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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/204

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THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

The whole town was composed of shapeless, overhanging buildings,—some with pillars, leaning one against the other for support against the sea-wind, and leaving between them narrow and winding lanes and passages, often flooded by the equinoctial tides. A heap of grandmother houses crowded round a grandfather church, such was Weymouth; a sort of old Norman village washed ashore on the coast of England. The traveller who entered the tavern, now replaced by the hotel, instead of paying his twenty-five francs for a fried sole and a bottle of wine, had to suffer the humiliation of eating a pennyworth of soup made of fish,—which soup, by-the-bye, was very good. Wretched fare!

The deserted child, carrying the foundling, passed through the first street, then the second, then the third. He raised his eyes, seeking in the upper stories and in the roofs a lighted window-pane; but all were closed and dark. At intervals he knocked at the doors. No one answered. Nothing so hardens the heart as for its owner to be snug and warm in bed. The noise and the shaking had at last awakened the infant. The boy knew this because he felt her suck his cheek. She did not cry, believing him her mother. He was about to turn and wander through the Scrambridge lanes, where there were then more cultivated plots than dwellings, more thorn-hedges than houses; but fortunately he struck into a passage which exists to this day near the Trinity schools. This passage led him to the water's edge, where there was a roughly built quay with a parapet, and on the right he made out a bridge. It was the bridge over the Wey, connecting Weymouth with Melcombe Regis, and under the arches of which the Backwater communicates with the harbour.

Weymouth, a hamlet, was then a suburb of Melcombe Regis, a city and port; now Melcombe Regis is a parish