At first the giant could not understand these words, the idea was so incomprehensible to him.
“What is your pleasure, master?” said he.
“I forbid you to give any food to the beasts this evening.”
Goliath did not answer, but he opened wide his squinting eyes, folded his hands, and drew back a couple of steps.
“Well, dost hear me?” said Morok, with impatience. “Is it plain enough?”
“Not feed? when our meat is there, and supper is already three hours after time!” cried Goliath, with ever-increasing amazement.
“Obey, and hold your tongue.”
“You must wish something bad to happen this evening. Hunger makes the beasts furious—and me also.”
“So much the better!”
“It’ll drive ’em mad.”
“So much the better!”
“How, so much the better?—But—”
“It is enough!”
“But, devil take me, I am as hungry as the beasts!”
“Eat then—who prevents it? Your supper is ready, as you devour it raw.”
“I never eat without my beasts, nor they without me.”
“I tell you again, that, if you dare give any food to the beasts—I will turn you away.”
Goliath uttered a low growl as hoarse as a bear’s,
and looked at the
Prophet with a mixture of anger and stupefaction.
Morok, having given his orders, walked up and down the loft, appearing to reflect. Then, addressing himself to Goliath, who was still plunged in deep perplexity, he said to him.
“Do you remember the burgomaster’s, where I went to get my passport signed?—To-day his wife bought some books and a chaplet.”
“Yes,” answered the giant shortly.
“Go and ask his servant if I may be sure to find the burgomaster early to-morrow morning.”
“I may, perhaps, have something important to communicate; at all events, say that I beg him not to leave home without seeing me.”
“Good! but may I feed the beasts before I go to the burgomaster’s?—only the panther, who is most hungry? Come, master; only poor Death? just a little morsel to satisfy her; Cain and I and Judas can wait.”
“It is the panther, above all, that I forbid you to feed. Yes, her, above all the rest.”
“By the horns of the devil!” cried Goliath, “what is the matter with you to-day? I can make nothing of it. It is a pity that Karl’s not here; he, being cunning, would help me to understand why you prevent the beasts from eating when they are hungry.”
“You have no need to understand it.”
“Will not Karl soon come back?”
“He has already come back.”
“Where is he, then?”
“What can be going on here? There is something in the wind. Karl goes, and returns, and goes again, and—”
“We are not talking of Karl, but of you; though hungry as a wolf you are cunning as a fox, and, when it suits you, as cunning as Karl.” And, changing on the sudden his tone and manner, Morok slapped the giant cordially on the shoulder.