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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/199

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A BURDEN MAKES A ROUGH ROAD ROUGHER.

pest scourged the shore at the same time that it up-tore the depths of ocean. This was, perhaps, the very moment when the distracted hooker was going to pieces in its battle with the breakers.

The boy travelled on in this cutting north wind, still towards the east, over wide surfaces of snow. He knew not how the hours passed. For a long time he had ceased to see the smoke. Such indications are soon effaced in the night; besides, it was long past the hour when fires are put out. He had, perhaps, made a mistake, and it was possible that neither town nor village existed in the direction in which he was travelling. Doubting, he yet persevered. Two or three times the little infant cried, at which times he adopted in his gait a rocking movement, and the girl was soothed and silenced; she ended by falling into a sound sleep. Shivering himself, he felt to see if she were warm, and frequently tightened the folds of the jacket round her neck, so that the frost could not get in through any opening, and so that no melted snow should drop between the garment and the child. The plain was unequal; in the declivities into which it sloped, the snow, drifted by the wind, was so deep that it almost ingulfed him, and he had to struggle through it, half buried. He walked on, however, working away the snow with his knees. Having passed the ravine, he reached the high lands swept by the winds, where the snow was thin. There he found the surface a sheet of ice. The little girl's lukewarm breath, playing on his face, warmed it for a moment, then froze in his hair, stiffening it into icicles.

The boy now felt the approach of another danger. He did not dare to sit down and rest; for he knew that if he did so he would never rise again. He was overcome by fatigue, and even the weight of the snow would, as