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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/383

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hunger, and thirst—the seven dread jaws of poverty—yawned about her, and he was Saint George fighting the dragon. He triumphed over poverty. How? By his deformity. By means of his deformity he was useful, helpful, victorious, great! He had but to show himself, and money poured in. He was a master of crowds, the sovereign of the mob. He could do everything for Dea. He supplied her every want; her desires, her tastes, her fancies,—in the limited sphere in which wishes are possible to the blind,—he gratified.

Gwynplaine and Dea had been, as we have already shown, a Providence to each other. He felt himself raised on her wings, she felt herself carried in his arms. To protect the being who loves you, to give what she requires to her who shines on you as your star, can anything be sweeter? Gwynplaine possessed this supreme happiness, and he owed it to his deformity. By it he had gained the means of livelihood for himself and others; by it he had gained independence, liberty, celebrity, internal satisfaction, and pride. In his deformity he was invulnerable. The Fates could do nothing beyond this blow in which they had expended their whole force, but which he had converted into a triumph. This greatest of misfortunes had become the summit of Elysium. Gwynplaine was imprisoned in his deformity,—but with Dea. And this was, as we have already said, to live in a dungeon in paradise. A wall stood between them and the living world. So much the better. This wall protected as well as enclosed them. What could harm Dea, what could harm Gwynplaine, with such a fortress around them? To deprive him of his success was impossible. They would have to deprive him of his face. Take his love from him? Impossible! Dea could not see him. The blindness of Dea was divinely incurable. What harm did his deformity do Gwyn-