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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/100

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THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

ing of claws, thrusting of beaks, croakings, rendings of shreds which were no longer flesh, creakings of the gibbet, shudderings of the skeleton, rattlings of the chain, the voices of the storm and tumult,—what conflict more fearful? A hobgoblin warring with devils, a combat with a spectre!

At times, the storm redoubling its violence, the hanged man revolved as if upon a pivot, turning everyway at once, as if trying to run after the birds. The wind was on his side, the chain against him. It was as if dark-skinned deities were mixing themselves up in the fray. The hurricane took part in the battle. As the dead man turned himself about, the flock of birds wound round him spirally. It was a whirl in a whirlwind. A great roar was heard from below,—it was the sea.

As the child was gazing at this nightmare, he suddenly trembled in every limb; a shiver traversed his frame; he staggered, tottered, nearly fell; recovered himself, pressed both hands to his forehead, as if he felt his forehead a support. Then, with hair streaming in the wind, he descended the hill with long strides, his eyes closed, himself almost a phantom, leaving that horror of the night behind him.