in being finally comprehended. Then he hastened
home, in order to borrow from his toilet all the
seductions which it could lend him. As he came out
of the theatre, an unknown arrested him by the arm.
" 'Take care of yourself, Seigneur Frenchman,'
he said in his ear. 'It is a question of life or death.
Cardinal Cicognara is her protector, and does not
permit any frolics.'
"Though a demon should have opened between
Sarrasine and La Zambinella the profundities of
hell, in this moment he would have traversed them
all with one stride. Like the horses of the immor-
tals, described by Homer, the love of the sculptor
had passed over in the twinkling of an eye immense
" 'Though death waited for me on coming out of
the house, 1 would go still quicker,' he replied.
"'Poverino!' cried the unknown, as he disap-
"To speak of danger to a lover, is it not to sell
him pleasures? Never had Sarrasine's lackey seen
his master so particular in matters of the toilet.
His finest sword, a present from Bouchardon, the
tie which Clotilde had given him, his gold em-
broidered coat, his waistcoat of silver brocade, his
snuff-box, his jeweled watches, all were drawn from
his coffers, and he adorned himself like a young girl
who is about to present herself before her first
lover. At the appointed hour, drunk with love and
boiling with hope, Sarrasine, his nose buried in his
mantle, hastened to the rendezvous given by the old
woman. The duenna was waiting for him.
" 'You are very late!' she said to him. 'Come.'
"She led the Frenchman through a number of
little streets and stopped before a palace of a suffi-
ciently handsome appearance. She knocked, the
door opened. She conducted Sarrasine through a
labyrinth of staircases, of galleries, and of apart-
ments which were only lighted by the uncertain
242 SARRASINE /
gleams of the moon, and arrived presently at a door,
between the wings of which escaped a bright light,
through which issued the joyful sounds of several
voices. Suddenly, Sarrasine was dazzled when, on
a word from the old woman, he was admitted into
this mysterious apartment and found himself in a
salon as brilliantly lighted as it was sumptuously
furnished, in the middle of which was placed a well-
served table, charged with doubly-sacred bottles,
with laughing flasks, the ruby facets of which
sparkled in the light He recognized the singers and
the cantatrices of the theatre, mingled with charming
women, all of them ready to commence an artistes'
orgie which waited only for him. Sarrasine sup-
pressed a movement of displeasure, and put on a
good countenance. He had hoped for a chamber
dimly lit, his mistress over a brazier, some jealous
one within two steps, death and love, confidences
exchanged in an undertone, heart-to-heart, perilous
kisses, and the faces so close that the hair of La
Zambinella should caress his forehead charged with
desire, burning with happiness.
" 'Vive lafolieJ' he cried. — 'Signori e belle donne,
you will permit me to take my revenge later, and to
testify to you my gratitude for the manner in which
you welcome a poor sculptor.'
"After having received the compliments, suffi-
ciently hearty, of most of the persons present, whom
he knew by sight, he endeavored to approach the
couch on which La Zambinella was nonchalantly
reclining. Oh! how his heart beat when he
perceived a delicate foot, shod in one of those slippers
which, permit me to say it, Madame, gave formerly
to the women's feet an expression so coquettish, so
voluptuous, that I do not know how the men were
able to resist. The white stockings, well fitting and
with green clocks, the short skirts, the pointed slip-
pers and the high heels of the reign of Louis XV.
have perhaps contributed a little to demoralize
Europe and the clergy."
"A little," said the marchioness. "You have not,
then, read anything?"
"La Zambinella," I resumed, smiling, "had
saucily crossed her legs, swinging the one which was
on top, the attitude of a duchess, which suited very
well her species of capricious beauty, full of a cer-
tain engaging softness. She had discarded her
theatre costume,, and wore a bodice which outlined
a slender figure and gave style to paniers and a
skirt of satin embroidered with blue flowers. Her
bust, whose treasures were hidden by lace with
a luxurious coquetry, shone with whiteness. Her
hair was dressed almost like that of Madame du
Barry, her face, although overshadowed by a large
bonnet, appeared none the less delicate, and the
powder suited her well. To see her thus, was to
adore her. She smiled graciously on the sculptor.
Sarrasine, quite discontented at being able to speak
to her only before witnesses, seated himself politely
near her, and conversed with her of music, praising
her extraordinary talent; but his voice trembled
with love, with fear and with hope.
" 'What are you afraid of?' Vitagliani, the most
celebrated singer of the troupe, asked him. 'Go
ahead; you have not a single rival to fear here.'
