Category Archives: Literature

Excerpt from “Colonel Henri’s Story” by Hugo Bleicher ~~Odette~~

We arrived back there in darkness. I was anxious to have a look at the Hotel de la Poste, where I had eaten lunch on my first visit to St. Jorioz. I sent Kiki ahead of me and told him to ask whether any of the organization were still there, as he brought important news from Paris. Kiki came back to me at once and said that apparently there were still some members of the organisation there. I put a cordon of Italian soldiers round the house immediately and was about to enter with the Italian officer when two men dashed out and into the darkness in headlong flight. It turned out that one of them was the wireless operator Arnaud for whom we had long searched. I did not attempt to follow them, as it seemed to me more important to apprehend the others in the house. I was right to do so. A surprise was in store for us beyond our wildest dreams.

It seems to have escaped the notice of Bleicher that the French Chief of Police in Annecy was aware of his movements, and at the risk of his own life sent a warning ahead of Bleicher to the St. Jorioz group. I am informed by Colonel Jacques Adam, Commander of the Jean-Marie resistance group, that this gallant French police officer was arrested, deported and died in Germany.
A second point to me made in regard to this narrative is that neither of the two men who vanished in headlong flight from the Hotel de la Poste was Arnaud, alias Captain A. Rabinovich, whose billet was not in St. Jorioz and who for some time managed to evade capture, having been sent away on the previous day by Captain Churchill.

There were still a few guests in the Hotel de la Poste whom I assembled in the hall of the hotel, together with the hôtelier and his staff. I was just putting the first question to them when down the stairs came a woman, whom I recognised as the energetic Englishwoman who had scolded Louis during my first visit to St. Jorioz.
So this was “Lise”, the renowned Odette! I had managed to find out something about her in the meantime. She played a prominent part in the Secret Service and had done signal services to the Allied war effort by obtaining plans of the dock installations and reconnoitring the port of Marseilles. It had been related to me by agents that Odette was the wife of Peter Churchill, a nephew of the British Prime Minister, and that she worked with him here. The version that he was a close relative of Winston Churchill was spread about to give him greater prestige in the French Resistance, as well as a safeguard if he fell into the hands of the Germans.
Odette was a Frenchwoman by birth, married first to a Frenchman, Sansom, and mother of three children. She received the order of the George Cross from King George VI and was decorated by the President of the French Republic with the Cross of the Legion of Honour. After the war the film “Odette” made her world famous.
I had little idea then what celebrity I was encountering on that night of April 16th, 1943. Wrapped in a dressing gown and personifying calmness itself, she came downstairs as if trouble in the hall was nothing to do with her. She had the intention, I think, of walking straight past us, and I was so taken aback that I only prevented her doing so at the last moment.
Peter Churchill could not be far away, it seemed to me, with Odette here.
I left the others in the guard of the Italians and asked Odette to show me her room. We walked upstairs, accompanied by the Italian officer. Odette showed no sign of distress. She had grasped the situation and was resigned to her fate.
Odette opened the door of her room without a word. I asked her to go ahead. It was a simple bedroom, such as you find in any country hotel. I ceased to watch Odette and looked into the room next door. There in bed lay a young man, perhaps thirty to thirty-five years old, in an elegant pair of pyjamas. He smiled quietly at me as he lay there. The book that he had apparently been reading was posed on the coverlet. He got slowly out of bed and stood before me, an athletic-looking fellow with pleasant features. I asked for his identity card. Without a sign of nervousness, he asked Odette to hand him his jacket, pulled the card out of a pocket and held it out to me. I read the name Pierre Chambrun. I felt that there could no longer be any doubt, and that this was Peter Churchill, known to us also as Pierre Chauvet and more frequently still as “Raoul”.

