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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/353

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WELL-MATCHED LOVERS.

"De Denasatis," and in another folio, Hugo Plagon, the passage, "Nares habens mutilas;" but Ursus had prudently abstained from "hypotheses," and had been reserved in his opinion of what it might mean. Suppositions were possible. The probability of violence inflicted on Gwynplaine when an infant was hinted at; but for Gwynplaine there was no proof except the result. It seemed to be his destiny to live under a stigma. Why this stigma? There was no answer. Everything connected with Gwynplaine's childhood was shrouded in mystery; nothing was certain save the one terrible fact.

In Gwynplaine's dire despondency Dea had angelically interposed between him and despair, and he perceived, that, horrible as he was, a sort of beautified wonder was softening his monstrous visage. Having been fashioned to create dread, he was, by a miraculous exception to the general rule, admired and adored as an angel of light by one who seemed as far above him as a star. Gwynplaine and Dea made a perfect pair; so these two suffering hearts very naturally adored each other. One nest and two birds,—that was their story. They had begun to obey the universal law,—to please, to seek, and to find.

Thus hatred had made a mistake. The persecutors of Gwynplaine, whoever they might have been, had missed their aim. They had intended to drive him to desperation: they had succeeded in driving him into enchantment. They had affianced him beforehand to a healing wound; they had predestined him to be consoled by an affliction. The pincers of the executioner had softly changed into the delicately moulded hand of a girl. Gwynplaine was horrible,—made horrible by the hand of man. They had hoped to exile him forever,—first, from his family, if his family existed; and then from humanity. When an infant, they had made him a ruin.