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.He knew some Egyptian and addressed him in that language:‘If you have any humanity, I beg you to show some respect for beauty and weakness.How can you commit such an outrage against this masterpiece of nature? Here she is lying at your feet with only tears to defend her.’‘Aha,’ said the man in a rage, ‘so you love her too, then! Well, I can take my revenge on you.’So saying, he let go of the lady, whom he had been holding with one hand by the hair and, taking up his lance, he made to run the stranger through.The latter, remaining cool, had no diffculty in avoiding the madman’s thrust.He grabbed the lance just beyond its iron point.The one tried to pull it back, the other to wrest it away: it came apart in their hands.The Egyptian drew his sword; Zadig took up his.They set upon each other.The one made a hundred hasty slashes; the other deftly parried them.The lady, sitting on a patch of grass, tidied her hair and watched.The Egyptian was stronger than his opponent, Zadig the more adroit.The latter fought as one whose arm was governed by his head; and the other like a man possessed whose movements were directed by blind anger and random chance.Zadig made a pass and disarmed him; and as the Egyptian, who was even more furious now, tried to jump on him, he grabbed hold of him, held him tight, wrestled him to the ground and, with his sword pointing at his chest, then offered to spare him.The Egyptian, quite beside himself with rage, drew his dagger and wounded Zadig with it just as the victor was offering mercy.Zadig, outraged, plunged his sword into him.The Egyptian let out a bloodcurdling cry, and died amidst thrashing limbs.Zadig then went up to the lady and said in a respectful voice:‘He forced me to kill him.I have avenged you.You are delivered from the most violent man I have ever seen.May I be of further service, madam?’‘May you die, villain,’ she replied.‘Yes, die.You have killed my lover.If only I could tear your heart out.’‘I must say, madam, you had rather a strange man for a lover,’ said Zadig.‘He was beating you for all he was worth, and he wanted to kill me because you had begged me to rescue you.’‘I wish he were beating me still,’ screamed the lady.‘I deserved what I got.I had made him jealous.Would to God he might beat me again, and that you were in his place.’Zadig, more surprised and more angry than he had ever been in his life before, said:‘Madam, beautiful as you are, you deserve a good thrashing from me, too.Your behaviour’s quite outrageous.But I shan’t give myself the trouble.’Thereupon he remounted his camel and proceeded towards the village.Scarcely had he gone a few paces than the sound of four despatch-riders from Babylon made him turn round.They were riding at full tilt.One of them, seeing the woman, cried:‘That’s her.She looks like the woman they described to us.’They did not pay the slightest attention to the dead man and promptly grabbed the lady.She kept calling out to Zadig:‘Help me one more time, o generous stranger! Forgive me for complaining about what you did.Help me, and I am yours unto the grave.’Zadig no longer felt quite the same desire to fight on her behalf.‘Try someone else!’ he replied.‘You won’t catch me doing that again.’Anyway, he was wounded.He was bleeding, and he needed assistance; and the sight of the four Babylonians, who had probably been sent by King Moabdar, filled him with disquiet.He hurried on towards the village, having no idea why four riders from Babylon should have come and taken this Egyptian woman, but even more astonished still by the lady’s character.CHAPTER 10SlaveryAs he entered the Egyptian village, he found himself surrounded by the populace.They were all shouting:‘That’s the man who ran off with fair Missouf and murdered Cletofis!’‘Good sirs,’ he said, ‘God forbid that I should ever run off with your fair Missouf! She is much too capricious.And as for Cletofis, I didn’t murder him.It was self-defence.He wanted to kill me because I had very humbly asked him to spare the fair Missouf, whom he was beating mercilessly.I am a stranger come to seek asylum in Egypt, and it is hardly likely that in coming to seek your protection I would begin by abducting a woman and murdering a man.’Egyptians at that time were just and humane.The crowd escorted Zadig to the village hall.First they dressed his wound, and then they questioned him and his servant, separately, in order to discover the truth.They acknowledged that Zadig was not a murderer; but he was guilty of manslaughter, for which the legal penalty was slavery.His two camels were sold, and the proceeds donated to the village.All the gold which he had brought with him was distributed among the inhabitants.His person was displayed for sale in the public ssquare, together with that of his travelling-companion.An Arab merchant named Setoc was the highest bidder, though the servant, being more used to hard work, fetched a much higher price than his master.There was simply no comparison between the two men.So Zadig entered slavery as the subordinate of his valet.They were chained together by the ankle, and in this state they followed the Arab merchant to his house.On the way Zadig comforted his servant and bid him be patient; but, as was his wont, he also reflected on the lives of men.‘I can see’, he said, ‘that the misfortunes of my own destiny have rather impinged on yours.In my case, things have been turning out very strangely so far.I have been fined for seeing a bitch go by.I thought I would be impaled on account of a griffn.I have been sent to the scaffold for writing some verses in praise of the King.I was nearly garrotted because the Queen had yellow ribbons.And here I am in slavery with you because some brute was beating up his mistress.Ah well, let us not lose heart.Perhaps there will be an end to all this [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]