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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/217

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185
MISANTHROPY PLAYS ITS PRANKS.

your physic,—every one is well, down here. Accursed town, where everybody is well! The skies alone have diarrhœa! How it snows! Anaxagoras taught that the snow was black; and he was right, cold being blackness: ice is night. What a hurricane! I can fancy the delight of those at sea. A hurricane is like the passage of demons; it is the row the tempest-fiends make in galloping and rolling head-over-heels over our bone-boxes. In the cloud this one has a tail, that one has horns, another a flame for a tongue, another claws to its wings, another a lord chancellor's paunch, another an academician's pate: each new gust is a fresh demon. Zounds! there are folks at sea, that is certain. My friends, get through the storm as best you can; I have enough to do to get through life.—Come now, do I keep an inn, or do I not? Why should I harbour these travellers? The universal distress sends its spatterings even as far as my poverty; into my cabin fall hideous drops of the far-spreading scum of mankind. I am the victim of the voracity of travellers; I am a prey,—the prey of those dying of hunger. Winter, night, a pasteboard hut, an unfortunate friend below and without, the storm, a potato, a fire as big as my fist, the wind penetrating through every cranny, not a half-penny,—and bundles are brought to me which set to howling! I open them, and find beggars inside! Is this fair? Besides, the laws are violated. See, a vagabond with a vagabond child! Mischievous pick-pocket, evil-minded abortion! so you walk the streets after curfew? If our good king only knew it, would he not have you thrown into the bottom of a ditch, just to teach you better? My lord walks out at night with my lady, with the thermometer at fifteen degrees below the freezing-point, bare-headed and bare-footed. You should understand that such things are forbidden. There are rules and regulations,