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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/210

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THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

"Be quiet!" cried the voice of the man.

The jaws retreated, the growling ceased.

"Come up!" continued the man.

The boy with some difficulty climbed up the three steps, his movements being impeded by the infant that was so completely enveloped in the jacket that nothing could be distinguished of her, and she was little more than a shapeless bundle. He ascended the three steps; and having reached the threshold, stopped. There was no light in the van except that which proceeded from the opening at the top of the stove, in which sparkled a peat fire. On the stove stood a porringer and a saucepan, apparently containing something to eat, for a savory odour was perceptible. The inside was furnished with a chest, a stool, and an unlighted lantern which hung from the ceiling. There were also a number of hooks on the walls, from which all sorts of things hung; and there were shelves upon which stood rows of glasses and bottles, a granulator, an alembic, and other chemical instruments, as well as cooking utensils. The van was oblong in shape, the stove being in front. It was not even a little room into which the boy entered,—it was only a big box. There was more light outside from the snow than inside from the stove. Everything in the van was indistinct and misty; nevertheless, the reflection of the fire on the ceiling enabled the spectator to read in large letters,—


URSUS, PHILOSOPHER.


The boy, in fact was entering the abode of Homo and Ursus. It was the former that he had just heard growling. Having reached the threshold, he perceived near the stove a tall, smooth-faced, thin old man dressed in grey, whose head, as he stood erect, touched the roof.