The Wandering Jew — Volume 09 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 174 pages of information about The Wandering Jew — Volume 09.

“Ha! ha! ha!—­it’s rather gamey!” said the quarryman, alluding to the infectious and cadaverous odor which this funeral conveyance left behind it.

“Here’s sport!” exclaimed Ciboule:  “the omnibus of the dead will run against the fine coach.  Hurrah! the rich folks will smell death.”

Indeed, the wagon was now directly in front of the carriage, and at a very little distance from it.  A man in a smock-frock and wooden shoes drove the two leaders, and an artilleryman the other horses.  The coffins were so piled up within this wagon, that its semicircular top did not shut down closely, so that, as it jolted heavily over the uneven pavement, the biers could be seen chafing against each other.  The fiery eyes and inflamed countenance of the man in the smock-frock showed that he was half intoxicated; urging on the horses with his voice, his heels, and his whip, he paid no attention to the remonstrances of the soldier, who had great difficulty in restraining his own animals, and was obliged to follow the irregular movements of the carman.  Advancing in this disorderly manner, the wagon deviated from its course just as it should have passed the travelling-carriage, and ran against it.  The shock forced open the top, one of the coffins was thrown out, and, after damaging the panels of the carriage, fell upon the pavement with a dull and heavy sound.  The deal planks had been hastily nailed together, and were shivered in the fall, and from the wreck of the coffin rolled a livid corpse, half enveloped in a shroud.

At this horrible spectacle, Lady Morinval, who had mechanically leaned forward, gave a loud scream, and fainted.  The crowd fell back in dismay; the postilions, no less alarmed, took advantage of the space left open to them by the retreat of the multitude; they whipped their horses, and the carriage dashed on towards the quay.  As it disappeared behind the furthermost buildings of the Hospital, the shrill joyous notes of distant trumpets were heard, and repeated shouts proclaimed:  “The Cholera Masquerade!” The words announced one of those episodes combining buffoonery with terror, which marked the period when the pestilence was on the increase, though now they can with difficulty be credited.  If the evidence of eyewitnesses did not agree in every particular with the accounts given in the public papers of this masquerade, they might be regarded as the ravings of some diseased brain, and not as the notice of a fact which really occurred.

“The Masquerade of the Cholera” appeared, we say, in the square of Notre Dame, just as Morinval’s carriage gained the quay, after disengaging itself from the death-wagon.

[37] It is well-known that at the time of the cholera, such placards were numerous in Paris, and were alternately attributed to opposite parties.  Among others, to the priests, many of the bishops having published mandatory letters, or stated openly in the churches of their diocese, that the Almighty had sent the cholera as a punishment to France for having driven away its lawful sovereign, and assimilated the Catholic to other forms of worship.

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The Wandering Jew — Volume 09 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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