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The Man Who Laughs by Victor Hugo

Part 10 out of 13

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honour me with their custom. There are deformed folks amongst you. They
give me no offence. The lame and the humpbacked are works of nature. The
camel is gibbous. The bison's back is humped. The badger's left legs are
shorter than the right, That fact is decided by Aristotle, in his
treatise on the walking of animals. There are those amongst you who have
but two shirts--one on his back, and the other at the pawnbroker's. I
know that to be true. Albuquerque pawned his moustache, and St. Denis
his glory. The Jews advanced money on the glory. Great examples. To have
debts is to have something. I revere your beggardom."

Ursus cut short his speech, interrupting it in a deep bass voice by the

"Triple ass!"

And he answered in his politest accent,--

"I admit it. I am a learned man. I do my best to apologize for it. I
scientifically despise science. Ignorance is a reality on which we feed;
science is a reality on which we starve. In general one is obliged to
choose between two things--to be learned and grow thin, or to browse and
be an ass. O gentlemen, browse! Science is not worth a mouthful of
anything nice. I had rather eat a sirloin of beef than know what they
call the psoas muscle. I have but one merit--a dry eye. Such as you see
me, I have never wept. It must be owned that I have never been
satisfied--never satisfied--not even with myself. I despise myself; but
I submit this to the members of the opposition here present--if Ursus is
only a learned man, Gwynplaine is an artist."

He groaned again,--


And resumed,--

"Grumphll again! it is an objection. All the same, I pass it over. Near
Gwynplaine, gentlemen and ladies, is another artist, a valued and
distinguished personage who accompanies us--his lordship Homo, formerly
a wild dog, now a civilized wolf, and a faithful subject of her
Majesty's. Homo is a mine of deep and superior talent. Be attentive and
watch. You are going to set Homo play as well as Gwynplaine, and you
must do honour to art. That is an attribute of great nations. Are you
men of the woods? I admit the fact. In that case, _sylvae sunt consule
digna_. Two artists are well worth one consul. All right! Some one has
flung a cabbage stalk at me, but did not hit me. That will not stop my
speaking; on the contrary, a danger evaded makes folks garrulous.
_Garrula pericula_, says Juvenal. My hearers! there are amongst you
drunken men and drunken women. Very well. The men are unwholesome. The
women are hideous. You have all sorts of excellent reasons for stowing
yourselves away here on the benches of the pothouse--want of work,
idleness, the spare time between two robberies, porter, ale, stout,
malt, brandy, gin, and the attraction of one sex for the other. What
could be better? A wit prone to irony would find this a fair field. But
I abstain. 'Tis luxury; so be it, but even an orgy should be kept
within bounds. You are gay, but noisy. You imitate successfully the
cries of beasts; but what would you say if, when you were making love to
a lady, I passed my time in barking at you? It would disturb you, and so
it disturbs us. I order you to hold your tongues. Art is as respectable
as debauch. I speak to you civilly."

He apostrophized himself,--

"May the fever strangle you, with your eyebrows like the beard of rye."

And he replied,--

"Honourable gentlemen, let the rye alone. It is impious to insult the
vegetables, by likening them either to human creatures or animals.
Besides, the fever does not strangle. 'Tis a false metaphor. For pity's
sake, keep silence. Allow me to tell you that you are slightly wanting
in the repose which characterizes the true English gentleman. I see that
some amongst you, who have shoes out of which their toes are peeping,
take advantage of the circumstance to rest their feet on the shoulders
of those who are in front of them, causing the ladies to remark that the
soles of shoes divide always at the part at which is the head of the
metatarsal bones. Show more of your hands and less of your feet. I
perceive scamps who plunge their ingenious fists into the pockets of
their foolish neighbours. Dear pickpockets, have a little modesty. Fight
those next to you if you like; do not plunder them. You will vex them
less by blackening an eye, than by lightening their purses of a penny.
Break their noses if you like. The shopkeeper thinks more of his money
than of his beauty. Barring this, accept my sympathies, for I am not
pedantic enough to blame thieves. Evil exists. Every one endures it,
every one inflicts it. No one is exempt from the vermin of his sins.
That's what I keep saying. Have we not all our itch? I myself have made
mistakes. _Plaudite, cives_."

Ursus uttered a long groan, which he overpowered by these concluding

"My lords and gentlemen, I see that my address has unluckily displeased
you. I take leave of your hisses for a moment. I shall put on my head,
and the performance is going to begin."

He dropt his oratorical tone, and resumed his usual voice.

"Close the curtains. Let me breathe. I have spoken like honey. I have
spoken well. My words were like velvet; but they were useless. I called
them my lords and gentlemen. What do you think of all this scum,
Gwynplaine? How well may we estimate the ills which England has suffered
for the last forty years through the ill-temper of these irritable and
malicious spirits! The ancient Britons were warlike; these are
melancholy and learned. They glory in despising the laws and contemning
royal authority. I have done all that human eloquence can do. I have
been prodigal of metonymics, as gracious as the blooming cheek of youth.
Were they softened by them? I doubt it. What can affect a people who eat
so extraordinarily, who stupefy themselves by tobacco so completely that
their literary men often write their works with a pipe in their mouths?
Never mind. Let us begin the play."

The rings of the curtain were heard being drawn over the rod. The
tambourines of the gipsies were still. Ursus took down his instrument,
executed his prelude, and said in a low tone: "Alas, Gwynplaine, how
mysterious it is!" then he flung himself down with the wolf.

When he had taken down his instrument, he had also taken from the nail a
rough wig which he had, and which he had thrown on the stage in a corner
within his reach. The performance of "Chaos Vanquished" took place as
usual, minus only the effect of the blue light and the brilliancy of the
fairies. The wolf played his best. At the proper moment Dea made her
appearance, and, in her voice so tremulous and heavenly, invoked
Gwynplaine. She extended her arms, feeling for that head.

Ursus rushed at the wig, ruffled it, put it on, advanced softly, and
holding his breath, his head bristled thus under the hand of Dea.

Then calling all his art to his aid, and copying Gwynplaine's voice, he
sang with ineffable love the response of the monster to the call of the
spirit. The imitation was so perfect that again the gipsies looked for
Gwynplaine, frightened at hearing without seeing him.

Govicum, filled with astonishment, stamped, applauded, clapped his
hands, producing an Olympian tumult, and himself laughed as if he had
been a chorus of gods. This boy, it must be confessed, developed a rare
talent for acting an audience.

Fibi and Vinos, being automatons of which Ursus pulled the strings,
rattled their instruments, composed of copper and ass's skin--the usual
sign of the performance being over and of the departure of the people.

Ursus arose, covered with perspiration. He said, in a low voice, to
Homo, "You see it was necessary to gain time. I think we have succeeded.
I have not acquitted myself badly--I, who have as much reason as any one
to go distracted. Gwynplaine may perhaps return to-morrow. It is useless
to kill Dea directly. I can explain matters to you."

He took off his wig and wiped his forehead.

"I am a ventriloquist of genius," murmured he. "What talent I displayed!
I have equalled Brabant, the engastrimist of Francis I. of France. Dea
is convinced that Gwynplaine is here."

"Ursus," said Dea, "where is Gwynplaine?"

Ursus started and turned round. Dea was still standing at the back of
the stage, alone under the lamp which hung from the ceiling. She was
pale, with the pallor of a ghost.

She added, with an ineffable expression of despair,--

"I know. He has left us. He is gone. I always knew that he had wings."

And raising her sightless eyes on high, she added,--

"When shall I follow?"



Ursus was stunned.

He had not sustained the illusion.

Was it the fault of ventriloquism? Certainly not. He had succeeded in
deceiving Fibi and Vinos, who had eyes, although he had not deceived
Dea, who was blind. It was because Fibi and Vinos saw with their eyes,
while Dea saw with her heart. He could not utter a word. He thought to
himself, _Bos in lingua_. The troubled man has an ox on his tongue.

In his complex emotions, humiliation was the first which dawned on him.
Ursus, driven out of his last resource, pondered.

"I lavish my onomatopies in vain." Then, like every dreamer, he reviled
himself. "What a frightful failure! I wore myself out in a pure loss of
imitative harmony. But what is to be done next?"

He looked at Dea. She was silent, and grew paler every moment, as she
stood perfectly motionless. Her sightless eyes remained fixed in depths
of thought.

Fortunately, something happened. Ursus saw Master Nicless in the yard,
with a candle in his hand, beckoning to him.

Master Nicless had not assisted at the end of the phantom comedy played
by Ursus. Some one had happened to knock at the door of the inn. Master
Nicless had gone to open it. There had been two knocks, and twice Master
Nicless had disappeared. Ursus, absorbed by his hundred-voiced
monologue, had not observed his absence.

On the mute call of Master Nicless, Ursus descended.

He approached the tavern-keeper. Ursus put his finger on his lips.
Master Nicless put his finger on his lips.

The two looked at each other thus.

Each seemed to say to the other, "We will talk, but we will hold our

The tavern-keeper silently opened the door of the lower room of the
tavern. Master Nicless entered. Ursus entered. There was no one there
except these two. On the side looking on the street both doors and
window-shutters were closed.

The tavern-keeper pushed the door behind him, and shut it in the face of
the inquisitive Govicum.

Master Nicless placed the candle on the table.

A low whispering dialogue began.

"Master Ursus?"

"Master Nicless?"

"I understand at last."


"You wished the poor blind girl to think that all going on as usual."

"There is no law against my being a ventriloquist."

"You are a clever fellow."


"It is wonderful how you manage all that you wish to do."

"I tell you it is not."

"Now, I have something to tell you."

"Is it about politics?"

"I don't know."