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Excerpt from “Journeys Out of the Body” by Robert A. Monroe ~~Locale III~~

Locale III, in summary, proved to be a physical-matter world almost identical to our own. The natural environment is the same. There are trees, houses, cities, people, artifacts, and all the appurtenances of a reasonably civilized society. There are homes, families, businesses, and people work for a living. There are roads on which vehicles travel. There are railroads and trains.
Now for the ‘almost.’ At first, the thought was that Locale III was no more than some part of our world unknown to me and those others concerned. It had all the appearances of being so. However, more careful study showed that it can be neither the present nor the past of our physical-matter world.
The scientific development is inconsistent. There are no electrical devices whatsoever. Electricity, electromagnetics, and anything so related are non-existent. No electric lights, telephones, radios, television, or electric power.
No internal combustion, gasoline, or oil were found as power sources. Yet mechanical power is used. Careful examination of one of the locomotives that pulled a string of old-fashioned-looking passenger cars showed it to be driven by a steam engine. The cars appeared to be made of wood, the locomotive of metal, but of a different shape than our now obsolete types. The track gauge was much smaller than our standard track spacing, smaller than our narrow-gauge mountain railways.
I observed the servicing of one of the locomotives in detail. Neither wood nor coal was used as a thermal source to produce steam. Instead, large vatlike containers were carefully slid from under the boiler, detached, and rolled by small cart into a building with massive thick walls. The containers had pipelike protuberances extending from the top.
Men working behind shields performed the removal, casually cautious, and did not relax their automatic vigilance until the containers were safely in the building and the door closed. The contents were ‘hot,’ either through heat or radiation. The actions of the technicians all seemed to indicate the latter.
The streets and roads are different, again principally in size. The ‘lane’ on which vehicles travel is nearly twice as wide as ours. Their version of our automobile is much larger. Even the smallest has a single bench seat that will hold five to six people abreast. The standard unit has only one fixed seat, that of the driver. Others are much like living-room chairs, placed around a compartment that measures some fifteen by twenty feet. Wheels are used, but without inflated tires.
Steering is done by a single horizontal bar. Motive power is contained somewhere in the rear. Their movement is not very fast, at something like fifteen to twenty miles per hour. Traffic is not heavy.
Self-powered vehicles exist in the form of a four-wheeled platform which is steered by the feet acting upon the front wheels. A mechanism pumped by the arms transfers the energy to the rear wheels, much like the children’s “rowing wagons” of some years back. These are used for short distances.
Habits and customs are not like ours. What little has been gleaned implies a historical background with different events, names, places, and dates. Yet, while the stage of man’s evolution (the conscious mind translates the inhabitants as men) seems to be identical, technical and social evolution are not completely the same.

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Excerpt from “Ninety-Three” by Victor Hugo ~~Children~~

