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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/345

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CHAPTER II.


DEA.


THAT boy was now a man. Fifteen years had elapsed. It was 1705. Gwynplaine was in his twenty-fifth year.

Ursus had kept the two children with him. They formed one family of wanderers. Ursus and Homo had aged. Ursus had become quite bald; the wolf was growing grey. The age of wolves is not known like that of dogs. According to Molière, there are wolves which live to eighty,—among others the little koupara, and the rank wolf, the Canis nubilus of Say.

The little girl found on the dead woman was now a tall creature of sixteen, with brown hair, slight, and exceedingly fragile in appearance, but wonderfully beautiful, with eyes full of brilliancy, though sightless. That fatal winter night which threw down the beggar woman and her infant in the snow had struck a double blow,—it had killed the mother, and blinded the child. Amaurosis had dimmed forever the eyes of the girl, now become a woman in her turn. On her face, through which the light of day never passed, the depressed corners of the mouth indicated the bitterness of the privation. Her eyes, large and clear, had this strange characteristic: extinguished forever to her, to others they were brilliant. They were mysterious torches lighting only the outside; they gave light, but possessed it not. These sightless eyes were resplendent. This prisoner of