Good families are generally worse than any others.
When I read a story I skip the explanations; yet the moment I begin to write one I find that I must have an explanation.
The blemishes on honorable lineage are a delicate subject, and certainly this heredity we hear so much about is the finest scandalmonger in the world; it laughs at discretion, and writes strange entries between the lines of the "Peerage."
To a man of spirit ... opportunities are duties.
A real king's life is perhaps a hard one; but a pretended king's is, I warrant, much harder.
If anyone asks you if there is a prisoner in Zenda you may answer 'Yes.' But if any asks who the prisoner is, do not answer. For all my promises will not save you if any man here learns from you the truth as to the prisoner in Zenda. I'll kill you like a dog if the thing be so much as breathed within the house!
Look where I would I saw nothing that made life sweet to me, and I took my life in my hand and carried it carelessly as a man dangles an old glove.
Somehow love gives even to a dull man the knowledge of his lover's heart.
The ordinary ambitions and aims of men in my position seem to me dull and unattractive. I have little fancy for the whirl of society, and none for the jostle of politics.
I am a young man; and sometimes I have a fancy--the superstitious would call it a presentiment--that my part in life is not yet altogether played; that somehow and some day, I shall mix again in great affairs, I shall again spin policies in a busy brain, match my wits against my enemies', brace my muscle to fight a good fight and strike stout blows. Such is the tissue of my thoughts as, with gun or rod in hand, I wander through the woods or by the side of the stream. Whether the fancy will be fulfilled I cannot tell--still less whether the scene that, led by memory, I lay for my new exploits will be the true one--for I love to see myself once again in the crowded streets of Strelsau, or beneath the frowning keep of the castle of Zenda.
Shall I see her face again--the pale face and the glorious hair? Of that I know nothing; Fate has no hint, my heart no presentiment. I do not know. In this world, perhaps--nay, it is likely--never. And can it be that somewhere, in a manner whereof our flesh-bound minds have no apprehension, she and I will be together again, with nothing to come between us, nothing to forbid our love? That I know not, nor wiser heads than mine. But if it be never--if I can never hold sweet converse again with her, or look upon her face, or know from her her love, why, then, this side the grave, I will live as becomes the man whom she loves; and for the other side I must pray a dreamless sleep.
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