nature changed into violet, and then into dark blue.
A pretty pool of clear water gleamed like a hand-glass over the
river-pebbles; this was the watering-place of the wild animals.

On the other slope the whitish trail was dimly to be discerned which
their heavy paws had traced in the brush--a mysterious path which made
one's flesh creep. Join to this sensation that from the vague swarming
sound in African forests, the swishing of branches, the velvety-pads of
roving creatures, the jackal's shrill yelp, and up in the sky, two or
three hundred feet aloft, vast flocks of cranes passing on with screams
like poor little children having their weasands slit. You will own that
there were grounds for a man being moved.

Tartarin was so, and even more than that, for the poor fellow's teeth
chattered, and on the cross-bar of his hunting-knife, planted upright
in the bank, as we repeat, his rifle-barrel rattled like a pair of
castanets. Do not ask too much of a man! There are times when one is
not in the mood; and, moreover, where would be the merit if heroes were
never afraid?

Well, yes, Tartarin was afraid, and all the time, too, for the matter
of that. Nevertheless, he held out for an hour; better, for two; but
heroism has its limits. Nigh him, in the dry part of the rivulet-bed,
the Tarasconian unexpectedly heard the sound of steps and of pebbles
rolling. This time terror lifted him off the ground. He banged away both
barrels at haphazard into the night, and retreated as fast as his
legs would carry him to the marabout's chapel-vault, leaving his knife
standing up in the sand like a cross commemorative of the grandest panic
that ever assailed the soul of a conqueror of hydras.

"Help! this Way, prince; the lion is on me!"

There was silence. "Prince, prince, are you there?"

The prince was not there. On the white moonlit wall of the fane the
camel alone cast the queer-shaped shadow of his protuberance. Prince
Gregory had cut and run with the wallet of bank-notes. His Highness had
been for the month past awaiting this opportunity.

VI. Bagged him at Last.

IT was not until early on the morrow of this adventurous and dramatic
eve that our hero awoke, and acquired assurance doubly sure that the
prince and the treasure had really gone off, without any prospect
of return. When he saw himself alone in the little white tombhouse,
betrayed, robbed, abandoned in the heart of savage Algeria, with a
one-humped camel and some pocket-money as all his resources, then did
the representative of Tarascon for the first time doubt. He doubted
Montenegro, friendship, glory, and even lions; and the great man
blubbered bitterly.

Whilst he was pensively seated on the sill of the sanctuary, holding
his head between his hands and his gun between his legs, with the
camel mooning at him, the thicket over the way was divided, and the
stupor-stricken Tartarin saw a gigantic lion appear not a dozen paces
off. It thrust out its high head and emitted powerful roars, which made
the temple walls shake beneath their votive decorations, and even the
saint's slippers dance in their niche.

The Tarasconian alone did not tremble.

"At last you've come!" he shouted, jumping up and levelling the rifle.

Bang, bang! went a brace of shells into its head.

It was done. For a minute, on the fiery background of the African sky,
there was a dreadful firework display of scattered brains, smoking
blood, and tawny hair. When all fell, Tartarin perceived two colossal
Negroes furiously running towards him, brandishing cudgels. They were
his two Negro acquaintances of Milianah!

Oh, misery!

This was the domesticated lion, the poor blind beggar of the Mohammed
Monastery, whom the Tarasconian's bullets had knocked over.

This time, spite of Mahound, Tartarin escaped neatly. Drunk with
fanatical fury, the two African collectors would have surely beaten him
to pulp had not the god of chase and war sent him a delivering angel
in the shape of the rural constable of the Orleansville commune. By a
bypath this garde champetre came up, his sword tucked under his arm.

The sight of the municipal cap suddenly calmed the Negroes' choler.
Peaceful and majestic, the officer with the brass badge drew up a report
on the affair, ordered the camel to be loaded with what remained of the
king of beasts, and the plaintiffs as well as the delinquent to follow
him, proceeding to Orleansville, where all was deposited with the
law-courts receiver.

There issued a long and alarming case!

