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By the Ionian Sea by George Gissing

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delightful company throughout my wanderings. When I turned to the
curator, and spoke of this discovery, sympathy at once lighted up
his face. Yes, yes! He remembered the visit; he had the clearest
recollection of Lenormant--"_un bravo giovane_!" Thereupon, he
directed my attention to a little slip of paper pasted into the
inner cover of the book, on which were written in pencil a few Greek
letters; they were from the hand of Lenormant himself, who had taken
out his pencil to illustrate something he was saying about a Greek
inscription in the museum. Carefully had this scrap been preserved
by the good curator; his piety touched and delighted me.

I could have desired no happier incident for the close of my
journey; by lucky chance this visit to the museum had been postponed
till the last morning, and, as I idled through the afternoon about
the Via Plutino, my farewell mood was in full harmony with that in
which I had landed from Naples upon the Calabrian shore. So hard a
thing to catch and to retain, the mood corresponding perfectly to an
intellectual bias--hard, at all events, for him who cannot shape
his life as he will, and whom circumstance ever menaces with dreary
harassment. Alone and quiet, I heard the washing of the waves; I saw
the evening fall on cloud-wreathed Etna, the twinkling lights come
forth on Scylla and Charybdis; and, as I looked my last towards the
Ionian Sea, I wished it were mine to wander endlessly amid the
silence of the ancient world, to-day and all its sounds forgotten.


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