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CHAPTER XII
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 THE HOUSE OF STRANGE WORDS
Among all the papers I found in the sandalwood box, by Theophrastus himself, by M. Lecamus, or by Commissary Mifroid, those which relate to the death of Cartouche are beyond doubt the most curious and the most interesting. They are indeed of great historical interest since they contradict history. Moreover they contradict it with such force and with such irrefutable reasoning that one asks how men of such weight as Barbier, who was in the best position of all not to be duped, since he lived at the time, could have been the victims of a very poor comedy, and how succeeding generations have failed to suspect the truth.
 
History then, serious history, teaches us that Cartouche, after having undergone the Question in its cruellest form without revealing one single name or fact,—how Cartouche, who had only to die and nothing to hope, was brought to the Place de Grève to be executed, and that there he decided1 to confess; that they[Pg 145] took him to the Hôtel-de-Ville, and that he delivered to justice his chief accomplices2; after which he was broken on the wheel.
 
The papers of Theophrastus Longuet explain the fraud. Cartouche was not only an object of terror, but also an object of admiration3. His courage knew no limits; and he proved it under torture. From the moment that the pain of the Boot failed to make him speak, it was morally impossible that he should speak. Why should he have spoken? All that was left for him was to die game. The greatest ladies of the Court and the city had hired boxes and windows to witness his execution. Among the three hundred and sixty people who were arrested were men whom he loved as brothers, and his tenderest and most constant flames. Some of them came to Paris from the Provinces, contemptuous of all danger, in the hope that, at the trial, the Child would have the consolation4 of seeing them for the last time. The account of the trial which describes these women as throwing themselves, after he had denounced them, into his arms at the Hôtel-de-Ville itself, is manifestly nonsense.
 
I will not reproduce here all the protests of M. Longuet against the dishonourable death ascribed to Cartouche, but the few lines which[Pg 146] precede this chapter seem, to me at any rate, to prove, a priori, that he is right.
 
But at this moment all that M. Longuet knew was that he died at the Gallows5 of Montfaucon, but that he was not hanged there.
 
In the course of discussing this serious question Theophrastus and his friend had reached Petit-Pont Street without having crossed the Petit-Pont. Theophrastus did not so much as look in the direction of the Petit-Pont. Half-way down the street Theophrastus, who was in a state half of memory, half of possession, said to his friend: "Look at that house next to the hotel there, 'The Market-Gardeners' Hotel.' Do you notice anything remarkable6 about it?"
 
Adolphe looked across the street at the hotel, a little old house, low, narrow, and dirty, with "The Market-Gardeners' Hotel" newly painted on it. It seemed to be propping7 itself up against a large eighteenth-century building to which Theophrastus was pointing with his green umbrella. This building had a bulging8 balcony of wrought9 iron, of solid but delicate design.
 
"I see a very fine balcony," said Adolphe.
 
"What else?"
 
"The quiver of Cupid carved above the door."
 
[Pg 147]"What else?"
 
"Nothing else."
 
"Don't you perceive the thick bars across the windows?"
 
"Of course I do."
 
"At that time, my dear Adolphe, people took the greatest care to have their windows barred; never did one see as many barred windows in Paris as in the year 1720. And I could swear that these bars here were fixed10 the day after the affairs of Petits-Augustins Street. First the Parisians garnished11 all their ground-floors with bars. But this precaution gave us no trouble at all since we had Simon the Auvergnat."
 
Adolphe thought the moment opportune12 to find out who Simon the Auvergnat, who was always appearing in their talk without any appreciable13 reason, exactly was.
 
"He was a very useful object, he was the base of my column," said Theophrastus.
 
"And what's that—the base of your column?"
 
"You don't understand? I'll just show you. Suppose you're Simon the Auvergnat," said Theophrastus with almost boyish eagerness.
 
Adolphe was quite willing, but not for long.[Pg 148] Theophrastus drew him across the road, set him against the wall of the Market-Gardeners' Hotel, showed him the position he was to take: to set his legs apart, and lean, lowering his head and raising his crossed arms, against the wall.
 
"I place you here," he said, "because of the little ledge14 on the left, I remember that it is very convenient."
 
"And next?" said Adolphe, leaning against the wall in the required position.
 