After the Algeria of the native tribes which he had overrun, Tartarin of
Tarascon became thence acquainted with another Algeria, not less weird
and to be dreaded--the Algeria in the towns, surcharged with lawyers and
their papers. He got to know the pettifogger who does business at the
back of a cafe--the legal Bohemian with documents reeking of wormwood
bitters and white neckcloths spotted with champoreau; the ushers, the
attorneys, all the locusts of stamped paper, meagre and famished, who
eat up the colonist body and boots--ay, to the very straps of them, and
leave him peeled to the core like an Indian cornstalk, stripped leaf by

Before all else it was necessary to ascertain whether the lion had been
killed on the civil or the military territory. In the former case the
matter regarded the Tribunal of Commerce; in the second, Tartarin
would be dealt with by the Council of War: and at the mere name the
impressionable Tarasconian saw himself shot at the foot of the ramparts
or huddled up in a casemate-silo.

The puzzle lay in the limitation of the two territories being very hazy
in Algeria.

At length, after a month's running about, entanglements, and waiting
under the sun in the yards of Arab Departmental offices, it was
established that, whereas the lion had been killed on the military
territory, on the other hand Tartarin was in the civil territory when he
shot. So the case was decided in the civil courts, and our hero was
let off on paying two thousand five hundred francs damages, costs not

How could he pay such a sum?

The few piashtres escaped from the prince's sweep had long since gone in
legal documents and judicial libations. The unfortunate lion-destroyer
was therefore reduced to selling the store of guns by retail, rifle by
rifle; so went the daggers, the Malay kreeses, and the life-preservers.
A grocer purchased the preserved aliments; an apothecary what remained
of the medicaments. The big boots themselves walked off after the
improved tent to a dealer of curiosities, who elevated them to the
dignity of "rarities from Cochin-China."

When everything was paid up, only the lion's skin and the camel remained
to Tartarin. The hide he had carefully packed, to be sent to Tarascon
to the address of brave Commandant Bravida, and, later on, we shall
see what came of this fabulous trophy. As for the camel, he reckoned on
making use of him to get back to Algiers, not by riding on him, but by
selling him to pay his coach-fare--the best way to employ a camel in
travelling. Unhappily the beast was difficult to place, and no one would
offer a copper for him.

Still Tartarin wanted to regain Algiers by hook or crook. He was in
haste again to behold Baya's blue bodice, his little snuggery and his
fountains, as well as to repose on the white trefoils of his little
cloister whilst awaiting money from France. So our hero did not
hesitate; distressed but not downcast, he undertook to make the journey
afoot and penniless by short stages.

In this enterprise the camel did not cast him off. The strange animal
had taken an unaccountable fancy for his master, and on seeing him leave
Orleansville, he set to striding steadfastly behind him, regulating his
pace by this, and never quitting him by a yard.

At the first outset Tartarin found this touching; such fidelity and
devotion above proof went to his heart, all the more because the
creature was accommodating, and fed himself on nothing. Nevertheless,
after a few days, the Tarasconian was worried by having this glum
companion perpetually at his heels, to remind him of his misadventures.
Ire arising, he hated him for his sad aspect, hump and gait of a goose
in harness. To tell the whole truth, he held him as his Old Man of the
Sea, and only pondered on how to shake him off; but the follower would
not be shaken off. Tartarin attempted to lose him, but the camel always
found him; he tried to outrun him, but the camel ran faster. He bade
him begone, and hurled stones at him. The camel stopped with a
mournful mien, but in a minute resumed the pursuit, and always ended by
overtaking him. Tartarin had to resign himself.

For all that, when, after eight full days of tramping, the dusty and
harassed Tarasconian espied the first white housetops of Algiers glimmer
from afar in the verdure, and when he got to the city gates on the noisy
Mustapha Avenue, amid the Zouaves, Biskris, and Mahonnais, all swarming
around him and staring at him trudging by with his camel, overtasked
patience escaped him.

"No! no!" he growled, "it is not likely! I cannot enter Algiers with
such an animal!"

Profiting by a jam of vehicles, he turned off into the fields and jumped
into a ditch. In a minute or so he saw over his head on the highway
the camel flying off with long strides and stretching his neck with a
wistful air.

