A Passion in the Desert by Honoré de Balzac

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of A Passion in the Desert, by Honore de Balzac

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net

Title: A Passion in the Desert

Author: Honore de Balzac

Translator: Ernest Dowson

Release Date: May 30, 2005 [EBook #1555]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by Dagny; and John Bickers




Translated by
Ernest Dowson

"The whole show is dreadful," she cried coming out of the menagerie of
M. Martin. She had just been looking at that daring speculator
"working with his hyena,"--to speak in the style of the programme.

"By what means," she continued, "can he have tamed these animals to
such a point as to be certain of their affection for----"

"What seems to you a problem," said I, interrupting, "is really quite

"Oh!" she cried, letting an incredulous smile wander over her lips.

"You think that beasts are wholly without passions?" I asked her.
"Quite the reverse; we can communicate to them all the vices arising
in our own state of civilization."

She looked at me with an air of astonishment.

"But," I continued, "the first time I saw M. Martin, I admit, like
you, I did give vent to an exclamation of surprise. I found myself
next to an old soldier with the right leg amputated, who had come in
with me. His face had struck me. He had one of those heroic heads,
stamped with the seal of warfare, and on which the battles of Napoleon
are written. Besides, he had that frank, good-humored expression which
always impresses me favorably. He was without doubt one of those
troopers who are surprised at nothing, who find matter for laughter in
the contortions of a dying comrade, who bury or plunder him quite
light-heartedly, who stand intrepidly in the way of bullets;--in fact,
one of those men who waste no time in deliberation, and would not
hesitate to make friends with the devil himself. After looking very
attentively at the proprietor of the menagerie getting out of his box,
my companion pursed up his lips with an air of mockery and contempt,
with that peculiar and expressive twist which superior people assume
to show they are not taken in. Then, when I was expatiating on the
courage of M. Martin, he smiled, shook his head knowingly, and said,
'Well known.'

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