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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/227

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"I am not laughing," said the child.

Ursus shuddered from head to foot. "You are laughing, I say!" Then seizing the boy with a grasp which would have been one of fury had it not been one of pity, he asked him, roughly: "Who did that to you?"

"I don't know what you mean, " the boy replied.

"How long have you had that laugh?"

"I have always been thus, " said the child.

Ursus turned away, saying in a low voice, "I thought that work was out of date now."

He took from under the head of the infant, very softly, so as not to awaken her, the book which he had placed there for a pillow. "Let us see Conquest," he murmured!

He turned the pages with his thumb, stopped at a certain one, and read: "'De Denasatis,' it is here." And he continued: "'Bucca fissa usque ad aures, gengivis denudatis, nasoque murdridato, masca eris, et ridebis semper.' There it is for certain."

Then he replaced the book on one of the shelves, growling, "It might not be advisable to inquire too deeply into a case of the kind. We will remain on the surface; laugh on, my boy!"

Just then the little girl awoke. Her good-day was a cry.

"Come, nurse, give her the breast, " said Ursus.

The infant sat up. Ursus taking the bottle from the stove, gave it to her to suck. Then the sun rose above the horizon. Its brilliant rays shone through the window straight into the face of the infant, which was turned towards it. Her eyeballs, fixed on the sun, reflected its light like two mirrors. The eyeballs were immovable, the eyelids also.

"Look!" exclaimed Ursus; "she is blind!"