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CHAPTER I. ELMA'S STRANGER. It was late when Elma reached the station. Her pony had jibbed on the way downhill, and the train was just on the point of moving off as she hurried upon the platform. Old Matthews, the stout and chubby-cheeked station-master, seized her most unceremoniously by the left arm, and bundled her into a carriage. He had known her from a child, so he could venture upon such liberties. "Second class, miss? Yes, miss. Here... more...

I. Mrs. Dewsbury's lawn was held by those who knew it the loveliest in Surrey. The smooth and springy sward that stretched in front of the house was all composed of a tiny yellow clover. It gave beneath the foot like the pile on velvet. One's gaze looked forth from it upon the endless middle distances of the oak-clad Weald, with the uncertain blue line of the South Downs in the background. Ridge behind ridge, the long, low hills of paludina... more...

CHAPTER I. IN MID PACIFIC. "Man overboard!" It rang in Felix Thurstan's ears like the sound of a bell. He gazed about him in dismay, wondering what had happened. The first intimation he received of the accident was that sudden sharp cry from the bo'sun's mate. Almost before he had fully taken it in, in all its meaning, another voice, farther aft, took up the cry once more in an altered form: "A lady! a lady! Somebody overboard! Great heavens,... more...

INTRODUCTION Which every reader of this book is requested to read before beginning the story. This is a Hill-top Novel. I dedicate it to all who have heart enough, brain enough, and soul enough to understand it. What do I mean by a Hill-top Novel? Well, of late we have been flooded with stories of evil tendencies: a Hill-top Novel is one which raises a protest in favour of purity. Why have not novelists raised the protest earlier? For this... more...

I. LETTER-WRITERS. Since old Leisure died, we have come to think ourselves altogether too fine and too busy to cultivate the delightful art of correspondence. Dickens seems to have been almost the last man among us who gave his mind to letter-writing; and his letters contain some of his very best work, for he plunged into his subject with that high-spirited abandonment which we see in "Pickwick," and the full geniality of his mind came out... more...


About the middle of the Miocene period, as well as I can now remember (for I made no note of the precise date at the moment), my islands first appeared above the stormy sheet of the North-West Atlantic as a little rising group of mountain tops, capping a broad boss of submarine volcanoes. My attention was originally called to the new archipelago by a brother investigator of my own aerial race, who pointed out to me on the wing that at a spot some... more...

CHAPTER I. UNA CALLINGHAM'S FIRST RECOLLECTION It may sound odd to say so, but the very earliest fact that impressed itself on my memory was a scene that took place—so I was told—when I was eighteen years old, in my father's house, The Grange, at Woodbury. My babyhood, my childhood, my girlhood, my school-days were all utterly blotted out by that one strange shock of horror. My past life became exactly as though it had never been.... more...

THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE AMONG LANGUAGES. A distinguished Positivist friend of mine, who is in most matters a practical man of the world, astonished me greatly the other day at Venice, by the grave remark that Italian was destined to be the language of the future. I found on inquiry he had inherited the notion direct from Auguste Comte, who justified it on the purely sentimental and unpractical ground that the tongue of Dante had never yet been... more...

CHAPTER I. CHILDREN OF LIGHT. It was Sunday evening, and on Sundays Max Schurz, the chief of the London Socialists, always held his weekly receptions. That night his cosmopolitan refugee friends were all at liberty; his French disciples could pour in from the little lanes and courts in Soho, where, since the Commune, they had plied their peaceful trades as engravers, picture-framers, artists'-colourmen, models, pointers, and so forth—for... more...

THE ADVENTURE OF THE CANTANKEROUS OLD LADY On the day when I found myself with twopence in my pocket, I naturally made up my mind to go round the world. It was my stepfather's death that drove me to it. I had never seen my stepfather. Indeed, I never even thought of him as anything more than Colonel Watts-Morgan. I owed him nothing, except my poverty. He married my dear mother when I was a girl at school in Switzerland; and he proceeded to... more...