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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/130

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THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

"In that case settle your reckoning with the sea."

"The wind ought to change."

"It will not change to-night."

"Why not?"

"Because it is a wind twelve hundred leagues in length."

"Make headway against such a wind? Impossible!"

"Steer westward, I tell you."

"I'll try; but in spite of everything she will fall off. "

"That's the danger."

"The wind is driving us towards the east."

"Don't go to the east."

"Why not?"

"Captain, do you know what is sure death for us?"

"No."

"Death is the east."

"I'll steer west."

This time the doctor, having turned right round, looked the captain full in the face, and with his eyes resting on him, as though to implant the idea in his head, pronounced slowly, syllable by syllable, these words: "If to-night out at sea we hear the sound of a bell, the ship is lost."

The captain pondered in amaze: "What do you mean?"

The doctor did not answer. His countenance so expressive a moment before was now reserved. His eyes became vacuous; he did not seem to hear the captain's wondering question. He was now engrossed by his own thoughts. His lips let fall, as if mechanically, in a low murmuring tone, these words: "The time has come for sullied souls to purify themselves."

The captain elevated his chin scornfully. "He is more madman than sage," he growled, as he moved off. Nevertheless he steered westward.

But both the wind and the sea were increasing.