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FRANCOIS MARIE AROUET DE VOLTAIRE

Introduction To Zadig The Babylonian
Jealousy
The Basilisk
The Blind Of One Eye
The Combats
The Disputes And The Audiences
The Dog And The Horse
The Envious Man
The Fisherman
The Funeral Pile
The Generous
The Hermit
The Minister
The Nose
The Robber
The Stone
The Supper
The Woman Beaten

Library Of The World's Best Mystery And Detective Stories

An Uncomfortable Bed
Fear
Ghosts
Introduction To Zadig The Babylonian
Jealousy
Melmoth Reconciled
Pliny The Younger
The Adventure Of The Three Robbers
The Basilisk
The Blind Of One Eye
The Combats
The Confession
The Conscript
The Deposition
The Disputes And The Audiences
The Dog And The Horse
The Enigmas
The Envious Man
The Fisherman
The Funeral Pile
The Generous
The Hermit
The Horla Or Modern Ghosts
The Invisible Eye
The Minister
The Miracle Of Zobeide
The Nail
The Necklace
The Nose
The Owl's Ear
The Robber
The Stone
The Supper
The Torture By Hope
The Waters Of Death
The Woman Beaten



The Blind Of One Eye








There lived at Babylon, in the reign of King Moabdar, a young man named
Zadig, of a good natural disposition, strengthened and improved by
education. Though rich and young, he had learned to moderate his
passions; he had nothing stiff or affected in his behavior, he did not
pretend to examine every action by the strict rules of reason, but was
always ready to make proper allowances for the weakness of mankind.

It was matter of surprise that, notwithstanding his sprightly wit, he
never exposed by his raillery those vague, incoherent, and noisy
discourses, those rash censures, ignorant decisions, coarse jests, and
all that empty jingle of words which at Babylon went by the name of
conversation. He had learned, in the first book of Zoroaster, that self
love is a football swelled with wind, from which, when pierced, the
most terrible tempests issue forth.

Above all, Zadig never boasted of his conquests among the women, nor
affected to entertain a contemptible opinion of the fair sex. He was
generous, and was never afraid of obliging the ungrateful; remembering
the grand precept of Zoroaster, "When thou eatest, give to the dogs,
should they even bite thee." He was as wise as it is possible for man
to be, for he sought to live with the wise.

Instructed in the sciences of the ancient Chaldeans, he understood the
principles of natural philosophy, such as they were then supposed to
be; and knew as much of metaphysics as hath ever been known in any age,
that is, little or nothing at all. He was firmly persuaded,
notwithstanding the new philosophy of the times, that the year
consisted of three hundred and sixty-five days and six hours, and that
the sun was in the center of the world. But when the principal magi
told him, with a haughty and contemptuous air, that his sentiments were
of a dangerous tendency, and that it was to be an enemy to the state to
believe that the sun revolved round its own axis, and that the year had
twelve months, he held his tongue with great modesty and meekness.

Possessed as he was of great riches, and consequently of many friends,
blessed with a good constitution, a handsome figure, a mind just and
moderate, and a heart noble and sincere, he fondly imagined that he
might easily be happy. He was going to be married to Semira, who, in
point of beauty, birth, and fortune, was the first match in Babylon. He
had a real and virtuous affection for this lady, and she loved him with
the most passionate fondness.

The happy moment was almost arrived that was to unite them forever in
the bands of wedlock, when happening to take a walk together toward one
of the gates of Babylon, under the palm trees that adorn the banks of
the Euphrates, they saw some men approaching, armed with sabers and
arrows. These were the attendants of young Orcan, the minister's
nephew, whom his uncle's creatures had flattered into an opinion that
he might do everything with impunity. He had none of the graces nor
virtues of Zadig; but thinking himself a much more accomplished man, he
was enraged to find that the other was preferred before him. This
jealousy, which was merely the effect of his vanity, made him imagine
that he was desperately in love with Semira; and accordingly he
resolved to carry her off. The ravishers seized her; in the violence of
the outrage they wounded her, and made the blood flow from a person,
the sight of which would have softened the tigers of Mount Imaus. She
pierced the heavens with her complaints. She cried out, "My dear
husband! they tear me from the man I adore." Regardless of her own
danger, she was only concerned for the fate of her dear Zadig, who, in
the meantime, defended himself with all the strength that courage and
love could inspire. Assisted only by two slaves, he put the ravishers
to flight and carried home Semira, insensible and bloody as she was.

On opening her eyes and beholding her deliverer, "O Zadig!" said she,
"I loved thee formerly as my intended husband; I now love thee as the
preserver of my honor and my life." Never was heart more deeply
affected than that of Semira. Never did a more charming mouth express
more moving sentiments, in those glowing words inspired by a sense of
the greatest of all favors, and by the most tender transports of a
lawful passion.

Her wound was slight and was soon cured. Zadig was more dangerously
wounded; an arrow had pierced him near his eye, and penetrated to a
considerable depth. Semira wearied Heaven with her prayers for the
recovery of her lover. Her eyes were constantly bathed in tears; she
anxiously waited the happy moment when those of Zadig should be able to
meet hers; but an abscess growing on the wounded eye gave everything to
fear. A messenger was immediately dispatched to Memphis for the great
physician Hermes, who came with a numerous retinue. He visited the
patient and declared that he would lose his eye. He even foretold the
day and hour when this fatal event would happen. "Had it been the right
eye," said he, "I could easily have cured it; but the wounds of the
left eye are incurable." All Babylon lamented the fate of Zadig, and
admired the profound knowledge of Hermes.

In two days the abscess broke of its own accord and Zadig was perfectly
cured. Hermes wrote a book to prove that it ought not to have been
cured. Zadig did not read it; but, as soon as he was able to go abroad,
he went to pay a visit to her in whom all his hopes of happiness were
centered, and for whose sake alone he wished to have eyes. Semira had
been in the country for three days past. He learned on the road that
that fine lady, having openly declared that she had an unconquerable
aversion to one-eyed men, had the night before given her hand to Orcan.
At this news he fell speechless to the ground. His sorrow brought him
almost to the brink of the grave. He was long indisposed; but reason at
last got the better of his affliction, and the severity of his fate
served to console him.

"Since," said he, "I have suffered so much from the cruel caprice of a
woman educated at court, I must now think of marrying the daughter of a
citizen." He pitched upon Azora, a lady of the greatest prudence, and
of the best family in town. He married her and lived with her for three
months in all the delights of the most tender union. He only observed
that she had a little levity; and was too apt to find that those young
men who had the most handsome persons were likewise possessed of most
wit and virtue.





Next: The Nose

Previous: Introduction To Zadig The Babylonian



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