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“ It is all right! Ah, the scoundrel ! the thief! the vagabond ! the worthless fellow ! the seditious scamp! It is his designs on the government which have sent him there.
“He is a rebel. I was harbouring a rebel. I am free of him, and lucky for me ; he was compromising us. Thrust into prison ! Oh, so much the better! What excellent laws! Ah, ungrateful boy! I who brought him up! To give oneself all this trouble for this ! Why should he want to speak and to reason? He mixed himself up in politics. The ass! In handling the pence he babbled about the taxes, about the poor, about the people, about what was no business of his. He permitted himself to make reflections on the pence. He commented wickedly and maliciously on the copper money of the kingdom. He insulted the farthings of her Majesty. A farthing! Why, 'tis the same as the queen. A sacred effigy! Devil take it! a sacred effigy! Have we a queen, yes or no? Then respect her verdigris ! Everything depends on the government: one must know that. I have experience, I have. I know some things.
“And now I am free of him. When the wapentake came I was at first a fool; one always doubts one's own good luck. I believed that I did not see what I did see; that it was impossible, that it was a nightmare, that a day-dream was playing me a trick.
“But no! There was nothing truer. It is all clear. Gwynplaine is really in prison. It is a stroke
It is a stroke of Providence. Praise be to it! It is this monster who, with the row he made, has drawn attention to my establishment, and has denounced my poor wolf. Be off, Gwynplaine ; and, behold, I am rid of both. Two birds killed with one stone. Because Dea will die, when she can no longer see Gwynplaine. For she sees him, the idiot! She will have no object in life. She will say, 'What can I do in the world ?' Goodbye! To the devil with both of them! I always detested the creatures! Die, Dea! Oh, I am quite com fortable !"
WHAT HE DID.
He returned to the Tadcaster Inn.
He had not succeeded, since the morning, in extinguishing the terror which still showed on his scared face.
He perceived Ursus from afar.
“Is Gwynplaine coming back? It is full time. The public will soon be coming. Shall we have the performance of 'The Grinning Man'this evening ?"
“I am the grinning man,” said Ursus.
Then he went up to the first floor, opened the window next to the sign of the inn, leant over towards the placard about Gwynplaine, the grinning man, and the bill of “Chaos Vanquished ;" unnailed one, tore off the other, put both under his arm, and descended.
Master Nicless followed him with his eyes.
Master Nicless understood, and gave an order to his lieutenant, the boy Govicum, to announce to every one who came that there would be no representation that evening. He took away from the door the box made out of a cask, where they received the money, and rolled it into a corner of the lower sitting-room.
A moment after, Ursus entered the Green Box.
He put the two signs away in a corner, and entered what he called the woman's wing.
She was on her bed, dressed as usual, excepting that the body of her gown was loosened, as if she was taking a siesta.
Near to her Vinos and Fibi were sitting—one on a stool, the other on the ground-musing. Notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, they had not dressed themselves in their gauze of goddesses, which was a sign of deep discouragement. They had remained packed up in their drugget petticoats, and their dress of coarse cloth.
Ursus looked at Dea.
The music is over. You may put your trumpets into the drawer. You did well not to equip yourselves as deities. You look ugly enough as you are, but it was quite right. Keep on your petticoats-no performance to-night, nor to-morrow, nor the day after to-morrow. No Gwynplaine. Gwynplaine is clean
Then he looked again at Dea.
“What a blow to her this will be! It will be like blowing out a candle."
He inflated his cheeks.
“Losing Gwynplaine, she loses all. It would be just as if I lost Homo. It will be worse. She will feel more lonely than would anyone else. The blind wade through more sorrow than we do."
He looked out of the window at the end of the room.
“How the days lengthen! It is not too dark to see at seven o'clock. Nevertheless, we will light up."
He struck the steel and lighted the lamp, which hung from the ceiling of the Green Box.
Then he leaned over Dea.
“She will catch cold; you have unlaced her jacket too much. There is a proverb,
'Though April skies be bright,
Seeing a pin shining on the floor, he picked it up, and pricked-himself in the arm. Then he paced the Green Box, gesticulating.
“I am in full possession of my faculties. I am lucid, quite lucid. I consider this occurrence as quite proper, and I approve of what has happened. When she awakes I will explain everything to her clearly. The catastrophe will not be long in coming. No more Gwynplaine. Good night, Dea. How well it is all arranged! Gwynplaine in prison, Dea in the cemetery, they will be vis-à-vis ! A dance of death! Two destinies going off the stage at once. Pack up the costumes. Fasten the valise. For valise read coffin. It was just what was best for these creatures. Dea without eyes, Gwynplaine without a face. On high the Almighty will restore sight to Dea and beauty to Gwynplaine.