"Because in that case I could not listen to you."

"Look here: whilst you were playing actors and audience by yourself,
some one knocked at the door of the tavern."

"Some one knocked at the door?"


"I don't like that."

"Nor I, either."

"And then?"

"And then I opened it."

"Who was it that knocked?"

"Some one who spoke to me."

"What did he say?"

"I listened to him."

"What did you answer?"

"Nothing. I came back to see you play."


"Some one knocked a second time."

"Who? the same person?"

"No, another."

"Some one else to speak to you?"

"Some one who said nothing."

"I like that better."

"I do not."

"Explain yourself, Master Nicless."

"Guess who called the first time."

"I have no leisure to be an Oedipus."

"It was the proprietor of the circus."

"Over the way?"

"Over the way."

"Whence comes all that fearful noise. Well?"

"Well, Master Ursus, he makes you a proposal."

"A proposal?"

"A proposal."



"You have an advantage over me, Master Nicless. Just now you solved my
enigma, and now I cannot understand yours."

"The proprietor of the circus commissioned me to tell you that he had
seen the _cortege_ of police pass this morning, and that he, the
proprietor of the circus, wishing to prove that he is your friend,
offers to buy of you, for fifty pounds, ready money, your caravan, the
Green Box, your two horses, your trumpets, with the women that blow
them, your play, with the blind girl who sings in it, your wolf, and

Ursus smiled a haughty smile.

"Innkeeper, tell the proprietor of the circus that Gwynplaine is coming

The innkeeper took something from a chair in the darkness, and turning
towards Ursus with both arms raised, dangled from one hand a cloak, and
from the other a leather esclavine, a felt hat, and a jacket.

And Master Nicless said, "The man who knocked the second time was
connected with the police; he came in and left without saying a word,
and brought these things."

Ursus recognized the esclavine, the jacket, the hat, and the cloak of



Ursus smoothed the felt of the hat, touched the cloth of the cloak, the
serge of the coat, the leather of the esclavine, and no longer able to
doubt whose garments they were, with a gesture at once brief and
imperative, and without saying a word, pointed to the door of the inn.

Master Nicless opened it.

Ursus rushed out of the tavern.

Master Nicless looked after him, and saw Ursus run, as fast as his old
legs would allow, in the direction taken that morning by the wapentake
who carried off Gwynplaine.

A quarter of an hour afterwards, Ursus, out of breath, reached the
little street in which stood the back wicket of the Southwark jail,
which he had already watched so many hours. This alley was lonely enough
at all hours; but if dreary during the day, it was portentous in the
night. No one ventured through it after a certain hour. It seemed as
though people feared that the walls should close in, and that if the
prison or the cemetery took a fancy to embrace, they should be crushed
in their clasp. Such are the effects of darkness. The pollard willows of
the Ruelle Vauvert in Paris were thus ill-famed. It was said that
during the night the stumps of those trees changed into great hands, and
caught hold of the passers-by.

By instinct the Southwark folks shunned, as we have already mentioned,
this alley between a prison and a churchyard. Formerly it had been
barricaded during the night by an iron chain. Very uselessly; because
the strongest chain which guarded the street was the terror it inspired.

Ursus entered it resolutely.

What intention possessed him? None.

He came into the alley to seek intelligence.

Was he going to knock at the gate of the jail? Certainly not. Such an
expedient, at once fearful and vain, had no place in his brain. To
attempt to introduce himself to demand an explanation. What folly!
Prisons do not open to those who wish to enter, any more than to those
who desire to get out. Their hinges never turn except by law. Ursus knew
this. Why, then, had he come there? To see. To see what? Nothing. Who
can tell? Even to be opposite the gate through which Gwynplaine had
disappeared was something.

Sometimes the blackest and most rugged of walls whispers, and some light
escapes through a cranny. A vague glimmering is now and then to be
perceived through solid and sombre piles of building. Even to examine
the envelope of a fact may be to some purpose. The instinct of us all is
to leave between the fact which interests us and ourselves but the
thinnest possible cover. Therefore it was that Ursus returned to the
alley in which the lower entrance to the prison was situated.

Just as he entered it he heard one stroke of the clock, then a second.

"Hold," thought he; "can it be midnight already?"

Mechanically he set himself to count.

"Three, four, five."

He mused.

"At what long intervals this clock strikes! how slowly! Six; seven!"

Then he remarked,--

"What a melancholy sound! Eight, nine! Ah! nothing can be more natural;
it's dull work for a clock to live in a prison. Ten! Besides, there is
the cemetery. This clock sounds the hour to the living, and eternity to
the dead. Eleven! Alas! to strike the hour to him who is not free is
also to chronicle an eternity. Twelve!"

He paused.

"Yes, it is midnight."

The clock struck a thirteenth stroke.

Ursus shuddered.


Then followed a fourteenth; then a fifteenth.

"What can this mean?"

The strokes continued at long intervals. Ursus listened.

"It is not the striking of a clock; it is the bell Muta. No wonder I
said, 'How long it takes to strike midnight!' This clock does not
strike; it tolls. What fearful thing is about to take place?"

Formerly all prisons and all monasteries had a bell called Muta,
reserved for melancholy occasions. La Muta (the mute) was a bell which
struck very low, as if doing its best not to be heard.

Ursus had reached the corner which he had found so convenient for his
watch, and whence he had been able, during a great part of the day, to
keep his eye on the prison.

The strokes followed each other at lugubrious intervals.

A knell makes an ugly punctuation in space. It breaks the preoccupation
of the mind into funereal paragraphs. A knell, like a man's
death-rattle, notifies an agony. If in the houses about the
neighbourhood where a knell is tolled there are reveries straying in
doubt, its sound cuts them into rigid fragments. A vague reverie is a
sort of refuge. Some indefinable diffuseness in anguish allows now and
then a ray of hope to pierce through it. A knell is precise and
desolating. It concentrates this diffusion of thought, and precipitates
the vapours in which anxiety seeks to remain in suspense. A knell speaks
to each one in the sense of his own grief or of his own fear. Tragic
bell! it concerns you. It is a warning to you.

There is nothing so dreary as a monologue on which its cadence falls.
The even returns of sound seem to show a purpose.

What is it that this hammer, the bell, forges on the anvil of thought?

Ursus counted, vaguely and without motive, the tolling of the knell.
Feeling that his thoughts were sliding from him, he made an effort not
to let them slip into conjecture. Conjecture is an inclined plane, on
which we slip too far to be to our own advantage. Still, what was the
meaning of the bell?

He looked through the darkness in the direction in which he knew the
gate of the prison to be.

Suddenly, in that very spot which looked like a dark hole, a redness
showed. The redness grew larger, and became a light.

There was no uncertainty about it. It soon took a form and angles. The
gate of the jail had just turned on its hinges. The glow painted the
arch and the jambs of the door. It was a yawning rather than an opening.
A prison does not open; it yawns--perhaps from ennui. Through the gate
passed a man with a torch in his hand.

The bell rang on. Ursus felt his attention fascinated by two objects. He
watched--his ear the knell, his eye the torch. Behind the first man the
gate, which had been ajar, enlarged the opening suddenly, and allowed
egress to two other men; then to a fourth. This fourth was the
wapentake, clearly visible in the light of the torch. In his grasp was
his iron staff.

Following the wapentake, there filed and opened out below the gateway in
order, two by two, with the rigidity of a series of walking posts, ranks
of silent men.

This nocturnal procession stepped through the wicket in file, like a
procession of penitents, without any solution of continuity, with a
funereal care to make no noise--gravely, almost gently. A serpent issues
from its hole with similar precautions.

The torch threw out their profiles and attitudes into relief. Fierce
looks, sullen attitudes.

Ursus recognized the faces of the police who had that morning carried
off Gwynplaine.

There was no doubt about it. They were the same. They were reappearing.

Of course, Gwynplaine would also reappear. They had led him to that
place; they would bring him back.

It was all quite clear.

Ursus strained his eyes to the utmost. Would they set Gwynplaine at

The files of police flowed from the low arch very slowly, and, as it
were, drop by drop. The toll of the bell was uninterrupted, and seemed
to mark their steps. On leaving the prison, the procession turned their
backs on Ursus, went to the right, into the bend of the street opposite
to that in which he was posted.

A second torch shone under the gateway, announcing the end of the

Ursus was now about to see what they were bringing with them. The
prisoner--the man.

Ursus was soon, he thought, to see Gwynplaine.

That which they carried appeared.

It was a bier.

Four men carried a bier, covered with black cloth.

Behind them came a man, with a shovel on his shoulder.

A third lighted torch, held by a man reading a book, probably the
chaplain, closed the procession.

The bier followed the ranks of the police, who had turned to the right.

Just at that moment the head of the procession stopped.

Ursus heard the grating of a key.

Opposite the prison, in the low wall which ran along the other side of
the street, another opening was illuminated by a torch passing beneath

This gate, over which a death's-head was placed, was that of the

The wapentake passed through it, then the men, then the second torch.
The procession decreased therein, like a reptile entering his retreat.

The files of police penetrated into that other darkness which was beyond
the gate; then the bier; then the man with the spade; then the chaplain
with his torch and his book, and the gate closed.

There was nothing left but a haze of light above the wall.

A muttering was heard; then some dull sounds. Doubtless the chaplain and
the gravedigger--the one throwing on the coffin some verses of
Scripture, the other some clods of earth.

The muttering ceased; the heavy sounds ceased. A movement was made. The
torches shone. The wapentake reappeared, holding high his weapon, under
the reopened gate of the cemetery; then the chaplain with his book, and
the gravedigger with his spade. The _cortege_ reappeared without the

The files of men crossed over in the same order, with the same
taciturnity, and in the opposite direction. The gate of the cemetery
closed. That of the prison opened. Its sepulchral architecture stood out
against the light. The obscurity of the passage became vaguely visible.
The solid and deep night of the jail was revealed to sight; then the
whole vision disappeared in the depths of shadow.