He attempted to climb the bridge, but in vain; he dug his nails in between the stones and clung there for a few seconds, but the layers were as smoothly joined as if the wall had been new — Radoub fell back. The conflagration swept on, each instant growing more terrible. They could see the heads of the three children framed in the red light of the window. In his frenzy Radoub shook his clenched hand at the sky, and shouted, “Is there no mercy yonder!”
The mother, on her knees, clung to one of the piers, crying, “Mercy, mercy!”
The hollow sound of cracking timbers rose above the roar of the flames. The panes of glass in the book-cases of the library cracked and fell with a crash. It was evident that the timber-work had given way. Human strength could do nothing. Another moment and the whole would fall. The soldiers only waited for the final catastrophe. They could hear the little voices repeat “Mamma! mamma!”
The whole crowd was paralyzed with horror. Suddenly, at the casement near that where the children stood, a tall form appeared against the crimson background of the flames.
Every head was raised — every eye fixed. A man was above there — a man in the library — in the furnace. The face showed black against the flames, but they could see the white hair: they recognized the Marquis de Lantenac. He disappeared, then appeared again.
The indomitable old man stood in the window shoving out an enormous ladder. It was the escape-ladder deposited in the library; he had seen it lying upon the floor and dragged it to the window. He held it by one end; with the marvellous agility of an athlete he slipped it out of the casement, and slid it along the wall down into the ravine.
Radoub folded his arms about the ladder as it descended within his reach, crying, “Long live the Republic!”
The marquis shouted, “Long live the King!”
Radoub muttered, “You may cry what you like, and talk nonsense if you please, but you are an angel of mercy all the same.”
The ladder was safely grounded, and communication established between the burning floor and the ground. Twenty men rushed up, Radoub at their head, and in the twinkling of an eye they were hanging to the rungs from the top to the bottom, making a human ladder. Radoub, on the topmost rung, touched the window. He had his face turned toward the conflagration. The little army scattered among the heath and along the sides of the ravine pressed forward, overcome by contending emotions, upon the plateau, into the ravine, out on the platform of the tower.
The marquis disappeared again, then re-appeared bearing a child in his arms. There was a tremendous clapping of hands.
The marquis had seized the first little one that he found within reach. It was Gros-Alain.
Gros-Alain cried, “I am afraid.”
The marquis gave the boy to Radoub; Radoub passed him on to the soldier behind, who passed him to another, and just as Gros-Alain, greatly frightened and sobbing loudly, was given from hand to hand to the bottom of the ladder, the marquis, who had been absent for a moment returned to the window with René-Jean, who struggled and wept and beat Radoub with his little fists as the marquis passed him on to the sergeant.
The marquis went back into the chamber that was now filled with flames. Georgette was there alone. He went up to her. She smiled. This man of granite felt his eyelids grow moist. He asked, “What is your name?”
“Orgette,” said she.
He took her in his arms – she was still smiling, and, at the instant he handed her to Radoub, that conscience so lofty, and yet so darkened, was dazzled by the beauty of innocence: the old man kissed the child.
“It is the little girl!” said the soldiers; and Georgette in her turn descended from arm to arm till she reached the ground, amid cries of exultation. They clapped their hands; they leaped; the old grenadiers sobbed, and she smiled at them.
The mother stood at the foot of the ladder breathless, mad, intoxicated by this change — flung, without a pause, from hell into paradise. Excess of joy lacerates the heart in its own way. She extended her arms; she received first Gros-Alain, then René-Jean, then Georgette. She covered them with frantic kisses, then burst into a wild laugh, and fainted.
A great cry rose: “They are all saved!”
All were indeed saved, except the old man.
But no one thought of him — not even he himself, perhaps. He remained for a few instants leaning against the window-ledge lost in a reverie, as if he wished to leave the gulf of flames time to make a decision. Then, without the least haste, slowly indeed and proudly, he stepped over the window-sill, and erect, upright, his shoulders against the rungs, having the conflagration at his back, the depth before him, he began to descend the ladder in silence with the majesty of a phantom. The men who were on the ladder sprang off; every witness shuddered; about this man thus descending from that height there was a sacred horror as about a vision. But he plunged calmly into the darkness before him; they recoiled, he drew nearer them; the marble pallor of his face showed no emotion; his haughty eyes were calm and cold; at each step he made toward those men whose wondering eyes gazed upon him out of the darkness, he seemed to tower higher, the ladder shook and echoed under his firm tread — one might have thought him the statue of the commandatore descending anew into his sepulchre.
As the marquis reached the bottom, and his foot left the last rung and planted itself on the ground, a hand seized his shoulder. He turned about.
“I arrest you,” said Cimourdain.
“I approve of what you do,” said Lantenac.

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Excerpt from “Get Smart!” by William Johnston ~~Shoe~~

At the first phone booth he came to, Max stepped inside and pulled the door closed. He bent down, and with considerable difficulty, since the built had not been built for the purpose of removing a shoe, he unlaced his right oxford, slipped it from his foot, then straightened and spoke into the sole, while listening at the heel.
Max: 86 here – that you, Chief?
Chief: What took you so long? I’ve been ringing you for a good ten minutes!
Max: Sorry, Chief. I was indisposed.
Chief: Oh . . . in the shower?
Max: No, taking a stroll . . . enjoying the carbon monoxide on Madison Avenue. It’s lovely at this time of year.
Chief: Max, I need you right away. There’s another crisis. How soon can you –
Max (interrupting): Excuse me, Chief. Hang on a second.

Max turned toward the door of the booth, where, outside, a matronly middle-aged woman was rapping on the glass. He opened the door a crack and spoke to her.
“Sorry, Madam,” he said, “this booth is in use.”
“I have to make a call,” the woman said irritably.
“This isn’t a dressing room, it’s a telephone booth. If you want to change your shoes, find a shoe store.”
“Madam, I happen to be on the phone,” Max said.
“You are not. The phone is on the hook.”
Max glanced back over his shoulder. “Oh . . . that phone.” Then, facing the woman again, he said, “It so happens, Madam, that I’m talking through my shoe. Now . . . if you’ll excuse me . . .”
He pulled the door closed, and resumed his conversation with the Chief.