"Next, since you are the base of my column, I mount on that base..."
 
Before M. Lecamus had the time so much as to imagine a movement even, Theophrastus had climbed up on to his shoulders, sprung on to the ledge, leapt from it with one bound to the balcony of the house next door, and vanished through an open window into the room which opened on to it. M. Lecamus in a dazed consternation15 was gazing into the air, and asked himself where his friend Theophrastus could have vanished, when the street rang with piercing cries. A despairing voice howled, "Help! thieves! murderers!"
 
"I might have expected it!" cried M. Lecamus; and he dashed into the house from which the screams issued, while the passers-by[Pg 149] stood still, or hurried to the spot. He bounded up the great staircase with the swiftness of a young man, and reached the first floor at the very moment when a door opened, and Theophrastus appeared, hat in hand.
 
He was bowing low to an old lady with chattering17 teeth, and crowned with curl papers, and said:
 
"My dear madame, if I had thought for an instant that I should give you such a shock by entering your drawing-room by the window, I should have stayed quietly in the street. I am not, my dear madame, either a thief or a murderer, but an honest manufacturer of rubber stamps."
 
Adolphe seized his arm and tried to drag him down the stairs.
 
But Theophrastus went on: "It is entirely18 Adolphe's fault, my dear madame. He would have me show him how Simon the Auvergnat acted as the base of my column."
 
Adolphe, behind Theophrastus, made signs to the lady of the curl papers that his friend was off his head. Thereupon the lady fell fainting into the arms of her maid, who came running up. Adolphe dragged Theophrastus down the staircase just as the hall filled with people from the street. The crowd took them[Pg 150] for fellow-rescuers; and they escaped from the house without difficulty.
 
In the street Theophrastus said cheerfully, "The most surprising thing about the whole matter, my dear Adolphe, was that this Simon the Auvergnat served us as the base of our column for more than two years without ever suspecting anything. He thought that he lent his strong shoulders to a band of young gentlemen of quality, who were amusing themselves!"[3]
 
[3] This is authentic19. It was proved at the trial of Cartouche's accomplices; and Simon the Auvergnat was acquitted20.
 
But Adolphe was not listening to Theophrastus. With one hand he was dragging him towards Huchette Street, and with the other he was wiping the sweat from his brow.
 
"The time has come!" he muttered. "The time has come!"
 
"Where are you dragging me to?" said Theophrastus.
 
"To see one of my friends," said Adolphe shortly, continuing to drag him along.
 
In Huchette Street they passed through a red porch into a very old house. Adolphe seemed to know his whereabouts, for he dragged Theophrastus up a dozen worn stone[Pg 151] steps and pushed open a heavy door. They found themselves in a large hall, lighted by a lamp hanging by iron chains from the stone ceiling.
 
"Wait for me here, I shan't be long," said Adolphe, closing the door.
 
Theophrastus sat down in a large armchair, and gazed round him. The sight of the walls filled him with the wildest amazement21. In the first place, there was an incredible quantity of words painted in black letters. They seemed to crawl about the wall without any order, like flies.
 
He spelt some of them to himself: Thabethnah, Jakin, Bohaz, Theba, Pic de la Mirandole, Paracelsus, Jacque Molay, Nephesch-Ruach-Neschamah, Ezechiel, Aïsha, Puysegur, Cagliostro, Wronski, Fabre d'Olivet, Louis Lucas, Hiram, Elias, Plotinus, Origen, Gutman, Swedenborg, Giorgius, Apollonius of Tyana, Cassidorus, Eliphas Levi, Cardan, Allan Kardec, Olympicodorus, Spinoza, and scores besides; and, repeated a hundred times, the word IHOAH. Turning towards the other wall, he saw a sphinx and the Pyramids, a huge rose, in the centre of which Christ stretched out his arms in a circle of flame, and these words on the rose: Amphitheatrum sa[Pg 152]pientiæ æternæ solius veræ. It was the rose of the Rosicrucians.
 
Below it were these words:
 
"Of what use are brands, and torches, and spectacles
To him who shuts his eyes that he may not see?"
"I am not shutting my eyes," said Theophrastus to himself, "and I am wearing spectacles, yet I'll be hanged if I know where I am!"
 