The knell ceased. All was locked in silence. A sinister incarceration of

A vanished vision; nothing more.

A passage of spectres, which had disappeared.

The logical arrangement of surmises builds up something which at least
resembles evidence. To the arrest of Gwynplaine, to the secret mode of
his capture, to the return of his garments by the police officer, to the
death bell of the prison to which he had been conducted, was now added,
or rather adjusted--portentous circumstance--a coffin carried to the

"He is dead!" cried Ursus.

He sank down upon a stone.

"Dead! They have killed him! Gwynplaine! My child! My son!"

And he burst into passionate sobs.



Ursus, alas! had boasted that he had never wept. His reservoir of tears
was full. Such plentitude as is accumulated drop on drop, sorrow on
sorrow, through a long existence, is not to be poured out in a moment.
Ursus wept alone.

The first tear is a letting out of waters. He wept for Gwynplaine, for
Dea, for himself, Ursus, for Homo. He wept like a child. He wept like an
old man. He wept for everything at which he had ever laughed. He paid
off arrears. Man is never nonsuited when he pleads his right to tears.

The corpse they had just buried was Hardquanonne's; but Ursus could not
know that.

The hours crept on.

Day began to break. The pale clothing of the morning was spread out,
dimly creased with shadow, over the bowling-green. The dawn lighted up
the front of the Tadcaster Inn. Master Nicless had not gone to bed,
because sometimes the same occurrence produces sleeplessness in many.

Troubles radiate in every direction. Throw a stone in the water, and
count the splashes.

Master Nicless felt himself impeached. It is very disagreeable that such
things should happen in one's house. Master Nicless, uneasy, and
foreseeing misfortunes, meditated. He regretted having received such
people into his house. Had he but known that they would end by getting
him into mischief! But the question was how to get rid of them? He had
given Ursus a lease. What a blessing if he could free himself from it!
How should he set to work to drive them out?

Suddenly the door of the inn resounded with one of those tumultuous
knocks which in England announces "Somebody." The gamut of knocking
corresponds with the ladder of hierarchy.

It was not quite the knock of a lord; but it was the knock of a justice.

The trembling innkeeper half opened his window. There was, indeed, the
magistrate. Master Nicless perceived at the door a body of police, from
the head of which two men detached themselves, one of whom was the
justice of the quorum.

Master Nicless had seen the justice of the quorum that morning, and
recognized him.

He did not know the other, who was a fat gentleman, with a
waxen-coloured face, a fashionable wig, and a travelling cloak. Nicless
was much afraid of the first of these persons, the justice of the
quorum. Had he been of the court, he would have feared the other most,
because it was Barkilphedro.

One of the subordinates knocked at the door again violently.

The innkeeper, with great drops of perspiration on his brow, from
anxiety, opened it.

The justice of the quorum, in the tone of a man who is employed in
matters of police, and who is well acquainted with various shades of
vagrancy, raised his voice, and asked, severely, for

"Master Ursus!"

The host, cap in hand, replied,--

"Your honour; he lives here."

"I know it," said the justice.

"No doubt, your honour."

"Tell him to come down."

"Your honour, he is not here."

"Where is he?"

"I do not know."

"How is that?"

"He has not come in."

"Then he must have gone out very early?"

"No; but he went out very late."

"What vagabonds!" replied the justice.

"Your honour," said Master Nicless, softly, "here he comes."

Ursus, indeed, had just come in sight, round a turn of the wall. He was
returning to the inn. He had passed nearly the whole night between the
jail, where at midday he had seen Gwynplaine, and the cemetery, where at
midnight he had heard the grave filled up. He was pallid with two
pallors--that of sorrow and of twilight.

Dawn, which is light in a chrysalis state, leaves even those forms which
are in movement in the uncertainty of night. Ursus, wan and indistinct,
walked slowly, like a man in a dream. In the wild distraction produced
by agony of mind, he had left the inn with his head bare. He had not
even found out that he had no hat on. His spare, gray locks fluttered in
the wind. His open eyes appeared sightless. Often when awake we are
asleep, and as often when asleep we are awake.

Ursus looked like a lunatic.

"Master Ursus," cried the innkeeper, "come; their honours desire to
speak to you."

Master Nicless, in his endeavour to soften matters down, let slip,
although he would gladly have omitted, this plural, "their
honours"--respectful to the group, but mortifying, perhaps, to the
chief, confounded therein, to some degree, with his subordinates.

Ursus started like a man falling off a bed, on which he was sound

"What is the matter?" said he.

He saw the police, and at the head of the police the justice. A fresh
and rude shock.

But a short time ago, the wapentake, now the justice of the quorum. He
seemed to have been cast from one to the other, as ships by some reefs
of which we have read in old stories.

The justice of the quorum made him a sign to enter the tavern. Ursus

Govicum, who had just got up, and who was sweeping the room, stopped his
work, got into a corner behind the tables, put down his broom, and held
his breath. He plunged his fingers into his hair, and scratched his
head, a symptom which indicated attention to what was about to occur.

The justice of the quorum sat down on a form, before a table.
Barkilphedro took a chair. Ursus and Master Nicless remained standing.
The police officers, left outside, grouped themselves in front of the
closed door.

The justice of the quorum fixed his eye, full of the law, upon Ursus. He

"You have a wolf."

Ursus answered,--

"Not exactly."

"You have a wolf," continued the justice, emphasizing "wolf" with a
decided accent.

Ursus answered,--

"You see--"

And he was silent.

"A misdemeanour!" replied the justice.

Ursus hazarded an excuse,--

"He is my servant."

The justice placed his hand flat on the table, with his fingers spread
out, which is a very fine gesture of authority.

"Merry-andrew! to-morrow, by this hour, you and your wolf must have left
England. If not, the wolf will be seized, carried to the register
office, and killed."

Ursus thought, "More murder!" but he breathed not a syllable, and was
satisfied with trembling in every limb.

"You hear?" said the justice.

Ursus nodded.

The justice persisted,--


There was silence.

"Strangled, or drowned."

The justice of the quorum watched Ursus.

"And yourself in prison."

Ursus murmured,--

"Your worship!"

"Be off before to-morrow morning; if not, such is the order."

"Your worship!"


"Must we leave England, he and I?"




"What is to be done?"

Master Nicless was happy. The magistrate, whom he had feared, had come
to his aid. The police had acted as auxiliary to him, Nicless. They had
delivered him from "such people." The means he had sought were brought
to him. Ursus, whom he wanted to get rid of, was being driven away by
the police, a superior authority. Nothing to object to. He was
delighted. He interrupted,--

"Your honour, that man--"

He pointed to Ursus with his finger.

"That man wants to know how he is to leave England to-day. Nothing can
be easier. There are night and day at anchor on the Thames, both on this
and on the other side of London Bridge, vessels that sail to the
Continent. They go from England to Denmark, to Holland, to Spain; not to
France, on account of the war, but everywhere else. To-night several
ships will sail, about one o'clock in the morning, which is the hour of
high tide, and, amongst others, the _Vograat_ of Rotterdam."

The justice of the quorum made a movement of his shoulder towards Ursus.

"Be it so. Leave by the first ship--by the _Vograat_."

"Your worship," said Ursus.


"Your worship, if I had, as formerly, only my little box on wheels, it
might be done. A boat would contain that; but--"

"But what?"

"But now I have got the Green Box, which is a great caravan drawn by two
horses, and however wide the ship might be, we could not get it into

"What is that to me?" said the justice. "The wolf will be killed."

Ursus shuddered, as if he were grasped by a hand of ice.

"Monsters!" he thought. "Murdering people is their way of settling

The innkeeper smiled, and addressed Ursus.

"Master Ursus, you can sell the Green Box."

Ursus looked at Nicless.

"Master Ursus, you have the offer."

"From whom?"

"An offer for the caravan, an offer for the two horses, an offer for the
two gipsy women, an offer--"

"From whom?" repeated Ursus.

"From the proprietor of the neighbouring circus."

Ursus remembered it.

"It is true."

Master Nicless turned to the justice of the quorum.

"Your honour, the bargain can be completed to-day. The proprietor of the
circus close by wishes to buy the caravan and the horses."

"The proprietor of the circus is right," said the justice, "because he
will soon require them. A caravan and horses will be useful to him. He,
too, will depart to-day. The reverend gentlemen of the parish of
Southwark have complained of the indecent riot in Tarrinzeau field. The
sheriff has taken his measures. To-night there will not be a single
juggler's booth in the place. There must be an end of all these
scandals. The honourable gentleman who deigns to be here present--"

The justice of the quorum interrupted his speech to salute Barkilphedro,
who returned the bow.

"The honourable gentleman who deigns to be present has just arrived from
Windsor. He brings orders. Her Majesty has said, 'It must be swept

Ursus, during his long meditation all night, had not failed to put
himself some questions. After all, he had only seen a bier. Could he be
sure that it contained Gwynplaine? Other people might have died besides
Gwynplaine. A coffin does not announce the name of the corpse, as it
passes by. A funeral had followed the arrest of Gwynplaine. That proved
nothing. _Post hoc, non propter hoc, etc_. Ursus had begun to doubt.

Hope burns and glimmers over misery like naphtha over water. Its
hovering flame ever floats over human sorrow. Ursus had come to this
conclusion, "It is probable that it was Gwynplaine whom they buried, but
it is not certain. Who knows? Perhaps Gwynplaine is still alive."

