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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,533 pages of information about The Wandering Jew Complete.

“It proves,” replied an illustrious painter of the romantic school, disguised like a Roman out of one of David’s pictures, “it proves that the Cholera is a wretched colorist, for he has nothing but a dirty green on his pallet.  Evidently he is a pupil of Jacobus, that king of classical painters, who are another species of plagues.”

“And yet, master,” added respectfully a pupil of the great painter, “I have seen some cholera patients whose convulsions were rather fine, and their dying looks first-rate!”

“Gentlemen,” cried a sculptor of no less celebrity, “the question lies in a nutshell.  The Cholera is a detestable colorist, but a good draughtsman.  He shows you the skeleton in no time.  By heaven! how he strips off the flesh!—­Michael Angelo would be nothing to him.”

“True,” cried they all, with one voice; “the Cholera is a bad colorist, but a good draughtsman.”

“Moreover, gentlemen,” added Ninny Moulin, with comic gravity, “this plague brings with it a providential lesson, as the great Bossuet would have said.”

“The lesson! the lesson!”

“Yes, gentlemen; I seem to hear a voice from above, proclaiming:  `Drink of the best, empty your purse, and kiss your neighbor’s wife; for your hours are perhaps numbered, unhappy wretch!’”

So saying, the orthodox Silenus took advantage of a momentary absence of mind on the part of Modeste, his neighbor, to imprint on the blooming cheek of love a long, loud kiss.  The example was contagious, and a storm of kisses was mingled with bursts of laughter.

“Ha! blood and thunder!” cried the great painter as he gayly threatened Ninny Moulin; “you are very lucky that to-morrow will perhaps be the end of the world, or else I should pick a quarrel with you for having kissed my lovely love.”

“Which proves to you, O Rubens!  O Raphael! the thousand advantages of the Cholera, whom I declare to be essentially sociable and caressing.”

“And philanthropic,” said one of the guests; “thanks to him, creditors take care of the health of their debtors.  This morning a usurer, who feels a particular interest in my existence, brought me all sorts of anti-choleraic drugs, and begged me to make use of them.”

“And I!” said the pupil of the great painter.  “My tailor wished to force me to wear a flannel band next to the skin, because I owe him a thousand crowns.  But I answered `Oh, tailor, give me a receipt in full, and I will wrap myself up in flannel, to preserve you my custom!’”

“O Cholera, I drink to thee!” said Ninny Moulin, by way of grotesque invocation.  “You are not Despair; on the contrary, you are the emblem of Hope—­yes, of hope.  How many husbands, how many wives, longed for a number (alas! too uncertain chance) in the lottery of widowhood!  You appear, and their hearts are gladdened.  Thanks to you, benevolent pest! their chances of liberty are increased a hundredfold.”

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