Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/69

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duty as a taper. Under the bowsprit the cut-water, long, curved, and sharp, projected in front like the horn of a crescent. At the top of the cut-water, and at the feet of the Virgin, a kneeling angel, with folded wings, leaned her back against the stem, and gazed out through a spy-glass at the horizon. The angel was gilded like Our Lady. In the cut-water were holes and openings to let the waves pass through, which afforded an opportunity for more gilding and arabesques. Under the figure of the Virgin was written, in gilt capitals, the word "Matutina,"—the name of the vessel, invisible just now on account of the darkness.

Amid the confusion of departure there were thrown down in disorder, at the foot of the cliff, the goods which the voyagers were to take with them, and which, by means of the plank serving as a bridge across, were being passed rapidly from the shore to the boat. Bags of biscuit, a cask of fish, a case of portable soup, three barrels (one of fresh water, one of malt, one of tar), four or five bottles of ale, an old portmanteau buckled up by straps, trunks, boxes, a ball of tow for torches and signals,—such was the lading. These ragged people had valises, which seemed to indicate a roving life. Wandering rascals are obliged to own something; at times they would prefer to fly away like the birds, but they cannot do so without abandoning the means of earning a livelihood. They necessarily possess boxes of tools and instruments of labour, whatever their trade may be. Those of whom we speak were taking their baggage with them. No time was lost; there was one continued passing to and fro from the shore to the vessel, and from the vessel to the shore. Each one did his share of the work; one carried a bag, another a chest. Those of the promiscuous company who were possibly or probably women, worked like the rest. They overloaded the child.