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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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Metamorphosis

by Franz Kafka I One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a ...

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The Man in the Iron Mask

by Alexandre Dumas Chapter I. The Prisoner. Since Aramis's singular transformation into a confessor of the order, Baisemeaux was no longer the same man. Up to that period, the place which Aramis had held in the worthy ...

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PETER PAN

By J. M. Barrie [James Matthew Barrie] Chapter 1 PETER BREAKS THROUGH All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she ...

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Forbidden Fruit

by Anonymous How well I remember my early days, almost to babyhood when it was always the care of my beautiful mother to bath me herself every day; there was also Mary my nursemaid, but when ...

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The Poison Belt

by Arthur Conan Doyle Chapter I THE BLURRING OF LINES It is imperative that now at once, while these stupendous events are still clear in my mind, I should set them down with that exactness of detail which ...

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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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Ben-Hur; a tale of the Christ

by Lew Wallace BOOK FIRST CHAPTER I The Jebel es Zubleh is a mountain fifty miles and more in length, and so narrow that its tracery on the map gives it a likeness to a caterpillar crawling from ...

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Irish Fairy Tales

by James Stephens CHAPTER I Finnian, the Abbott of Moville, went southwards and eastwards in great haste. News had come to him in Donegal that there were yet people in his own province who believed in gods ...

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Madame Bovary

by Gustave Flaubert Part I Chapter One We were in class when the head-master came in, followed by a "new fellow," not wearing the school uniform, and a school servant carrying a large desk. Those who had been ...

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Hunted Down: The Detective Stories of Charles Dickens

by Charles Dickens I. Most of us see some romances in life. In my capacity as Chief Manager of a Life Assurance Office, I think I have within the last thirty years seen more romances than the ...

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Survival Kit

by Frederik Pohl: I Mooney looked out of his window, and the sky was white. It was a sudden, bright, cold flare and it was gone again. It had no more features than a fog, at least not ...

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His Last Bow: An Epilogue of Sherlock Holmes

Author: Doyle, Arthur Conan, 1859-1930 Subject: Holmes, Sherlock (Fictitious character) -- Fiction Subject: Private investigators -- England -- Fiction Subject: Detective and mystery stories Download full book

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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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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 Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe

  By Daniel Defoe CHAPTER I—START IN LIFE I was born in the year 1632, in the city of York, of a good family, though not of that country, my father being a foreigner of Bremen, who settled ...

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Uncle Vanya: Scenes from Country Life in Four Acts

By Anton Checkov ACT I A country house on a terrace. In front of it a garden. In an avenue of trees, under an old poplar, stands a table set for tea, with a samovar, etc. Some ...

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D-99

by H. B. Fyfe ONE At the ninety-fifth floor, Westervelt left the public elevator for a private automatic one which he took four floors further. When he stepped out, the dark, lean youth faced an office entrance ...

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Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure

by John Cleland Audio book in MP3, Apple iTunes, Ogg Vorbis and other audio formats! Download full audio book

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The Thirty-Nine Steps

by John Buchan CHAPTER ONE The Man Who Died I returned from the City about three o'clock on that May afternoon pretty well disgusted with life. I had been three months in the Old Country, and was fed ...

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The Adventures of Pinocchio

by Carlo Collodi

CHAPTER 1

How it happened that Mastro Cherry, carpenter, found a piece of wood that wept and laughed like a child.

Centuries ago there lived—

“A king!” my little readers will say immediately.

No, children, you are mistaken. Once upon a time there was a piece of wood. It was not an expensive piece of wood. Far from it. Just a common block of firewood, one of those thick, solid logs that are put on the fire in winter to make cold rooms cozy and warm.

I do not know how this really happened, yet the fact remains that one fine day this piece of wood found itself in the shop of an old carpenter. His real name was Mastro Antonio, but everyone called him Mastro Cherry, for the tip of his nose was so round and red and shiny that it looked like a ripe cherry.

As soon as he saw that piece of wood, Mastro Cherry was filled with joy. Rubbing his hands together happily, he mumbled half to himself:

“This has come in the nick of time. I shall use it to make the leg of a table.”

He grasped the hatchet quickly to peel off the bark and shape the wood. But as he was about to give it the first blow, he stood still with arm uplifted, for he had heard a wee, little voice say in a beseeching tone: “Please be careful! Do not hit me so hard!”

What a look of surprise shone on Mastro Cherry’s face! His funny face became still funnier.

He turned frightened eyes about the room to find out where that wee, little voice had come from and he saw no one! He looked under the bench—no one! He peeped inside the closet—no one! He searched among the shavings—no one! He opened the door to look up and down the street—and still no one!

“Oh, I see!” he then said, laughing and scratching his Wig. “It can easily be seen that I only thought I heard the tiny voice say the words! Well, well—to work once more.”

He struck a most solemn blow upon the piece of wood.

“Oh, oh! You hurt!” cried the same far-away little voice.

