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|Book II||Jules Verne|
|Page 1 of 4||
To the general population of the colony the arrival of the stranger was a matter of small interest. The Spaniards were naturally too indolent to be affected in any way by an incident that concerned themselves so remotely; while the Russians felt themselves simply reliant on their master, and as long as they were with him were careless as to where or how they spent their days. Everything went on with them in an accustomed routine; and they lay down night after night, and awoke to their avocations morning after morning, just as if nothing extraordinary had occurred.
All night long Ben Zoof would not leave the professor's bedside. He had constituted himself sick nurse, and considered his reputation at stake if he failed to set his patient on his feet again. He watched every movement, listened to every breath, and never failed to administer the strongest cordials upon the slightest pretext. Even in his sleep Rosette's irritable nature revealed itself. Ever and again, sometimes in a tone of uneasiness, and sometimes with the expression of positive anger, the name of Gallia escaped his lips, as though he were dreaming that his claim to the discovery of the comet was being contested or denied; but although his attendant was on the alert to gather all he could, he was able to catch nothing in the incoherent sentences that served to throw any real light upon the problem that they were all eager to solve.
When the sun reappeared on the western horizon the professor was still sound asleep; and Ben Zoof, who was especially anxious that the repose which promised to be so beneficial should not be disturbed, felt considerable annoyance at hearing a loud knocking, evidently of some blunt heavy instrument against a door that had been placed at the entrance of the gallery, more for the purpose of retaining internal warmth than for guarding against intrusion from without.
"Confound it!" said Ben Zoof. "I must put a stop to this;" and he made his way towards the door.
"Who's there?" he cried, in no very amiable tone.
"I." replied the quavering voice.
"Who are you?"
"Isaac Hakkabut. Let me in; do, please, let me in."
"Oh, it is you, old Ashtaroth, is it? What do you want? Can't you get anybody to buy your stuffs?"
"Nobody will pay me a proper price."
"Well, old Shimei, you won't find a customer here. You had better be off."
"No; but do, please--do, please, let me in," supplicated the Jew. "I want to speak to his Excellency, the governor."
"The governor is in bed, and asleep."
"I can wait until he awakes."
"Then wait where you are."
And with this inhospitable rejoinder the orderly was about to return to his place at the side of his patient, when Servadac, who had been roused by the sound of voices, called out, "What's the matter, Ben Zoof?"
"Oh, nothing, sir; only that hound of a Hakkabut says he wants to speak to you."
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