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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/182

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THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

it had been stuck, and holding it in his hand, came and stood by the doctor's side.

The doctor replaced his pocket-book in his pocket, set the pen and inkhorn on the top of the companion-way, unfolded the parchment, and said: "Listen."

Then in the midst of the sea, on the sinking deck (a sort of quaking flooring of the tomb), the doctor began a solemn reading, to which all the shadows seemed to listen. The doomed men bowed their heads around him. The flickering light of the torch intensified their pallor. What the doctor read was written in English. Now and then, when one of those woe-begone looks seemed to ask an explanation, the doctor would stop, and repeat, either in French, Spanish, Basque, or Italian, the passage he had just read Stifled sobs and hollow beatings of the breast were heard. The wreck was sinking more and more.

The reading over, the doctor placed the parchment flat on the companion-way, seized his pen, and on a clear margin which he had carefully left at the bottom of what he had written, he signed himself: "Gerhadus Geestemunde: Doctor."

Then turning towards the others, he said: "Come, and sign."

The Basque woman approached, took the pen, and signed herself, "Asuncion." She handed the pen to the Irish woman, who, not knowing how to write, made a cross. The doctor, by the side of this cross, wrote, "Barbara Fermoy, of Tyrrif Island, in the Hebrides." Then he handed the pen to the chief of the band. The chief signed, "Gaizdorra: Captal." The Genoese signed himself under the chief's name, "Giangirate," The Languedocian signed, "Jacques Quartourze: alias the Narbonnais." The Proven├žal signed, "Luc-Pierre Capgaroupe, of the Galleys of Mahon."