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Daily Excerpts: My humble attempt at offering fresh, daily, bookstore-style browsing…

Below you’ll find twelve book excerpts selected at random, each day, from over 400 different hand-selected Project Gutenberg titles. This includes many of my personal favorites.

Excerpts for Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Quick Excerpts, from a Library of 492 Titles

Generated 2022-07-28 13:21:55

Excerpt #1, from A Border Ruffian, by Thomas A. Janvier

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Excerpt #2, from The Sign of the Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle

…no mere haphazard burglary. The prompt and energetic action of the officers of the law shows the great advantage of the presence on such occasions of a single vigorous and masterful mind. We cannot but think that it supplies an argument to those who would wish to see our detectives more decentralised, and so brought into closer and more effective touch with the cases which it is their duty to investigate.” “Isn’t it gorgeous!” said Holmes, grinning over his coffee-cup. “What do you think of it?” “I think that we have had a close shave ourselves of being arrested for the crime.” “So do I. I wouldn’t answer for our safety now, if he should happen to have another of his attacks of energy.” At this moment there was a loud ring at the bell, and I could hear Mrs. Hudson, our landlady, raising her voice in a wail of expostulation and dismay. “By heaven, Holmes,” I said, half rising, “I believe that they are really after us.” “No, it’s not quite so bad as that. It is the unofficial force,—the Baker Street irregulars.” As he spoke, there came a swift pattering of naked feet upon the stairs, a clatter of high voices, and in rushed a dozen dirty and…

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Excerpt #3, from The Coral Island, by R. M. Ballantyne

…The missionary immediately took him by the hand, and as he led him away I heard him saying, "me most glad to find you trader; we t’ought you be pirate. You very like one ‘bout the masts." What conversation the captain had with this man I never heard; but he came on deck again in a quarter of an hour, and shaking hands cordially with the missionary, ordered us into our boat and returned to the schooner, which was immediately put before the wind. In a few minutes the Olive Branch was left far behind us. That afternoon, as I was down below at dinner, I heard the men talking about this curious ship. “I wonder,” said one, “why our captain looked so sweet on yon swallow-tailed supercargo o’ pigs and Gospels? If it had been an ordinary trader, now, he would have taken as many o’ the pigs as he required and sent the ship with all on board to the bottom.” “Why, Dick, you must be new to these seas if you don’t know that!” cried another. "The captain cares as much for the Gospel as you do (an’ that’s precious little); but he knows, and everybody knows, that the only place among the southern islands where a ship can put in and get what she wants in comfort is where the Gospel has been sent to. There are hundreds o’ islands, at this blessed moment, where you might as well jump straight into a shark’s maw as land without a band o’ thirty…

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Excerpt #4, from Aeroplanes and Dirigibles of War, by Frederick Arthur Ambrose Talbot

…each of which carried a sixteen horse-power motor driving independent propellers rigidly attached to the body of the vessel. The propellers were both vertical and horizontal, for the purpose of driving the ship in the two planes–vertical and horizontal respectively. The vessel was of great scientific interest, owing to the ingenuity of its design and construction. The metallic skeleton was built up from aluminium and over this was stretched the fabric of the envelope, care being observed to reduce skin friction, as well as to achieve impermeability. But it was the internal arrangement of the gas-lifting balloons which provoked the greatest concern. The hull was divided into compartments, each complete in itself, and each containing a small balloon inflated with hydrogen. It was sub-division as practised in connection with vessels ploughing the water applied to aerial craft, the purpose being somewhat the same. As a ship of the seas will keep afloat so long as a certain number of its subdivisions remain watertight, so would the Zeppelin keep aloft if a certain number of the gas compartments retained their charges of hydrogen. There were no fewer than seventeen of these gas-balloons arranged in a single line within the envelope. Beneath the hull and extending the full length of the latter was a passage which not only served as a corridor for communication between the cars, but also to receive a weight attached…

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Excerpt #5, from The Book of Hallowe’en, by Ruth Edna Kelley

