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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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TREASURE ISLAND

by Robert Louis Stevenson The Old Sea-dog at the "Admiral Benbow" QUIRE TRELAWNEY, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to ...

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A Christmas Carol

by Charles Dickens STAVE ONE MARLEY'S GHOST Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. ...

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GULLIVER’S TRAVELS

By Jonathan Swift A LETTER FROM CAPTAIN GULLIVER TO HIS COUSIN SYMPSON. Written in the Year 1727. I hope you will be ready to own publicly, whenever you shall be called to it, that by your great and frequent ...

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THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS

By Lewis Carroll CHAPTER I. Looking-Glass house One thing was certain, that the white kitten had had nothing to do with it:—it was the black kitten's fault entirely. For the white kitten had been having its face ...

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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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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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Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte

by Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne CHAPTER 1 1769-1783. Authentic date of Bonaparte's birth—His family ruined by the Jesuits—His taste for military amusements—Sham siege at the College of Brienne—The porter's wife and Napoleon—My intimacy with Bonaparte at college—His love for the ...

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Three Men in a Boat

Three Men in a Boat

by Jerome K. Jerome CHAPTER I. Three invalids.—Sufferings of George and Harris.—A victim to one hundred and seven fatal maladies.—Useful prescriptions.—Cure for liver complaint in children.—We agree that we are overworked, and need rest.—A week on the ...

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THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY

By Oscar Wilde THE PREFACE The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material ...

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King Solomon's Mines

by H. Rider Haggard CHAPTER I I MEET SIR HENRY CURTIS It is a curious thing that at my age—fifty-five last birthday—I should find myself taking up a pen to try to write a history. I wonder what ...

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The jungle book

By Rudyard Kipling MOWGLI'S BROTHERS I T was seven o'clock of a very warm evening in the Seeonee hills when Father Wolf woke up from his day's rest, scratched himself, yawned, and spread out his paws one after the ...

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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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The Cosmic Computer

by H. Beam Piper I Thirty minutes to Litchfield. Conn Maxwell, at the armor-glass front of the observation deck, watched the landscape rush out of the horizon and vanish beneath the ship, ten thousand feet down. He thought ...

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Youth

by Isaac Asimov Red and Slim found the two strange little animals the morning after they heard the thunder sounds. They knew that they could never show their new pets to their parents. There was a spatter ...

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The Troublemakers

by George O. Smith: What did Genetics and Hansen's Folly have in common? Why, everything ... Genetics was statistical and Hansen's Folly impossible! I The living room reflected wealth, position, good taste. In size it was a full ten feet ...

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The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar

Author: Leblanc, Maurice, 1864-1941 Uniform Title: Arsène Lupin, gentleman-cambrioleur. English Title: The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar Contents: The arrest of Arsène Lupin -- Arsène Lupin in prison -- The escape of Arsène Lupin -- The mysterious ...

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The Return of Tarzan

by Edgar Rice Burroughs Chapter I The Affair on the Liner "Magnifique!" ejaculated the Countess de Coude, beneath her breath. "Eh?" questioned the count, turning toward his young wife. "What is it that is magnificent?" and the count bent ...

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Search the Sky

by C. M. Kornbluth and Frederik Pohl: ..... 1 DECAY. Ross stood on the traders’ ramp, overlooking the Yards, and the word kept bobbing to the top of his mind. Decay. About all of Halsey’s Planet there was the imperceptible ...

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Cyrano de Bergerac

by Edmond Rostand Act I. A Representation at the Hotel de Bourgogne. The hall of the Hotel de Bourgogne, in 1640. A sort of tennis-court arranged and decorated for a theatrical performance. The hall is oblong and seen obliquely, ...

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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 degenerate world, for there was an awesome hush and a feeling of vague expectancy in the sultry and stagnant air. The sun had long set, but one blood-red gash like an open wound lay low in the distant west. Above, the stars were shining brightly, and below, the lights of the shipping glimmered in the bay. The two famous Germans stood beside the stone parapet of the garden walk, with the long, low, heavily gabled house behind them, and they looked down upon the broad sweep of the beach at the foot of the great chalk cliff in which Von Bork, like some wandering eagle, had perched himself four years before. They stood with their heads close together, talking in low, confidential tones. From below the two glowing ends of their cigars might have been the smouldering eyes of some malignant fiend looking down in the darkness.

A remarkable man this Von Bork–a man who could hardly be matched among all the devoted agents of the Kaiser. It was his talents which had first recommended him for the English mission, the most important mission of all, but since he had taken it over those talents had become more and more manifest to the half-dozen people in the world who were really in touch with the truth. One of these was his present companion, Baron Von Herling, the chief secretary of the legation, whose huge 100-horse-power Benz car was blocking the country lane as it waited to waft its owner back to London.

“So far as I can judge the trend of events, you will probably be back in Berlin within the week,” the secretary was saying. “When you get there, my dear Von Bork, I think you will be surprised at the welcome you will receive. I happen to know what is thought in the highest quarters of your work in this country.” He was a huge man, the secretary, deep, broad, and tall, with a slow, heavy fashion of speech which had been his main asset in his political career.

Von Bork laughed.

“They are not very hard to deceive,” he remarked. “A more docile, simple folk could not be imagined.”

“I don’t know about that,” said the other thoughtfully. “They have strange limits and one must learn to observe them. It is that surface simplicity of theirs which makes a trap for the stranger. One’s first impression is that they are entirely soft. Then one comes suddenly upon something very hard, and you know that you have reached the limit and must adapt yourself to the fact. They have, for example, their insular conventions which simply MUST be observed.”

