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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/348

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CHAPTER III.


"OCULOS NON HABET, ET VIDET."


ONLY one woman on earth saw Gwynplaine. That was the blind girl. She had heard what Gwynplaine had done for her, from Ursus, to whom the lad had described his rough journey from Portland to Weymouth, and the many sufferings which he had endured after he was deserted by the gang. She knew that when she was an infant lying upon her dead mother's breast, sucking a corpse, a child very little larger than herself had found her; that this being, exiled and as it were crushed by the refusal of the world to aid him, had heard her cry; that though all the world was deaf to him, he had not been deaf to her; that this child, alone, weak, cast off, without any resting-place here below, dragging himself over the waste, exhausted by fatigue, had accepted from the hands of night a heavy burden,—another child; that he, who had nothing to expect of Fate, had charged himself with another destiny; that naked, in anguish and distress, he had made himself a Providence; that when Heaven failed, he had opened his heart; that though lost himself, he had saved her; that having neither roof-tree nor shelter he had been an asylum; that he had made himself mother and nurse; that he who was thus alone in the world had responded to desertion by adoption; that lost in the darkness he had set an example; that as if not sufficiently burdened already he had added to his load another's misery; that