Relieved of a great weight thereby, the hero sneaked out of his covert,
and entered the town anew by a circuitous path which skirted the wall of
his own little garden.

VII. Catastrophes upon Catastrophes.

ENTIRELY astonished was Tartarin before his Moorish dwelling when he

Day was dying and the street deserted. Through the low pointed-arch
doorway which the negress had forgotten to close, laughter was heard;
and the clink of wine-glasses, the popping of champagne corks; and,
floating over all the jolly uproar, a feminine voice singing clearly and

"Do you like, Marco la Bella, to dance in the hall hung with bloom?"

"Throne of heaven!" ejaculated the Tarasconian, turning pale, as he
rushed into the enclosure.

Hapless Tartarin! what a sight awaited him! Beneath the arches of the
little cloister, amongst bottles, pastry, scattered cushions, pipes,
tambourines, and guitars, Baya was singing "Marco la Bella" with a ship
captain's cap over one ear. She had on no blue vest or bodice; indeed,
her only wear was a silvery gauze wrapper and full pink trousers. At
her feet, on a rug, surfeited with love and sweetmeats, Barbassou, the
infamous skipper Barbassou, was bursting with laughter at hearing her.

The apparition of Tartarin, haggard, thinned, dusty, his flaming
eyes, and the bristling up fez tassel, sharply interrupted this tender
Turkish-Marseillais orgie. Baya piped the low whine of a frightened
leveret, and ran for safety into the house. But Barbassou did not wince;
he only laughed the louder, saying:

"Ha, ha, Monsieur Tartarin! What do you say to that now? You see she
does know French."

Tartarin of Tarascon advanced furiously, crying:


"Digo-li que vengue, moun bon!--Tell him what's happened, old dear!"
screamed the Moorish woman, leaning over the first floor gallery with a
pretty low-bred gesture!

The poor man, overwhelmed, let himself collapse upon a drum. His genuine
Moorish beauty not only knew French, but the French of Marseilles!

"I told you not to trust the Algerian girls," observed Captain Barbassou
sententiously! "They're as tricky as your Montenegrin prince."

Tartarin lifted his head

"Do you know where the prince is?"

"Oh, he's not far off. He has gone to live five years in the handsome
prison of Mustapha. The rogue let himself be caught with his hand in the
pocket. Anyways, this is not the first time he has been clapped into
the calaboose. His Highness has already done three years somewhere,
and--stop a bit! I believe it was at Tarascon."

"At Tarascon!" cried out her worthiest son, abruptly enlightened.
"That's how he only knew one part of the Town."

"Hey? Of course. Tarascon--a jail bird's-eye view from the state prison.
I tell you, my poor Monsieur Tartarin, you have to keep your peepers
jolly well skinned in this deuce of a country, or be exposed to very
disagreeable things. For a sample, there's the muezzin's game with you."

"What game? Which muezzin?"

"Why your'n, of course! The chap across the way who is making up to
Baya. That newspaper, the Akbar, told the yarn t'other day, and
all Algiers is laughing over it even now. It is so funny for that
steeplejack up aloft in his crow's-nest to make declarations of love
under your very nose to the little beauty whilst singing out his
prayers, and making appointments with her between bits of the Koran."

"Why, then, they're all scamps in this country!" howled the unlucky

Barbassou snapped his fingers like a philosopher.

"My dear lad, you know, these new countries are 'rum!' But, anyhow, if
you'll believe me, you'd best cut back to Tarascon at full speed."

"It's easy to say, 'Cut back.' Where's the money to come from? Don't you
know that I was plucked out there in the desert?"

"What does that matter?" said the captain merrily. "The Zouave sails
tomorrow, and if you like I will take you home. Does that suit you,
mate? Ay? Then all goes well. You have only one thing to do. There are
some bottles of fizz left, and half the pie. Sit you down and pitch in
without any grudge."

After the minute's wavering which self-respect commanded, the
Tarasconian chose his course manfully. Down he sat, and they touched
glasses. Baya, gliding down at that chink, sang the finale of "Marco la
Bella," and the jollification was prolonged deep into the night.

