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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/299

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BARKILPHEDRO GNAWS HIS WAY.

exist? A natural question! The dreamer continually puts it to himself, and the thinker never solves it. Hence the sad eye of the philosophers ever fixed upon that mountain of darkness which is destiny, and from the top of which the colossal spectre of evil casts handfuls of serpents over the earth.

Barkilphedro's body was obese, and his face lean,—a broad chest and a bony countenance. His nails were grooved and short, his fingers knotty, his thumbs flat, his hair coarse, his temples wide apart; and his broad, low forehead was that of a murderer. His small eyes were nearly hidden by his bushy eyebrows. His long, sharp, and flabby nose nearly met his mouth. Barkilphedro, properly attired as an emperor, would have certainly resembled Domitian. His muddy, sallow face might have been modelled in slimy paste; his immovable cheeks were like putty; he had all kinds of ugly wrinkles; the angle of his jaw was massive, his chin heavy, his ears coarse. In repose, and seen in profile, his upper lip was raised at an acute angle, showing two teeth. Those teeth seemed to glare at you; for the teeth can glare, just as the eye can bite. Patience, temperance, continence, reserve, self-control, amenity, deference, gentleness, politeness, sobriety, chastity, completed and finished Barkilphedro; but he degraded these virtues by possessing them.

In a short time Barkilphedro gained a firm foothold at court.