Tartarin (tahr-tah-RA[N]), a huntsman of Tarascon who distinguishes himself by growing a garden full of tropical plants in the south of France, keeping a full arsenal of weapons of all nations, using the firearms to shoot holes through the caps of his friends, explaining to citizens the wonders of the mysterious East (though he has never been there), and going on an African lion hunt. In his quest for the beast, he invades Algerian village squares, private gardens, and Muhammadan convent grounds, but he never quite arrives at the lion-infested veldt his numerous noble weapons deserve. He does get his lion, though—a tame, blind, toothless convent pet that comes ambling toward him down the path to a saint’s tomb. Tartarin has to sell all of his fine weapons to pay the damages for slaughtering the unfortunate creature.
Prince Grégory (gray-goh-REE), a Montenegrin nobleman and Tartarin’s shipmate aboard the Zouave. He locates a Moorish maiden who has stolen Tartarin’s heart, accompanies him on a lion hunt, and finally vanishes with his purse.
Baïa (bi-YAH), a twenty-year-old Moorish widow who distracts Tartarin from his hunting mission for a time. They take a house in the native quarter and Baïa entertains her lord, now called Sidi Tart’ri ben Tart’ri, with monotonous songs and the belly dance.
Captain Barbassou (bahr-bah-SEW), the commander of the Zouave, the ship that takes Tartarin to Algiers. Wise in the ways of the world, he gives Tartarin some good advice about Montenegrin princes and Moorish widows. Tartarin, unfortunately, does not heed the captain’s advice.
Commander Bravida (brah-vee-DAH), a Tarasconese dignitary who, representing community opinion, finally orders Tartarin to leave for Africa and the lion hunt that he has been discussing for months.
Madame Bézuquet (bay-zew-KAY), Tartarin’s singing partner at social events.