Ursus bowed to the justice.

"Honourable judge, I will go away, we will go away, all will go away, by
the _Vograat_ of Rotterdam, to-day. I will sell the Green Box, the
horses, the trumpets, the gipsies. But I have a comrade, whom I cannot
leave behind--Gwynplaine."

"Gwynplaine is dead," said a voice.

Ursus felt a cold sensation, such as is produced by a reptile crawling
over the skin. It was Barkilphedro who had just spoken.

The last gleam was extinguished. No more doubt now. Gwynplaine was dead.
A person in authority must know. This one looked ill-favoured enough to
do so.

Ursus bowed to him.

Master Nicless was a good-hearted man enough, but a dreadful coward.
Once terrified, he became a brute. The greatest cruelty is that inspired
by fear.

He growled out,--

"This simplifies matters."

And he indulged, standing behind Ursus, in rubbing his hands, a
peculiarity of the selfish, signifying, "I am well out of it," and
suggestive of Pontius Pilate washing his hands.

Ursus, overwhelmed, bent down his head.

The sentence on Gwynplaine had been executed--death. His sentence was
pronounced--exile. Nothing remained but to obey. He felt as in a dream.

Some one touched his arm. It was the other person, who was with the
justice of the quorum. Ursus shuddered.

The voice which had said, "Gwynplaine is dead," whispered in his ear,--

"Here are ten guineas, sent you by one who wishes you well."

And Barkilphedro placed a little purse on a table before Ursus. We must
not forget the casket that Barkilphedro had taken with him.

Ten guineas out of two thousand! It was all that Barkilphedro could make
up his mind to part with. In all conscience it was enough. If he had
given more, he would have lost. He had taken the trouble of finding out
a lord; and having sunk the shaft, it was but fair that the first
proceeds of the mine should belong to him. Those who see meanness in the
act are right, but they would be wrong to feel astonished. Barkilphedro
loved money, especially money which was stolen. An envious man is an
avaricious one. Barkilphedro was not without his faults. The commission
of crimes does not preclude the possession of vices. Tigers have their

Besides, he belonged to the school of Bacon.

Barkilphedro turned towards the justice of the quorum, and said to

"Sir, be so good as to conclude this matter. I am in haste. A carriage
and horses belonging to her Majesty await me. I must go full gallop to
Windsor, for I must be there within two hours' time. I have intelligence
to give, and orders to take."

The justice of the quorum arose.

He went to the door, which was only latched, opened it, and, looking
silently towards the police, beckoned to them authoritatively. They
entered with that silence which heralds severity of action.

Master Nicless, satisfied with the rapid _denouement_ which cut short
his difficulties, charmed to be out of the entangled skein, was afraid,
when he saw the muster of officers, that they were going to apprehend
Ursus in his house. Two arrests, one after the other, made in his
house--first that of Gwynplaine, then that of Ursus--might be injurious
to the inn. Customers dislike police raids.

Here then was a time for a respectful appeal, suppliant and generous.
Master Nicless turned toward the justice of the quorum a smiling face,
in which confidence was tempered by respect.

"Your honour, I venture to observe to your honour that these honourable
gentlemen, the police officers, might be dispensed with, now that the
wolf is about to be carried away from England, and that this man, Ursus,
makes no resistance; and since your honour's orders are being punctually
carried out, your honour will consider that the respectable business of
the police, so necessary to the good of the kingdom, does great harm to
an establishment, and that my house is innocent. The merry-andrews of
the Green Box having been swept away, as her Majesty says, there is no
longer any criminal here, as I do not suppose that the blind girl and
the two women are criminals; therefore, I implore your honour to deign
to shorten your august visit, and to dismiss these worthy gentlemen who
have just entered, because there is nothing for them to do in my house;
and, if your honour will permit me to prove the justice of my speech
under the form of a humble question, I will prove the inutility of these
revered gentlemen's presence by asking your honour, if the man, Ursus,
obeys orders and departs, who there can be to arrest here?"

"Yourself," said the justice.

A man does not argue with a sword which runs him through and through.
Master Nicless subsided--he cared not on what, on a table, on a form, on
anything that happened to be there--prostrate.

The justice raised his voice, so that if there were people outside, they
might hear.

"Master Nicless Plumptree, keeper of this tavern, this is the last point
to be settled. This mountebank and the wolf are vagabonds. They are
driven away. But the person most in fault is yourself. It is in your
house, and with your consent, that the law has been violated; and you, a
man licensed, invested with a public responsibility, have established
the scandal here. Master Nicless, your licence is taken away; you must
pay the penalty, and go to prison."

The policemen surrounded the innkeeper.

The justice continued, pointing out Govicum,--

"Arrest that boy as an accomplice." The hand of an officer fell upon the
collar of Govicum, who looked at him inquisitively. The boy was not much
alarmed, scarcely understanding the occurrence; having already observed
many things out of the way, he wondered if this were the end of the

The justice of the quorum forced his hat down on his head, crossed his
hands on his stomach, which is the height of majesty, and added,--

"It is decided, Master Nicless; you are to be taken to prison, and put
into jail, you and the boy; and this house, the Tadcaster Inn, is to
remain shut up, condemned and closed. For the sake of example. Upon
which, you will follow us."





And Dea!

It seemed to Gwynplaine, as he watched the break of day at Corleone
Lodge, while the things we have related were occurring at the Tadcaster
Inn, that the call came from without; but it came from within.

Who has not heard the deep clamours of the soul?

Moreover, the morning was dawning.

Aurora is a voice.

Of what use is the sun if not to reawaken that dark sleeper--the

Light and virtue are akin.

Whether the god be called Christ or Love, there is at times an hour when
he is forgotten, even by the best. All of us, even the saints, require a
voice to remind us; and the dawn speaks to us, like a sublime monitor.
Conscience calls out before duty, as the cock crows before the dawn of

That chaos, the human heart, hears the _fiat lux_!

Gwynplaine--we will continue thus to call him (Clancharlie is a lord,
Gwynplaine is a man)--Gwynplaine felt as if brought back to life. It was
time that the artery was bound up.

For a while his virtue had spread its wings and flown away.

"And Dea!" he said.

Then he felt through his veins a generous transfusion. Something
healthy and tumultuous rushed upon him. The violent irruption of good
thoughts is like the return home of a man who has not his key, and who
forces his own look honestly. It is an escalade, but an escalade of
good. It is a burglary, but a burglary of evil.

"Dea! Dea! Dea!" repeated he.

He strove to assure himself of his heart's strength. And he put the
question with a loud voice--"Where are you?"

He almost wondered that no one answered him.

Then again, gazing on the walls and the ceiling, with wandering
thoughts, through which reason returned.

"Where are you? Where am I?"

And in the chamber which was his cage he began to walk again, to and
fro, like a wild beast in captivity.

"Where am I? At Windsor. And you? In Southwark. Alas! this is the first
time that there has been distance between us. Who has dug this gulf? I
here, thou there. Oh, it cannot be; it shall not be! What is this that
they have done to me?"

He stopped.

"Who talked to me of the queen? What do I know of such things? _I_
changed! Why? Because I am a lord. Do you know what has happened, Dea?
You are a lady. What has come to pass is astounding. My business now is
to get back into my right road. Who is it who led me astray? There is a
man who spoke to me mysteriously. I remember the words which he
addressed to me. 'My lord, when one door opens another is shut. That
which you have left behind is no longer yours.' In other words, you are
a coward. That man, the miserable wretch! said that to me before I was
well awake. He took advantage of my first moment of astonishment. I was
as it were a prey to him. Where is he, that I may insult him? He spoke
to me with the evil smile of a demon. But see--I am myself again. That
is well. They deceive themselves if they think that they can do what
they like with Lord Clancharlie, a peer of England. Yes, with a peeress,
who is Dea! Conditions! Shall I accept them? The queen! What is the
queen to me? I never saw her. I am not a lord to be made a slave. I
enter my position unfettered. Did they think they had unchained me for
nothing? They have unmuzzled me. That is all. Dea! Ursus! we are
together. That which you were, I was; that which I am, you are. Come.
No. I will go to you directly--directly. I have already waited too long.
What can they think, not seeing me return! That money. When I think I
sent them that money! It was myself that they wanted. I remember the man
said that I could not leave this place. We shall see that. Come! a
carriage, a carriage! put to the horses. I am going to look for them.
Where are the servants? I ought to have servants here, since I am a
lord. I am master here. This is my house. I will twist off the bolts, I
will break the locks, I will kick down the doors, I will run my sword
through the body of any one who bars my passage. I should like to see
who shall stop me. I have a wife, and she is Dea. I have a father, who
is Ursus. My house is a palace, and I give it to Ursus. My name is a
diadem, and I give it to Dea. Quick, directly, Dea, I am coming; yes,
you may be sure that I shall soon stride across the intervening space!"

And raising the first piece of tapestry he came to, he rushed from the
chamber impetuously.

He found himself in a corridor.

He went straight forward.

A second corridor opened out before him.

All the doors were open.

He walked on at random, from chamber to chamber, from passage to
passage, seeking an exit.



