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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/212

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THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

to the porringer which was smoking upon the stove. What the child saw in the porringer was again heaven to him,—namely, a potato and a bit of bacon.

"You are hungry—eat!" said the man; and he took from the shelf a crust of bread and an iron fork, and handed them to the child.

The boy hesitated.

"Perhaps you expect me to lay the cloth," said the man, as he placed the porringer on the child's lap. "Gobble that up! he exclaimed imperiously.

Hunger overcame astonishment. The boy began to eat. He devoured rather than ate the food.

"Not so fast, you horrid glutton!" grumbled the man. "Is n't he a greedy scoundrel? When such scum are hungry, they eat in a revolting fashion. You should see a lord sup. In my time, I have seen dukes eat; they don't eat like the common herd. They drink, however. Come, you pig! stuff yourself!"

The deafness which is the concomitant of a hungry stomach caused the child to take little heed of these violent epithets, tempered as they were by such beneficent charity of action. For the moment he was absorbed by two ecstasies,—food and warmth.

Ursus continued his imprecations, muttering to himself: "I have seen King James supping in propriâ personâ, in the Banqueting House, adorned with the paintings of the famous Rubens. His Majesty touched nothing. This beggar here gorges himself. What put it into my head to come to this Weymouth, seven times devoted to the infernal deities? I have sold nothing since morning; I have harangued the snow; I have played the flute to the hurricane; I have not pocketed a farthing; and now, to-night, beggars drop in. Horrid place! There is battle, struggle, competition between the fools in the street and myself. They try to give