"After having spoken, the tenor smiled silently.
The lips of all the guests repeated this smile, the
expression of which had a hidden malice probably
unperceived by a lover. The publicity of his love
was like a dagger stroke which Sarrasine had sud-
denly received in his heart. Although endowed
with a certain force of character, and though cer-
tainly no circumstances could master the violence
of his passion, he had not yet, perhaps, reflected that
Zambinella was almost a courtesan, and that he-
could not have in one being the pure delights which
render the love of a young girl so delicious and the
tempestuous transports by which a woman of the
theatre causes to be purchased her perilous posses-
sion. He reflected and resigned himself. The sup-
per was served. Sarrasine and La Zambinella
placed themselves without ceremony by the side of
each other. During half of the festival the artistes
preserved some decorum, and the sculptor could
converse with the cantatrice. He found in her wit
and finesse; but she was of a surprising ignorance,
and showed herself to be feeble and superstitious.
The delicacy of her organs was reproduced in her
intellectual apprehension. When Vitagliani un-
corked the first bottle of champagne, Sarrasine read
in the eyes of his neighbor a sufficiently lively fear
of the little explosion produced by the release of the
gas. The involuntary shudder of this feminine
organization was interpreted by the amorous artist
as the indication of an excessive sensibility. This
weakness charmed the Frenchman. There is so
much protection in the love of a man !
" 'You will dispose of my power as of a shield!'
"Is not this phrase written at the bottom of all
the declarations of love? Sarrasine, too passionate
to retail gallantries to the beautiful Italian, was,
like all lovers, alternately grave, laughing, or
thoughtful. Although he apppeared to listen to the
guests, he did not hear a word of what they said,
so much did he give himself up to the pleasure of
finding himself near her, of touching her hand, of
serving her. He was swimming in a secret joy.
Notwithstanding the eloquence of a few mutual
glances, he was astonished at the reserve which La
Zambinella maintained with him. She had indeed
been the first to commence to press his foot and to
incite him with the malice of a woman free and
amorous ; but suddenly she enveloped herself in the
modesty of a young girl after having heard Sarra-
sine relate an incident which depicted the excessive
violence of his character. When the supper became
an orgie, the guests began to sing, inspired by the
peralta and the pedro-ximenes. There were ravish-
ing duets, airs of Calabria, Spanish seguidillas,
Neapolitan canzonettes. Intoxication was in all
eyes, in the music, in the hearts and in the voices.
There broke out all at once an enchanting vivacity,
a cordial unreservedness, an Italian good nature,
of which nothing can give an idea to those who
know only the assemblies of Paris, the routs of
London, or the circles of Vienna. Jests and words
of love crossed each other, like balls in a battle,
through the laughter, the impieties, the invocations
to the Holy Virgin or al Bambino. A man lay
down on a sofa and went to sleep. A young girl
listened to a declaration without knowing that she
was spilling sherry on the table-cloth. In the mid-
dle of this disorder, La Zambinella, as if struck
with terror, remained thoughtful. She refused to
drink, ate perhaps a little too much; but gormandiz-
ing is, it is said, a grace in women. While admir-
ing the modesty of his mistress, Sarrasine was
making serious reflections upon the future.
" 'She doubtless wishes to be married,' said he to
"Then he gave himself up to the delights of this
marriage. His entire life seemed to him to be not
long enough to exhaust the spring of happiness
which he found in the bottom of his soul. Vitagli-
ani, his neighbor, filled his glass so often that,
towards three o'clock in the morning, without being
completely drunken, Sarrasine found himself unable
to resist his delirium. In a moment of impetuosity
he seized and carried off this woman, taking refuge
in a sort of boudoir which communicated with the
salon, and to the door of which he had more than
once turned his eyes. The Italian was armed with
" 'If you approach,' she said, 'I shall be forced to
plunge this weapon in your heart. Go! You would
despise me. I have conceived too much respect for
your character to deliver myself thus. I do not wish
to destroy the sentiment which you have for me.'
"'Ah! ah!' said Sarrasine, 'it is a bad way to
extinguish a passion by exciting it. Are you already
corrupted to such a point that, old in heart, you
would act like a young courtesan, who sharpens the
emotions of which she makes a commerce?'
" 'But it is Friday to-day/ she replied, frightened
at the violence of the Frenchman.
