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Chapter 9

The CAPTIVE.


No sooner was _Zadig_ arriv'd at the _Egyptian_ Village
before-mention'd, but he found himself surrounded by a Croud. The
People one and all cried out! See! See! there's the Man that ran
away with the beauteous Lady _Missouf_, and murder'd _Cletofis_.
Gentlemen, said he, God forbid that I should ever entertain a
Thought of running away with the Lady you speak of: She is too much
of a Coquet: And as to _Cletofis_, I did not murder him, but kill'd
him in my own Defence. He endeavour'd all he could to take my Life
away, because I entreated him to take some Pity and Compassion on
the beauteous _Missouf_, whom he beat most unmercifully. I am a
Stranger, who am fled hither for Shelter, and 'tis highly
improbable, that upon my first Entrance into a Country, where I came
for Safety and Protection, I should be guilty of two such enormous
Crimes, as that of running away with another Man's Partner, and that
of clandestinely murdering him on her Account.

The _Egyptians_ at that Time were just and humane. The Populace, tis
true, hurried _Zadig_ to the Town-Goal; but they took care in the
first Place to stop the Bleeding of his Wounds, and afterwards
examin'd the suppos'd Delinquents apart, in order to discover, if
possible, the real Truth. They acquitted _Zadig_ of the Charge of
wilful and premeditated Murder; but as he had taken a Subject's Life
away, tho' in his own Defence, he was sentenc'd to be a Slave, as
the Law directed. His two Beasts were sold in open Market, for the
Service of the Hamlet; What Money he had was distributed amongst the
Inhabitants; and he and his Attendant were expos'd in the
Market-place to public Sale. An _Arabian_ Merchant, _Setoc_ by Name,
purchas'd them both; but as the Valet, or Attendant, was a robust
Man, and better cut out for hard Labour than the Master, he fetch'd
the most Money. There was no Comparison to be made between them.
_Zadig_ therefore was a Slave subordinate to his Valet; they secur'd
them both, however, by a Chain upon their Legs; and so link'd they
accompanied their Master home. _Zadig_, as they were on the Road,
comforted his Fellow-Slave, and exhorted him to bear his Misfortunes
with Patience: But, according to Custom, he made several Reflections
on the Vicissitudes of human Life. I am now sensible, said he, that
my impropitious Fortune has some malignant Influence over thine;
every Occurrence of my Life hitherto has prov'd strangely odd and
unaccountable. In the first Place, I was sentenc'd to die at
_Babylon_, for writing a short Panegyrick on the King, my Master. In
the next, I narrowly escap'd being strangled, for the Queen his
Royal Consort's speaking a little too much in my Favour; and here I
am a joint-Slave with thy self; because a turbulent Fellow of a
Gallant would beat his Lady. However, Comrade, let us march on
boldly; let not our Courage be cast down; all this may possibly have
a happier Issue than we expect. 'Tis absolutely necessary that these
_Arabian_ Merchants should have Slaves, and why should not you and
I, as we are but Men, be Slaves as Thousands of others are? This
Master of ours may not prove inexorable. He must treat his Slaves
with some Thought and Consideration, if he expects them to do his
Work. This was his Discourse to his Comrade; but his Mind was more
attentive to the Misfortunes of the Queen of _Babylon_.

