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THE TRAGEDY OF ROMEO AND JULIET

by William Shakespeare ACT I. Scene I. Verona. A public place. Enter Sampson and Gregory (with swords and bucklers) of the house of Capulet. Samp. Gregory, on my word, we'll not carry coals. Greg. No, for then we should ...

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A Journey to the Centre of the Earth

by Jules Verne CHAPTER 1 MY UNCLE MAKES A GREAT DISCOVERY Looking back to all that has occurred to me since that eventful day, I am scarcely able to believe in the reality of my adventures. They were ...

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His Last Bow: An Epilogue of Sherlock Holmes

by Arthur Conan Doyle It was nine o'clock at night upon the second of August--the most terrible August in the history of the world. One might have thought already that God's curse hung heavy over a ...

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The Brothers Karamazov

By Fyodor Dostoyevsky Part I Book I. The History Of A Family Chapter I. Fyodor Pavlovitch Karamazov Alexey Fyodorovitch Karamazov was the third son of Fyodor Pavlovitch Karamazov, a land owner well known in our district in his own ...

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The Adventure of the Cardboard Box

by Arthur Conan Doyle In choosing a few typical cases which illustrate the remarkable mental qualities of my friend, Sherlock Holmes, I have endeavoured, as far as possible, to select those which presented the minimum of ...

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Thus Spake Zarathustra: A Book for All and None

By Friedrich Nietzsche FIRST PART. ZARATHUSTRA'S DISCOURSES. ZARATHUSTRA'S PROLOGUE. 1. When Zarathustra was thirty years old, he left his home and the lake of his home, and went into the mountains. There he enjoyed his spirit and solitude, and ...

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The Secret Adversary

by Agatha Christie PROLOGUE IT was 2 p.m. on the afternoon of May 7, 1915. The Lusitania had been struck by two torpedoes in succession and was sinking rapidly, while the boats were being launched with all ...

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ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND

By Lewis Carroll Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was ...

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Three Years in Tibet

by Ekai Kawaguchi PREFACE I was lately reading the Holy Text of the Saḍḍharma-Puṇdarīka (the Aphorisms of the White Lotus of the Wonderful or True Law) in a Samskṛṭ manuscript under a Boḍhi-tree near Mṛga-Ḍāva (Sāranāṭh), Benares. ...

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THE ILIAD

By Homer INTRODUCTION. Scepticism is as much the result of knowledge, as knowledge is of scepticism. To be content with what we at present know, is, for the most part, to shut our ears against conviction; since, ...

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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

by Benjamin Franklin INTRODUCTORY NOTE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN was born in Milk Street, Boston, on January 6, 1706. His father, Josiah Franklin, was a tallow chandler who married twice, and of his seventeen children Benjamin was the youngest ...

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From the Earth to the Moon; and, Round the Moon

by Jules Verne CHAPTER I THE GUN CLUB During the War of the Rebellion, a new and influential club was established in the city of Baltimore in the State of Maryland. It is well known with what energy ...

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Travels and adventures in South and Central America

by Ramón Páez INTRODUCTION. “Know’st thou the land where the citron grows, Where midst its dark foliage the golden orange glows? Thither, thither let us go.” Goethe. To Young America: “Smart,” as the world over, you are acknowledged to be—in which opinion ...

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Third Planet

by Murray Leinster I It was, as usual, a decision on which the question of peace or atomic war depended. The Council of the Western Defense Alliance, as usual, had made the decision. And, as usual, the ...

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Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales - Second Series

by H. C. Andersen THE FLAX HE flax was in full bloom; it had pretty little blue flowers, as delicate as the wings of a moth. The sun shone on it and the showers watered it; and ...

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The Lost World

by Arthur Conan Doyle CHAPTER I "There Are Heroisms All Round Us" Mr. Hungerton, her father, really was the most tactless person upon earth,—a fluffy, feathery, untidy cockatoo of a man, perfectly good-natured, but absolutely centered upon his ...

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THE JUNGLE BOOK

By Rudyard Kipling Mowgli's Brothers Now Rann the Kite brings home the night That Mang the Bat sets free— The herds are shut in byre and hut For loosed till dawn are we. This is the hour of pride and power, Talon ...

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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

by Lewis Carroll I—DOWN THE RABBIT-HOLE A lice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do. Once or twice she had peeped into the book her ...

