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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/213

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MISANTHROPY PLAYS ITS PRANKS.

me nothing but farthings. I try to give them nothing but drugs. Well! to-day I've made nothing,—not an idiot on the highway; not a penny in the till. Eat away, hell-born boy! tear and crunch! We have fallen on times when nothing can equal the cynicism of spongers. Fatten at my expense, parasite! This wretched boy is more than hungry; his is not appetite, it is ferocity. Perhaps he has the plague. Have you the plague, you thief? Suppose he were to give it to Homo! No, never! Let the populace die, but not my wolf. By-the-bye, I am hungry myself. I declare, all this is very disagreeable. I have worked far into the night. There are times in a man's life when he is hard pressed; I was to-night, by hunger. I was alone. I made a fire. I had but one potato, one crust of bread, a mouthful of bacon, and a drop of milk, and I put it to warm. I said to myself, 'How good it smells!' I fancy I am going to eat, when lo and behold! this crocodile drops in at the very moment; he installs himself between my food and myself. See how my larder is devastated! Eat, pike! eat, you shark! How many teeth have you in your jaws? Guzzle, wolf-cub!—no, I withdraw that word; I respect wolves. Swallow up my food, you boa! I have worked all day, and far into the night, on an empty stomach; my throat is sore; my pancreas is in distress; my entrails are torn; and my reward is to see another eat! 'Tis all one, though. We will divide. He shall have the bread, the potato, and the bacon, but I will have the milk."

Just then a wail, touching and prolonged, arose in the hut. The man listened. "You cry, sycophant! Why do you cry?"

The boy turned towards him; it was evident that it was not he who had cried. He had his mouth full. Yet the cry continued. The man went to the chest.