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This preface, though placed at the beginning, as a preface must be, should be read at the end of the book. I have received a large amount of correspondence concerning this small work, and many reviews of it—some of them nearly as long as the book itself—have been printed. But scarcely any of the comment has been adverse. Some people have objected to a frivolity of tone; but as the tone is not, in my opinion, at all frivolous, this... more...

I - ALL MEANS AND NO END I The plain man on a plain day wakes up, slowly or quickly according to his temperament, and greets the day in a mental posture which might be thus expressed in words: "Oh, Lord! Another day! What a grind!" If you ask me whom I mean by the plain man, my reply is that I mean almost every man. I mean you. I certainly mean me. I mean the rich and the poor, the successful and the unsuccessful, the idle and the diligent,... more...

THE APPEAL If there is any virtue in advertisements—and a journalist should be the last person to say that there is not—the American nation is rapidly reaching a state of physical efficiency of which the world has probably not seen the like since Sparta. In all the American newspapers and all the American monthlies are innumerable illustrated announcements of "physical-culture specialists," who guarantee to make all the organs of the... more...

THE FIRST NIGHT I sat with a melting ice on my plate, and my gaze on a very distant swinging door, through which came and went every figure except the familiar figure I desired. The figure of a woman came. She wore a pale-blue dress and a white apron and cap, and carried a dish in uplifted hands, with the gesture of an acolyte. On the bib of the apron were two red marks, and as she approached, tripping, scornful, unheeding, along the... more...

THE FACT Something has happened to Christmas, or to our hearts; or to both. In order to be convinced of this it is only necessary to compare the present with the past. In the old days of not so long ago the festival began to excite us in November. For weeks the house rustled with charming and thrilling secrets, and with the furtive noises of paper parcels being wrapped and unwrapped; the house was a whispering gallery. The tension of... more...


CHAPTER I THE AIM At the beginning a misconception must be removed from the path. Many people, if not most, look on literary taste as an elegant accomplishment, by acquiring which they will complete themselves, and make themselves finally fit as members of a correct society. They are secretly ashamed of their ignorance of literature, in the same way as they would be ashamed of their ignorance of etiquette at a high entertainment, or of their... more...

CHAPTER I MY SPLENDID COUSIN I am eight years older now. It had never occurred to me that I am advancing in life and experience until, in setting myself to recall the various details of the affair, I suddenly remembered my timid confusion before the haughty mien of the clerk at Keith Prowse's. I had asked him: "Have you any amphitheatre seats for the Opera to-night?" He did not reply. He merely put his lips together and waved his hand slowly... more...

I The Zone Of Paris From the balcony you look down upon massed and variegated tree- tops as though you were looking down upon a valley forest from a mountain height. Those trees, whose hidden trunks make alleys and squares, are rooted in the history of France. On the dusty gravel of the promenade which runs between the garden and the street a very young man and a girl, tiny figures, are playing with rackets at one of those second-rate ball games... more...

ACT I Hildegarde is sitting at a desk, writing . John, in a lounging attitude, is reading a newspaper . Enter Tranto, back . TRANTO. Good evening. HILDEGARDE ( turning slightly in her seat and giving him her left hand, the right still holding a pen ). Good evening. Excuse me one moment. TRANTO. All right about my dining here to-night? (Hildegarde nods .) Larder equal to the strain? HILDEGARDE. Macaroni. TRANTO. Splendid. HILDEGARDE.... more...

CHAPTER I THE NEW LODGING I In the pupils' room of the offices of Lucas & Enwright, architects, Russell Square, Bloomsbury, George Edwin Cannon, an articled pupil, leaned over a large drawing-board and looked up at Mr. Enwright, the head of the firm, who with cigarette and stick was on his way out after what he called a good day's work. It was past six o'clock on an evening in early July 1901. To George's right was an open door leading to... more...