His eyes fell on this inscription22 in letters of gold:
 
"From the moment that you have performed an action, a single action, apply to it all the intelligence you have, seek its salient points, examine it in the light, abandon yourself to hypotheses, fly in front of them, if need be."
 
He saw hawks23, vultures, jackals, men with heads of birds, several scarabs, a god with an ass16's head, then a sceptre, an ass, and an eye.
 
Finally he read these words in blue letters:
 
"The more the soul shall be rooted in its instincts, the more it shall lie forgotten in the flesh, the less shall it have knowledge of its immortal24 life, and the longer it shall remain prisoner in living carcasses."
 
Growing impatient at the long absence of[Pg 153] Adolphe, after a while he rose to draw apart the curtains through which his friend had disappeared. As he was about to pass through them, his head struck against two feet hanging in the air which rattled25 with the noise of dry bones. He looked up: it was a skeleton.
 
He gazed at it with a sincere and gentle compassion26.
 
"You would be much more at your ease in Saint-Chaumont Cemetery," he said and went on with a sad smile.
 
The corridor down which he walked had no windows. It was lighted from one end to the other by a crimson27 glow. At first Theophrastus could not make out where it came from. Then he perceived that he was walking on it. It came from the cellars, through the thick sheets of glass with which the corridor was paved. What were those crimson flames below, in whose glow he walked, doing?
 
He did not know. He did not even ask. He did not even ask why he, Theophrastus, found himself walking in this glow. He had ceased to ask, "Why am I in this house in Huchette Street?" He had ceased to ask because nobody answered.
 
Emmanuel, Noun, Samech, Hain... Sabaoth... Adonai...
 
[Pg 154]Still names on the stone walls.
 
The only ornament28 on these walls about which names crawled was, at the height of a man, an endless line of stars formed by the two triangles of Solomon's Seal. Between each star or seal, in green letters, was the word NIRVANA.
 
The corridor did not run in a straight line. It had curves and angles. Presently he came to a spot at which two other corridors ran into it at right angles, and prudently29 stopped. But soon he grew impatient again, and plunged30 down one of these side corridors. Three minutes later, without knowing how it came about, he found himself back at the spot where the corridors crossed. Then he went back down the first corridor, retracing31 his steps to the hall. But he did not find the hall.
 
He was on the point of howling with distress32, when Adolphe appeared before him. His eyes were red as if he had been weeping.
 
"Where am I?" cried Theophrastus tempestuously33.
 
"You are in the house of the Mage—in the house of M. Eliphas de Saint-Elme de Taillebourg de la Nox!"

