Open main menu

Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/202

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
170
THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

of stone, with a slated roof. That too was closed; it was the rich man's home, opposite that of the pauper.

The boy did not hesitate; he approached the great mansion. The double door of massive oak, studded with large nails, was of the kind that leads one to expect that behind it there is an armory of bolts and locks. An iron knocker was attached to it. He raised the knocker with some difficulty, for his benumbed hands were stumps rather than hands, and knocked once. No answer. He knocked again,—twice this time; no movement was heard in the house. He knocked a third time; still there was no sound. He saw that they were all asleep, or did not mean to get up. Then he turned to the hovel. He picked a small stone out of the snow, and knocked with it against the low door; there was no answer. He raised himself on tiptoe, and knocked with his stone against the pane,—too softly to break the glass, but loud enough to be heard; no voice was heard, no step moved, no candle was lighted. He saw that there, as well, they did not care to awake. The house of stone and the thatched hovel were equally deaf to the appeal of the wretched.

The boy decided to push on farther, and make his way down the street in front of him,—a street so dark that it seemed more like a gulf between two cliffs than the entrance to a town.