Dinnsenchus of Mag Slecht (Meyer trans.). This was direct invocation, but the fire rites which were continued so long afterwards were really only worshipping the sun by proxy, in his nearest likeness, fire. Samhain was then a day sacred to the death of the sun, on which had been paid a sacrifice of death to evil powers. Though overcome at Moytura evil was ascendant at Samhain. Methods of finding out the will of spirits and the future naturally worked better then, charms and invocations had more power, for the spirits were near to help, if care was taken not to anger them, and due honors paid. CHAPTER IV POMONA Ops was the Latin goddess of plenty. Single parts of her province were taken over by various other divinities, among whom was Pomona (pomorum patrona, “she who cares for fruits”). She is represented as a maiden with fruit in her arms and a pruning-knife in her hand. “I am the ancient apple-queen. As once I was so am I now– For evermore a hope unseen Betwixt the blossom and the bough.”Ah, where’s the river’s hidden gold!…

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Excerpt #6, from Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda

…average life of sixty years. Any apparent insurrection of bodily or cerebral cells toward Emperor Soul, manifesting as disease or depression, is due to no disloyalty among the humble citizens, but to past or present misuse by man of his individuality or free will, given to him simultaneous with a soul, and revocable never. Identifying himself with a shallow ego, man takes for granted that it is he who thinks, wills, feels, digests meals, and keeps himself alive, never admitting through reflection (only a little would suffice!) that in his ordinary life he is naught but a puppet of past actions (karma) and of nature or environment. Each man’s intellectual reactions, feelings, moods, and habits are circumscribed by effects of past causes, whether of this or a prior life. Lofty above such influences, however, is his regal soul. Spurning the transitory truths and freedoms, the KRIYA YOGI passes beyond all disillusionment into his unfettered Being. All scriptures declare man to be not a corruptible body, but a living soul; by KRIYA he is given a method to prove the scriptural truth. “Outward ritual cannot destroy ignorance, because they are not mutually contradictory,” wrote Shankara in his famous CENTURY OF VERSES. "Realized knowledge alone destroys ignorance. . . . Knowledge cannot spring up by any other means than inquiry. ’Who am I? How…

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Excerpt #7, from An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith

…villages. The effects of it have been precisely those above described. The business of the country is almost entirely carried on by means of the paper of those different banking companies, with which purchases and payments of all kinds are commonly made. Silver very seldom appears, except in the change of a twenty shilling bank note, and gold still seldomer. But though the conduct of all those different companies has not been unexceptionable, and has accordingly required an act of parliament to regulate it, the country, notwithstanding, has evidently derived great benefit from their trade. I have heard it asserted, that the trade of the city of Glasgow doubled in about fifteen years after the first erection of the banks there; and that the trade of Scotland has more than quadrupled since the first erection of the two public banks at Edinburgh; of which the one, called the Bank of Scotland, was established by act of parliament in 1695, and the other, called the Royal Bank, by royal charter in 1727. Whether the trade, either of Scotland in general, or of the city of Glasgow in particular, has really increased in so great a proportion, during so short a period, I do not pretend to know. If either of them has increased in this proportion, it seems to be an effect too great to be accounted for by the sole operation of this cause. That the trade and industry of Scotland, however, have increased very considerably during this period, and that the banks have contributed a good deal to this…

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Excerpt #8, from The Radio Amateur’s Hand Book, by A. Frederick Collins

…whatever wave length you desire. It is shown at d, and costs about $5.00. See also Oscillation Transformer, page 63 [Chapter IV]. The High Tension Condenser.–High tension condensers, that is, condensers which will stand up under high potentials, or electric pressures, can be bought in units or sections. These condensers are made up of thin brass plates insulated with a special compound and pressed into a compact form. The capacitance [Footnote: This is the capacity of the condenser.] of one section is enough for a transmitting set using a spark coil that gives a 2 inch spark or less and two sections connected together should be used for coils giving from 2 to 4 inch sparks. It is shown at e. Connecting Up the Apparatus.–Your sending set should be mounted on a table, or a bench, where it need not be moved. Place the key in about the middle of the table and down in front, and the spark coil to the left and well to the back but so that the vibrator end will be to the right, as this will enable you to adjust it easily. Place the battery back of the spark coil and the tuning coil (oscillation transformer) to the right of the spark coil and back of the key, all of which is shown in the layout at A in Fig. 20. [Illustration: (A) Fig. 20.–Top View of Apparatus Layout for Sending Set No. 1.]…

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Excerpt #9, from Mr. Punch’s Golf Stories, by J. A. Hammerton