点击收听单词发音收听单词发音  

1 decided lvqzZd     
adj.决定了的,坚决的;明显的,明确的
参考例句:
  • This gave them a decided advantage over their opponents.这使他们比对手具有明显的优势。
  • There is a decided difference between British and Chinese way of greeting.英国人和中国人打招呼的方式有很明显的区别。
2 accomplices d2d44186ab38e4c55857a53f3f536458     
从犯,帮凶,同谋( accomplice的名词复数 )
参考例句:
  • He was given away by one of his accomplices. 他被一个同伙出卖了。
  • The chief criminals shall be punished without fail, those who are accomplices under duress shall go unpunished and those who perform deeds of merIt'shall be rewarded. 首恶必办, 胁从不问,立功受奖。
3 admiration afpyA     
n.钦佩,赞美,羡慕
参考例句:
  • He was lost in admiration of the beauty of the scene.他对风景之美赞不绝口。
  • We have a great admiration for the gold medalists.我们对金牌获得者极为敬佩。
4 consolation WpbzC     
n.安慰,慰问
参考例句:
  • The children were a great consolation to me at that time.那时孩子们成了我的莫大安慰。
  • This news was of little consolation to us.这个消息对我们来说没有什么安慰。
5 gallows UfLzE     
n.绞刑架,绞台
参考例句:
  • The murderer was sent to the gallows for his crimes.谋杀犯由于罪大恶极被处以绞刑。
  • Now I was to expiate all my offences at the gallows.现在我将在绞刑架上赎我一切的罪过。
6 remarkable 8Vbx6     
adj.显著的,异常的,非凡的,值得注意的
参考例句:
  • She has made remarkable headway in her writing skills.她在写作技巧方面有了长足进步。
  • These cars are remarkable for the quietness of their engines.这些汽车因发动机没有噪音而不同凡响。
7 propping 548f07f69caff3c98b65a959401073ee     
支撑
参考例句:
  • You can usually find Jack propping up the bar at his local. 你常常可以看见杰克频繁出没于他居住的那家酒店。
  • The government was accused of propping up declining industries. 政府被指责支持日益衰败的产业。
8 bulging daa6dc27701a595ab18024cbb7b30c25     
膨胀; 凸出(部); 打气; 折皱
参考例句:
  • Her pockets were bulging with presents. 她的口袋里装满了礼物。
  • Conscious of the bulging red folder, Nim told her,"Ask if it's important." 尼姆想到那个鼓鼓囊囊的红色文件夹便告诉她:“问问是不是重要的事。”
9 wrought EoZyr     
v.引起;以…原料制作;运转;adj.制造的
参考例句:
  • Events in Paris wrought a change in British opinion towards France and Germany.巴黎发生的事件改变了英国对法国和德国的看法。
  • It's a walking stick with a gold head wrought in the form of a flower.那是一个金质花形包头的拐杖。
10 fixed JsKzzj     
adj.固定的,不变的,准备好的;(计算机)固定的
参考例句:
  • Have you two fixed on a date for the wedding yet?你们俩选定婚期了吗?
  • Once the aim is fixed,we should not change it arbitrarily.目标一旦确定,我们就不应该随意改变。
11 garnished 978c1af39d17f6c3c31319295529b2c3     
v.给(上餐桌的食物)加装饰( garnish的过去式和过去分词 )
参考例句:
  • Her robes were garnished with gems. 她的礼服上装饰着宝石。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Serve the dish garnished with wedges of lime. 给这道菜配上几角酸橙。 来自《简明英汉词典》
12 opportune qIXxR     
adj.合适的,适当的
参考例句:
  • Her arrival was very opportune.她来得非常及时。
  • The timing of our statement is very opportune.我们发表声明选择的时机很恰当。
13 appreciable KNWz7     
adj.明显的,可见的,可估量的,可觉察的
参考例句:
  • There is no appreciable distinction between the twins.在这对孪生子之间看不出有什么明显的差别。
  • We bought an appreciable piece of property.我们买下的资产有增值的潜力。
14 ledge o1Mxk     
n.壁架,架状突出物;岩架,岩礁
参考例句:
  • They paid out the line to lower him to the ledge.他们放出绳子使他降到那块岩石的突出部分。
  • Suddenly he struck his toe on a rocky ledge and fell.突然他的脚趾绊在一块突出的岩石上,摔倒了。
15 consternation 8OfzB     
n.大为吃惊,惊骇
参考例句:
  • He was filled with consternation to hear that his friend was so ill.他听说朋友病得那么厉害,感到非常震惊。
  • Sam stared at him in consternation.萨姆惊恐不安地注视着他。
16 ass qvyzK     
n.驴;傻瓜,蠢笨的人
参考例句:
  • He is not an ass as they make him.他不象大家猜想的那样笨。
  • An ass endures his burden but not more than his burden.驴能负重但不能超过它能力所负担的。
17 chattering chattering     