"Sarrasine, who was not devout, commenced to
laugh. La Zambinella leaped like a young roebuck
and fled into the supper room. When Sarrasine
appeared running after her, he was welcomed by
a laughter truly infernal. He saw La Zambinella
fainting on a sofa. She was pale and as if ex-
hausted by the extraordinary effort which she had
just made. Although Sarrasine knew very little
Italian, he heard his mistress saying in a low voice
to Vitagliani :
" 'But he will kill me!'
"This strange scene had the effect of quite con-
fusing the sculptor. His reason returned to him.
He remained at first motionless; then he recovered
his speech, seated himself near his mistress and
protested his respect for her. He found strength to
transform his passion in proffering to this woman
the most exalted discourse; and, to paint his love,
he displayed the treasures of that magic eloquence,
serviceable interpreter which women rarely refuse
to believe. At the moment when the first gleams
of morning came to surprise the guests, a woman pro-
posed to go to Frascati. Everybody welcomed with
lively acclamations the idea of passing the day at
the Villa Ludovisi. Vitagliani went down to hire
some coaches. Sarrasine had the happiness of
accompanying La Zambinella in a phaeton. Once
out of 'Rome, the gayety, suppressed for a moment
by the combats which each one had waged with
sleep, suddenly reawakened. Men and women, all
appeared accustomed to this strange life, to these
continued pleasures, to this enthusiasm of the
artiste which makes of life a perpetual festival, in
which one laughs without any after-thought. The
companion of the sculptor was the only one who
"'Are you unwell?' said Sarrasine to her.
'Would you rather return to your own house?'
" 'I am not strong enough to support all these ex-
cesses,' she replied. 'I am obliged to take great
care of myself ; but, by your side, I feel so well!
Without you, I would not have stayed for that
supper; a wasted night makes me lose all my fresh-
"'You are so delicate!' resumed Sarrasine, con-
templating the refined features of this charming
" 'The orgies ruin my voice.'
" 'Now that we are alone,' cried the artist, 'and
that you have no longer to fear the effervescence of
my passion, say to me that you love me.'
" 'Wherefore ?' she replied ; 'for what purpose ? I
LA ZAMBINELLA AND SARRASINE
" 'tf y° u approach] she said, "I shall be forced to
plunge this weapon in your heart. Go J You would
despise me. I have conceived too much respect for
your character to deliver myself thus. I do not wish
to destroy the sentiment which you have for me.'
"'Ah/ ah/' said Sarrasine, 'it is a bad way to
extinguish a passion by exciting it!
seem to you pretty. But you are French, and your
feeling will pass away. Oh! you would not love
me as 1 would like to be loved.'
" 'Without any purpose of vulgar passion, purely.
I abhor men still more perhaps than 1 hate women.
I have need to take refuge in friendship. The world
is a desert for me. I am an accursed creature, con-
demned to comprehend happiness, to feel it, to desire
it, and, like so many others, obliged to see it flee
away from me every hour. Remember, seigneur,
that I would not have deceived you. I forbid you
to love me. 1 can be a devoted friend for you, for I
admire your strength and your character. I have
need of a brother, of a protector. Be all that for
me, but nothing moie. '
" 'Not love you!' cried Sarrasine; 'but, dear angel,
thou art my life, my happiness!'
" 'If I said one word, you would repulse me with
"'Coquette! nothing can frighten me. Say to
me that thou wilt cost me my future, that in two
months i shall die, that I shall be damned for only
having embraced thee — '
"He embraced her notwithstanding the efforts
which La Zambinella made to avoid this passionate
" 'Say to me that thou art a demon, that thou
wilt require my fortune, my name, all my celeb-
rity! Wilt thou that 1 should not be a sculptor?
" 'If I were not a woman?' asked La Zambinella,
timidly, in a silvery and soft voice.
"'What a fine pleasantry!' cried Sarrasine.
'Thinkest thou to deceive the eye of an artist?
Have I not, for the last ten days, devoured, scrutin-
ized, admired thy perfections? Only a woman
could have this round and soft arm, these elegant
contours. Ah! thou desirest compliments!'
"She smiled sadly, and said in a murmuring voice :
"She lifted her eyes to Heaven. At that moment
her look had an unnamable expression of horror
so powerful, so vivid, that Sarrasine shuddered at it.