About 3 A.M., with a light head but a heavy foot, our good Tarasconian
was returning from seeing his friend the captain off when, in passing
the mosque, the remembrance of his muezzin and his practical jokes made
him laugh, and instantly a capital idea of revenge flitted through his

The door was open. He entered, threaded long corridors hung with mats,
mounted and kept on mounting till he finally found himself in a little
oratory, where an openwork iron lantern swung from the ceiling, and
embroidered an odd pattern in shadows upon the blanched walls.

There sat the crier on a divan, in his large turban and white pelisse,
with his Mostaganam pipe, and a bumper of absinthe before him, which he
whipped up in the orthodox manner, whilst awaiting the hour to call true
believers to prayer. At view of Tartarin, he dropped his pipe in terror.

"Not a word, knave!" said the Tarasconian, full of his project. "Quick!
Off with turban and coat!"

The Turkish priest-crier tremblingly handed over his outer garments, as
he would have done with anything else. Tartarin donned them, and gravely
stepped out upon the minaret platform.

In the distance the sea shone. The white roofs glittered in the
moonbeams. On the sea breeze was heard the strumming of a few belated
guitars. The Tarasconian muezzin gathered himself up for the effort
during a space, and then, raising his arms, he set to chanting in a very
shrill voice:

"La Allah il Allah! Mahomet is an old humbug! The Orient, the Koran,
bashaws, lions, Moorish beauties--they are all not worth a fly's skip!
There is nothing left but gammoners. Long live Tarascon!"

Whilst the illustrious Tartarin, in his queer jumbling of Arabic and
Provencal, flung his mirthful maledictions to the four quarters, sea,
town, plain and mountain, the clear, solemn voices of the other muezzins
answered him, taking up the strain from minaret to minaret, and the
believers of the upper town devoutly beat their bosoms.

VIII. Tarascon again!

MID-DAY has come.

The Zouave had her steam up, ready to go. Upon the balcony of the
Valentin Cafe, high above, the officers were levelling telescopes, and,
with the colonel at their head, looking at the lucky little craft that
was going back to France. This is the main distraction of the staff. On
the lower level, the roads glittered. The old Turkish cannon breaches,
stuck up along the waterside, blazed in the sun. The passengers hurried,
Biskris and Mahonnais piled their luggage up in the wherries.

Tartarin of Tarascon had no luggage. Here he comes down the Rue de
la Marine through the little market, full of bananas and melons,
accompanied by his friend Barbassou. The hapless Tarasconian left on the
Moorish strand his gun-cases and his illusions, and now he had to sail
for Tarascon with his hands in his otherwise empty pockets. He had
barely leaped into the captain's cutter before a breathless beast slid
down from the heights of the square and galloped towards him. It was the
faithful camel, who had been hunting after his master in Algiers during
the last four-and-twenty hours.

On seeing him, Tartarin changed countenance, and feigned not to know
him, but the camel was not going to be put off. He scampered along the
quay; he whinnied for his friend, and regarded him with affection.

"Take me away," his sad eyes seemed to say, "take me away in your ship,
far, far from this sham Arabia, this ridiculous Land of the East, full
of locomotives and stage coaches, where a camel is so sorely out of
keeping that I do not know what will become of me. You are the last real
Turk, and I am the last camel. Do not let us part, O my Tartarin!"

"Is that camel yours?" the captain inquired.

"Not a bit of it!" replied Tartarin, who shuddered at the idea of
entering Tarascon with that ridiculous escort; and, impudently denying
the companion of his misfortunes, he spurned the Algerian soil with his
foot, and gave the cutter the shoving-off start. The camel sniffed of
the water, extended its neck, cracked its joints, and, jumping in behind
the row-boat at haphazard, he swam towards the Zouave with his humpback
floating like a bladder, and his long neck projecting over the wave like
the beak of a galley.

Cutter and camel came alongside the mail steamer together.

"This dromedary regularly cuts me up," observed Captain Barbassou, quite
affected. "I have a good mind to take him aboard and make a present of
him to the Zoological Gardens at Marseilles."