Two Days afterwards _Setoc_ set out with his two Slaves and his
Camels, for _Arabia Deserta_. His Tribe liv'd near the Desert of
_Horeb_. The Way was long and tedious. _Setoc_, during the Journey,
paid a much greater Regard to _Zadig's_ Valet, than to himself;
because the former was the most able to load the Camels; and
therefore what little Distinctions were made, they were in his
Favour. It so happen'd that one of the Camels died upon the Road:
The Load which the Beast carried was immediately divided, and thrown
upon the Shoulders of the two Slaves; _Zadig_ had his Share.
_Setoc_, couldn't forbear laughing to see his two Slaves crouching
under their Burthen. _Zadig_ took the Liberty to explain the Reason
thereof; and convinc'd him of the Laws of the Equilibrium. The
Merchant was a little startled at his philosophical Discourse, and
look'd upon him with a more favourable Eye than at first. _Zadig_,
perceiving he had rais'd his Curiosity, redoubled it, by instructing
him in several material Points, which were in some Measure,
advantageous to him in his Way of Business: Such as, the specific
Weight of Metals, and other Commodities of various Kinds, of an
equal Bulk; the Properties of several useful Animals, and the best
Ways and Means to make Such as were wild, tame by Degrees, and fit
for Service: In short, _Zadig_ was look'd upon by his Master, as a
perfect Oracle. _Setoc_ now thought the Master the much better Man
of the two. He us'd him courteously, and had no Room to repent of
his Indulgence towards him.

Being got to their Journey's End, the first Step that _Setoc_ took
was to claim a Debt of five hundred Ounces of Silver of a _Jew_, who
had borrow'd it in the Presence of two Witnesses; but both of them
were dead; and as the _Jew_ was conscious he couldn't be cast for
Want of Evidence, appropriated the Merchant's Money to his own Use,
and thank'd God that it lay in his Power for once to bite an
_Arabian_ with Impunity. _Setoc_ discover'd to _Zadig_ the unhappy
Situation of his Case, as he was now become his Confident. Where was
it, pray, said _Zadig_, that you lent this large Sum to that
ungrateful Infidel? Upon a large Stone, said the Merchant, at the
Foot of Mount _Horeb_. What sort of a Man is your Debtor, said
_Zadig_? Oh! he is as errand a Rogue as ever breath'd, reply'd
_Setoc_. That I take for granted; but, says _Zadig_, is he a lively,
active Man, or is he a dull heavy-headed Fellow? He is one of the
worst of Pay-masters in the World, but the merriest, most sprightly
Fellow I ever met with. Very well! said _Zadig_, let me be one of
your Council when your Cause comes to be heard. In short, he
summon'd the _Jew_ to attend the Court; where, when the Judge was
sat, _Zadig_ open'd the Cause: Thou impartial Judge of this Court of
Equity, I am come here, in behalf of my Master, to demand of the
Defendant five hundred Ounces of Silver, which he refuses to pay,
and would fain traverse the Debt. Have you, Friend, your Witnesses
ready to prove the Loan, said the Judge? No, they are dead; but
there is a large Stone still subsisting, on which the Money was
deposited; and if your Excellence, will be pleas'd to order the
Stone to be brought in Court, I don't doubt but the Evidence it will
give, will be Proof sufficient of the Fact. I hope your Excellence
will order, that the _Jew_ and myself shall be oblig'd to attend the
Court, till the Stone comes, and I'll dispatch a special Messenger
to fetch it, at my Master's Expence. Your Request is very
reasonable, said the Judge. Do as you propose; and so call'd another
Cause.

When the Court was ready to break up, Well! said the Judge to
_Zadig_, is your Stone come yet? The _Jew_, with a Sneer, replied,
your Excellence may wait here till this Time To-morrow, before the
Stone will appear in Court; for 'tis above six Mile off, and it will
require fifteen Men to remove it from its Place. 'Tis well! replied
_Zadig_. I told your Excellence that the Stone would be a very
material Evidence. Since the Defendant can point out the Place where
the Stone lies, he tacitly confesses, that it was upon that Stone
the Money was deposited. The _Jew_ thus unexpectedly confuted, was
soon oblig'd to acknowledge the Debt. The Judge order'd that the
_Jew_ should be tied fast to the Stone, without Victuals or Drink,
till he should advance the five hundred Ounces of Silver, which were
soon paid accordingly, and the _Jew_ releas'd. The Slave _Zadig_,
and this remarkable Stone-Witness, were in great Repute all over
_Arabia_.

Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire

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