" 'Seigneur Frenchman,' she resumed, 'forget for-
ever an instant of madness. I esteem you; but, as
to love, do not ask it of me; this feeling is smoth-
ered in my heart. I have no heart!' she cried,
weeping. 'The theatre on which you have seen
me, that applause, that music, that glory, to which
1 have been condemned, that is my life; I have no
other. Within a few hours, you will no longer see me
with the same eyes, the woman whom you love will
be dead. '
"The sculptor did not reply. He was a prey to a
dumb rage which oppressed his heart. He could
only look at this extraordinary woman with ardent
eyes which burned. This voice so full of weakness,
the attitude, the manner, and the gestures of Zam-
binella, so expressive of sadness, of melancholy,
and of discouragement, reawakened in his soul all
the wealth of passion. Each word was another
SARRASINE 25 1
goad. At that moment they arrived at Frascati.
When the artist offered his arm to his mistress to
help her to descend, he felt her shuddering all over.
" 'What is the matter with you? You will cause
me to die,' he cried, in seeing her turn pale, 'if you
should have the least sorrow of which I am the
cause, even innocently.'
" 'A snake!' she said, indicating an adder which
was sliding along the bottom of a ditch. 'I am
afraid of those odious beasts.'
"Sarrasine crushed the head of the adder with his
"'How can you have so much courage?' ex-
claimed La Zambinella, looking with a visible ter-
ror at the dead reptile.
" 'Well,' said the artist, smiling, 'would you dare
to pretend that you are not a woman ?'
"They rejoined their companions and walked
about in the woods of the Villa Ludovisi, which was
then the property of Cardinal Cicognara. This
morning passed away too quickly for the amorous
sculptor, but it was filled with a crowd of incidents
which revealed to him the coquetry, the weakness,
the prettiness and delicacy of this soul soft and
without energy. It was all the woman, with her
sudden fears, her unreasonable caprices, her instinc-
tive troubles, her audacities without cause, her
bravadoes and her delicious nicety of sentiment.
At one time, straying out into the country, the little
company of joyful singers saw at a distance some
men armed to the teeth and whose costume was in
no ways reassuring. At the exclamation: 'See!
the brigands!' each one hurried his steps to seek
refuge in the enclosure of the cardinal's villa. At
that critical moment Sarrasine perceived by the
pallor of La Zambinella that she no longer had
strength to walk; he took her in his arms and car-
ried her, running for some distance. When he was
within a short distance of a neighboring vineyard,
he set his mistress on her feet again.
" 'Explain to me,' he said to her, 'how this ex-
treme weakness, which, in any other woman, would
displease me, would seem odious, and the least proof
of which would almost suffice to extinguish my
love, pleases me in you, charms me? — Oh, how I
love you !' he resumed. 'All your defects, your ter-
rors, your littlenesses, add an indescribable grace
to your soul. I feel that I should detest a strong
woman, a Sappho, courageous, full of energy, of
passion. O ! frail and soft creature ! how couldst
thou be otherwise? That voice of an angel, that
delicate voice, would be a contradiction if it issued
from any other body than thine.'
" 'I cannot,' she said, 'give you any hope. Cease
to speak to me thus, for you are mocked. It is im-
possible for me to forbid you the entrance to the
theatre; but, if you love me or if you are wise, you
will come there no more. Listen, Monsieur, — ' she
said, in a grave voice.
"'Oh! be silent,' said the intoxicated artist.
'Obstacles only increase the love in my heart.'
"La Zambinella remained in a graceful and
modest attitude; but she was silent, as if a terrible
thought had revealed to her some misfortune. When
it was time for them to return to Rome, she took her
place in a four-seated berlin, and ordered the sculp-
tor, with an imperiously cruel air, to return alone
in the phaeton. On the road, Sarrasine resolved
to carry off La Zambinella. He passed the whole day
in forming plans, each one more extravagant than
the other. At nightfall, as he left his house to in-
quire of someone the situation of the palace inhab-
ited by his mistress, he encountered one of his
comrades on the threshold of the door.
" 'My dear fellow,' said the latter to him, 'I am
requested by our ambassador to invite you to come
to his house this evening. He is giving a mag-
nificent concert, and, when you know that Zambi-
nella will be there—'
"'Zambinella!' cried Sarrasine, in a delirium at
this name; 'I am crazy for her!'
" 'You are like all the rest of the world,' replied
" 'But, if you are my friends, you, Vien, Lauter-
bourg, and Allegrain, you will lend me your assist-
ance for a fine stroke after the fete ?' asked Sarrasine.
"'There is not some cardinal to be killed? —
some — ?'
