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      The detective went calmly on his way to Lytton Avenue. The Countess was not down yet, but if the caller would send up his business it should be attended to. Prout was firm, but his business was for the private ear of the lady of the house alone, and he would wait her good pleasure. He was quite easy in his mind, seeing that he was not alone, but accompanied by two officers in plain clothes, one being stationed in the front of the house and the other at the rear.

      "It--it proves nothing," she said with an effort, presently. "A pleasant face. Don't you think that she is a little like me?"


      The black edging of the gate-posts was fresh blacklead.From a little way off came the sound of rapid footsteps. The step grew swifter, and there was the sound of another behind. As if by magic a half score of people seemed to spring from under the trees against the square yonder.

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      In those days German Headquarters gave continuously the thoughtless order: "To Calais, to237 Calais," and the Staff considered no difficulties, calculated no sacrifices, in order to achieve success.LOUVAIN UNDER THE MAILED FIST

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      I.

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      But the enthusiasm for science, however noble in itself, would not alone have sufficed to mould the Epicurean philosophy into a true work of art. The De Rerum Natura is the greatest of all didactic poems, because it is something more than didactic. Far more truly than any of its Latin successors, it may claim comparison with the epic and dramatic masterpieces of Greece and Christian Europe; and that too not by virtue of any detached passages, however splendid, but by virtue of its composition as a whole. The explanation of this extraordinary success is to be sought in the circumstance that the central interest whence Lucretius works out in all directions is vital rather than merely scientific. The true heroine of his epic is not Nature but universal lifehuman life in the first instance, then the life of all the lower animals, and even of plants as well. Not only does he bring before us every stage of mans existence from its first to its last hour106 with a comprehensiveness, a fidelity, and a daring unparalleled in literature; but he exhibits with equal power of portrayal the towered elephants carrying confusion into the ranks of war, or girdling their own native India with a rampart of ivory tusks; the horse with an eagerness for the race that outruns even the impulse of his own swift limbs, or fiercely neighing with distended nostrils on the battlefield; the dog snuffing an imaginary scent, or barking at strange faces in his dreams; the cow sorrowing after her lost heifer; the placid and laborious ox; the flock of pasturing sheep seen far off, like a white spot on some green hill; the tremulous kids and sportive lambs; the new-fledged birds filling all the grove with their fresh songs; the dove with her neck-feathers shifting from ruby-red to sky-blue and emerald-green; the rookery clamouring for wind or rain; the sea birds screaming over the salt waves in search of prey; the snake sloughing its skin; the scaly fishes cleaving their way through the yielding stream; the bee winging its flight from flower to flower; the gnat whose light touch on our faces passes unperceived; the grass refreshed with dew; the trees bursting into sudden life from the young earth, or growing, flourishing, and covering themselves with fruit, dependent, like animals, on heat and moisture for their increase, and glad like them:all these helping to illustrate with unequalled variety, movement, and picturesqueness the central idea which Lucretius carries always in his mind.


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