Max: Sorry, Chief. A little misunderstanding with a civilian. Now . . . what were you saying?
Chief: I said there’s a crisis afoot. And, following our procedure of assigning cases by rotation, your number came up. I need you here at Control right away. How soon can you –
Max (interrupting again): Chief . . . can you hold on? That civilian is back. I’ll just be a second.

The middle-aged matron had returned, accompanied by a uniformed policeman. The policeman had rapped on the glass with his night stick. Once more, Max opened the door a crack.
“Yes, officer, what can I do for you?” Max said.
“That’s a telephone booth, buddy,” the policeman said. “And this lady wants to make a call.”
“Officer, as I told the lady, the booth is in use,” Max said. “I’m making a call myself. A very important call. If it’s anything like most of my calls, the fate of the whole civilized world may hang in the balance.”
“Now I believe him!” the woman snorted. “He told me he was talking through his hat!”
“My shoe, Madam!” Max said. “I said my shoe – I’m talking through my shoe.” He opened the door the rest of the way and handed his oxford to the policeman. “Here, officer, try it yourself. The Chief is on the line. He’ll explain it to you.”
Suspiciously, the policeman accepted the phone.
“No, no, you speak into the sole,” Max said. “The heel is for listening.”
The policeman turned the shoe around.
“Go ahead,” Max said. “Say, ‘Hello, Chief’ or something like that. Just don’t ask him about his rheumatism – it’s a very sore point.
The policeman spoke. “Chief . . .?”
As a reply came back, his mouth dropped open. Then, after a second, he said, “Sure, Chief, I understand. I thought he was a nut. Naturally, when he –” He listened again. Then, nodding, said, “Right, you can count on me. The fate of the whole civilized world is very important to me, too.”
The policeman handed the shoe back to Max, then turned to the matron. “Sorry, lady,” he said, “this booth is in use.”

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Excerpt from “A Passage To India” by E. M. Forster ~~Friends~~

Aziz grew more excited. He rose in his stirrups and pulled at his horse’s head in the hope it would rear. Then he should feel in a battle. He cried: “Clear out, all you Turtons and Burtons. We wanted to know you ten years back—now it’s too late. If we see you and sit on your committees, it’s for political reasons, don’t you make any mistake.” His horse did rear. “Clear out, clear out, I say. Why are we put to so much suffering? We used to blame you, now we blame ourselves, we grow wiser. Until England is in difficulties we keep silent, but in the next European war—aha, aha! Then is our time.” He paused, and the scenery, though it smiled, fell like a gravestone on any human hope. They cantered past a temple to Hanuman— God so loved the world that he took monkey’s flesh upon him— and past a Saivite temple, which invited to lust, but under the semblance of eternity, its obscenities bearing no relation to those of our flesh and blood. They splashed through butterflies and frogs; great trees with leaves like plates rose among the brushwood. The divisions of daily life were returning, the shrine had almost shut.
“Who do you want instead of the English? The Japanese?” jeered Fielding, drawing rein.
“No, the Afghans. My own ancestors.”
“Oh, your Hindu friends will like that, won’t they?”
“It will be arranged— a conference of oriental statesmen.”
“It will indeed be arranged.”
“Old story of ‘We will rob every man and rape every woman from Peshawar to Calcutta,’ I suppose, which you get some nobody to repeat and then quote every week in the Pioneer in order to frighten us into retaining you! We know!” Still he couldn’t quite fit in Afghans at Mau, and, finding he was in a corner, made his horse rear again until he remembered that he had, or ought to have, a mother- land. Then he shouted: “India shall be a nation! No foreigners of any sort! Hindu and Moslem and Sikh and all shall be one! Hurrah! Hurrah for India! Hurrah! Hurrah!”
India a nation! What an apotheosis! Last corner to the drab nineteenth-century sisterhood! Waddling in at this hour of the world to take her seat! She, whose only peer was the Holy Roman Empire, she shall rank with Guatemala and Belgium perhaps! Fielding mocked again. And Aziz in an awful rage danced this way and that, not knowing what to do, and cried: “Down with the English anyhow. That’s certain. Clear out, you fellows, double quick, I say. We may hate one another, but we hate you most. If I don’t make you go, Ahmed will, Karim will, if it’s fifty or five hundred years we shall get rid of you, yes, we shall drive every blasted Englishman into the sea, and then “—he rode against him furiously— “and then,” he concluded, half kissing him, “you and I shall be friends.”
“Why can’t we be friends now?” said the other, holding him affectionately. “It’s what I want. It’s what you want.”
But the horses didn’t want it— they swerved apart; the earth didn’t want it, sending up rocks through which riders must pass single file; the temples, the tank, the jail, the palace, the birds, the carrion, the Guest House, that came into view as they issued from the gap and saw Mau beneath: they didn’t want it, they said in their hundred voices, “No, not yet,” and the sky said, “No, not there.”

