The Wandering Jew — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,533 pages of information about The Wandering Jew Complete.
say to me:  ’What a muff you must be, little one!  What good will you get by working so hard?’—­still I went on.  But, one day, a worthy old man, called Father Arsene, who had worked in the house many years, and was a model of good conduct, was suddenly turned away, because he was getting too feeble.  It was a death-blow to him; his wife was infirm, and, at his age, he could not get another place.  When the foreman told him he was dismissed, he could not believe it, and he began to cry for grief.  At that moment, M. Tripeaud passes; Father Arsene begs him with clasped hands to keep him at half-wages.  ‘What!’ says M. Tripeaud, shrugging his shoulders; ’do you think that I will turn my factory into a house of invalids?  You are no longer able to work—­so be off!’ ’But I have worked forty years of my life; what is to become of me?’ cried poor Father Arsene.  ‘That is not my business,’ answered M. Tripeaud; and, addressing his clerk, he added:  ’Pay what is due for the week, and let him cut his stick.’  Father Arsene did cut his stick; that evening, he and his old wife suffocated themselves with charcoal.  Now, you see, I was then a lad; but that story of Father Arsene taught me, that, however hard you might work, it would only profit your master, who would not even thank you for it, and leave you to die on the flags in your old age.  So all my fire was damped, and I said to myself:  ’What’s the use of doing more than I just need?  If I gain heaps of gold for M. Tripeaud, shall I get an atom of it?’ Therefore, finding neither pride nor profit in my work, I took a disgust for it—­just did barely enough to earn my wages—­became an idler and a rake—­and said to myself:  ’When I get too tired of labor, I can always follow the example of Father Arsene and his wife."’

Whilst Jacques resigned himself to the current of these bitter thoughts, the other guests, incited by the expressive pantomime of Dumoulin and the Bacchanal Queen, had tacitly agreed together; and, on a signal from the Queen, who leaped upon the table, and threw down the bottles and glasses with her foot, all rose and shouted, with the accompaniment of Ninny Moulin’s rattle “The storm blown Tulip! the quadrille of the Storm-blown Tulip!”

At these joyous cries, which burst suddenly, like shell, Jacques started; then gazing with astonishment at his guests, he drew his hand across his brow, as if to chase away the painful ideas that oppressed him, and exclaimed:  “You are right.  Forward the first couple!  Let us be merry!”

In a moment, the table, lifted by vigorous arms, was removed to the extremity of the banqueting-room; the spectators, mounted upon chairs, benches, and window-ledges, began to sing in chorus the well-known air of les Etudiants, so as to serve instead of orchestra, and accompany the quadrille formed by Sleepinbuff, the Queen, Ninny Moulin, and Rose Pompon.

Dumoulin, having entrusted his rattle to one of the guests, resumed his extravagant Roman helmet and plume; he had taken off his great-coat at the commencement of the feast, so that he now appeared in all the splendor of his costume.  His cuirass of bright scales ended in a tunic of feathers, not unlike those worn by the savages, who form the oxen’s escort on Mardi Gras.  Ninny Moulin had a huge paunch and thin legs, so that the latter moved about at pleasure in the gaping mouths of his large top boots.

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The Wandering Jew — Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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