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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/27

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URSUS.

heavy, you were hanged; too light, you were burned. To this day the scales in which sorcerers were weighed may be seen at Oudewater; but they are now used for weighing cheeses. How religion has degenerated! Ursus would certainly have had a crow to pluck with those scales. In his travels he kept away from Holland, and he was wise. Indeed, we believe that he never roved beyond the limits of Great Britain.

However this may have been, he was very poor and morose; and having made the acquaintance of Homo in a wood, a taste for a wandering life came over him. So he took the wolf into partnership, and with him went forth on the highways, living in the open air the great life of chance. He had a great deal of industry and caution, and great skill in everything connected with healing operations, restoring the sick to health, and working wonders peculiar to himself. He was considered a clever mountebank and a good doctor. As may be imagined, he passed for a wizard as well: not much indeed,—only a little; for it was unwholesome in those days to be considered a friend of the devil. To tell the truth, Ursus, by his passion for pharmacy and his love of plants, laid himself open to suspicion, seeing that he often went to gather herbs in rough thickets where Lucifer's salads grew, and where, as has been proved by the Counsellor De l'Ancre, there is a risk of meeting in the evening mist a man who comes out of the earth, "blind in the right eye, bare-footed, without a cloak, and with a sword by his side." But for the matter of that, Ursus, although eccentric in manner and disposition, was too good a fellow to invoke or disperse hail, to make faces appear, to kill a man with the torment of excessive dancing, to suggest dreams fair or foul and full of terror, and to cause the birth of cocks with four wings. He had no such mischievous tricks. He was incapable of