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The FS Daily

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 Friday, April 19, 2024

Quick Excerpts, from a Library of 492 Titles

Generated 2022-07-28 13:23:23

Excerpt #1, from The Knights of the Round Table: Stories of King Arthur and the Holy Grail, by Frost

…they went to the cathedral together and they saw an old man kneeling at the altar. He was the same old man whom they had seen so many times before, who had been made to live so far beyond his time by the power of the Holy Grail, Joseph of Arimathæa. On the altar before him lay the spear with the drops of blood flowing from its point. The three knights knelt before the altar, Galahad nearer to it than the others, and they were there for a long time. Then the old man rose and came to the chest where the Grail was and took it out and held it up before them, and the light that shone from the blood that was in it, through the crystal of the cup, was greater and stronger than ever. The whole cathedral was bright with it. It streamed up among the arches of the roof and lighted old pictures that were painted there. For years before they had scarcely been seen, they were so dim with time and with dust and with the smoke of incense. Now, with the light of the Holy Grail upon it, the place was again a piece of Heaven, filled with wonderful forms. There was Elijah, in his chariot of fire; there were saints and angels; and all about them and among them there were little stars of gold, that glowed and twinkled in the new brightness like the stars of the real Heaven. The old man set the Grail upon the altar and came to Galahad and touched his hand and kissed him. Then all at once the church grew dark and…

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Excerpt #2, from The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells

…night. “I come from Byfleet,” he said; “a man on a bicycle came through the place in the early morning, and ran from door to door warning us to come away. Then came soldiers. We went out to look, and there were clouds of smoke to the south—nothing but smoke, and not a soul coming that way. Then we heard the guns at Chertsey, and folks coming from Weybridge. So I’ve locked up my house and come on.” At that time there was a strong feeling in the streets that the authorities were to blame for their incapacity to dispose of the invaders without all this inconvenience. About eight o’clock a noise of heavy firing was distinctly audible all over the south of London. My brother could not hear it for the traffic in the main thoroughfares, but by striking through the quiet back streets to the river he was able to distinguish it quite plainly. He walked from Westminster to his apartments near Regent’s Park, about two. He was now very anxious on my account, and disturbed at the evident magnitude of the trouble. His mind was inclined to run, even as mine had run on Saturday, on military details. He thought of all those silent, expectant guns, of the suddenly nomadic countryside; he tried to imagine “boilers on stilts” a hundred feet high. There were one or two cartloads of refugees passing along Oxford…

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Excerpt #3, from The Open Boat and Other Stories, by Stephen Crane

…a voice as it came over the waves, and it was sadder than the end. There was a long, loud swishing astern of the boat, and a gleaming trail of phosphorescence, like blue flame, was furrowed on the black waters. It might have been made by a monstrous knife. Then there came a stillness, while the correspondent breathed with the open mouth and looked at the sea. Suddenly there was another swish and another long flash of bluish light, and this time it was alongside the boat, and might almost have been reached with an oar. The correspondent saw an enormous fin speed like a shadow through the water, hurling the crystalline spray and leaving the long glowing trail. The correspondent looked over his shoulder at the captain. His face was hidden, and he seemed to be asleep. He looked at the babes of the sea. They certainly were asleep. So, being bereft of sympathy, he leaned a little way to one side and swore softly into the sea. But the thing did not then leave the vicinity of the boat. Ahead or astern, on one side or the other, at intervals long or short, fled the long sparkling streak, and there was to be heard the whiroo of the dark fin. The speed and power of the thing was greatly to be admired. It cut the water like a gigantic and keen projectile. The presence of this biding thing did not affect the man with the same…

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Excerpt #4, from Principles of Geology, by Sir Charles Lyell

…to all appearance motionless. In the regions of convulsion rocks have been rent asunder, the surface has been forced up into ridges, chasms have opened, or the ground throughout large spaces has been permanently lifted up above or let down below its former level. In the regions of tranquillity some areas have remained at rest, but others have been ascertained by a comparison of measurements, made at different periods, to have risen by an insensible motion, as in Sweden, or to have subsided very slowly, as in Greenland. That these same movements, whether ascending or descending, have continued for ages in the same direction has been established by geological evidence. Thus, we find both on the east and west coast of Sweden, that ground which formerly constituted the bottom of the Baltic and of the ocean has been lifted up to an elevation of several hundred feet above high-water mark. The rise within the historical period has not amounted to many yards, but the greater extent of antecedent upheaval is proved by the occurrence in inland spots, several hundred feet high, of deposits filled with fossil shells of species now living either in the ocean or the Baltic. To detect proofs of slow and gradual subsidence must in general be more difficult; but the theory which accounts for the form of circular coral reefs and lagoon islands, and which will be explained in the last chapter of the third book, will satisfy the reader that there are spaces…