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THE TIME MACHINE

by H. G. Wells I The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us. His grey eyes shone and twinkled, and his usually pale face was ...

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The Adventure of the Dying Detective

by Arthur Conan Doyle Mrs. Hudson, the landlady of Sherlock Holmes, was a long-suffering woman. Not only was her first-floor flat invaded at all hours by throngs of singular and often undesirable characters but her remarkable ...

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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

by Mark Twain

PREFACE

The ungentle laws and customs touched upon in this tale are historical, and the episodes which are used to illustrate them are also historical. It is not pretended that these laws and customs existed in England in the sixth century; no, it is only pretended that inasmuch as they existed in the English and other civilizations of far later times, it is safe to consider that it is no libel upon the sixth century to suppose them to have been in practice in that day also. One is quite justified in inferring that whatever one of these laws or customs was lacking in that remote time, its place was competently filled by a worse one.

The question as to whether there is such a thing as divine right of kings is not settled in this book. It was found too difficult. That the executive head of a nation should be a person of lofty character and extraordinary ability, was manifest and indisputable; that none but the Deity could select that head unerringly, was also manifest and indisputable; that the Deity ought to make that selection, then, was likewise manifest and indisputable; consequently, that He does make it, as claimed, was an unavoidable deduction. I mean, until the author of this book encountered the Pompadour, and Lady Castlemaine, and some other executive heads of that kind; these were found so difficult to work into the scheme, that it was judged better to take the other tack in this book (which must be issued this fall), and then go into training and settle the question in another book. It is, of course, a thing which ought to be settled, and I am not going to have anything particular to do next winter anyway.

MARK TWAIN
HARTFORD, July 21, 1889

A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT
A WORD OF EXPLANATION

It was in Warwick Castle that I came across the curious stranger whom I am going to talk about. He attracted me by three things: his candid simplicity, his marvelous familiarity with ancient armor, and the restfulness of his company—for he did all the talking. We fell together, as modest people will, in the tail of the herd that was being shown through, and he at once began to say things which interested me. As he talked along, softly, pleasantly, flowingly, he seemed to drift away imperceptibly out of this world and time, and into some remote era and old forgotten country; and so he gradually wove such a spell about me that I seemed to move among the specters and shadows and dust and mold of a gray antiquity, holding speech with a relic of it! Exactly as I would speak of my nearest personal friends or enemies, or my most familiar neighbors, he spoke of Sir Bedivere, Sir Bors de Ganis, Sir Launcelot of the Lake, Sir Galahad, and all the other great names of the Table Round—and how old, old, unspeakably old and faded and dry and musty and ancient he came to look as he went on! Presently he turned to me and said, just as one might speak of the weather, or any other common matter—

“You know about transmigration of souls; do you know about transposition of epochs—and bodies?”

I said I had not heard of it. He was so little interested—just as when people speak of the weather—that he did not notice whether I made him any answer or not. There was half a moment of silence, immediately interrupted by the droning voice of the salaried cicerone:

“Ancient hauberk, date of the sixth century, time of King Arthur and the Round Table; said to have belonged to the knight Sir Sagramor le Desirous; observe the round hole through the chain-mail in the left breast; can’t be accounted for; supposed to have been done with a bullet since invention of firearms—perhaps maliciously by Cromwell’s soldiers.”

My acquaintance smiled—not a modern smile, but one that must have gone out of general use many, many centuries ago—and muttered apparently to himself:

“Wit ye well, I saw it done .” Then, after a pause, added: “I did it myself.”

By the time I had recovered from the electric surprise of this remark, he was gone.

All that evening I sat by my fire at the Warwick Arms, steeped in a dream of the olden time, while the rain beat upon the windows, and the wind roared about the eaves and corners. From time to time I dipped into old Sir Thomas Malory’s enchanting book, and fed at its rich feast of prodigies and adventures, breathed in the fragrance of its obsolete names, and dreamed again. Midnight being come at length, I read another tale, for a nightcap—this which here follows, to wit:
HOW SIR LAUNCELOT SLEW TWO GIANTS,
AND MADE A CASTLE FREE