In palaces after the Italian fashion, and Corleone Lodge was one, there
were very few doors, but abundance of tapestry screens and curtained
doorways. In every palace of that date there was a wonderful labyrinth
of chambers and corridors, where luxury ran riot; gilding, marble,
carved wainscoting, Eastern silks; nooks and corners, some secret and
dark as night, others light and pleasant as the day. There were attics,
richly and brightly furnished; burnished recesses shining with Dutch
tiles and Portuguese azulejos. The tops of the high windows were
converted into small rooms and glass attics, forming pretty habitable
lanterns. The thickness of the walls was such that there were rooms
within them. Here and there were closets, nominally wardrobes. They were
called "The Little Rooms." It was within them that evil deeds were

When a Duke of Guise had to be killed, the pretty Presidente of
Sylvecane abducted, or the cries of little girls brought thither by
Lebel smothered, such places were convenient for the purpose. They were
labyrinthine chambers, impracticable to a stranger; scenes of
abductions; unknown depths, receptacles of mysterious disappearances. In
those elegant caverns princes and lords stored their plunder. In such a
place the Count de Charolais hid Madame Courchamp, the wife of the Clerk
of the Privy Council; Monsieur de Monthule, the daughter of Haudry, the
farmer of La Croix Saint Lenfroy; the Prince de Conti, the two beautiful
baker women of L'Ile Adam; the Duke of Buckingham, poor Pennywell, etc.
The deeds done there were such as were designated by the Roman law as
committed _vi, clam, et precario_--by force, in secret, and for a short
time. Once in, an occupant remained there till the master of the house
decreed his or her release. They were gilded oubliettes, savouring both
of the cloister and the harem. Their staircases twisted, turned,
ascended, and descended. A zigzag of rooms, one running into another,
led back to the starting-point. A gallery terminated in an oratory. A
confessional was grafted on to an alcove. Perhaps the architects of "the
little rooms," building for royalty and aristocracy, took as models the
ramifications of coral beds, and the openings in a sponge. The branches
became a labyrinth. Pictures turning on false panels were exits and
entrances. They were full of stage contrivances, and no
wonder--considering the dramas that were played there! The floors of
these hives reached from the cellars to the attics. Quaint madrepore
inlaying every palace, from Versailles downwards, like cells of pygmies
in dwelling-places of Titans. Passages, niches, alcoves, and secret
recesses. All sorts of holes and corners, in which was stored away the
meanness of the great.

These winding and narrow passages recalled games, blindfolded eyes,
hands feeling in the dark, suppressed laughter, blind man's buff, hide
and seek, while, at the same time, they suggested memories of the
Atrides, of the Plantagenets, of the Medicis, the brutal knights of
Eltz, of Rizzio, of Monaldeschi; of naked swords, pursuing the fugitive
flying from room to room.

The ancients, too, had mysterious retreats of the same kind, in which
luxury was adapted to enormities. The pattern has been preserved
underground in some sepulchres in Egypt, notably in the tomb of King
Psammetichus, discovered by Passalacqua. The ancient poets have recorded
the horrors of these suspicious buildings. _Error circumflexus, locus
implicitus gyris_.

Gwynplaine was in the "little rooms" of Corleone Lodge. He was burning
to be off, to get outside, to see Dea again. The maze of passages and
alcoves, with secret and bewildering doors, checked and retarded his
progress. He strove to run; he was obliged to wander. He thought that he
had but one door to thrust open, while he had a skein of doors to
unravel. To one room succeeded another. Then a crossway, with rooms on
every side.

Not a living creature was to be seen. He listened. Not a sound.

At times he thought that he must be returning towards his
starting-point; then, that he saw some one approaching. It was no one.
It was only the reflection of himself in a mirror, dressed as a
nobleman. _That_ he? Impossible! Then he recognized himself, but not at

He explored every passage that he came to.

He examined the quaint arrangements of the rambling building, and their
yet quainter fittings. Here, a cabinet, painted and carved in a
sentimental but vicious style; there, an equivocal-looking chapel,
studded with enamels and mother-of-pearl, with miniatures on ivory
wrought out in relief, like those on old-fashioned snuff-boxes; there,
one of those pretty Florentine retreats, adapted to the hypochondriasis
of women, and even then called _boudoirs_. Everywhere--on the ceilings,
on the walls, and on the very floors--were representations, in velvet or
in metal, of birds, of trees; of luxuriant vegetation, picked out in
reliefs of lacework; tables covered with jet carvings, representing
warriors, queens, and tritons armed with the scaly terminations of a
hydra. Cut crystals combining prismatic effects with those of
reflection. Mirrors repeated the light of precious stones, and sparkles
glittered in the darkest corners. It was impossible to guess whether
those many-sided, shining surfaces, where emerald green mingled with
the golden hues of the rising sun where floated a glimmer of
ever-varying colours, like those on a pigeon's neck, were miniature
mirrors or enormous beryls. Everywhere was magnificence, at once refined
and stupendous; if it was not the most diminutive of palaces, it was the
most gigantic of jewel-cases. A house for Mab or a jewel for Geo.

Gwynplaine sought an exit. He could not find one. Impossible to make out
his way. There is nothing so confusing as wealth seen for the first
time. Moreover, this was a labyrinth. At each step he was stopped by
some magnificent object which appeared to retard his exit, and to be
unwilling to let him pass. He was encompassed by a net of wonders. He
felt himself bound and held back.

What a horrible palace! he thought. Restless, he wandered through the
maze, asking himself what it all meant--whether he was in prison;
chafing, thirsting for the fresh air. He repeated Dea! Dea! as if that
word was the thread of the labyrinth, and must be held unbroken, to
guide him out of it. Now and then he shouted, "Ho! Any one there?" No
one answered. The rooms never came to an end. All was deserted, silent,
splendid, sinister. It realized the fables of enchanted castles. Hidden
pipes of hot air maintained a summer temperature in the building. It was
as if some magician had caught up the month of June and imprisoned it in
a labyrinth. There were pleasant odours now and then, and he crossed
currents of perfume, as though passing by invisible flowers. It was
warm. Carpets everywhere. One might have walked about there, unclothed.

Gwynplaine looked out of the windows. The view from each one was
different. From one he beheld gardens, sparkling with the freshness of a
spring morning; from another a plot decked with statues; from a third, a
patio in the Spanish style, a little square, flagged, mouldy, and cold.
At times he saw a river--it was the Thames; sometimes a great tower--it
was Windsor.

It was still so early that there were no signs of life without.

He stood still and listened.

"Oh! I will get out of this place," said he. "I will return to Dea! They
shall not keep me here by force. Woe to him who bars my exit! What is
that great tower yonder? If there was a giant, a hell-hound, a minotaur,
to keep the gate of this enchanted palace, I would annihilate him. If
an army, I would exterminate it. Dea! Dea!"

Suddenly he heard a gentle noise, very faint. It was like dropping
water. He was in a dark narrow passage, closed, some few paces further
on, by a curtain. He advanced to the curtain, pushed it aside, entered.
He leaped before he looked.



An octagon room, with a vaulted ceiling, without windows but lighted by
a skylight; walls, ceiling, and floors faced with peach-coloured marble;
a black marble canopy, like a pall, with twisted columns in the solid
but pleasing Elizabethan style, overshadowing a vase-like bath of the
same black marble--this was what he saw before him. In the centre of the
bath arose a slender jet of tepid and perfumed water, which, softly and
slowly, was filling the tank. The bath was black to augment fairness
into brilliancy.

It was the water which he had heard. A waste-pipe, placed at a certain
height in the bath, prevented it from overflowing. Vapour was rising
from the water, but not sufficient to cause it to hang in drops on the
marble. The slender jet of water was like a supple wand of steel,
bending at the slightest current of air. There was no furniture, except
a chair-bed with pillows, long enough for a woman to lie on at full
length, and yet have room for a dog at her feet. The French, indeed,
borrow their word _canape_ from _can-al-pie_. This sofa was of Spanish
manufacture. In it silver took the place of woodwork. The cushions and
coverings were of rich white silk.

On the other side of the bath, by the wall, was a lofty dressing-table
of solid silver, furnished with every requisite for the table, having in
its centre, and in imitation of a window, eight small Venetian mirrors,
set in a silver frame. In a panel on the wall was a square opening, like
a little window, which was closed by a door of solid silver. This door
was fitted with hinges, like a shutter. On the shutter there glistened a
chased and gilt royal crown. Over it, and affixed to the wall, was a
bell, silver gilt, if not of pure gold.

Opposite the entrance of the chamber, in which Gwynplaine stood as if
transfixed, there was an opening in the marble wall, extending to the
ceiling, and closed by a high and broad curtain of silver tissue. This
curtain, of fairy-like tenuity, was transparent, and did not interrupt
the view. Through the centre of this web, where one might expect a
spider, Gwynplaine saw a more formidable object--a woman. Her dress was
a long chemise--so long that it floated over her feet, like the dresses
of angels in holy pictures; but so fine that it seemed liquid.

The silver tissue, transparent as glass and fastened only at the
ceiling, could be lifted aside. It separated the marble chamber, which
was a bathroom, from the adjoining apartment, which was a bedchamber.
This tiny dormitory was as a grotto of mirrors. Venetian glasses, close
together, mounted with gold mouldings, reflected on every side the bed
in the centre of the room. On the bed, which, like the toilet-table, was
of silver, lay the woman; she was asleep.

The crumpled clothes bore evidence of troubled sleep. The beauty of the
folds was proof of the quality of the material.

It was a period when a queen, thinking that she should be damned,
pictured hell to herself as a bed with coarse sheets.[20]

A dressing-gown, of curious silk, was thrown over the foot of the couch.
It was apparently Chinese; for a great golden lizard was partly visible
in between the folds.

Beyond the couch, and probably masking a door, was a large mirror, on
which were painted peacocks and swans.

Shadow seemed to lose its nature in this apartment, and glistened. The
spaces between the mirrors and the gold work were lined with that
sparkling material called at Venice thread of glass--that is, spun

At the head of the couch stood a reading desk, on a movable pivot, with
candles, and a book lying open, bearing this title, in large red
letters, "Alcoranus Mahumedis."

