Introduction To Zadig The Babylonian
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

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An Uncomfortable Bed
Introduction To Zadig The Babylonian
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


Zadig's calamities sprung even from his happiness and especially from
his merit. He every day conversed with the king and Astarte, his august
comfort. The charms of his conversation were greatly heightened by that
desire of pleasing, which is to the mind what dress is to beauty. His
youth and graceful appearance insensibly made an impression on Astarte,
which she did not at first perceive. Her passion grew and flourished in
the bosom of innocence. Without fear or scruple, she indulged the
pleasing satisfaction of seeing and hearing a man who was so dear to
her husband and to the empire in general. She was continually praising
him to the king. She talked of him to her women, who were always sure
to improve on her praises. And thus everything contributed to pierce
her heart with a dart, of which she did not seem to be sensible. She
made several presents to Zadig, which discovered a greater spirit of
gallantry than she imagined. She intended to speak to him only as a
queen satisfied with his services and her expressions were sometimes
those of a woman in love.

Astarte was much more beautiful than that Semira who had such a strong
aversion to one-eyed men, or that other woman who had resolved to cut
off her husband's nose. Her unreserved familiarity, her tender
expressions, at which she began to blush; and her eyes, which, though
she endeavored to divert them to other objects, were always fixed upon
his, inspired Zadig with a passion that filled him with astonishment.
He struggled hard to get the better of it. He called to his aid the
precepts of philosophy, which had always stood him in stead; but from
thence, though he could derive the light of knowledge, he could procure
no remedy to cure the disorders of his lovesick heart. Duty, gratitude,
and violated majesty presented themselves to his mind as so many
avenging gods. He struggled; he conquered; but this victory, which he
was obliged to purchase afresh every moment, cost him many sighs and
tears. He no longer dared to speak to the queen with that sweet and
charming familiarity which had been so agreeable to them both. His
countenance was covered with a cloud. His conversation was constrained
and incoherent. His eyes were fixed on the ground; and when, in spite
of all his endeavors to the contrary, they encountered those of the
queen, they found them bathed in tears and darting arrows of flame.
They seemed to say, We adore each other and yet are afraid to love; we
both burn with a fire which we both condemn.

Zadig left the royal presence full of perplexity and despair, and
having his heart oppressed with a burden which he was no longer able to
bear. In the violence of his perturbation he involuntarily betrayed the
secret to his friend Cador, in the same manner as a man who, having
long supported the fits of a cruel disease, discovered his pain by a
cry extorted from him by a more severe fit and by the cold sweat that
covers his brow.

"I have already discovered," said Cador, "the sentiments which thou
wouldst fain conceal from thyself. The symptoms by which the passions
show themselves are certain and infallible. Judge, my dear Zadig, since
I have read thy heart, whether the king will not discover something in
it that may give him offense. He has no other fault but that of being
the most jealous man in the world. Thou canst resist the violence of
thy passion with greater fortitude than the queen because thou art a
philosopher, and because thou art Zadig. Astarte is a woman: she
suffers her eyes to speak with so much the more imprudence, as she does
not as yet think herself guilty. Conscious of her innocence she
unhappily neglects those external appearances which are so necessary. I
shall tremble for her so long as she has nothing wherewithal to
reproach herself. Were ye both of one mind, ye might easily deceive the
whole world. A growing passion, which we endeavor to suppress,
discovers itself in spite of all our efforts to the contrary; but love,
when gratified, is easily concealed."

Zadig trembled at the proposal of betraying the king, his benefactor;
and never was he more faithful to his prince than when guilty of an
involuntary crime against him.

Meanwhile the queen mentioned the name of Zadig so frequently and with
such a blushing and downcast look; she was sometimes so lively and
sometimes so perplexed when she spoke to him in the king's presence,
and was seized with such deep thoughtfulness at his going away, that
the king began to be troubled. He believed all that he saw and imagined
all that he did not see. He particularly remarked that his wife's shoes
were blue and that Zadig's shoes were blue; that his wife's ribbons
were yellow and that Zadig's bonnet was yellow; and these were terrible
symptoms to a prince of so much delicacy. In his jealous mind
suspicions were turned into certainty.

