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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 101 pages of information about The Wandering Jew Volume 08.

CHAPTER VI.

The go-between.

A few days have elapsed since the conflagration of M. Hardy’s factory.  The following scene takes place in the Rue Clovis, in the house where Rodin had lodged, and which was still inhabited by Rose-Pompon, who, without the least scruple, availed herself of the household arrangements of her friend Philemon.  It was about noon, and Rose-Pompon, alone in the chamber of the student, who was still absent, was breakfasting very gayly by the fireside; but how singular a breakfast! what a queer fire! how strange an apartment!

Imagine a large room, lighted by two windows without curtains—­for as they looked on empty space, the lodger had fear of being overlooked.  One side of this apartment served as a wardrobe, for there was suspended Rose-Pompon’s flashy costume of debardeur, not far from the boat-man’s jacket of Philemon, with his large trousers of coarse, gray stuff, covered with pitch (shiver my timbers!), just as if this intrepid mariner had bunked in the forecastle of a frigate, during a voyage round the globe.  A gown of Rose Pompon’s hung gracefully over a pair of pantaloons, the legs of which seemed to come from beneath the petticoat.  On the lowest of several book-shelves, very dusty and neglected, by the side of three old boots (wherefore three boots?) and a number of empty bottles, stood a skull, a scientific and friendly souvenir, left to Philemon by one of his comrades, a medical student.  With a species of pleasantry, very much to the taste of the student-world, a clay pipe with a very black bowl was placed between the magnificently white teeth of this skull; moreover, its shining top was half hidden beneath an old hat, set knowingly on one side, and adorned with faded flowers and ribbons.  When Philemon was drunk, he used to contemplate this bony emblem of mortality, and break out into the most poetical monologues, with regard to this philosophical contrast between death and the mad pleasures of life.  Two or three plaster casts, with their noses and chins more or less injured, were fastened to the wall, and bore witness to the temporary curiosity which Philemon had felt with regard to phrenological science, from the patient and serious study of which he had drawn the following logical conclusion:—­That, having to an alarming extent the bump of getting into debt, he ought to resign himself to the fatality of this organization, and accept the inconvenience of creditors as a vital necessity.  On the chimney-piece, stood uninjured, in all its majesty, the magnificent rowing-club drinking-glass, a china teapot without a spout, and an inkstand of black wood, the glass mouth of which was covered by a coat of greenish and mossy mould.  From time to time, the silence of this retreat was interrupted by the cooing of pigeons, which Rose-Pompon had established with cordial hospitality in the little study.  Chilly as a quail, Rose-Pompon crept close to the

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