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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/110

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WHILE the hooker was in the gulf of Portland, there was very little sea; the ocean, though gloomy, was almost still, and the sky was yet clear. The wind was very little felt on the vessel, for the hooker hugged the cliff as closely as possible, it serving as a screen to her.

There were ten on board the little Biscayan felucca, three men in the crew, and seven passengers, two of whom were women. In the light of the open sea (which changes twilight into day) all the figures on board were clearly visible. Besides, they were not hiding now; they were all at ease; each one resumed his natural manner, spoke in his own voice, showed his face: departure was to them a deliverance.

The motley nature of the group was apparent. The women were of an uncertain age. A wandering life produces premature old age, and indigence is made up of wrinkles. One of the women was a Basque of the Dry-ports; the other, with the large rosary, was an Irish woman. They wore that air of indifference common to the wretched. They had squatted down close to each other when they got on board, on chests at the foot of the mast. They talked to each other. Irish and Basque are, as we have said, kindred languages. The Basque woman's hair was scented with onions and basil. The