Open main menu

Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/214

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

"So it is your bundle that wails! Vale of Jehoshaphat! Who ever heard of a screeching parcel! What the devil has your bundle got to croak about?"

He unrolled the jacket; an infant's head appeared, the mouth open and crying.

"Well! Who goes there?" said the man. "Here is another of them. When is this to end? Who is this! To arms! Corporal, call out the guard! Here is another intruder in the camp! What have you brought me, thief? Don't you see it is thirsty? The little one must have a drink. So, now, I shall not even have the milk!"

He took down from the things lying in disorder on the shelf a roll of linen, a sponge, and a phial, muttering savagely, "What an infernal scrape this is!" Then he looked at the infant. "'T is a girl! one can tell that by her scream; and she too is drenched to the skin!"

He dragged off as he had done from the boy the tatters in which the infant was tied up rather than dressed, and swathed her in a rag, which though of coarse linen was clean and dry. This rough and hurried toilet made the infant angry. "How atrociously she screeches!" he exclaimed.

He bit off a long narrow piece of sponge, tore from the roll a square piece of linen, took the saucepan containing the milk from the stove, filled the bottle with milk, pushed the sponge half-way down into its neck, covering the protruding end with linen, tied it with a bit of thread, applied his cheeks to the phial to be sure that it was not too hot, and then seizing under his left arm the bewildered infant which was still crying, said:

"Come! take your supper, creature! Let me suckle you," at the same time putting the neck of the bottle to its mouth.

The little infant drank greedily. He held the phial at the necessary incline, grumbling,—