n. (机器振动发出的)咔嗒声,(鸟等)鸣,啁啾 adj. 喋喋不休的,啾啾声的 动词chatter的现在分词形式
参考例句:
  • The teacher told the children to stop chattering in class. 老师叫孩子们在课堂上不要叽叽喳喳讲话。
  • I was so cold that my teeth were chattering. 我冷得牙齿直打战。
18 entirely entirely     
ad.全部地,完整地;完全地,彻底地
参考例句:
  • The fire was entirely caused by their neglect of duty. 那场火灾完全是由于他们失职而引起的。
  • His life was entirely given up to the educational work. 他的一生统统献给了教育工作。
19 authentic ZuZzs     
a.真的,真正的;可靠的,可信的,有根据的
参考例句:
  • This is an authentic news report. We can depend on it. 这是篇可靠的新闻报道, 我们相信它。
  • Autumn is also the authentic season of renewal. 秋天才是真正的除旧布新的季节。
20 acquitted c33644484a0fb8e16df9d1c2cd057cb0     
宣判…无罪( acquit的过去式和过去分词 ); 使(自己)作出某种表现
参考例句:
  • The jury acquitted him of murder. 陪审团裁决他谋杀罪不成立。
  • Five months ago she was acquitted on a shoplifting charge. 五个月前她被宣判未犯入店行窃罪。
21 amazement 7zlzBK     
n.惊奇,惊讶
参考例句:
  • All those around him looked at him with amazement.周围的人都对他投射出惊异的眼光。
  • He looked at me in blank amazement.他带着迷茫惊诧的神情望着我。
22 inscription l4ZyO     
n.(尤指石块上的)刻印文字,铭文,碑文
参考例句:
  • The inscription has worn away and can no longer be read.铭文已磨损,无法辨认了。
  • He chiselled an inscription on the marble.他在大理石上刻碑文。
23 hawks c8b4f3ba2fd1208293962d95608dd1f1     
鹰( hawk的名词复数 ); 鹰派人物,主战派人物
参考例句:
  • Two hawks were hover ing overhead. 两只鹰在头顶盘旋。
  • Both hawks and doves have expanded their conditions for ending the war. 鹰派和鸽派都充分阐明了各自的停战条件。
24 immortal 7kOyr     
adj.不朽的;永生的,不死的;神的
参考例句:
  • The wild cocoa tree is effectively immortal.野生可可树实际上是不会死的。
  • The heroes of the people are immortal!人民英雄永垂不朽!
25 rattled b4606e4247aadf3467575ffedf66305b     
慌乱的,恼火的
参考例句:
  • The truck jolted and rattled over the rough ground. 卡车嘎吱嘎吱地在凹凸不平的地面上颠簸而行。
  • Every time a bus went past, the windows rattled. 每逢公共汽车经过这里,窗户都格格作响。
26 compassion 3q2zZ     
n.同情,怜悯
参考例句:
  • He could not help having compassion for the poor creature.他情不自禁地怜悯起那个可怜的人来。
  • Her heart was filled with compassion for the motherless children.她对于没有母亲的孩子们充满了怜悯心。
27 crimson AYwzH     
n./adj.深(绯)红色(的);vi.脸变绯红色
参考例句:
  • She went crimson with embarrassment.她羞得满脸通红。
  • Maple leaves have turned crimson.枫叶已经红了。
28 ornament u4czn     
v.装饰,美化;n.装饰,装饰物
参考例句:
  • The flowers were put on the table for ornament.花放在桌子上做装饰用。
  • She wears a crystal ornament on her chest.她的前胸戴了一个水晶饰品。
29 prudently prudently     
adv. 谨慎地,慎重地
参考例句:
  • He prudently pursued his plan. 他谨慎地实行他那计划。
  • They had prudently withdrawn as soon as the van had got fairly under way. 他们在蓬车安全上路后立即谨慎地离去了。
30 plunged 06a599a54b33c9d941718dccc7739582     
v.颠簸( plunge的过去式和过去分词 );暴跌;骤降;突降
参考例句:
  • The train derailed and plunged into the river. 火车脱轨栽进了河里。
  • She lost her balance and plunged 100 feet to her death. 她没有站稳,从100英尺的高处跌下摔死了。
31 retracing d36cf1bfa5c6c6e4898c78b1644e9ef3     
v.折回( retrace的现在分词 );回忆;回顾;追溯
参考例句:
  • We're retracing the route of a deep explorer mission. 我们将折回一个深入的探险路线中去。 来自电影对白
  • Retracing my steps was certainly not an option. 回顾我的脚步并不是个办法。 来自互联网
32 distress 3llzX     
n.苦恼,痛苦,不舒适;不幸;vt.使悲痛
参考例句:
  • Nothing could alleviate his distress.什么都不能减轻他的痛苦。
  • Please don't distress yourself.请你不要忧愁了。
33 tempestuously bd34ac55eba96c1af11c584164fb98a3     
adv.剧烈地,暴风雨似地
参考例句:
  • The rain beat strongly against the panes, the wind blew tempestuously. 雨狠狠地抽打着窗玻璃,风狂暴地刮着。 来自辞典例句
  • The explosion stirred the atmosphere tempestuously. 那爆炸猛烈地搅乱了大气。 来自辞典例句


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