And so they hauled up the camel with many blocks and tackles upon the
deck, being increased in weight by the brine, and the Zouave started.

Tartarin spent the two days of the crossing by himself in his stateroom,
not because the sea was rough, or that the red fez had too much to
suffer, but because the deuced camel, as soon as his master appeared
above decks, showed him the most preposterous attentions. You never did
see a camel make such an exhibition of a man as this.

From hour to hour, through the cabin portholes, where he stuck out his
nose now and then, Tartarin saw the Algerian blue sky pale away; until
one morning, in a silvery fog, he heard with delight Marseilles bells
ringing out. The Zouave had arrived and cast anchor.

Our man, having no luggage, got off without saying anything, hastily
slipped through Marseilles for fear he was still pursued by the camel,
and never breathed till he was in a third-class carriage making for

Deceptive security!

Hardly were they two leagues from the city before every head was stuck
out of window. There were outcries and astonishment. Tartarin looked
in his turn, and what did he descry! the camel, reader, the inevitable
camel, racing along the line behind the train, and keeping up with it!
The dismayed Tartarin drew back and shut his eyes.

After this disastrous expedition of his he had reckoned on slipping
into his house incognito. But the presence of this burdensome quadruped
rendered the thing impossible. What kind of a triumphal entry would he
make? Good heavens! not a sou, not a lion, nothing to show for it save a

"Tarascon! Tarascon!"

He was obliged to get down.

O amazement!

Scarce had the hero's red fez popped out of the doorway before a loud
shout of "Tartarin for ever!" made the glazed roof of the railway
station tremble. "Long life to Tartarin, the lion-slayer!" And out burst
the windings of horns and the choruses of the local musical societies.

Tartarin felt death had come: he believed in a hoax. But, no! all
Tarascon was there, waving their hats, all of the same way of thinking.
Behold the brave Commandant Bravida, Costecalde the armourer, the
Chief Judge, the chemist, and the whole noble corps of cap-poppers, who
pressed around their leader, and carried him in triumph out through the

Singular effects of the mirage!--the hide of the blind lion sent to
Bravida was the cause of all this riot. With that humble fur exhibited
in the club-room, the Tarasconians, and, at the back of them, the whole
South of France, had grown exalted. The Semaphore newspaper had spoken
of it. A drama had been invented. It was not merely a solitary lion
which Tartarin had slain, but ten, nay, twenty--pooh! a herd of lions
had been made marmalade of. Hence, on disembarking at Marseilles,
Tartarin was already celebrated without being aware of it, and an
enthusiastic telegram had gone on before him by two hours to his native

But what capped the climax of the popular gladness was to see a
fancifully shaped animal, covered with foam and dust, appear behind the
hero, and stumble down the station stairs.

Tarascon for an instant believed that its dragon was come again.

Tartarin set his fellow-citizens at ease.

"This is my camel," he said.

Already feeling the influence of the splendid sun of Tarascon, which
makes people tell "bouncers" unwittingly, he added, as he fondled the
camel's hump:

"It is a noble beast! It saw me kill all my lions!"

Whereupon he familiarly took the arm of the commandant, who was red
with pleasure; and followed by his camel, surrounded by the cap-hunters,
acclaimed by all the population, he placidly proceeded towards the
Baobab Villa; and, on the march, thus commenced the account of his
mighty hunting:

"Once upon an evening, you are to imagine that, out in the depths of the


Obituary of Alphonse Daudet.

                17th December 1897
                ALPHONSE DAUDET.

M. Alphonse Daudet, the eminent French novelist and playwright, died
suddenly yesterday evening while at dinner The cause of death was
syncope due to failure of the heart.

Alphonse Daudet was born of poor parents at Nimes in 1840. He studied in
the Lyons Lyceum, and then became usher in a school at Alais. Going
to Paris to seek his fortune in literature in 1858, he succeeded in
publishing a book of verses entitled Les Amoreuses, which led to his
employment by several newspapers. He published many novels and tales,
and about half a dozen plays. His most popular work is "Les Morticoles."
His son, Leon Daudet, is a litterateur of promise.

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