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Excerpt #5, from The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare, by G. K. Chesterton

…intolerable oppression of peril, was only the shadow of a friend trying to catch him up. He knew simultaneously that he was a fool and a free man. For with any recovery from morbidity there must go a certain healthy humiliation. There comes a certain point in such conditions when only three things are possible: first a perpetuation of Satanic pride, secondly tears, and third laughter. Syme’s egotism held hard to the first course for a few seconds, and then suddenly adopted the third. Taking his own blue police ticket from his own waist coat pocket, he tossed it on to the table; then he flung his head back until his spike of yellow beard almost pointed at the ceiling, and shouted with a barbaric laughter. Even in that close den, perpetually filled with the din of knives, plates, cans, clamorous voices, sudden struggles and stampedes, there was something Homeric in Syme’s mirth which made many half-drunken men look round. “What yer laughing at, guv’nor?” asked one wondering labourer from the docks. “At myself,” answered Syme, and went off again into the agony of his ecstatic reaction. “Pull yourself together,” said the Professor, “or you’ll get hysterical. Have some more beer. I’ll join you.”…

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Excerpt #6, from Desert Dust, by Edwin L. Sabin

…know, at each terminus, booms as long as the freight and passengers pile up–and all of a sudden the go-ahead business and professional men pull stakes for the next terminus as soon as located. That has been the custom, all the way from North Platte to Benton." “Which accounts for your acquaintance along the line. The trainmen seem to know you.” “Trainmen and others; oh, yes. It is to be expected. I have no objections to that. I am quite able to take care of myself, sir.” We were interrupted. A near-drunken rowdy (upon whom I had kept an uneasy corner of an eye) had been careening over the platform, a whiskey bottle protruding from the hip pocket of his sagging jeans, a large revolver dangling at his thigh, his slouch hat cocked rakishly upon his tousled head. His language was extremely offensive–he had an ugly mood on, but nobody interfered. The crowd stood aside–the natives laughing, the tourists like myself viewing him askance, and several Indians watching only gravely. He sighted us, and staggered in. “Howdy?” he uttered, with an oath. “Shay–hello, stranger. Have a smile. Take two, one for lady. Hic!” And he thrust his bottle at me. My Lady drew back. I civilly declined the “smile.” “Thank you. I do not drink.”…

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Excerpt #7, from Stage Coach and Tavern Days, by Alice Morse Earle

…The story of the stage-coach begins at a much later date than that of the tavern; but the two allies reached the height of their glory together. No more prosperous calling ever existed than that of landlord of an old-time stage-tavern; no greater symbol of good cheer could be afforded. Though a popular historical novel by one of our popular writers shows us the heroine in a year of the seventeenth century conveyed away from her New England home in a well-equipped stage-coach, there were no stage-coaches at that date in New England, nor were they overfrequent in Old England. Stow says, in his Survey of London (1633): “Of old time, Coaches were not known in this Island but Chariots or Whirlicotes.” The whirlicote is described as a cot or bed on wheels, a sort of wheeled litter, and was used as early as the time of Richard II. The first coach made in England by Walter Rippen was for the Earl of Rutland, in 1555. The queen had one the next year, and Queen Elizabeth a state coach eight years later from the same maker. That splendid association–“The Company of Coach and Harness Makers,” was founded by Charles II. in May, 1667. [Illustration: English Coach, 1747.] Venomous diatribes were set in print against coaches, as is usual with all innovations, useful and otherwise. Of them the assertions of Taylor the “Water Poet” are good examples. He said that coaches dammed the streets, and aided purse-cutting; that butchers could not pass with their cattle;…

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Excerpt #8, from The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsène Lupin, Gentleman