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Excerpt from “Birdy” by William Wharton ~~Flight~~

In my dream one night, I look up and see the opening; the wires are pulled back. I fly onto the edge of the opening and hop out onto the landing platform. The dream of my dream is coming true. I’m going to fly free.
I fly up onto the top of the aviary. I hop along the roof edge, look down at the ground, then across the yard to the roof of our house. It’s a beautiful day, the spring leaves are open, there are huge, soft, white clouds drifting in the sky. I spring. I loop-swing through the air, feeling the fullness of the wind in the pits of my wings. I look down and the yard gets smaller. I circle once, then land on the rain gutter. The world is bigger and smaller at the same time. Bigger because I can see farther, and smaller because I’m looking down on it and know it’s mine, more than ever before.
I fly from the roof almost straight up; straight as I can, not flying to anywhere, just feeling the sky. Then, I fold my wings and let myself drop until my feathers begin to flutter in the wind. I open my wings, catch myself, and fly straight up again, stalling, looping a long lingering loop. I look down.
Below is my yard, all in one piece. I can see all of it without turning my head. I can see the whole baseball field and out along Church Lane to the cemetery. I’m directly over the tree in the corner of our yard. I come down in slow circles looking for a branch on which to land. I find one just on the yard side of the top of the tree. I land and fluff out my feathers. I feel all together. I feel like me to the very tips of myself.
I look over to the aviary. Perta is coming out, standing on the landing board. On top of the aviary are two of my sons and one of my daughters. I think of peeping to tell them where I am but decide to sing. I start to sing in the sunshine and my song goes out into the blue air. I have a sense of drifting into the sky with my notes. I feel I’m a part of everything my song touches. While I’m singing, Perta flies up, and joins me on the branch. She feels what I’m feeling and asks me to feed her. I feed her and sing some more, then feed her again. I fly up over her and in. it’s more than it ever was before. I spring away and fly small circles over Perta. I sing while I’m flying. I’m forgetting I’m Birdy; I’m a real bird and it isn’t a dream.

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Excerpt from “Letters of the Great Artists” by Richard Friedenthal ~~Renoir – Charpentier~~

My dear friend,
May I ask you if it is within possibility nevertheless, the sum of three hundred francs before the end of the month. If it is possible, I am truly grieved that it may be the last time and that I shall have nothing to write to you any more except commonplace, quite stupid letters, without asking you for anything because you will owe me nothing any longer except respect, that I am older than you, I do not send you my account because I have none.
Now, my dear friend, have the amiability to thank Madame Charpentier warmly on behalf of her most devoted artist and that I shall never forget that if one day I cross the tape that it is to her that I shall owe, for by myself I am certainly not capable of it. I would like to get there, so as to be able the sooner to procure her all my gratitude.

Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) spent four years of his youth painting pretty rococo pictures on porcelain, then studied under Gleyre, and achieved some success as a fashionable portrait painter. In 1868 he worked with Monet out of doors and his technique became more Impressionist. Charpentier, the recipient of Monet’s rather similar letter, was a publisher and to a certain extent a patron of art. Renoir’s portrait of Madame Charpentier and her children, painted in 1878, is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which paid 50,000 francs for it in his own lifetime. When asked how much he had been paid for it, he replied, ‘Me! Three hundred francs and lunch!’

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