“Death puts things to rights. All will be well. Fibi, Vinos, hang up your tambourines on the nail. Your talents for noise will go to rust; my beauties, no more playing, no more trumpeting. "Chaos Vanquished' is vanquished. "The Grinning Man' is done for. • Taratantara' is dead. Dea sleeps on. She does well. In her place I would never awake again. Oh! she will soon fall asleep again. A skylark like that takes very little killing. This comes of meddling with politics. What a lesson! Governments are right. Gwynplaine to the sheriff. Dea to the grave-digger. Parallel cases! Instructive symmetry! I hope the tavern-keeper has barred the door. . We are
going to die this evening quietly at home, between ourselves—not I, nor Homo, but Dea.
“As for me, I shall continue to roll the caravan. I belong to the meanderings of vagabond life. I shall dismiss those two women. I shall not keep even one of them. I have a tendency to become an old scoundrel. A maid-servant in the house of a libertine is like a loaf of bread on the shelf. I decline the temptation. It is not becoming at my age. Turpe senilis amor. I will follow my way alone with Homo. How astonished Homo will be! Where is Gwynplaine? Where is Dea? Old comrade, once more we two are together. Plague take it ! I'm delighted. Their bucolics were an encumbrance. Ah ! that scamp Gwynplaine, who returns no more. He has left us stuck here. I say All right. And now 'tis Dea's turn. That won't be long. I like things to be done with. I would not snap my fingers to stop her dying—her dying! I tell you ! Ah, she awakes!"
Dea opened her eyelids; many blind persons shut them when they sleep. Her sweet unwitting face wore all its usual radiance.
“She smiles," murmured Ursus, "and I laugh. That is as it should be."
“Fibi ! Vinos! It must be the time for the performance. I think I have been asleep a long time. Come and dress me."
Neither Fibi nor Vinos moved.
Meanwhile, the ineffable blind look in the eyes of Dea met the eyes of Ursus. He started.
“Well!” he cried ; “what are you about? Vinos! Fibi! Do you not hear your mistress ? Are you deaf? Quick ! the play is going to begin.”
The two women looked at Ursus in stupefaction.
“ Dea is dressed. Now we may begin. I am sorry they let in so many spectators. How thickly packed they are ! Look, Gwynplaine, what a mad mob it is. I will bet that to-day we shall take more money than we have ever done yet. Come, gipsies, play up, both of you. Come here. Fibi, seize your clarion. Good. Vinos, drum on your tambourine. Fling it up and catch it again. Fibi, put yourself into a favourite attitude. Young ladies, you are too much dressed. Take off those jackets. Replace stuff by gauze. The public like to see the female form exposed. Let the moralists
thunder. A little indecency. Devil take it! What of that? Look voluptuous, and rush into wild melodies. Snort, blow, whistle, flourish, play the tambourine. What a quantity of people, my poor Gwynplaine!”
He interrupted himself.
"Gwynplaine, help me. Let down the platform." He spread out his pocket-handkerchief. “But first let me roar in my rag," and he blew his nose violently, as a ventriloquist ought. His handkerchief replaced in his pocket, he drew the pegs out of the pulleys, which creaked as usual as the platform was let down.
“Gwynplaine, do not draw the curtain until the performance begins. We are not alone. You two come on in front. Music, ladies ! tum, tum, tum. A pretty audience we have ! the dregs of the people. Good heavens!”
The two gipsies, stupidly obedient, placed themselves in their usual corners of the platform. Then Ursus became wonderful. It was no longer a man, but a crowd. · Obliged to make abundance out of emptiness, he called to aid his prodigious powers of ventriloquism. The whole orchestra of human and animal voices which was within him, he called into tumult at once.
He was legion. Any one with his eyes shut would have imagined that he was in a public place on some day of rejoicing, or in some sudden popular riot. A whirlwind of clamour proceeded from Ursus ; he sang, he shouted, he talked, he coughed, he spat, he sneezed, took snuff, talked and responded, put questions and gave answers, all at once. The half uttered syllables ran one into another. In the court, untenanted by a single spectator, were heard men, women, and children. It was a clear confusion of tumult. Strange discords wound, vapour-like, through the confusion. The chirping of birds, the swearing of cats, the wailings of sucking children. They could distinguish the indistinct tones of drunken men. The growling of dogs under the feet of people who stamped on them. The cries came from far and near, from top to bottom, from the upper boxes to the pit.
Govicum, delighted in provoking this noise, exerted himself almost as much as Ursus. It amused him, and, moreover, it earned him pence.
Homo was pensive.
In the midst of the tumult Ursus now and then uttered such words as these :-"Just as usual, Gwynplaine. There is a cabal against us. Our rivals undermine our success. Tumult is the seasoning of triumph. Besides, there are too many people. They are uncomfort