“Meaning ‘good form’ and that sort of thing?” Von Bork sighed as one who had suffered much.

“Meaning British prejudice in all its queer manifestations. As an example I may quote one of my own worst blunders–I can afford to talk of my blunders, for you know my work well enough to be aware of my successes. It was on my first arrival. I was invited to a week-end gathering at the country house of a cabinet minister. The conversation was amazingly indiscreet.”

Von Bork nodded. “I’ve been there,” said he dryly.

“Exactly. Well, I naturally sent a resume of the information to Berlin. Unfortunately our good chancellor is a little heavy-handed in these matters, and he transmitted a remark which showed that he was aware of what had been said. This, of course, took the trail straight up to me. You’ve no idea the harm that it did me. There was nothing soft about our British hosts on that occasion, I can assure you. I was two years living it down. Now you, with this sporting pose of yours–”

“No, no, don’t call it a pose. A pose is an artificial thing. This is quite natural. I am a born sportsman. I enjoy it.”

“Well, that makes it the more effective. You yacht against them, you hunt with them, you play polo, you match them in every game, your four-in-hand takes the prize at Olympia. I have even heard that you go the length of boxing with the young officers. What is the result? Nobody takes you seriously. You are a ‘good old sport’ ‘quite a decent fellow for a German,’ a hard-drinking, night-club, knock-about-town, devil-may-care young fellow. And all the time this quiet country house of yours is the centre of half the mischief in England, and the sporting squire the most astute secret-service man in Europe. Genius, my dear Von Bork–genius!”

“You flatter me, Baron. But certainly I may claim my four years in this country have not been unproductive. I’ve never shown you my little store. Would you mind stepping in for a moment?”

The door of the study opened straight on to the terrace. Von Bork pushed it back, and, leading the way, he clicked the switch of the electric light. He then closed the door behind the bulky form which followed him and carefully adjusted the heavy curtain over the latticed window. Only when all these precautions had been taken and tested did he turn his sunburned aquiline face to his guest.

“Some of my papers have gone,” said he. “When my wife and the household left yesterday for Flushing they took the less important with them. I must, of course, claim the protection of the embassy for the others.”

“Your name has already been filed as one of the personal suite. There will be no difficulties for you or your baggage. Of course, it is just possible that we may not have to go. England may leave France to her fate. We are sure that there is no binding treaty between them.”

“And Belgium?”

“Yes, and Belgium, too.”

Von Bork shook his head. “I don’t see how that could be. There is a definite treaty there. She could never recover from such a humiliation.”

“She would at least have peace for the moment.”

“But her honor?”

“Tut, my dear sir, we live in a utilitarian age. Honour is a mediaeval conception. Besides England is not ready. It is an inconceivable thing, but even our special war tax of fifty million, which one would think made our purpose as clear as if we had advertised it on the front page of the Times, has not roused these people from their slumbers. Here and there one hears a question. It is my business to find an answer. Here and there also there is an irritation. It is my business to soothe it. But I can assure you that so far as the essentials go–the storage of munitions, the preparation for submarine attack, the arrangements for making high explosives–nothing is prepared. How, then, can England come in, especially when we have stirred her up such a devil’s brew of Irish civil war, window-breaking Furies, and God knows what to keep her thoughts at home.”

“She must think of her future.”

“Ah, that is another matter. I fancy that in the future we have our own very definite plans about England, and that your information will be very vital to us. It is to-day or to-morrow with Mr. John Bull. If he prefers to-day we are perfectly ready. If it is to-morrow we shall be more ready still. I should think they would be wiser to fight with allies than without them, but that is their own affair. This week is their week of destiny. But you were speaking of your papers.” He sat in the armchair with the light shining upon his broad bald head, while he puffed sedately at his cigar.

The large oak-panelled, book-lined room had a curtain hung in the further corner. When this was drawn it disclosed a large, brass-bound safe. Von Bork detached a small key from his watch chain, and after some considerable manipulation of the lock he swung open the heavy door.

“Look!” said he, standing clear, with a wave of his hand.

The light shone vividly into the opened safe, and the secretary of the embassy gazed with an absorbed interest at the rows of stuffed pigeon-holes with which it was furnished. Each pigeon-hole had its label, and his eyes as he glanced along them read a long series of such titles as “Fords,” “Harbour-defences,” “Aeroplanes,” “Ireland,” “Egypt,” “Portsmouth forts,” “The Channel,” “Rosythe,” and a score of others. Each compartment was bristling with papers and plans.

“Colossal!” said the secretary. Putting down his cigar he softly clapped his fat hands.

“And all in four years, Baron. Not such a bad show for the hard-drinking, hard-riding country squire. But the gem of my collection is coming and there is the setting all ready for it.” He pointed to a space over which “Naval Signals” was printed.

“But you have a good dossier there already.”

“Out of date and waste paper. The Admiralty in some way got the alarm and every code has been changed. It was a blow, Baron–the worst setback in my whole campaign. But thanks to my check-book and the good Altamont all will be well to-night.”

The Baron looked at his watch and gave a guttural exclamation of disappointment.

“Well, I really can wait no longer. You can imagine that things are moving at present in Carlton Terrace and that we have all to be at our posts. I had hoped to be able to bring news of your great coup. Did Altamont name no hour?”

Von Bork pushed over a telegram.

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