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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

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80                     RANDOM MEMORIES

the Star of Hades, and uttered exiguous voices in the land
beyond Cocytus.

There was something strangely exasperating,  as well
as strangely wearying, in these uncommanded evolutions,
It is bitter to return to infancy, to be supported, and
directed, and perpetually set upon your feet, by the hand
of some one else.    The air besides, as it is supplied to
you   by   the  busy millers   on  the  platform, closes  the
eustachian  tubes   and  keeps   the  neophyte   perpetually
swallowing, till his throat is grown so dry that he can
swallow no longer.   And for all these reasonsalthough
I had a fine, dizzy, muddle-headed joy in my surroundings,
and longed, and tried, and always failed, to lay hands-
on the fish that darted here and there about me, swift as
humming-birdsyet I fancy I was rather relieved than
otherwise when Bain brought me back to the ladder and
signed to me to mount.    And there was one more experi-
ence before me even then.    Of a sudden, my ascending
head passed into the trough of a swell.    Out of the green,
I shot at once into a glory of rosy, almost of sanguine
lightthe multitudinous  seas incarnadined,  the heaven
above a vault of crimson.    And then the glory faded into
the hard, ugly daylight of a Caithness autumn, with a low
sky, a gray sea, and a whistling wind.

Bob Bain had five shillings for his trouble, and I had
done what I desired. It was one of the best things I get
from my education as an engineer : of which, however, as
a way of life, I wish to speak with sympathy. It takes a
man into the open air; it keeps him hanging about
harbour-sides, which is the richest form of idling; it
carries him to wild islands ; it gives him a taste of the
genial dangers of the sea ; it supplies him with dexterities
to exercise ; it makes demand upon his ingenuity ; it will
go far to cure him of any taste (if ever he had one) for
the miserable life of cities. And when it has done so,
it carries him back and shuts him in an office ! From
the roaring skerry and the wet thwart of the tossing boat,
he passes to the stool and desk ; and with a memory
full of ships, and seas, and perilous headlands, and the
shining pharos, he must apply his long-sighted eyes ta