The Dog And The Horse
Zadig found by experience that the first month of marriage, as it is
written in the book of Zend, is the moon of honey, and that the second
is the moon of wormwood. He was some time after obliged to repudiate
Azora, who became too difficult to be pleased; and he then sought for
happiness in the study of nature. "No man," said he, "can be happier
than a philosopher who reads in this great book which God hath placed
e our eyes. The truths he discovers are his own, he nourishes and
exalts his soul; he lives in peace; he fears nothing from men; and his
tender spouse will not come to cut off his nose."
Possessed of these ideas he retired to a country house on the banks of
the Euphrates. There he did not employ himself in calculating how many
inches of water flow in a second of time under the arches of a bridge,
or whether there fell a cube line of rain in the month of the Mouse
more than in the month of the Sheep. He never dreamed of making silk of
cobwebs, or porcelain of broken bottles; but he chiefly studied the
properties of plants and animals; and soon acquired a sagacity that
made him discover a thousand differences where other men see nothing
One day, as he was walking near a little wood, he saw one of the
queen's eunuchs running toward him, followed by several officers, who
appeared to be in great perplexity, and who ran to and fro like men
distracted, eagerly searching for something they had lost of great
value. "Young man," said the first eunuch, "hast thou seen the queen's
dog?" "It is a female," replied Zadig. "Thou art in the right,"
returned the first eunuch. "It is a very small she spaniel," added
Zadig; "she has lately whelped; she limps on the left forefoot, and has
very long ears." "Thou hast seen her," said the first eunuch, quite out
of breath. "No," replied Zadig, "I have not seen her, nor did I so much
as know that the queen had a dog."
Exactly at the same time, by one of the common freaks of fortune, the
finest horse in the king's stable had escaped from the jockey in the
plains of Babylon. The principal huntsman and all the other officers
ran after him with as much eagerness and anxiety as the first eunuch
had done after the spaniel. The principal huntsman addressed himself to
Zadig, and asked him if he had not seen the king's horse passing by.
"He is the fleetest horse in the king's stable," replied Zadig; "he is
five feet high, with very small hoofs, and a tail three feet and a half
in length; the studs on his bit are gold of twenty-three carats, and
his shoes are silver of eleven pennyweights." "What way did he take?
where is he?" demanded the chief huntsman. "I have not seen him,"
replied Zadig, "and never heard talk of him before."
The principal huntsman and the first eunuch never doubted but that
Zadig had stolen the king's horse and the queen's spaniel. They
therefore had him conducted before the assembly of the grand desterham,
who condemned him to the knout, and to spend the rest of his days in
Siberia. Hardly was the sentence passed when the horse and the spaniel
were both found. The judges were reduced to the disagreeable necessity
of reversing their sentence; but they condemned Zadig to pay four
hundred ounces of gold for having said that he had not seen what he had
seen. This fine he was obliged to pay; after which he was permitted to
plead his cause before the counsel of the grand desterham, when he
spoke to the following effect:
"Ye stars of justice, abyss of sciences, mirrors of truth, who have the
weight of lead, the hardness of iron, the splendor of the diamond, and
many properties of gold: Since I am permitted to speak before this
august assembly, I swear to you by Oramades that I have never seen the
queen's respectable spaniel, nor the sacred horse of the king of kings.
The truth of the matter was as follows: I was walking toward the little
wood, where I afterwards met the venerable eunuch, and the most
illustrious chief huntsman. I observed on the sand the traces of an
animal, and could easily perceive them to be those of a little dog. The
light and long furrows impressed on little eminences of sand between
the marks of the paws plainly discovered that it was a female, whose
dugs were hanging down, and that therefore she must have whelped a few
days before. Other traces of a different kind, that always appeared to
have gently brushed the surface of the sand near the marks of the
forefeet, showed me that she had very long ears; and as I remarked that
there was always a slighter impression made on the sand by one foot
than the other three, I found that the spaniel of our august queen was
a little lame, if I may be allowed the expression.
"With regard to the horse of the king of kings, you will be pleased to
know that, walking in the lanes of this wood, I observed the marks of a
horse's shoes, all at equal distances. This must be a horse, said I to
myself, that gallops excellently. The dust on the trees in the road
that was but seven feet wide was a little brushed off, at the distance
of three feet and a half from the middle of the road. This horse, said
I, has a tail three feet and a half long, which being whisked to the
right and left, has swept away the dust. I observed under the trees
that formed an arbor five feet in height, that the leaves of the
branches were newly fallen; from whence I inferred that the horse had
touched them, and that he must therefore be five feet high. As to his
bit, it must be gold of twenty-three carats, for he had rubbed its
bosses against a stone which I knew to be a touchstone, and which I
have tried. In a word, from the marks made by his shoes on flints of
another kind, I concluded that he was shod with silver eleven deniers
All the judges admired Zadig for his acute and profound discernment.
The news of this speech was carried even to the king and queen. Nothing
was talked of but Zadig in the antechambers, the chambers, and the
cabinet; and though many of the magi were of opinion that he ought to
be burned as a sorcerer, the king ordered his officers to restore him
the four hundred ounces of gold which he had been obliged to pay. The
register, the attorneys, and bailiffs, went to his house with great
formality, to carry him back his four hundred ounces. They only
retained three hundred and ninety-eight of them to defray the expenses
of justice; and their servants demanded their fees.
Zadig saw how extremely dangerous it sometimes is to appear too
knowing, and therefore resolved that on the next occasion of the like
nature he would not tell what he had seen.
Such an opportunity soon offered. A prisoner of state made his escape,
and passed under the window of Zadig's house. Zadig was examined and
made no answer. But it was proved that he had looked at the prisoner
from this window. For this crime he was condemned to pay five hundred
ounces of gold; and, according to the polite custom of Babylon, he
thanked his judges for their indulgence.
"Great God!" said he to himself, "what a misfortune it is to walk in a
wood through which the queen's spaniel or the king's horse has passed!
how dangerous to look out at a window! and how difficult to be happy in