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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/224

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CHAPTER VI.


THE AWAKING.


A SAD, pale light penetrated the van. It was the frozen dawn. That wan light which throws into relief the mournful reality of objects that are blurred into spectral forms by the night did not waken the children, so soundly were they sleeping. The van was warm. Their breathings alternated like two peaceful waves. There was no longer any hurricane without. The light of dawn was slowly taking possession of the horizon; the constellations were being extinguished, like candles blown out one after the other,—only a few large stars resisted. The deep-toned song of the Infinite was coming from the sea. The fire in the stove was not quite out. The twilight changed gradually into daylight.

The boy slept less heavily than the girl. At length, a ray brighter than the others broke through the pane, and he opened his eyes. The sleep of childhood ends in forgetfulness. He lay in a state of semi-stupor, without knowing where he was or what was around him, and without making any effort to remember, gazing at the ceiling, and setting himself an aimless task as he dreamily surveyed the letters of the inscription, "Ursus, Philosopher," which, as he did not know how to read, he examined without the power of deciphering. The sound of a key grating in the lock of the door caused him to turn his head. The door turned