Mastro Cherry grew dumb, his eyes popped out of his head, his mouth opened wide, and his tongue hung down on his chin.

As soon as he regained the use of his senses, he said, trembling and stuttering from fright:

“Where did that voice come from, when there is no one around? Might it be that this piece of wood has learned to weep and cry like a child? I can hardly believe it. Here it is—a piece of common firewood, good only to burn in the stove, the same as any other. Yet—might someone be hidden in it? If so, the worse for him. I’ll fix him!”

With these words, he grabbed the log with both hands and started to knock it about unmercifully. He threw it to the floor, against the walls of the room, and even up to the ceiling.

He listened for the tiny voice to moan and cry. He waited two minutes—nothing; five minutes—nothing; ten minutes—nothing.

“Oh, I see,” he said, trying bravely to laugh and ruffling up his wig with his hand. “It can easily be seen I only imagined I heard the tiny voice! Well, well—to work once more!”

The poor fellow was scared half to death, so he tried to sing a gay song in order to gain courage.

He set aside the hatchet and picked up the plane to make the wood smooth and even, but as he drew it to and fro, he heard the same tiny voice. This time it giggled as it spoke:

“Stop it! Oh, stop it! Ha, ha, ha! You tickle my stomach.”

This time poor Mastro Cherry fell as if shot. When he opened his eyes, he found himself sitting on the floor.

His face had changed; fright had turned even the tip of his nose from red to deepest purple.

CHAPTER 2

Mastro Cherry gives the piece of wood to his friend Geppetto, who takes it to make himself a Marionette that will dance, fence, and turn somersaults.

In that very instant, a loud knock sounded on the door. “Come in,” said the carpenter, not having an atom of strength left with which to stand up.

At the words, the door opened and a dapper little old man came in. His name was Geppetto, but to the boys of the neighborhood he was Polendina,* on account of the wig he always wore which was just the color of yellow corn.
* Cornmeal mush

Geppetto had a very bad temper. Woe to the one who called him Polendina! He became as wild as a beast and no one could soothe him.

“Good day, Mastro Antonio,” said Geppetto. “What are you doing on the floor?”

“I am teaching the ants their A B C’s.”

“Good luck to you!”

“What brought you here, friend Geppetto?”

“My legs. And it may flatter you to know, Mastro Antonio, that I have come to you to beg for a favor.”

“Here I am, at your service,” answered the carpenter, raising himself on to his knees.

“This morning a fine idea came to me.”

“Let’s hear it.”

“I thought of making myself a beautiful wooden Marionette. It must be wonderful, one that will be able to dance, fence, and turn somersaults. With it I intend to go around the world, to earn my crust of bread and cup of wine. What do you think of it?”

“Bravo, Polendina!” cried the same tiny voice which came from no one knew where.

On hearing himself called Polendina, Mastro Geppetto turned the color of a red pepper and, facing the carpenter, said to him angrily:

“Why do you insult me?”

“Who is insulting you?”

“You called me Polendina.”

“I did not.”

“I suppose you think I did! Yet I KNOW it was you.”

“No!”

“Yes!”

“No!”

“Yes!”

And growing angrier each moment, they went from words to blows, and finally began to scratch and bite and slap each other.

When the fight was over, Mastro Antonio had Geppetto’s yellow wig in his hands and Geppetto found the carpenter’s curly wig in his mouth.

“Give me back my wig!” shouted Mastro Antonio in a surly voice.

“You return mine and we’ll be friends.”

The two little old men, each with his own wig back on his own head, shook hands and swore to be good friends for the rest of their lives.

“Well then, Mastro Geppetto,” said the carpenter, to show he bore him no ill will, “what is it you want?”

“I want a piece of wood to make a Marionette. Will you give it to me?”

Mastro Antonio, very glad indeed, went immediately to his bench to get the piece of wood which had frightened him so much. But as he was about to give it to his friend, with a violent jerk it slipped out of his hands and hit against poor Geppetto’s thin legs.

“Ah! Is this the gentle way, Mastro Antonio, in which you make your gifts? You have made me almost lame!”

“I swear to you I did not do it!”

“It was I, of course!”

“It’s the fault of this piece of wood.”

“You’re right; but remember you were the one to throw it at my legs.”

“I did not throw it!”

“Liar!”

“Geppetto, do not insult me or I shall call you Polendina.”

“Idiot.”

“Polendina!”

“Donkey!”

“Polendina!”

“Ugly monkey!”

“Polendina!”

On hearing himself called Polendina for the third time, Geppetto lost his head with rage and threw himself upon the carpenter. Then and there they gave each other a sound thrashing.

After this fight, Mastro Antonio had two more scratches on his nose, and Geppetto had two buttons missing from his coat. Thus having settled their accounts, they shook hands and swore to be good friends for the rest of their lives.

Then Geppetto took the fine piece of wood, thanked Mastro Antonio, and limped away toward home.

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A Short History of the World
King Solomon's Mines