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.
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 Algeria.
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 inveigh: