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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/346

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THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

darkness illumined the dull place she inhabited. From the depths of her incurable darkness, from behind the black wall called blindness, she flung her rays. She saw not the sun without, but her soul was perceptible from within. In her gaze there was a celestial earnestness. She was the spirit of night, and from the irremediable darkness with which she was enshrouded she shone a star.

Ursus, with his mania for Latin names, had christened her Dea. He had taken his wolf into consultation. He had said to him, "You represent man; I represent the beasts. We are of the lower world; this little one shall represent the world above. Such feebleness is all-powerful. So shall the three orders of the universe be represented in our humble abode,—the human, the animal, and the divine." The wolf made no objection. Therefore the foundling was called Dea. As to Gwynplaine, Ursus had not had the trouble of inventing a name for him. The morning of the day on which he had realized the disfigurement of the little boy and the blindness of the infant, he said to him:—

"Boy, what is your name?"

"They call me Gwynplaine," answered the boy.

"Be Gwynplaine, then," said Ursus.

If there be such a thing as summing up human misery, it seemed to have been summed up in Gwynplaine and Dea. Each seemed to have been born in a sepulchre,—Gwynplaine of the horrors of it, Dea of the gloom. There was something of the phantom in Dea, and something of the spectre in Gwynplaine. For Gwynplaine, who could see, there was a heartrending possibility, to which Dea, who was blind, would never be subjected,—the chance of comparing himself with other men; and to one in Gwynplaine's situation, to compare himself with other men was to understand himself no longer.