All the slaves of kings and queens are so many spies over their hearts.
They soon observed that Astarte was tender and that Moabdar was
jealous. The envious man brought false report to the king. The monarch
now thought of nothing but in what manner he might best execute his
vengeance. He one night resolved to poison the queen and in the morning
to put Zadig to death by the bowstring. The orders were given to a
merciless eunuch, who commonly executed his acts of vengeance. There
happened at that time to be in the king's chamber a little dwarf, who,
though dumb, was not deaf. He was allowed, on account of his
insignificance, to go wherever he pleased, and as a domestic animal,
was a witness of what passed in the most profound secrecy. This little
mute was strongly attached to the queen and Zadig. With equal horror
and surprise he heard the cruel orders given. But how to prevent the
fatal sentence that in a few hours was to be carried into execution! He
could not write, but he could paint; and excelled particularly in
drawing a striking resemblance. He employed a part of the night in
sketching out with his pencil what he meant to impart to the queen. The
piece represented the king in one corner, boiling with rage, and giving
orders to the eunuch; a bowstring, and a bowl on a table; the queen in
the middle of the picture, expiring in the arms of her woman, and Zadig
strangled at her feet. The horizon represented a rising sun, to express
that this shocking execution was to be performed in the morning. As
soon as he had finished the picture he ran to one of Astarte's women,
awakened her, and made her understand that she must immediately carry
it to the queen.

At midnight a messenger knocks at Zadig's door, awakes him, and gives
him a note from the queen. He doubts whether it is a dream; and opens
the letter with a trembling hand. But how great was his surprise! and
who can express the consternation and despair into which he was thrown
upon reading these words: "Fly this instant, or thou art a dead man.
Fly, Zadig, I conjure thee by our mutual love and my yellow ribbons. I
have not been guilty, but I find I must die like a criminal."

Zadig was hardly able to speak. He sent for Cador, and, without
uttering a word, gave him the note. Cador forced him to obey, and
forthwith to take the road to Memphis. "Shouldst thou dare," said he,
"to go in search of the queen, thou wilt hasten her death. Shouldst
thou speak to the king, thou wilt infallibly ruin her. I will take upon
me the charge of her destiny; follow thy own. I will spread a report
that thou hast taken the road to India. I will soon follow thee, and
inform thee of all that shall have passed in Babylon." At that instant,
Cador caused two of the swiftest dromedaries to be brought to a private
gate of the palace. Upon one of these he mounted Zadig, whom he was
obliged to carry to the door, and who was ready to expire with grief.
He was accompanied by a single domestic; and Cador, plunged in sorrow
and astonishment, soon lost sight of his friend.

This illustrious fugitive arriving on the side of a hill, from whence
he could take a view of Babylon, turned his eyes toward the queen's
palace, and fainted away at the sight; nor did he recover his senses
but to shed a torrent of tears and to wish for death. At length, after
his thoughts had been long engrossed in lamenting the unhappy fate of
the loveliest woman and the greatest queen in the world, he for a
moment turned his views on himself and cried: "What then is human life?
O virtue, how hast thou served me! Two women have basely deceived me,
and now a third, who is innocent, and more beautiful than both the
others, is going to be put to death! Whatever good I have done hath
been to me a continual source of calamity and affliction; and I have
only been raised to the height of grandeur, to be tumbled down the most
horrid precipice of misfortune." Filled with these gloomy reflections,
his eyes overspread with the veil of grief, his countenance covered
with the paleness of death, and his soul plunged in an abyss of the
blackest despair, he continued his journey toward Egypt.

Next: The Woman Beaten

Previous: The Disputes And The Audiences

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