Gwynplaine saw none of these details. He had eyes only for the woman. He
was at once stupefied and filled with tumultuous emotions, states
apparently incompatible, yet sometimes co-existent. He recognized her.
Her eyes were closed, but her face was turned towards him. It was the
duchess--she, the mysterious being in whom all the splendours of the
unknown were united; she who had occasioned him so many unavowable
dreams; she who had written him so strange a letter! The only woman in
the world of whom he could say, "She has seen me, and she desires me!"

He had dismissed the dreams from his mind; he had burnt the letter. He
had, as far as lay in his power, banished the remembrance of her from
his thoughts and dreams. He no longer thought of her. He had forgotten

Again he saw her, and saw her terrible in power. His breath came in
short catches. He felt as if he were in a storm-driven cloud. He looked.
This woman before him! Was it possible? At the theatre a duchess; here a
nereid, a nymph, a fairy. Always an apparition. He tried to fly, but
felt the futility of the attempt. His eyes were riveted on the vision,
as though he were bound. Was she a woman? Was she a maiden? Both.
Messalina was perhaps present, though invisible, and smiled, while Diana
kept watch.

Over all her beauty was the radiance of inaccessibility. No purity could
compare with her chaste and haughty form. Certain snows, which have
never been touched, give an idea of it--such as the sacred whiteness of
the Jungfrau. Immodesty was merged in splendour. She felt the security
of an Olympian, who knew that she was daughter of the depths, and might
say to the ocean, "Father!" And she exposed herself, unattainable and
proud, to everything that should pass--to looks, to desires, to ravings,
to dreams; as proud in her languor, on her boudoir couch, as Venus in
the immensity of the sea-foam.

She had slept all night, and was prolonging her sleep into the daylight;
her boldness, begun in shadow, continued in light.

Gwynplaine shuddered. He admired her with an unhealthy and absorbing
admiration, which ended in fear. Misfortunes never come singly.
Gwynplaine thought he had drained to the dregs the cup of his ill-luck.
Now it was refilled. Who was it who was hurling all those unremitting
thunderbolts on his devoted head, and who had now thrown against him, as
he stood trembling there, a sleeping goddess? What! was the dangerous
and desirable object of his dream lurking all the while behind these
successive glimpses of heaven? Did these favours of the mysterious
tempter tend to inspire him with vague aspirations and confused ideas,
and overwhelm him with an intoxicating series of realities proceeding
from apparent impossibilities? Wherefore did all the shadows conspire
against him, a wretched man; and what would become of him, with all
those evil smiles of fortune beaming on him? Was his temptation
prearranged? This woman, how and why was she there? No explanation! Why
him? Why her? Was he made a peer of England expressly for this duchess?
Who had brought them together? Who was the dupe? Who the victim? Whose
simplicity was being abused? Was it God who was being deceived? All
these undefined thoughts passed confusedly, like a flight of dark
shadows, through his brain. That magical and malevolent abode, that
strange and prison-like palace, was it also in the plot? Gwynplaine
suffered a partial unconsciousness. Suppressed emotions threatened to
strangle him. He was weighed down by an overwhelming force. His will
became powerless. How could he resist? He was incoherent and entranced.
This time he felt he was becoming irremediably insane. His dark,
headlong fall over the precipice of stupefaction continued.

But the woman slept on.

What aggravated the storm within him was, that he saw not the princess,
not the duchess, not the lady, but the woman.

Gwynplaine, losing all self-command, trembled. What could he do against
such a temptation? Here were no skilful effects of dress, no silken
folds, no complex and coquettish adornments, no affected exaggeration of
concealment or of exhibition, no cloud. It was fearful simplicity--a
sort of mysterious summons--the shameless audacity of Eden. The whole of
the dark side of human nature was there. Eve worse than Satan; the human
and the superhuman commingled. A perplexing ecstasy, winding up in a
brutal triumph of instinct over duty. The sovereign contour of beauty is
imperious. When it leaves the ideal and condescends to be real, its
proximity is fatal to man.

Now and then the duchess moved softly on the bed, with the vague
movement of a cloud in the heavens, changing as a vapour changes its
form. Absurd as it may appear, though he saw her present in the flesh
before him, yet she seemed a chimera; and, palpable as she was, she
seemed to him afar off. Scared and livid, he gazed on. He listened for
her breathing, and fancied he heard only a phantom's respiration. He
was attracted, though against his will. How arm himself against her--or
against himself? He had been prepared for everything except this danger.
A savage doorkeeper, a raging monster of a jailer--such were his
expected antagonists. He looked for Cerberus; he saw Hebe. A sleeping
woman! What an opponent! He closed his eyes. Too bright a dawn blinds
the eyes. But through his closed eyelids there penetrated at once the
woman's form--not so distinct, but beautiful as ever.

Fly! Easier said than done. He had already tried and failed. He was
rooted to the ground, as if in a dream. When we try to draw back,
temptation clogs our feet and glues them to the earth. We can still
advance, but to retire is impossible. The invisible arms of sin rise
from below and drag us down.

There is a commonplace idea, accepted by every one, that feelings become
blunted by experience. Nothing can be more untrue. You might as well say
that by dropping nitric acid slowly on a sore it would heal and become
sound, and that torture dulled the sufferings of Damiens. The truth is,
that each fresh application intensifies the pain.

From one surprise after another, Gwynplaine had become desperate. That
cup, his reason, under this new stupor, was overflowing. He felt within
him a terrible awakening. Compass he no longer possessed. One idea only
was before him--the woman. An indescribable happiness appeared, which
threatened to overwhelm him. He could no longer decide for himself.
There was an irresistible current and a reef. The reef was not a rock,
but a siren--a magnet at the bottom of the abyss. He wished to tear
himself away from this magnet; but how was he to carry out his wish? He
had ceased to feel any basis of support. Who can foresee the
fluctuations of the human mind! A man may be wrecked, as is a ship.
Conscience is an anchor. It is a terrible thing, but, like the anchor,
conscience may be carried away.

He had not even the chance of being repulsed on account of his terrible
disfigurement. The woman had written to say that she loved him.

In every crisis there is a moment when the scale hesitates before
kicking the beam. When we lean to the worst side of our nature, instead
of strengthening our better qualities, the moral force which has been
preserving the balance gives way, and down we go. Had this critical
moment in Gwynplaine's life arrived?

How could he escape?

So it is she--the duchess, the woman! There she was in that lonely
room--asleep, far from succour, helpless, alone, at his mercy; yet he
was in her power! The duchess! We have, perchance, observed a star in
the distant firmament. We have admired it. It is so far off. What can
there be to make us shudder in a fixed star? Well, one day--one night,
rather--it moves. We perceive a trembling gleam around it. The star
which we imagined to be immovable is in motion. It is no longer a star,
but a comet--the incendiary giant of the skies. The luminary moves on,
grows bigger, shakes off a shower of sparks and fire, and becomes
enormous. It advances towards us. Oh, horror, it is coming our way! The
comet recognizes us, marks us for its own, and will not be turned aside.
Irresistible attack of the heavens! What is it which is bearing down on
us? An excess of light, which blinds us; an excess of life, which kills
us. That proposal which the heavens make we refuse; that unfathomable
love we reject. We close our eyes; we hide; we tear ourselves away; we
imagine the danger is past. We open our eyes: the formidable star is
still before us; but, no longer a star, it has become a world--a world
unknown, a world of lava and ashes; the devastating prodigy of space. It
fills the sky, allowing no compeers. The carbuncle of the firmament's
depths, a diamond in the distance, when drawn close to us becomes a
furnace. You are caught in its flames. And the first sensation of
burning is that of a heavenly warmth.



Suddenly the sleeper awoke. She sat up with a sudden and gracious
dignity of movement, her fair silken tresses falling in soft disorder.
Then stretching herself, she yawned like a tigress in the rising sun.

Perhaps Gwynplaine breathed heavily, as we do when we endeavour to
restrain our respiration.

"Is any one there?" said she.

She yawned as she spoke, and her very yawn was graceful. Gwynplaine
listened to the unfamiliar voice--the voice of a charmer, its accents
exquisitely haughty, its caressing intonation softening its native
arrogance. Then rising on her knees--there is an antique statue kneeling
thus in the midst of a thousand transparent folds--she drew the
dressing-gown towards her, and springing from the couch stood upright.
In the twinkling of an eye the silken robe was around her. The trailing
sleeve concealed her hands; only the tips of her toes, with little pink
nails like those of an infant, were left visible. Having drawn from
underneath the dressing-gown a mass of hair which had been imprisoned by
it, she crossed behind the couch to the end of the room, and placed her
ear to the painted mirror, which was, apparently, a door. Tapping the
glass with her finger, she called, "Is any one there? Lord David? Are
you come already? What time is it then? Is that you, Barkilphedro?" She
turned from the glass. "No! it was not there. Is there any one in the
bathroom? Will you answer? Of course not. No one could come that way."

Going to the silver lace curtain, she raised it with her foot, thrust it
aside with her shoulder, and entered the marble room. An agonized
numbness fell upon Gwynplaine. No possibility of concealment. It was too
late to fly. Moreover, he was no longer equal to the exertion. He wished
that the earth might open and swallow him up. Anything to hide him.

She saw him. She stared, immensely astonished, but without the slightest
nervousness. Then, in a tone of mingled pleasure and contempt, she said,
"Why, it is Gwynplaine!" Suddenly with a rapid spring, for this cat was
a panther, she flung herself on his neck.

Suddenly, pushing him back, and holding him by both shoulders with her
small claw-like hands, she stood up face to face with him, and began to
gaze at him with a strange expression.