" 'No, no,' said Sarrasine, 'I ask nothing of you
which honest people cannot do.'
"In a short time, the sculptor had arranged every-
thing for the success of his enterprise. He was one
of the last to arrive at the ambassador's, but he
came in a traveling carriage drawn by vigorous
horses driven by one of the most enterprising vet-
turini of Rome. The palace of the ambassador was
crowded; it was not without difficulty that the
sculptor, unknown to all the domestics, reached the
salon in which at that moment Zambinella was
" 'It is doubtless in consideration of the cardinals,
the bishops and the abbes who are here,' asked Sar-
rasine, 'that she is dressed like a man, that she has
her hair in a bag and frizzled and wears a sword?'
"'She! What she?' replied the old seigneur to
whom Sarrasine spoke.
" 'La Zambinella.'
" 'La Zambinella !' replied the Roman prince. 'Of
what are you talking? Where do you come from?
Has there ever been a woman on the stage in the
theatres of Rome? And do you not know by what
kind of creatures the female parts are filled in the
States of the Pope? It is 1, Monsieur, who gave
Zambinella his voice. 1 have paid everything for
that scamp, even his singing-master. Well, he has
so little gratitude for the service which 1 have ren-
dered him, that he is never willing to set foot inside
my door. And yet, if he makes his fortune, he will
owe it to me entirely.'
"The Prince Chigi could certainly have spoken a
long time, Sarrasine did not hear him. A frightful
truth had penetrated his soul. He was struck as if
by a thunderbolt. He remained motionless, his eyes
fastened on this dubious singer. His flaming regard
had a sort of magnetic influence on Zambinella, for
the musico finally turned his eyes toward Sarrasine,
and then his celestial voice faltered. He trembled!
An involuntary murmur escaped the audience,
which he held spell-bound by his lips, and completed
his trouble; he discontinued his air and sat down.
The Cardinal Cicognara, who had seen out of the
corner of his eye the direction of the glance of his
protege, perceived the Frenchman ; he leaned over
toward one of his ecclesiastical aides-de-camp, and
seemed to demand the name of the sculptor. When
he had obtained the desired response, he looked
very attentively at the artist and gave his order
to an abbe, who disappeared rapidly. How-
ever, Zambinella, having recovered himself, recom-
menced the piece which he had interrupted so
capriciously; but he executed it badly, and refused,
notwithstanding all the insistence with which he
was surrounded, to sing any more. This was the
first time that he exercised this capricious tyranny
which, later, rendered him not less celebrated than
his talent and his immense fortune, due, it was
said, not less to his voice than to his beauty.
" 'It is a woman,' said Sarrasine, thinking him-
self alone. 'There is underneath all this some
secret intrigue. The Cardinal Cicognara deceives
the Pope and the whole city of Rome!'
"Whereupon, the sculptor left the salon, reassem-
bled his friends and ambuscaded them in the court-
yard of the palace. When Zambinella was assured
of the departure of Sarrasine, he seemed to recover
some tranquillity. Toward midnight, after having
wandered through the salon like a man who is seek-
ing an enemy, the musico left the assembly. At the
moment when he passed the door of the palace, he
was adroitly seized by men who gagged him with a
handkerchief and put him into the carriage hired by
Sarrasine. Frozen with horror, Zambinella re-
mained in a corner without daring to make a move-
ment. He saw before him the terrible figure of the
artist, who preserved the silence of death. The
journey was but short. Zambinella, carried up by
Sarrasine, soon found himself in an atelier, sombre
and bare. The singer,, half dead, remained in a
chair, without daring to look at the statue of a
woman, in which he had recognized his own fea-
tures. He did not offer a word, but his teeth chat-
tered; he was paralyzed with fear. Sarrasine
walked up and down with great strides. Suddenly
he stopped before Zambinella.
" 'Tell me the truth,' he demanded, in a dull and
changed voice. 'Thou art a woman? The Cardi-
nal Cicognara — '
"Zambinella fell on his knees, and replied only by
bowing his head.
" 'Ah! thou art a woman,' cried the artist, in de-
lirium; 'for even a — '
"He did not finish.
"'No,' he resumed, 'he would not have such
" 'Ah! do not kill me!' cried Zambinella, melt-
ing into tears. 'I only consented to deceive you
in order to please my comrades, who wished to
"'To laugh!' replied the sculptor, in a voice
which had an infernal explosion. 'To laugh! to
laugh! Thou hast dared to play with a man's pas-