…the sheet. (Do not trouble to insert your nickname, as it is a matter of indifference to the examiners whether you are locally known as “Tiger,” “Ginger,” or “Bill Bailey.”) 2. State your age. If this is less than six, or more than seventy-five years, you may omit the remaining questions and retire at once from the examination. 3. Are you married or single? Give reasons for your answer. 4. Illustrate the finer points of distinction between (a) a niblick and a gutty; (b) a bye and a bulger. 5. Are you a Protectionist or a Total Abstainer? 6. Rewrite the following passage, correcting anything that may strike you as an error or an incongruity:–“In an 18-hole match, X., a scratch player with a handicap of 20, stood dormy 12 at the 17th hole, but while half-way through the final green was unfortunate enough to get badly bunkered behind the tee-box. Being required to play ‘two more’ to his opponent Y., who had laid himself dead in 6, he only played one of them, thus holing out in 5, and securing a victory by the narrow margin of 4 up and 7 to play.” 7. Given that the regulation charge for a round is a shilling, would you…

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Excerpt #10, from The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, by Selma Lagerlöf

…Karr looked at Grayskin and measured him with his eyes. It was apparent that the elk was not yet full grown. He did not have the broad antlers, high hump, and long mane of the mature elk; but he certainly had strength enough to fight for his freedom. “One can see that he has been in captivity all his life,” thought Karr, but said nothing. Karr left and did not return to the grove till long past midnight. By that time he knew Grayskin would be awake and eating his breakfast. “Of course you are doing right, Grayskin, in letting them take you away,” remarked Karr, who appeared now to be calm and satisfied. “You will be a prisoner in a large park and will have no responsibilities. It seems a pity that you must leave here without having seen the forest. You know your ancestors have a saying that ‘the elk are one with the forest.’ But you haven’t even been in a forest!” Grayskin glanced up from the clover which he stood munching. “Indeed, I should love to see the forest, but how am I to get over the fence?” he said with his usual apathy. “Oh, that is difficult for one who has such short legs!” said Karr. The elk glanced slyly at the dog, who jumped the fence many times a day–little as he was. He walked over to the fence, and with one spring he was on the other…

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Excerpt #11, from Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo

…Will that become an Ionian or a Bœotian? Wait, currit rota, the Spirit of Paris, that demon which creates the children of chance and the men of destiny, reversing the process of the Latin potter, makes of a jug an amphora. CHAPTER V—HIS FRONTIERS The gamin loves the city, he also loves solitude, since he has something of the sage in him. Urbis amator, like Fuscus; ruris amator, like Flaccus. To roam thoughtfully about, that is to say, to lounge, is a fine employment of time in the eyes of the philosopher; particularly in that rather illegitimate species of campaign, which is tolerably ugly but odd and composed of two natures, which surrounds certain great cities, notably Paris. To study the suburbs is to study the amphibious animal. End of the trees, beginning of the roofs; end of the grass, beginning of the pavements; end of the furrows, beginning of the shops, end of the wheel-ruts, beginning of the passions; end of the divine murmur, beginning of the human uproar; hence an extraordinary interest. Hence, in these not very attractive places, indelibly stamped by the passing stroller with the epithet: melancholy, the apparently objectless promenades of the dreamer. He who writes these lines has long been a prowler about the barriers of…

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Excerpt #12, from A Sub and a Submarine: The Story of H.M. Submarine R19 in the Great War

…Fordyce and the two divers went below to change into dry clothing and partake of food and hot drinks. For the present all was quiet. The patrol vessels were out of sight and hearing. Their search-lights had been switched off, and there were no indications that signals were being exchanged. It was safe to conclude that, under the impression that the intruding submarine had been effectively accounted for, the Huns did not anticipate further trouble in that direction. At length the welcome order came for half-speed ahead. Rhythmically both propellers began to churn the water. It spoke volumes for the thoroughness of the shipwrights who had built the vessel that, notwithstanding the severe strain when the propeller “seized up”, there were no defects from strained shafting, stripped gears, or leaky stuffing-boxes. “We’ve had enough of submarine nets for the present,” remarked the Lieutenant-Commander to Lieutenant Macquare. “I won’t risk submerging until we are well clear of this area, unless, of course, a Hun destroyer butts in. By Jove! Young Fordyce is a brick! I didn’t envy him his job, but he carried it out splendidly.” “Now it’s all over,” confided Macquare. “I’m jolly glad I didn’t have to tackle the business. The thought of it gave me cold feet.”…

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