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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/349

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in this world, which seemed to contain no hope for him, he had found a duty; that where every one else would have hesitated, he had advanced; that where every one else would have drawn back, he had consented; that he had put his hand into the very jaws of the grave and drawn her, Dea, out; that himself half naked, he had given her his rags, because she was cold; that famished, he had thought of giving her food and drink; that for one poor little creature, another little creature had combated death; that he had fought it under every form,—under the form of winter and snow, under the form of solitude, under the form of terror, under the form of cold, hunger, and thirst, under the form of whirlwind; and that for her, Dea, this Titan of ten years had bravely battled with the elements. She knew that as a child he had done all this, and that now as a man he was strength to her weakness, riches to her poverty, healing to her sickness, and sight to her blindness. She was fully conscious of his devotion, self-abnegation, and courage. Moral heroism possesses an even more potent charm than physical heroism; and in the abstraction in which thought lives, when unlighted by the sun, Dea clearly perceived these heroic virtues. In the environment of dark objects set in motion, which was the sole impression the realities of life made upon her; in the uneasy quietude of a creature necessarily passive, yet ever on the watch for possible danger; in the sensation of being ever defenceless, which is the life of the blind,—Dea felt Gwynplaine ever beside her: Gwynplaine, never indifferent, never cold, never gloomy, but always sympathetic, sweet-tempered, and helpful. Dea fairly trembled with happiness and gratitude; her anxiety changed into ecstasy, and with her mind's eye she gazed up from the depths of her abyss to the glad light of his goodness in the zenith.