Always

“Would I choose so again? Well, now that is a question. I will only say that if I have acquired any wisdom from Big Kit, it is to live always with your eyes cast forward, to seek what will be, for the path behind can never be retaken.”

— From Washington Black (2018) by Esi Edugyan

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Curious

“There were eccentric characters in the hotel. The Paris slums are a gathering-place for eccentric people — people who have fallen into solitary, half-mad grooves of life and given up trying to be normal or decent. Poverty frees them from ordinary standards of behaviour, just as money frees people from work. Some of the lodgers in our hotel lived lives that were curious beyond words.

“There were the Rougiers, for instance, an old, ragged, dwarfish couple who plied an extraordinary trade. They used to sell post cards on the Boulevard St. Michel. The curious thing was that the post cards were sold in sealed packets as pornographic ones, but were actually photographs of chateaux on the Loire; the buyers did not discover this until too late, and of course never complained.

chateux

The Rougiers earned about a hundred francs a week, and by strict economy managed to be always half starved and half drunk.”

— From Down and Out in Paris and London (1933) by George Orwell

Gilded

“He’s all right; he won’t lure you into any gilded dens of infamy. If you look at him you will see he has a kind, innocent face.”

— Salcombe Hardy assuring Miss Twitterton that she is safe with Lord Peter Wimsey in “The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man with No Face” by Dorothy L. Sayers, collected in Blood on the Tracks: Railway Mysteries (2018)

Linnaea

Linnaea_borealis

“We went from the upper edge of the field above the house into a smooth, brown path among the dark spruces. The hot sun brought out the fragrance of the pitchy bark, and the shade was pleasant as we climbed the hill. William stopped once or twice to show me a great wasps’ nest close by, or some fishhawks’ nests below in a bit of swamp. He picked a few sprigs of late-blooming linnaea as we came out upon an open bit of pasture at the top of the island, and gave them to me without speaking, but he knew as well as I that one could not say half he wished about linnaea.”

— From The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896) by Sarah Orne Jewett

A Trail

1916-odorono

“The trouble with Miss Truick was first and last that she smelled! Odorono had not yet appeared in the chemists’ shops. To put it with vulgarity, stinking armpits were stinking armpits, and the more you washed them the worse they smelled. These facts about Miss Truick were not discovered for some time, and when they were everyone was too kind-hearted to suggest ceasing to employ her. Though not ‘poor Miss Truick’ in herself, she had, as is usual in these cases, either a bedridden or diseased mother or a few other encumbrances of this kind. My father said that he would certainly be glad to get rid of her. He said she left a trail behind her when she walked through the hall that lasted for hours.”

— From Agatha Christie: An Autobiography (1977)

Cups of Tea

“For his part, the Count had opted for the life of the purposefully unrushed. Not only was he disinclined to race toward some appointed hour–disdaining even to wear a watch–he took the greatest satisfaction when assuring a friend that a worldly matter could wait in favor of a leisurely lunch or a stroll along the embankment. After all, did not wine improve with age? Was it not the passage of years that gave a piece of furniture its delightful patina? When all was said and done, the endeavors that most modern men saw as urgent (such as appointments with bankers and the catching of trains), probably could have waited, while those they deemed frivolous (such as cups of tea and friendly chats) had deserved their immediate attention.”

— From A Gentleman in Moscow (2016) by Amor Towles

Humbled

“Like the Freemasons, the Confederacy of the Humbled is a close-knit brotherhood whose members travel with no outward markings, but who know each other at a glance. For having fallen suddenly from grace, those in the Confederacy share a certain perspective. Knowing beauty, influence, fame, and privilege to be borrowed rather than bestowed, they are not easily impressed. They are not quick to envy or take offense. They certainly do not scour the papers in search of their own names. They remain committed to living among their peers, but they greet adulation with caution, ambition with sympathy, and condescension with an inward smile.”

— From A Gentleman in Moscow (2016) by Amor Towles