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The Civilized, Chapter 19 - English Translation of Les Civilisés


The next day was that sort of wondrous day that smiled on any of the hopes of man. The admiral Duke D'Orvilliers came to officially ask for, his aide de camp, the Count Jacques de Fierce, the hand of miss Sélysette Sylva.

Sélysette was in the garden, seated in the middle of the banian trees. In the corner of the hibiscuses, startled and blushing, Sélysette was summoned to listen. When her mother agreed, she silently gave her hand. The two exchanged their vows.

Sélysette accepted to become Mrs. Fierce, with a great deal of joy. Completely assured in her fiancé, she gave it without hesitation, and nothing seemed more wonderful or more assured than the love of this honorable man that she so esteemed and that she loved with all her heart.

That evening they had their engagement kiss. They were out on the porch until late in the evening, in their bubble of creepers that enclosed them. At midnight, Fierce returned on foot to the sleeping dockside. The Bayard filled the blue horizon with a long black silhouette, the masts, the smokestacks, the bridges, the blockhouses rearing up in a crazy jumble of shapes. Behind, suspended amidst the betel palms of the eastern bank of the river, a yellow crescent moon hung like a Chinese lantern in the sky.

Fierce was surprised to see four columns of smoke which rose from the smokestacks of the cruiser. Were all of the boiler fires already lit? Why? He hurried faster, rushed up the gangway. A signalman was on the lookout for his return: the admiral was waiting, in front of a table filled with orders and dispatches.

"Bad luck for you, my poor Fierce! We're leaving just now for Hong Kong, orders from Paris. Don't be too sad, it's probably for just for one or two weeks.."

The grey mustache was fierce in his hard face, but the compassionate eyes softened sympathetically. Without saying a word, Fierce left for his cabin and closed the door. The guard on watch in the corridor heard him set down on bed with a thud, and didn't see any light spill forth from the ventilation grate. Fierce, his head cradled in his arm, slipped into a restless sleep haunted by dreams.

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He didn't sleep at all. He was like a fever-bounded man, recovering, who suddenly had been struck once more by his pounding head and the roar of the fever that he thought gone returning.

The Bayard weighed anchor for the high seas at dawn.

French Text


  1. Chapter 1
  2. Chapter 2
  3. Chapter 3
  4. Chapter 4
  5. Chapter 5
  6. Chapter 6
  7. Chapter 7
  8. Chapter 8
  9. Chapter 9
  10. Chapter 10
  11. Chapter 11
  12. Chapter 12
  13. Chapter 13
  14. Chapter 14
  15. Chapter 15
  16. Chapter 16
  17. Chapter 17
  18. Chapter 18
  19. Chapter 19
  20. Chapter 20
  21. Chapter 21
  22. Chapter 22
  23. Chapter 23
  24. Chapter 24
  25. Chapter 25
  26. Chapter 26
  27. Chapter 27
  28. Chapter 28
  29. Chapter 29
  30. Chapter 30
  31. Chapter 31
  32. Chapter 32
  33. Chapter 33
  34. Chapter 34
  35. Chapter 35
  36. Chapter 36

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