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    I recall very fully the moment and the place when I first heard of ‘Don Quixote,’ while as yet I could not connect it very distinctly with anybody’s authorship. I was still too young to conceive of authorship, even in my own case, and wrote my miserable verses without any notion of literature, or of anything but the pleasure of seeing them actually come out rightly rhymed and measured. The moment was at the close of a summer’s day just before supper, which, in our house, we had lawlessly late, and the place was the kitchen where my mother was going about her work, and listening as she could to what my father was telling my brother and me and an apprentice of ours, who was like a brother to us both, of a book that he had once read. We boys were all shelling peas, but the story, as it went on, rapt us from the poor employ, and whatever our fingers were doing, our spirits were away in that strange land of adventures and mishaps, where the fevered life of the knight truly without fear and without reproach burned itself out. I dare say that my father tried to make us understand the satirical purpose of the book. I vaguely remember his speaking of the books of chivalry it was meant to ridicule; but a boy could not care for this, and what I longed to do at once was to get that book and plunge into its story. He told us at random of the attack on the windmills and the flocks of sheep, of the night in the valley of the fulling-mills with their trip-hammers, of the inn and the muleteers, of the tossing of Sancho in the blanket, of the island that was given him to govern, and of all the merry pranks at the duke’s and duchess’s, of the liberation of the galley-slaves, of the capture of Mambrino’s helmet, and of Sancho’s invention of the enchanted Dulcinea, and whatever else there was wonderful and delightful in the most wonderful and delightful book in the world. I do not know when or where my father got it for me, and I am aware of an appreciable time that passed between my hearing of it and my having it. The event must have been most important to me, and it is strange I cannot fix the moment when the precious story came into my hands; though for the matter of that there is nothing more capricious than a child’s memory, what it will hold and what it will lose.

    The setting sun shed its bright tints over the snow which lay thick upon the ground, making it glisten like diamonds, the cold was intense, and a bitter wind howled through the leafless trees, when the train arrived at M----, and Isabel almost benumbed with cold, procured a conveyance from the station to the Rock Hotel, where Mrs. Arlington had promised to send for her.

    Chapter 1

    Cousin Ann always had been, always would be, a frequent visitor, for she was devoted to the family in her own peculiar way; what therefore could Nancy be proposing to do with the Carey Curse?

    “The press-gang.”

    "Little Father," said she slowly, "long has this man wanted me to live in his wigwam. For that he joined Haukemah's band;--because I was there. I have been good in his eyes. Never have I given him favour. My favour always would unlock his heart."

    Mr. Perls was grinning.

    “No,” I said, “but it might be one soon if it were you in there,” and little did I think as I joked that my words were almost prophetic.

    All afternoon they cleaved eastward never turning nor slackening pace. Once Ged broke his silence, saying, "Do you hold with those who think the world is all landless sea beyond the Outer Reaches, or with those who imagine other Archipelagoes or vast undiscovered lands on the other face of the world?"


    The sun sank into grey clouds, the sky flushed and darkened, the evening star trembled into sight. It was deep twilight when the captain cried out and pointed. My brother strained his eyes. Something rushed up into the sky out of the greyness--rushed slantingly upward and very swiftly into the luminous clearness above the clouds in the western sky; something flat and broad, and very large, that swept round in a vast curve, grew smaller, sank slowly, and vanished again into the grey mystery of the night. And as it flew it rained down darkness upon the land.

    In the garth began,

    Even, too, in those days, the newspaper critics, muzzled by the business department, which has never any wish to lose its theatrical advertisements, said little, with a few honest130 exceptions like Bernard Shaw. Max Beerbohm, when he took over the critical work of Shaw on The Saturday Review was obviously unhappy. English theatres rapidly became as elaborate and as pompous as the Church Militant in its palmy days. They kept growing in size. In London, indeed, the small theatre never had its boom. Indeed, the nineties was the age when the big theatres were being built to fill their owners’ pockets and the men of the nineties themselves (be it for whatever reason you like) did not produce a single play.

    “What shipwreck was this — where was it?” asked the puzzled magistrate of nobody in particular.

    The fact is, that the English do not know what education means. At the public schools, and at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, education has become, to a great extent, a social matter. You go to these places to learn, certainly; but you also go with a view to the formation of a desirable and influential acquaintance, and to get upon[Pg 175] your forehead the mark which is supposed to make glorious the public-school and university-bred Englishman. As a general rule, that mark is altogether imperceptible to the eyes of the unelect, who, if the truth must be told, discover the university man not so much by his manners or conversation as by his ineptitudes. When one comes to consider the principles upon which the public-school and university system are worked, one is quite prepared to admit that, were it not for the element of snobbery patent in the system, English public schools and universities alike would in the long run have to be disestablished. As it is, they are the conventional resort of aristocratic adolescence, and permitted to exist only on condition that, if a low middle-class person can find the money and keep up the style, he, too, may join the angelic host. To the man of temperament, to the scholar, to the man who loves learning for learning's sake, the English universities have precious little to offer.

    "You're lucky," I told her. "You're really lucky. You know that?" She was really a moron. But what a dancer. I could hardly stop myself from sort of giving her a kiss on the top of her dopey head--you know-- right where the part is, and all. She got sore when I did it.

      “You was pokin’ your big ears into our business,” George said. “I don’t like nobody to get nosey.”

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