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.
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.