…of astonishment, he asked: “Did you take it, my dear?” “What?….No, I have not taken anything.” “You must have moved it.” “Not at all. I have not even opened that door.” He appeared at the door, disconcerted, and stammered, in a scarcely intelligible voice: “You haven’t….It wasn’t you?….Then….” She hastened to his assistance, and, together, they made a thorough search, throwing the boxes to the floor and overturning the piles of linen. Then the count said, quite discouraged: “It is useless to look any more. I put it here, on this shelf.” “You must be mistaken.” “No, no, it was on this shelf–nowhere else.” They lighted a candle, as the room was quite dark, and then carried out all the linen and other articles that the room contained. And, when the room was emptied, they confessed, in despair, that the famous necklace had disappeared. Without losing time in vain lamentations, the countess notified the commissary of police, Mon. Valorbe, who came at once, and, after hearing their story, inquired of the count: “Are you sure that no one passed through your chamber during the night?”…

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Excerpt #9, from Derelicts: An Account of Ships Lost at Sea in General Commercial Traffic, by Sprunt

…Colonel Scharf, writing of the Confederate States Navy, mentions the shore lights: “At the beginning of the war,” he says, “nearly all the lights along the Southern coast had been discontinued, the apparatus being removed to places of safety. In 1864 it was deemed expedient to re-establish the light on Smith’s Island, which had been discontinued ever since the beginning of hostilities, and to erect a structure for a light on the ‘Mound.’ The ‘Mound’ was an artificial one, erected by Colonel Lamb, who commanded Fort Fisher.” Captain Wilkinson says of the “Mound” and the range lights: "Two heavy guns were mounted upon it, and it eventually became a site for a light, and very serviceable for blockade runners; but even at this period it was an excellent landmark. Joined by a long, low isthmus of sand with the higher mainland, its regular conical shape enabled the blockade runners easily to identify it from the offing; and in clear weather, it showed plain and distinct against the sky at night. I believe the military men used to laugh slyly at the colonel for undertaking its erection, predicting that it would not stand; but the result showed the contrary; and whatever difference of opinion may have existed with regard to its value as a military position, there can be but one as to its utility to the blockade runners, for it was not a landmark alone, along this monotonous coast, but one of the range lights for crossing New Inlet…

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Excerpt #10, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by William Shakespeare

…PUCK. Through the forest have I gone, But Athenian found I none, On whose eyes I might approve This flower’s force in stirring love. Night and silence! Who is here? Weeds of Athens he doth wear: This is he, my master said, Despisèd the Athenian maid; And here the maiden, sleeping sound, On the dank and dirty ground. Pretty soul, she durst not lie Near this lack-love, this kill-courtesy. Churl, upon thy eyes I throw All the power this charm doth owe; When thou wak’st let love forbid Sleep his seat on thy eyelid. So awake when I am gone; For I must now to Oberon. [Exit.] Enter Demetrius and Helena, running….

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Excerpt #11, from Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda

…“‘About fifty years after my passing,’ he said, ‘my life will be written because of a deep interest in yoga which the West will manifest. The yogic message will encircle the globe, and aid in establishing that brotherhood of man which results from direct perception of the One Father.’”My son Yogananda," Sri Yukteswar went on, “you must do your part in spreading that message, and in writing that sacred life.” Fifty years after Lahiri Mahasaya’s passing in 1895 culminated in 1945, the year of completion of this present book. I cannot but be struck by the coincidence that the year 1945 has also ushered in a new age-the era of revolutionary atomic energies. All thoughtful minds turn as never before to the urgent problems of peace and brotherhood, lest the continued use of physical force banish all men along with the problems. Though the human race and its works disappear tracelessly by time or bomb, the sun does not falter in its course; the stars keep their invariable vigil. Cosmic law cannot be stayed or changed, and man would do well to put himself in harmony with it. If the cosmos is against might, if the sun wars not with the planets but retires at dueful time to give the stars their little sway, what avails our mailed fist? Shall any peace indeed come out of it? Not cruelty…

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Excerpt #12, from Dictionary of Quotations from Ancient and Modern, English and Foreign Sources

…pleasure a thousand pains. Fr. Pr. =Pour y parvenir=–To carry your point. M. =Povertà non ha parenti=–Poor people have no relations. It. Pr. =Poverty and hunger have many learned disciples.= Ger. Pr. =Poverty breeds strife.= Pr. 10 =Poverty breeds wealth, and wealth in its turn breeds poverty. The earth to form the mould is taken out of the ditch; and whatever may be the height of the one will be the depth of the other.= Hare. =Poverty consists in feeling poor.= Emerson. =Poverty demoralises.= Emerson. =Poverty ever comes at the call.= Goldsmith. =Poverty has no greater foe than bashfulness.= 15 Pr. =Poverty, incessant drudgery, and much worse evils, it has often been the lot of poets and wise men to strive with, and their glory to conquer.= Carlyle.

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