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"If we could only keep the post office, mother, we should be all right," said Herbert Carr, as he and his mother sat together in the little sitting room of the plain cottage which the two had occupied ever since he was a boy of five. "Yes, Herbert, but I am afraid there won't be much chance of it." "Who would want to take it from you, mother?" "Men are selfish, Herbert, and there is no office, however small, that is not sought after." "What was the income last year?" inquired Herbert. Mrs. Carr referred to a blank book lying on the table in which the post-office accounts were kept, and answered: "Three hundred and ninety-eight dollars and fifty cents." "I shouldn't think that would be much of an inducement to an able-bodied man, who could work at any business." "Your father was glad to have it." "Yes, mother, but he had lost an arm in the war, and could not engage in any business that required both hands." "That is true, Herbert, but I am afraid there will be more than one who will be willing to relieve me of the duties. Old Mrs. Allen called at the office to-day, and told me she understood that there was a movement on foot to have Ebenezer Graham appointed." "Squire Walsingham's nephew?"
A Smile of Fortune is one of Joseph Conrad's lesser-known long stories. He was essentially a nineteenth century writer who anticipated and then lived into the modernist age of the early twentieth century, helping to shape its spirit of uncertainty, anxiety, and moral ambiguity. Even his own life and works share the contradictions of the era. He is best known as an author of mannish sea tales, yet he only achieved success with a novel set largely on dry land which had a woman as its central character (Flora Barral in Chance). A Smile of FortuneHe is now regarded as a great figure in the tradition of the English novel, yet he was Polish, and English was his third language. He's also regarded as something of a conservative, yet his political views were scathingly radical (see The Secret Agent). A Smile of Fortune comes from his mature period (1911) and features the familiar Conradian device of a young sea captain who is confronted by a puzzling ethical dilemma. The first person narrator is a confirmed bachelor given to a philosophic approach to life, but whom Conrad cleverly makes vulnerable to the duplicities of the more experienced people around him. He arrives at an island in the Indian Ocean to take on a cargo of sugar, but is also given an open invitation by his ship's owners to do trade with a local merchant. The trader turns out to have a brother, and the two of them have diametrically opposed characters: one is socially well respected, but is a brute; the other is a social outcast who wishes to ingratiate himself with the unnamed narrator. For reasons he himself cannot fully understand, the captain opts for the outcast and allows himself to be drawn into his domestic life whilst waiting for his ship to be made ready. The principal attraction for this delay is a mysterious young woman, who might be the trader's daughter, with whom the young captain becomes romantically obsessed. The trader meanwhile is encouraging the captain's attentions, whilst trying to lure him into a speculative commercial venture. It's as if the young man is being lured and tempted on two fronts - the erotic and the pecuniary. In typically modernist fashion, this conflict reaches an unexpected and ambiguous resolution which despite the captain's commercial profit leads to his resigning his commission and heading back home. Formally, it's a long short story, rather than a novella such as The Secret Sharer and The Shadow Line with which it is frequently collected. And in terms of achievement, it seems to me to fall between the level of those excellent longer tales and the often embarrassingly bad short stories which Conrad turned out at the height of his commercial success. It's a story full of symbols and half-concealed inferences which is crying out for (at least) Freudian analysis, and can certainly be added to the list of lesser-known tales which deserve interpretive attention from anyone who admires Conrad's achievement.
The manager of the new Imperial Restaurant on the Thames Embankment went into his luxurious private office and shut the door. Having done so, he first scratched his chin reflectively, and then took a letter from the drawer in which it had reposed for more than two months and perused it carefully. Though he was not aware of it, this was the thirtieth time he had read it since breakfast that morning. And yet he was not a whit nearer understanding it than he had been at the beginning.
In clear, easy-to-grasp language, the author covers many of the topics that you will need to know in order to win your dream job and be the first in line for a promotion.
High school freshman Jessica Walsh is a Virago-a woman warrior who must protect her hometown from danger. And in Nightshade, California, trouble is always lurking. At the town's Battle of the Bands, Jess's boyfriend, Dominic, and his band, Side Effects May Vary, are up against Hamlin, a band so popular, their fans follow them everywhere. Soon, the competing musicians are doing risky, illegal, and even fatal things-and claiming that they heard strange music that compelled them to do it. Can Jess and her friends track down the tuneful tyrant before it's too late?
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