It was a fatal glance she gave him with her Aldebaran-like eyes--a
glance at once equivocal and starlike. Gwynplaine watched the blue eye
and the black eye, distracted by the double ray of heaven and of hell
that shone in the orbs thus fixed on him. The man and the woman threw a
malign dazzling reflection one on the other. Both were fascinated--he
by her beauty, she by his deformity. Both were in a measure
awe-stricken. Pressed down, as by an overwhelming weight, he was

"Oh!" she cried. "How clever you are! You are come. You found out that I
was obliged to leave London. You followed me. That was right. Your being
here proves you to be a wonder."

The simultaneous return of self-possession acts like a flash of
lightning. Gwynplaine, indistinctly warned by a vague, rude, but honest
misgiving, drew back, but the pink nails clung to his shoulders and
restrained him. Some inexorable power proclaimed its sway over him. He
himself, a wild beast, was caged in a wild beast's den. She continued,
"Anne, the fool--you know whom I mean--the queen--ordered me to Windsor
without giving any reason. When I arrived she was closeted with her
idiot of a Chancellor. But how did you contrive to obtain access to me?
That's what I call being a man. Obstacles, indeed! there are no such
things. You come at a call. You found things out. My name, the Duchess
Josiana, you knew, I fancy. Who was it brought you in? No doubt it was
the page. Oh, he is clever! I will give him a hundred guineas. Which way
did you get in? Tell me! No, don't tell me; I don't want to know.
Explanations diminish interest. I prefer the marvellous, and you are
hideous enough to be wonderful. You have fallen from the highest
heavens, or you have risen from the depths of hell through the devil's
trap-door. Nothing can be more natural. The ceiling opened or the floor
yawned. A descent in a cloud, or an ascent in a mass of fire and
brimstone, that is how you have travelled. You have a right to enter
like the gods. Agreed; you are my lover."

Gwynplaine was scared, and listened, his mind growing more irresolute
every moment. Now all was certain. Impossible to have any further doubt.
That letter! the woman confirmed its meaning. Gwynplaine the lover and
the beloved of a duchess! Mighty pride, with its thousand baleful heads,
stirred his wretched heart. Vanity, that powerful agent within us, works
us measureless evil.

The duchess went on, "Since you are here, it is so decreed. I ask
nothing more. There is some one on high, or in hell, who brings us
together. The betrothal of Styx and Aurora! Unbridled ceremonies beyond
all laws! The very day I first saw you I said, 'It is he!' I recognize
him. He is the monster of my dreams. He shall be mine. We should give
destiny a helping hand. Therefore I wrote to you. One question,
Gwynplaine: do you believe in predestination? For my part, I have
believed in it since I read, in Cicero, Scipio's dream. Ah! I did not
observe it. Dressed like a gentleman! You in fine clothes! Why not? You
are a mountebank. All the more reason. A juggler is as good as a lord.
Moreover, what are lords? Clowns. You have a noble figure; you are
magnificently made. It is wonderful that you should be here. When did
you arrive? How long have you been here? Did you see me naked? I am
beautiful, am I not? I was going to take my bath. Oh, how I love you!
You read my letter! Did you read it yourself? Did any one read it to
you? Can you read? Probably you are ignorant. I ask questions, but don't
answer them. I don't like the sound of your voice. It is soft. An
extraordinary thing like you should snarl, and not speak. You sing
harmoniously. I hate it. It is the only thing about you that I do not
like. All the rest is terrible--is grand. In India you would be a god.
Were you born with that frightful laugh on your face? No! No doubt it is
a penal brand. I do hope you have committed some crime. Come to my

She sank on the couch, and made him sit beside her. They found
themselves close together unconsciously. What she said passed over
Gwynplaine like a mighty storm. He hardly understood the meaning of her
whirlwind of words. Her eyes were full of admiration. She spoke
tumultuously, frantically, with a voice broken and tender. Her words
were music, but their music was to Gwynplaine as a hurricane. Again she
fixed her gaze upon him and continued,--

"I feel degraded in your presence, and oh, what happiness that is! How
insipid it is to be a grandee! I am noble; what can be more tiresome?
Disgrace is a comfort. I am so satiated with respect that I long for
contempt. We are all a little erratic, from Venus, Cleopatra, Mesdames
de Chevreuse and de Longueville, down to myself. I will make a display
of you, I declare. Here's a love affair which will be a blow to my
family, the Stuarts. Ah! I breathe again. I have discovered a secret. I
am clear of royalty. To be free from its trammels is indeed deliverance.
To break down, defy, make and destroy at will, that is true enjoyment.
Listen, I love you."

She paused; then with a frightful smile went on, "I love you, not only
because you are deformed, but because you are low. I love monsters, and
I love mountebanks. A lover despised, mocked, grotesque, hideous,
exposed to laughter on that pillory called a theatre, has for me an
extraordinary attraction. It is tasting the fruit of hell. An infamous
lover, how exquisite! To taste the apple, not of Paradise, but of
hell--such is my temptation. It is for that I hunger and thirst. I am
that Eve, the Eve of the depths. Probably you are, unknown to yourself,
a devil. I am in love with a nightmare. You are a moving puppet, of
which the strings are pulled by a spectre. You are the incarnation of
infernal mirth. You are the master I require. I wanted a lover such as
those of Medea and Canidia. I felt sure that some night would bring me
such a one. You are all that I want. I am talking of a heap of things of
which you probably know nothing. Gwynplaine, hitherto I have remained
untouched; I give myself to you, pure as a burning ember. You evidently
do not believe me; but if you only knew how little I care!"

Her words flowed like a volcanic eruption. Pierce Mount Etna, and you
may obtain some idea of that jet of fiery eloquence.

Gwynplaine stammered, "Madame--"

She placed her hand on his mouth. "Silence," she said. "I am studying
you. I am unbridled desire, immaculate. I am a vestal bacchante. No man
has known me, and I might be the virgin pythoness at Delphos, and have
under my naked foot the bronze tripod, where the priests lean their
elbows on the skin of the python, whispering questions to the invisible
god. My heart is of stone, but it is like those mysterious pebbles which
the sea washes to the foot of the rock called Huntly Nabb, at the mouth
of the Tees, and which if broken are found to contain a serpent. That
serpent is my love--a love which is all-powerful, for it has brought you
to me. An impossible distance was between us. I was in Sirius, and you
were in Allioth. You have crossed the immeasurable space, and here you
are. 'Tis well. Be silent. Take me."

She ceased; he trembled. Then she went on, smiling, "You see,
Gwynplaine, to dream is to create; to desire is to summon. To build up
the chimera is to provoke the reality. The all-powerful and terrible
mystery will not be defied. It produces result. You are here. Do I dare
to lose caste? Yes. Do I dare to be your mistress--your concubine--your
slave--your chattel? Joyfully. Gwynplaine, I am woman. Woman is clay
longing to become mire. I want to despise myself. That lends a zest to
pride. The alloy of greatness is baseness. They combine in perfection.
Despise me, you who are despised. Nothing can be better. Degradation on
degradation. What joy! I pluck the double blossom of ignominy. Trample
me under foot. You will only love me the more. I am sure of it. Do you
understand why I idolize you? Because I despise you. You are so
immeasurably below me that I place you on an altar. Bring the highest
and lowest depths together, and you have Chaos, and I delight in
Chaos--Chaos, the beginning and end of everything. What is Chaos? A huge
blot. Out of that blot God made light, and out of that sink the world.
You don't know how perverse I can be. Knead a star in mud, and you will
have my likeness."

She went on,--

"A wolf to all beside; a faithful dog to you. How astonished they will
all be! The astonishment of fools is amusing. I understand myself. Am I
a goddess? Amphitrite gave herself to the Cyclops. _Fluctivoma
Amphitrite_. Am I a fairy? Urgele gave herself to Bugryx, a winged man,
with eight webbed hands. Am I a princess? Marie Stuart had Rizzio. Three
beauties, three monsters. I am greater than they, for you are lower than
they. Gwynplaine, we were made for one another. The monster that you are
outwardly, I am within. Thence my love for you. A caprice? Just so. What
is a hurricane but a caprice? Our stars have a certain affinity.
Together we are things of night--you in your face, I in my mind. As your
countenance is defaced, so is my mind. You, in your turn, create me. You
come, and my real soul shows itself. I did not know it. It is
astonishing. Your coming has evoked the hydra in me, who am a goddess.
You reveal my real nature. See how I resemble you. Look at me as if I
were a mirror. Your face is my mind. I did not know I was so terrible. I
am also, then, a monster. O Gwynplaine, you do amuse me!"

She laughed, a strange and childlike laugh; and, putting her mouth
close to his ear, whispered,--

"Do you want to see a mad woman? look at me."

She poured her searching look into Gwynplaine. A look is a philtre. Her
loosened robe provoked a thousand dangerous feelings. Blind, animal
ecstasy was invading his mind--ecstasy combined with agony. Whilst she
spoke, though he felt her words like burning coals, his blood froze
within his veins. He had not strength to utter a word.

She stopped, and looked at him.

"O monster!" she cried. She grew wild.

Suddenly she seized his hands.

