Open main menu

Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/187

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


BOOK III.

 

THE CHILD IN THE SHADOW.

 
 

CHAPTER I.


CHESIL.


THE storm was no less severe on land than on sea. The same wild strife among the elements had taken place around the abandoned child. The weak and innocent become their sport in the exhibitions of frantic rage in which they sometimes indulge. Shadows see not, and inanimate things have not the clemency they are supposed to possess.

On the land there was but little wind; yet there was an inexplicable dumbness in the cold. There was no hail; but the thickness of the falling snow was fearful. Hailstones strike, harass, bruise, stun, crush; snow-flakes do worse. Soft and inexorable, the snow-flake does its work in silence. Touch it, and it melts. It is pure, even as the hypocrite is candid. It is by tiny particles slowly heaped one upon another that the snow-flake becomes an avalanche and the knave a criminal.

The child continued to advance in the mist; mist, like snow, is full of treachery. Though ill-fitted to cope with all these perils, he had succeeded in reaching the bottom of the descent, and had gained Chesil. Without knowing it he was on an isthmus, with water on