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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/384

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THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

plaine? None. What advantage did it give him? Every advantage. He was beloved, notwithstanding its horror, and, perhaps, for that very reason. Infirmity and deformity had, by instinct, been drawn towards and united with each other. To be beloved, is not that everything? Gwynplaine thought of his disfigurement only with gratitude. He was blessed in the stigma. With joy he felt that it was irremediable and eternal. What a blessing that it was so! While there were high-ways and fair-grounds, and journeys to take, and people below, and the sky above, they were sure of a living. Dea would want for nothing, and they would have love.

Gwynplaine would not have changed faces with Apollo. To be a monster was his happiness. He was so happy that he felt compassion for the men around him. He pitied all the rest of the world. No man's nature is wholly consistent; so, although he was glad to live within an enclosure, he lifted his head above the wall from time to time, but only to retreat again with even more joy into his solitude with Dea, having drawn his comparisons. What did he see around him? What were those living creatures of which his wandering life showed him so many specimens, changed every day? Always new crowds, but always the same multitude; ever new faces, but ever the same misfortunes. Every evening every known phase of human misery came within his notice.

The Green Box was popular. Low prices attract the low classes. Those who came were the weak, the poor, the insignificant. They rushed to Gwynplaine as they rushed to the gin-shop. They came to buy a pennyworth of forgetfulness. From his platform Gwynplaine passed these wretched people in review. His mind was absorbed in the contemplation of each successive form of wide-spread misery. The physiognomy of a man is moulded by conscience, and by the tenor of his life, and