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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 235 pages of information about A Reckless Character.

“What dost thou think of that?”

“Good gracious!” roared Junius.  “Why, those are my lines!—­Julius must have been in the crowd when I recited them; he heard and repeated them, barely altering—­and that, of course, not for the better—­a few expressions!”

“Aha!  Now I recognise thee....  Thou art Junius,” retorted the citizen whom he had accosted, knitting his brows.—­“Thou art either envious or a fool!...  Only consider just one thing, unhappy man!  Julius says in such lofty style:  ’And day will chase away the night!’....  But with thee it is some nonsense or other:  ’And the light will disperse the gloom!?’—­What light?!  What darkness?!”

“But is it not all one and the same thing....”  Junius was beginning....

“Add one word more,” the citizen interrupted him, “and I will shout to the populace, and it will rend thee asunder.”

Junius prudently held his peace, but a grey-haired old man, who had overheard his conversation with the citizen, stepped up to the poor poet, and laying his hand on his shoulder, said: 

“Junius!  Thou hast said thy say at the wrong time; but the other man said his at the right time.—­consequently, he is in the right, while for thee there remain the consolations of thine own conscience.”

But while his conscience was consoling Junius to the best of its ability,—­and in a decidedly-unsatisfactory way, if the truth must be told,—­far away, amid the thunder and patter of jubilation, in the golden dust of the all-conquering sun, gleaming with purple, darkling with laurel athwart the undulating streams of abundant incense, with majestic leisureliness, like an emperor marching to his empire, the proudly-erect figure of Julius moved forward with easy grace ... and long branches of the palm-tree bent in turn before him, as though expressing by their quiet rising, their submissive obeisance, that incessantly-renewed adoration which filled to overflowing the hearts of his fellow-citizens whom he had enchanted!

April, 1878.

THE SPARROW

I had returned from the chase and was walking along one of the alleys in the garden.  My hound was running on in front of me.

Suddenly he retarded his steps and began to crawl stealthily along as though he detected game ahead.

I glanced down the alley and beheld a young sparrow, with a yellow ring around its beak and down on its head.  It had fallen from the nest (the wind was rocking the trees of the alley violently), and sat motionless, impotently expanding its barely-sprouted little wings.

My hound was approaching it slowly when, suddenly wrenching itself from a neighbouring birch, an old black-breasted sparrow fell like a stone in front of my dog’s very muzzle—­and, with plumage all ruffled, contorted, with a despairing and pitiful cry, gave a couple of hops in the direction of the yawning jaws studded with big teeth.

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