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 that:
“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.
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 horses.