"Gwynplaine, I am the throne; you are the footstool. Let us join on the
same level. Oh, how happy I am in my fall! I wish all the world could
know how abject I am become. It would bow down all the lower. The more
man abhors, the more does he cringe. It is human nature. Hostile, but
reptile; dragon, but worm. Oh, I am as depraved as are the gods! They
can never say that I am not a king's bastard. I act like a queen. Who
was Rodope but a queen loving Pteh, a man with a crocodile's head? She
raised the third pyramid in his honour. Penthesilea loved the centaur,
who, being now a star, is named Sagittarius. And what do you say about
Anne of Austria? Mazarin was ugly enough! Now, you are not only ugly;
you are deformed. Ugliness is mean, deformity is grand. Ugliness is the
devil's grin behind beauty; deformity is the reverse of sublimity. It is
the back view. Olympus has two aspects. One, by day, shows Apollo; the
other, by night, shows Polyphemus. You--you are a Titan. You would be
Behemoth in the forests, Leviathan in the deep, and Typhon in the sewer.
You surpass everything. There is the trace of lightning in your
deformity; your face has been battered by the thunderbolt. The jagged
contortion of forked lightning has imprinted its mark on your face. It
struck you and passed on. A mighty and mysterious wrath has, in a fit of
passion, cemented your spirit in a terrible and superhuman form. Hell is
a penal furnace, where the iron called Fatality is raised to a white
heat. You have been branded with it. To love you is to understand
grandeur. I enjoy that triumph. To be in love with Apollo--a fine
effort, forsooth! Glory is to be measured by the astonishment it
creates. I love you. I have dreamt of you night after night. This is my
palace. You shall see my gardens. There are fresh springs under the
shrubs; arbours for lovers; and beautiful groups of marble statuary by
Bernini. Flowers! there are too many--during the spring the place is on
fire with roses. Did I tell you that the queen is my sister? Do what you
like with me. I am made for Jupiter to kiss my feet, and for Satan to
spit in my face. Are you of any religion? I am a Papist. My father,
James II., died in France, surrounded by Jesuits. I have never felt
before as I feel now that I am near you. Oh, how I should like to pass
the evening with you, in the midst of music, both reclining on the same
cushion, under a purple awning, in a gilded gondola on the soft expanse
of ocean! Insult me, beat me, kick me, cuff me, treat me like a brute! I
adore you."

Caresses can roar. If you doubt it, observe the lion's. The woman was
horrible, and yet full of grace. The effect was tragic. First he felt
the claw, then the velvet of the paw. A feline attack, made up of
advances and retreats. There was death as well as sport in this game of
come and go. She idolized him, but arrogantly. The result was contagious
frenzy. Fatal language, at once inexpressible, violent, and sweet. The
insulter did not insult; the adorer outraged the object of adoration.
She, who buffeted, deified him. Her tones imparted to her violent yet
amorous words an indescribable Promethean grandeur. According to
AEschylus, in the orgies in honour of the great goddess the women were
smitten by this evil frenzy when they pursued the satyrs under the
stars. Such paroxysms raged in the mysterious dances in the grove of
Dodona. This woman was as if transfigured--if, indeed, we can term that
transfiguration which is the antithesis of heaven.

Her hair quivered like a mane; her robe opened and closed. The sunshine
of the blue eye mingled with the fire of the black one. She was

Gwynplaine, giving way, felt himself vanquished by the deep subtilty of
this attack.

"I love you!" she cried. And she bit him with a kiss.

Homeric clouds were, perhaps, about to be required to encompass
Gwynplaine and Josiana, as they did Jupiter and Juno. For Gwynplaine to
be loved by a woman who could see and who saw him, to feel on his
deformed mouth the pressure of divine lips, was exquisite and
maddening. Before this woman, full of enigmas, all else faded away in
his mind. The remembrance of Dea struggled in the shadows with weak
cries. There is an antique bas-relief representing the Sphinx devouring
a Cupid. The wings of the sweet celestial are bleeding between the
fierce, grinning fangs.

Did Gwynplaine love this woman? Has man, like the globe, two poles? Are
we, on our inflexible axis, a moving sphere, a star when seen from afar,
mud when seen more closely, in which night alternates with day? Has the
heart two aspects--one on which its love is poured forth in light; the
other in darkness? Here a woman of light, there a woman of the sewer.
Angels are necessary. Is it possible that demons are also essential? Has
the soul the wings of the bat? Does twilight fall fatally for all? Is
sin an integral and inevitable part of our destiny? Must we accept evil
as part and portion of our whole? Do we inherit sin as a debt? What
awful subjects for thought!

Yet a voice tells us that weakness is a crime. Gwynplaine's feelings are
not to be described. The flesh, life, terror, lust, an overwhelming
intoxication of spirit, and all the shame possible to pride. Was he
about to succumb?

She repeated, "I love you!" and flung her frenzied arms around him.
Gwynplaine panted.

Suddenly close at hand there rang, clear and distinct, a little bell. It
was the little bell inside the wall. The duchess, turning her head,

"What does she want of me?"

Quickly, with the noise of a spring door, the silver panel, with the
golden crown chased on it, opened. A compartment of a shaft, lined with
royal blue velvet, appeared, and on a golden salver a letter. The
letter, broad and weighty, was placed so as to exhibit the seal, which
was a large impression in red wax. The bell continued to tinkle. The
open panel almost touched the couch where the duchess and Gwynplaine
were sitting.

Leaning over, but still keeping her arm round his neck, she took the
letter from the plate, and touched the panel. The compartment closed in,
and the bell ceased ringing.

The duchess broke the seal, and, opening the envelope, drew out two
documents contained therein, and flung it on the floor at Gwynplaine's
feet. The impression of the broken seal was still decipherable, and
Gwynplaine could distinguish a royal crown over the initial A. The torn
envelope lay open before him, so that he could read, "To Her Grace the
Duchess Josiana." The envelope had contained both vellum and parchment.
The former was a small, the latter a large document. On the parchment
was a large Chancery seal in green wax, called Lords' sealing-wax.

The face of the duchess, whose bosom was palpitating, and whose eyes
were swimming with passion, became overspread with a slight expression
of dissatisfaction.

"Ah!" she said. "What does she send me? A lot of papers! What a
spoil-sport that woman is!"

Pushing aside the parchment, she opened the vellum.

"It is her handwriting. It is my sister's hand. It is quite provoking.
Gwynplaine, I asked you if you could read. Can you?"

Gwynplaine nodded assent.

She stretched herself at full length on the couch, carefully drew her
feet and arms under her robe, with a whimsical affectation of modesty,
and, giving Gwynplaine the vellum, watched him with an impassioned look.

"Well, you are mine. Begin your duties, my beloved. Read me what the
queen writes."

Gwynplaine took the vellum, unfolded it, and, in a voice tremulous with
many emotions, began to read:--

"MADAM,--We are graciously pleased to send to you herewith, sealed and
signed by our trusty and well-beloved William Cowper, Lord High
Chancellor of England, a copy of a report showing forth the very
important fact that the legitimate son of Linnaeus Lord Clancharlie has
just been discovered and recognized, bearing the name of Gwynplaine, in
the lowest rank of a wandering and vagabond life, among strollers and
mountebanks. His false position dates from his earliest days. In
accordance with the laws of the country, and in virtue of his hereditary
rights, Lord Fermain Clancharlie, son of Lord Linnaeus, will be this day
admitted, and installed in his position in the House of Lords.
Therefore, having regard to your welfare, and wishing to preserve for
your use the property and estates of Lord Clancharlie of Hunkerville, we
substitute him in the place of Lord David Dirry-Moir, and recommend him
to your good graces. We have caused Lord Fermain to be conducted to
Corleone Lodge. We will and command, as sister and as Queen, that the
said Fermain Lord Clancharlie, hitherto called Gwynplaine, shall be your
husband, and that you shall marry him. Such is our royal pleasure."

While Gwynplaine, in tremulous tones which varied at almost every word,
was reading the document, the duchess, half risen from the couch,
listened with fixed attention. When Gwynplaine finished, she snatched
the letter from his hands.

"Anne R," she murmured in a tone of abstraction. Then picking up from
the floor the parchment she had thrown down, she ran her eye over it. It
was the confession of the shipwrecked crew of the _Matutina_, embodied
in a report signed by the sheriff of Southwark and by the lord

Having perused the report, she read the queen's letter over again. Then
she said, "Be it so." And calmly pointing with her finger to the door of
the gallery through which he had entered, she added, "Begone."

Gwynplaine was petrified, and remained immovable. She repeated, in icy
tones, "Since you are my husband, begone." Gwynplaine, speechless, and
with eyes downcast like a criminal, remained motionless. She added, "You
have no right to be here; it is my lover's place." Gwynplaine was like a
man transfixed. "Very well," said she; "I must go myself. So you are my
husband. Nothing can be better. I hate you." She rose, and with an
indescribably haughty gesture of adieu left the room. The curtain in the
doorway of the gallery fell behind her.



Gwynplaine was alone--alone, and in the presence of the tepid bath and
the deserted couch. The confusion in his mind had reached its
culminating point. His thoughts no longer resembled thoughts. They
overflowed and ran riot; it was the anguish of a creature wrestling with
perplexity. He felt as if he were awaking from a horrid nightmare. The
entrance into unknown spheres is no simple matter.

From the time he had received the duchess's letter, brought by the
page, a series of surprising adventures had befallen Gwynplaine, each
one less intelligible than the other. Up to this time, though in a
dream, he had seen things clearly. Now he could only grope his way. He
no longer thought, nor even dreamed. He collapsed. He sank down upon the
couch which the duchess had vacated.

Suddenly he heard a sound of footsteps, and those of a man. The noise
came from the opposite side of the gallery to that by which the duchess
had departed. The man approached, and his footsteps, though deadened by
the carpet, were clear and distinct. Gwynplaine, in spite of his
abstraction, listened.

Suddenly, beyond the silver web of curtain which the duchess had left
partly open, a door, evidently concealed by the painted glass, opened
wide, and there came floating into the room the refrain of an old French
song, carolled at the top of a manly and joyous voice,--

"Trois petits gorets sur leur fumier
Juraient comme de porteurs de chaise,"

and a man entered. He wore a sword by his side, a magnificent naval

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