Anon withal came there upon him two great giants,
well armed, all save the heads, with two horrible
clubs in their hands. Sir Launcelot put his shield
afore him, and put the stroke away of the one
giant, and with his sword he clave his head asunder.
When his fellow saw that, he ran away as he were
wood [*demented], for fear of the horrible strokes,
and Sir Launcelot after him with all his might,
and smote him on the shoulder, and clave him to
the middle. Then Sir Launcelot went into the hall,
and there came afore him three score ladies and
damsels, and all kneeled unto him, and thanked
God and him of their deliverance. For, sir, said
they, the most part of us have been here this
seven year their prisoners, and we have worked all
manner of silk works for our meat, and we are all
great gentle-women born, and blessed be the time,
knight, that ever thou wert born; for thou hast
done the most worship that ever did knight in the
world, that will we bear record, and we all pray
you to tell us your name, that we may tell our
friends who delivered us out of prison. Fair
damsels, he said, my name is Sir Launcelot du
Lake. And so he departed from them and betaught
them unto God. And then he mounted upon his
horse, and rode into many strange and wild
countries, and through many waters and valleys,
and evil was he lodged. And at the last by
fortune him happened against a night to come to
a fair courtilage, and therein he found an old
gentle-woman that lodged him with a good-will,
and there he had good cheer for him and his horse.
And when time was, his host brought him into a
fair garret over the gate to his bed. There
Sir Launcelot unarmed him, and set his harness
by him, and went to bed, and anon he fell on
sleep. So, soon after there came one on
horseback, and knocked at the gate in great
haste. And when Sir Launcelot heard this he rose
up, and looked out at the window, and saw by the
moonlight three knights come riding after that
one man, and all three lashed on him at once
with swords, and that one knight turned on them
knightly again and defended him. Truly, said
Sir Launcelot, yonder one knight shall I help,
for it were shame for me to see three knights
on one, and if he be slain I am partner of his
death. And therewith he took his harness and
went out at a window by a sheet down to the four
knights, and then Sir Launcelot said on high,
Turn you knights unto me, and leave your
fighting with that knight. And then they all
three left Sir Kay, and turned unto Sir Launcelot,
and there began great battle, for they alight
all three, and strake many strokes at Sir
Launcelot, and assailed him on every side. Then
Sir Kay dressed him for to have holpen Sir
Launcelot. Nay, sir, said he, I will none of
your help, therefore as ye will have my help
let me alone with them. Sir Kay for the pleasure
of the knight suffered him for to do his will,
and so stood aside. And then anon within six
strokes Sir Launcelot had stricken them to the earth.

And then they all three cried, Sir Knight, we
yield us unto you as man of might matchless. As
to that, said Sir Launcelot, I will not take
your yielding unto me, but so that ye yield
you unto Sir Kay the seneschal, on that covenant
I will save your lives and else not. Fair knight,
said they, that were we loath to do; for as for
Sir Kay we chased him hither, and had overcome
him had ye not been; therefore, to yield us unto
him it were no reason. Well, as to that, said
Sir Launcelot, advise you well, for ye may
choose whether ye will die or live, for an ye be
yielden, it shall be unto Sir Kay. Fair knight,
then they said, in saving our lives we will do
as thou commandest us. Then shall ye, said Sir
Launcelot, on Whitsunday next coming go unto the
court of King Arthur, and there shall ye yield
you unto Queen Guenever, and put you all three
in her grace and mercy, and say that Sir Kay
sent you thither to be her prisoners. On the morn
Sir Launcelot arose early, and left Sir Kay
sleeping; and Sir Launcelot took Sir Kay’s armor
and his shield and armed him, and so he went to
the stable and took his horse, and took his leave
of his host, and so he departed. Then soon after
arose Sir Kay and missed Sir Launcelot; and
then he espied that he had his armor and his
horse. Now by my faith I know well that he will
grieve some of the court of King Arthur; for on
him knights will be bold, and deem that it is I,
and that will beguile them; and because of his
armor and shield I am sure I shall ride in peace.
And then soon after departed Sir Kay, and
thanked his host.

As I laid the book down there was a knock at the door, and my stranger came in. I gave him a pipe and a chair, and made him welcome. I also comforted him with a hot Scotch whisky; gave him another one; then still another—hoping always for his story. After a fourth persuader, he drifted into it himself, in a quite simple and natural way:

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Andersen's Fairy Tales
The Secret Adversary