"But it is the Protestants, and not we," cried the other impatiently,
"who recommend the Bible."
"No matter," said Homais. "I am surprised that in our days, in this
century of enlightenment, anyone should still persist in proscribing an
intellectual relaxation that is inoffensive, moralising, and sometimes
even hygienic; is it not, doctor?"
"No doubt," replied the doctor carelessly, either because, sharing the
same ideas, he wished to offend no one, or else because he had not any
The conversation seemed at an end when the chemist thought fit to shoot
a Parthian arrow.
"I've known priests who put on ordinary clothes to go and see dancers
"Come, come!" said the cure.
"Ah! I've known some!" And separating the words of his sentence, Homais
"Well, they were wrong," said Bournisien, resigned to anything.
"By Jove! they go in for more than that," exclaimed the druggist.
"Sir!" replied the ecclesiastic, with such angry eyes that the druggist
was intimidated by them.
"I only mean to say," he replied in less brutal a tone, "that toleration
is the surest way to draw people to religion."
"That is true! that is true!" agreed the good fellow, sitting down again
on his chair. But he stayed only a few moments.
Then, as soon as he had gone, Monsieur Homais said to the doctor--
"That's what I call a cock-fight. I beat him, did you see, in a
way!--Now take my advice. Take madame to the theatre, if it were only
for once in your life, to enrage one of these ravens, hang it! If anyone
could take my place, I would accompany you myself. Be quick about it.
Lagardy is only going to give one performance; he's engaged to go to
England at a high salary. From what I hear, he's a regular dog; he's
rolling in money; he's taking three mistresses and a cook along with
him. All these great artists burn the candle at both ends; they require
a dissolute life, that suits the imagination to some extent. But they