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.
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.