Zadig, by Voltaire

Chapter II.

The Nose.

One Day Azora, as she was just return’d home from taking a short Country airing, threw herself into a violent Passion, and swell’d with Invectives. What, in God’s Name, my Dear, said Zadig, has thus ruffled your Temper? What can be the Meaning of all these warm Exclamations? Alas! said she, you would have been disgusted as much as I am, had you been an Eye-witness of that Scene of Female Falshood, as I was Yesterday. I went, you must know, to visit the disconsolate Widow Cosrou, who has been these two Days erecting a Monument to the Memory of her young deceased Husband, near the Brook that runs on one side of her Meadow. She made the most solemn Vow, in the Height of her Affliction, never to stir from that Tomb, as long as ever that Rivulet took its usual Course. — Well! and wherein, pray, said Zadig, is the good Woman so much to blame? Is it not an incontestable Mark of her superior Merit and Conjugal–Affection? But, Zadig, said Azora, was you to know how her Thoughts were employ’d when I made my Visit, you’d never forget or forgive her. Pray, my dearest Azora, what then was she about? Why, the Creature, said Azora, was studying, to be sure, to find out Ways and Means to turn the Current of the River.

Azora, in short, harangu’d so long, and, was so big with her Invectives against the young Widow, that her too affected, vain Shew of Virtue, gave Zadig a secret Disgust.

Zadig had an intimate Friend, one Cador by Name, whose Spouse was perfectly honest, and had in reality a greater Regard for him, than all Mankind besides: This Friend Zadig made his Confident, and bound him to keep a Project of his entirely a Secret, by a Promise of some valuable Token of his Respect. Azora had been visiting a Female Companion for two Days together in the Country, and on the third was returning home: No sooner, however, was she in Sight of the House, but the Servants ran to meet her with Tears in their Eyes, and told her, that their Master dy’d suddenly the Night before; that they durstn’t carry her the doleful Tidings, but were going to bury Zadig in the Sepulchre of his Ancestors, at the Bottom of the Garden. She burst into a Flood of Tears; tore her Hair; and vow’d to die by his Side. As soon as it was dark, young Cador came, and begg’d the Favour of being introduc’d to the Widow. He was so, and they wept together very cordially. Next Day the Storm was somewhat abated, and they din’d together; Cador inform’d her, that his Friend had left him the much greater Part of his Effects, and gave her to understand, that he should think himself the happiest Creature in the World, if she would condescend to be his Partner in that Demise. The Widow wept, sobb’d, and began to melt. More Time was spent in Supper than at Dinner. They discoursed together with a little more Freedom. Azora was lavish of her Encomiums on Zadig; but then, ’twas true, she said, he had some secret Infirmities to which Cador was a Stranger. In the Midst of their Midnight Entertainment, Cador all on a sudden complain’d that he was taken with a most violent pleuretic Fit, and was ready to swoon away. Our Lady being extremely concern’d, and over-officious, flew to her Closet of Cordials, and brought down every Thing she could think of that might be of Service on this emergent Occasion. She was extremely sorry that the famous Hermes was gone from Babylon, and condescended to lay her warm Hand upon the Part affected, in which he felt such an agonizing Pain. Pray Sir, said she, in a soft, languishing Tone, are you subject to this tormenting Malady? Sometimes, Madam, said Cador, so strong, that they bring me almost to Death’s Door; and there is but one Thing can infallibly cure me; and that is, the Application of a dead Man’s Nose to the part affected. An odd Remedy truly, said Azora. Not stranger, Madam, said he, than the Great *Arnon’s infallible Apoplectic Necklaces.

* There was at this Time in Babylon, a famous Doctor,
  nam’d Arnon, who both cur’d Apoplectic Fits, and
  prevented them from affecting his Patients, as was
  frequently advertiz’d in the Gazettes, by a little
  never-failing Purse that he hung round their Necks.

This Assurance of Success, together with Cador’s personal Merit, determin’d Azora in his Favour. After all, said she, when my Husband shall be about to cross the Bridge Tchimavar, from this World of Yesterday, to the other, of To-morrow, will the Angel Asrael, think you, make any Scruple about his Passage, should his Nose prove something shorter in the next Life than ’twas in this? She would venture, however, and taking up a sharp Razor, repair’d to her Husband’s Tomb; water’d it first with her Tears, and then intended to perform the innocent Operation, as he lay extended breathless, as she thought, in his Coffin. Zadig mounted in a Moment; secur’d his Nose with one Hand, and the Incision–Knife with the other. Madam, said he, never more exclaim against the Widow Cosrou. The Scheme for cutting my Nose off was much closer laid than hers of throwing the River into a new Channel.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/v/voltaire/zadig/chapter2.html

Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 18:25