THE ENCHANTED RING. One of the most imposing buildings in Boston twenty years ago was a granite hotel, whose western windows looked upon a graveyard. Passing up a flight of steps, and beneath a portico of dignified granite columns, and so through an embarrassing pair of swinging-doors to the roomy vestibule,—you would there pause a moment to spit upon the black-and-white tessellated pavement. Having thus asserted your title to Puritan... more...

CHAPTER I. AN APPANAGE OF ROYALTY. A good many years ago—before Julius Cæsar landed at Dover, in fact, and while the architect's plans for Stonehenge were still under consideration—England was inhabited by a civilised and prosperous people, who did not care about travelling, and who were renowned for their affability to strangers. The climate was warm and equable; there were no fogs, no smoke, no railways, and no politics. The... more...

PREFACE These chapters were begun the day after I got back to New York from the Atlanta penitentiary, and went on from day to day to the end. I did not know, at the start, what the thing would be like at the finish, and I made small effort to make it look shapely and smooth; but the inward impulse in me to write it, somehow, was irresistible, in spite of the other impulse to go off somewhere and rest and forget it all. But I felt that if it were... more...

INTRODUCTION When we speak of History, we may mean either one of several things. A savage will make picture-marks on a stone or a bone or a bit of wood; they serve to recall to him and his companions certain events which appeared remarkable or important for one or another reason; there was an earthquake, or a battle, or a famine, or an invasion: the chronicler himself, or some fellow-tribesman of his, may have performed some notable exploit. The... more...

CHAPTER I. The professor crossed one long, lean leg over the other, and punched down the ashes in his pipe-bowl with the square tip of his middle finger. The thermometer on the shady veranda marked eighty-seven degrees of heat, and nature wooed the soul to languor and revery; but nothing could abate the energy of this bony sage. "They talk about their Atlantises,—their submerged continents!" he exclaimed, with a sniff through his wide,... more...


INTRODUCTION Inheritance of friendships—Gracious giants—My own goodfortune—My father the central figure—What did his gift tome cost him?—A revelation in Colorado—Privileges makedifficulties—Lights and shadows of memory—An informalnarrative—Contrast between my father's life and mine. The best use we can make of good fortune is to share it with our fellows. Those to whom good things come by... more...

Among the records of the English state trials are to be found many strange stories, which would, as the phrase is, make the fortune of a modern novelist. But there are also numerous cases, not less stimulating to imagination and curiosity, which never attained more than local notoriety, of which the law was able to take but comparatively small cognizance, although they became subjects of much unofficial discussion and mystification. Among these... more...

CHAPTER I. A PRELIMINARY CONFESSION. In 1869, when I was about twenty-three years old, I sent a couple of sonnets to the revived Putnam's Magazine. At that period I had no intention of becoming a professional writer: I was studying civil engineering at the Polytechnic School in Dresden, Saxony. Years before, I had received parental warnings—unnecessary, as I thought—against writing for a living. During the next two years, however,... more...

HOW PROFESSOR VALEYON LOSES HIS HANDKERCHIEF. One warm afternoon in June—the warmest of the season thus far—Professor Valeyon sat, smoking a black clay pipe, upon the broad balcony, which extended all across the back of his house, and overlooked three acres of garden, inclosed by a solid stone-wall. All the doors in the house were open, and most of the windows, so that any one passing in the road might have looked up through the... more...

Introductory. When I was a child, I used to hope my fairy-stories were true. Since reaching years of discretion, I have preferred acknowledged fiction. This inconsistency, however, is probably rather apparent than real. Experience has taught me that the greater the fairy-story the less the truth; and contrariwise, that the greater the truth the less the fairy-story. In other words, the artistic graces of romance are irreconcilable with the crude... more...