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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/369

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van, behind the horses, and beside an old man who held the reins and guided the team, two gipsy women, dressed as goddesses, sounded their trumpets. The wonder with which the villagers regarded this gorgeous establishment was overwhelming.

This was the old van of Ursus, with its proportions augmented by success, and changed from a wretched box into a fine travelling show. A kind of animal, between dog and wolf, was chained under the van; this was Homo. The old coachman who drove the horses was the philosopher himself. Whence came his improvement from the shabby box to the Olympic caravan? From this,—Gwynplaine had become famous.

It was with a correct idea of what would succeed best among men that Ursus had said to Gwynplaine: "Your fortune is made." Ursus, it may be remembered, had made Gwynplaine his pupil. Unknown people had worked upon his face; he, on the other hand, had worked upon his mind; and as soon as the growth of the child warranted it, he had brought him out on the stage,—that is to say, he had produced him in front of the van.

The effect of Gwynplaine's appearance had been surprising. The passers-by were immediately struck with wonder. Never had anything been seen to be compared to this extraordinary imitation of laughter. They were ignorant how the miracle of infectious hilarity had been obtained. Some believed it to be natural, others declared it to be artificial; and all these conjectures added to the reality; so that everywhere, at every cross-road on the journey, at all the fair-grounds and fêtes, crowds rushed to see Gwynplaine. Thanks to this great attraction, there had come into the poor purse of the wanderers first a shower of farthings, then of pennies, and finally of shillings. The curiosity of one place satisfied, they passed on to another. Rolling does not enrich a