“You hear,” said Morok, with a diabolical smile, “you hear, Jacques? Will you now retreat before the danger?”
At these words, which reminded him of the peril to which he was about to expose himself, Jacques started, as if a sudden idea had occurred to him. He raised his head proudly, his cheeks were slightly flushed, his eye shone with a kind of gloomy satisfaction, and he exclaimed in a firm voice: “Hang it, waiter! are you deaf? I asked you for two bottles of brandy.”
“Yes, sir,” said the waiter, going to fetch them, although himself frightened at what might be the result of this bacchanalian struggle. But the mad and perilous resolution of Jacques was applauded by the majority.
Ninny Moulin moved about on his chair, stamped his feet, and shouted with all his might: “Bacchus and drink! bottles and glasses! the throats are dry! brandy to the rescue! Largess! largess!”
And, like a true champion of the tournament, he embraced Modeste, adding, to excuse the liberty: “Love, you shall be the Queen of Beauty, and I am only anticipating the victor’s happiness!”
“Brandy to the rescue!” repeated they all, in chorus. “Largess!”
“Gentlemen,” added Ninny Moulin, with enthusiasm, “shall we remain indifferent to the noble example set us by Goodman Cholera? He said in his pride, `brandy!’ Let us gloriously answer, ‘punch!’”
“Yes, yes! punch!”
“Punch to the rescue!”
“Waiter!” shouted the religious writer, with the voice of a Stentor, “waiter! have you a pan, a caldron, a hogshead, or any other immensity, in which we can brew a monster punch?”
“A Babylonian punch!”
“A lake of punch!”
“An ocean of punch!”
Such was the ambitious crescendo that followed the proposition of Ninny Moulin.
“Sir,” answered the waiter, with an air of triumph, “we just happen to have a large copper caldron, quite new. It has been used, and would hold at least thirty bottles.”
“Bring the caldron!” said Ninny Moulin, majestically.
“The caldron forever!” shouted the chorus.
“Put in twenty bottles of brandy, six loaves of sugar, a dozen lemons, a pound of cinnamon, and then—fire! fire!” shouted the religious writer, with the most vociferous exclamations.
“Yes, yes! fire!” repeated the chorus!
The proposition of Ninny Moulin gave a new impetus to the general gayety; the most extravagant remarks were mingled with the sound of kisses, taken or given under the pretext that perhaps there would be no to-morrow, that one must make the most of the present, etc., etc. Suddenly, in one of the moments of silence which sometimes occur in the midst of the greatest tumult, a succession of slow and measured taps sounded above the ceiling of the banqueting-room. All remained silent, and listened.