Tartarin De Tarascon

Author: Alphonse Daudet

Chapter 30.

It is mid-day. The Zouave has steam up and is ready to depart. Up above on the balcony of the café Valentin, a group of officers aim the telescope, and come one by one, in order of seniority, to look at the lucky little ship which is going to France. It is the principle entertainment of the general staff. Down below, the water of the anchorage sparkles....The breeches of the old Turkish cannons, mounted along the quay, glisten in the sunshine....Passengers arrive....Baggage is loaded onto tenders.

Tartarin does not have any baggage. He comes down from the Rue de la Marine by the little market, full of bananas and water-melons, accompanied by his friend Captain Barbassou.

Tartarin de Tarascon has left on the Moorish shore his arms, his equipment and his illusions, and is preparing to sail back to Tarascon with nothing in his pockets but his hands. Scarcely, however, had he set foot in the captain’s launch, when a breathless creature scrambled down from the square above and galloped towards him. It was the camel, the faithful camel, which for twenty-four hours had been searching for its master.

When Tartarin saw it, he changed colour and pretended not to know it; but the camel was insistent. It frisked along the quay. It called to its friend and regarded him with tender looks. "Take me away!" Its sad eyes seemed to say, "Take me away with you, far away from this mock Arabia, this ridiculous Orient, full of locomotives and stage coaches, where I as a second-class dromadary do not know what will become of me. You are the last Teur, I am the last camel, let us never part, Oh my Tartarin!" "Is that your camel?" Asked the Captain.

"No!...No!...Not mine." Replied Tartarin, who trembled at the thought of entering Tarascon with this absurd escort; and shamelessly repudiating the companion of his misfortunes he repelled with his foot the soil of Algeria and pushed the boat out from the shore. The camel sniffed at the water, flexed its joints and leapt headlong in behind the boat, where it swam in convoy toward the Zouave, its hump floating on the water like a gourd and it neck lying on the surface like the ram of a trireme.

The boat and the camel came alongside the Zouave at the same time. "I don’t know what I should do about this dromadary." Said the captain, "I think I’ll take it on board and present it to the zoo at Marseille, I can’t just leave it here." So by means of block and tackle the wet camel was hoisted onto the deck of the Zouave, which then set sail.

Tartarin spent most of the time in his cabin. Not that the sea was rough or that the chechia had to much to suffer, but because whenever he appeared on the deck the camel made such a ridiculous fuss of its master. You never saw a camel so attached to anyone as this.

Hour by hour, when he looked through the porthole, Tartarin could see the Algerian sky turn paler, until one morning, in a silvery mist, he heard to his delight the bells of Marseilles. The Zouave had arrived.

Our man, who had no baggage, disembarked without a word and hurried across Marseilles, fearing all the time that he might be followed by the camel, and he did not breathe easily until he was seated in a third-class railway carriage, on his way to Tarascon...a false sense of security. They had not gone far from Marseilles when heads appeared at windows and there were cries of astonishment, Tartarin looked out in turn and what did he see but the inescapable camel coming down the line behind the train with a remakable turn of speed.

Tartarin resumed his seat and closed his eyes. After this disastrous expedition he had counted on getting back home unrecognised, but the presence of this confounded camel made it impossible. What a return to make, Bon Dieu!...No money...No lions...Nothing but a camel!.... "Tarascon!...Tarascon!"...It was time to get out.

To Tartarin’s utter astonishment, the heroic chechia had barely appeared in the doorway, when it was greeted by a great cry of "Vive Tartarin!...Vive Tartarin!" Which shook the glass vault of the station roof. "Vive Tartarin!...Hurrah for the lion killer!" Then came fanfares and a choir. Tartarin could have died, he thought this was a hoax: but no, all Tarascon was there, tossing their hats in the air and shouting his praises. There stood the brave Commandant Bravida, Costecalde the gunsmith, the President Ladevèze, the chemist and all the noble body of hat shooters, who pressed round their chief and carried him all the way down the steps.

How remarkable are the effects of the "mirage". The skin of the blind lion sent to the Commandant was the cause of all this tumult. At the sight of this modest trophy, displayed at the club, Tarascon and beyond Tarascon the whole of the Midi had worked themselves into a state of excitement. "The Semaphore" had spoken. A complete scenario had been invented. This was no longer one lion killed by Tartarin, it was ten lions, twenty lions, a whole troop of lions. So Tartarin, when he reached Marseilles was already famous, and an enthusiastic telegram had warned his home town of his imminent arrival.

The excitement of the populace reached its peak when a fantastic animal, covered in dust and sweat, stumbled down the station steps behind our hero. For a moment they thought that the Tarasque had returned.

Tartarin reassured his fellow citizens, "It is my camel" He said, and already under the influence of the Tarascon sun, that fine sun which induces fanciful exaggeration, he stroked the camel’s hump and added, "It is a noble creature, it saw me kill all my lions." So saying, he took the arm of the Commandant, who was blushing with pride, and followed by his camel, surrounded by hat shooters and acclaimed by the people, he proceded peacefully toward the little house of the baobab; and as he walked along he began the story of his great expedition.

"There was one particular evening," He said, "When I was out in the heart of the Sahara..."_


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Chicago: Alphonse Daudet, "Chapter 30.," Tartarin De Tarascon, ed. Burton, Isabel, Lady, 1831-1896 and trans. Oliver C. Colt in Tartarin De Tarascon Original Sources, accessed March 25, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DLS452DKHZQW6EG.

MLA: Daudet, Alphonse. "Chapter 30." Tartarin De Tarascon, edited by Burton, Isabel, Lady, 1831-1896, and translated by Oliver C. Colt, in Tartarin De Tarascon, Original Sources. 25 Mar. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DLS452DKHZQW6EG.

Harvard: Daudet, A, 'Chapter 30.' in Tartarin De Tarascon, ed. and trans. . cited in , Tartarin De Tarascon. Original Sources, retrieved 25 March 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DLS452DKHZQW6EG.