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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/379

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ABSURDITIES WHICH FOLKS CALL POETRY.

precipice. Suddenly, even while shuddering at her isolation, she regains confidence. She has found her thread of safety in the universe of shadows,—she has placed her hand on Gwynplaine's powerful head. Joy unspeakable fills her heart as she lays her rosy fingers on his thick locks. Wool when touched gives an impression of softness. Dea touched a lamb which she knew to be a lion. Her whole heart flowed out in love ineffable. She felt safe now, she had found her saviour. The public believed that they saw the contrary. To the spectators the being loved was Gwynplaine, and the saviour was Dea. "What does it matter?" thought Ursus, to whom the heart of Dea was an open book. And Dea, reassured, consoled, and delighted, adored as an angel what the people regarded as a monster.

True love never wanes. Being all soul it cannot cool. A brazier may become full of cinders; not so a star. These exquisite impressions were renewed every evening for Dea, and she was ready to weep with tenderness whilst the audience was in convulsions of laughter. Those around her were only joyful; she was happy.

The sensation of gaiety due to the sudden shock caused by the sight of Gwynplaine was evidently not intended by Ursus. He would have preferred more smiles and less laughter, and more of a literary triumph. But success consoles. He reconciled himself to this disappointment every evening, as he counted how many shillings the piles of farthings made, and how many pounds the piles of shillings made. He consoled himself, too, with the belief that after their laughter was over, "Chaos Vanquished" would continue to haunt them by reason of the noble sentiments it inculcated. Perhaps he was not altogether wrong; the foundations of a work settle down in the mind of the public. The fact is, the spectators, attentive to the wolf, the bear,