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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/216

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THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

Ursus muttered to himself now: "This building is badly constructed. The cold comes in through that window-pane."

A pane had indeed been broken in front, either by a jolt of the van or by a stone thrown by some mischievous boy. Ursus had placed a piece of paper over the fracture, but it had become unpasted, letting in the wind again. He was seated on the chest; the infant, cradled in his arms, was sucking rapturously at the bottle, in the blissful somnolency of cherubim before their Creator and infants at their mothers' breast.

"She is surfeited!" said Ursus; and he added: "After this, preach sermons on temperance!"

The wind tore from the pane the plaster of paper, and blew it across the van; but this mattered little to the children who were entering life anew. While the little girl drank, and the little boy ate, Ursus grumbled to himself:—

"Intemperance begins in the infant in swaddling clothes. What useless trouble Bishop Tillotson gives himself, thundering against excessive drinking!—What an odious draught of wind! and then my stove is old, and allows enough smoke to escape to give you trichiasis. Fire has its inconveniences as well as cold; one cannot see clearly.—That creature over there abuses my hospitality. Well, I have not been able to distinguish the animal's face yet.—Comfort is wanting here. By Jove! I am a great admirer of exquisite banquets in well closed rooms! I have missed my vocation; I was born to be a sensualist. The greatest of sages was Philoxenus, who wished to possess the neck of a crane, in order to enjoy the pleasures of the table longer.—Receipts to-day, naught; nothing sold all day. Inhabitants, servants, and tradesmen, here is the doctor, here are the drugs! You are losing your time, old friend; pack up