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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/208

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CHAPTER V.


MISANTHROPY PLAYS ITS PRANKS.


A STRANGE and alarming grinding of teeth reached the boy through the darkness. It was enough to drive one back; but he advanced. To those to whom silence has become dreadful, even a howl is comforting. That fierce growl reassured him; that threat was a promise. There must be some creature alive and awake there, though it might be a wild beast. He advanced in the direction whence the snarl had come.

The boy turned the corner of a wall, and, behind it, in the sepulchral light made by the reflection of snow and sea, he saw a thing placed as if for shelter. It was a cart; that is, unless it was a hovel. It had wheels, so it was a carriage; it had a roof, so it was a dwelling. From the roof arose a funnel, and out of the funnel came smoke. This smoke was red, and seemed to imply a good fire in the interior. Behind, projecting hinges indicated a door; and in the centre of this door a square opening revealed a light inside the van.

The boy approached. The creature that had growled evidently perceived his approach, and became furious. It was no longer a growl which he had to encounter, it was a roar. He heard a sharp sound, as of a chain violently pulled to its full length; and suddenly under the door, between the hind wheels, two rows of sharp white teeth appeared. At the same instant a head was put through the window.