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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesAladdin O'brien - Book 1 - Chapter 9
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Aladdin O'brien - Book 1 - Chapter 9 Post by :rjsexton1 Category :Long Stories Author :Gouverneur Morris Date :May 2012 Read :1250

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Aladdin O'brien - Book 1 - Chapter 9


There is no doubt that Aladdin's recovery dated from Margaret's visit. The poor boy was too sick to say what he had planned, but Margaret sat by his bed for a while and held his hand, and said little abrupt conventional things that meant much more to them both, and that was enough. Besides, and under the guns of her father's eyes, just before she went away she stooped and kissed him on the forehead, and that was more than enough to make anybody get over anything, Aladdin thought. So he slept a long cool sleep after Margaret had gone, and woke free of fever. As he lay gathering strength to sit up in bed, which treat had been promised him in ten days, Aladdin's mind worked hard over the future, and what he could machinate in order one day to be almost worthy to kiss the dust under Margaret's feet. She sent him flowers twice, but was not allowed to come and see him again.

Aladdin had awful struggles with the boredom of convalescence. He felt perfectly well, and they wouldn't let him get up and out; everything forbidden he wanted to eat. And his one solace was the Brackett library. This was an extraordinary collection of books. They were seven, and how they got there nobody knows. The most important in the collection was, in Mrs. Brackett's estimation, an odd volume of an encyclopedia, bound in tree-calf and labeled, "Safety-lamps to Stranglers." Next were four fat tomes in the German language on scientific subjects; these, provided that anybody had ever wanted to read them, had never succeeded in getting themselves read, but they had cuts and cuts which were fascinating to surmise about. The sixth book was the second volume of a romance called "The Headsman," by "the author of 'The Spy,'" and the seventh was a back-split edition of Poe's poems.

The second volume of "The Headsman" went like cakes and syrup on a cold morning, for it was narrative, and then it was laid aside, because it was dull. The four German books had their cuts almost examined out of them, and the encyclopedia book, from "Safety-lamps to Stranglers," practically had its contents torn out and devoured. In after life Aladdin could always speak with extraordinary fluency, feeling, and understanding on anything that began with S, such as Simeon Stylites and Senegambia. But the poems of Poe were what made his sickness worth while and put the call upon all his after life. We learn of the critics and professors of English that there are greater lyric poets than Poe. They will base this on technicalities and theories of what poetry has been and what poetry ought to be, and will not take into account the fact that of all of them--Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth when he is a poet at all, Heine, and the lyric body of Goethe and the rest--not one in proportion to the mass of his production so often leaves the ground and spreads wings as Poe,--

If I might dwell
Where Israfel
Hath dwelt, and he where I,
He might not sing so wildly well
A mortal melody,
While a bolder note than his might swell
From my lyre within the sky,--

and that where they have, they have perhaps risen a little higher, but never have sung more hauntingly and clear. The wonderful sounds and the unearthly purity--the purity of a little child that has died--took Aladdin by the throat and shook up the imagination and music that had lain dormant within him; his father's bent for invention clarified into a passion for creation. The first thing he read was three stanzas on the left-hand page where the book opened to his uneager hands, and his eyes, expectant of disappointment,--for up to that time, never having read any, he hated poetry,--fell on one of the five or six perfect poems in the world:

Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore
That gently o'er a perfumed sea
The weary, wayworn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.

On desperate seas long wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy naiad airs have brought me home
To the glory that was Greece,
And the grandeur that was Rome.

Lo, in yon brilliant window-niche
How statue-like I see thee stand,
The agate lamp within thy hand!
Ah, Psyche! From the regions which
Are holy land.

And he knew that he had read the most exquisite, the most insouciant, and the most universal account of every man's heart's desire--Margaret as she would be when she grew tall. He knew little of the glory that was Greece or the grandeur that was Rome, but whatever they were, Margaret had all of them, and the hyacinth hair, very thick and clustery and beautiful, and the naiad airs. Ah, Psyche!

And he read forward and back in the book, and after a little he knew that he had a soul, and that the only beautiful thing in the world is beauty, and the only sad thing, and that beauty is truth.

Open at the lines to Helen he laid the book face down upon his heart, with his hands clasped over it, and shut his eyes.

"Now I know what I've got to do," he said. "Now I know what I've got to do."

He dreamed away hours until suddenly the need of deeds set him bolt upright in bed, and he called to Mrs. Brackett to bring him pencil and paper. From that time on he was seldom without them, and, by turns reading and writing, entered with hope and fortitude into the challenging field of literature. And from the first, however ignorant and unkempt the effort, he wrote a kind of literature, for he buckled to no work that he knew, and was forever striving after an ideal (nebulous, indescribable, and far) of his own, and that is literature. Go to those who have wrought for--forever (without, of course, knowing it) and those who have wrought earnestly for the day, and these things you will find made the god in their machine: Raphael's sonnets and Dante's picture! Aladdin had no message, that he knew of, for the world, but the call of one of the arts was upon him; and he knew that willy-nilly he must answer that call as long as eyes could see, or hands hold pen, or tongue call for pencil and paper, money buy them, or theft procure them. He set himself stubbornly and courageously to the bitter-sweet task of learning to write.

"It must be like learning anything else," he said, his eyes on a sheet of seemingly uncorrectable misbalances, "and just because I'm rotten at it now doesn't prove that if I practise and practise, and try and try, and hope and hope, I won't be some good sometime."

He saw very clearly the squat dark tower itself in the midst of the chin-upon-hand hills, and the world and his friends sitting about to see him fail. He saw them, and he knew them all, and yet, with Childe Roland,

Dauntless the slughorn to his lips he set,
And blew.

And incidentally, when he got well and returned to school, he entered on a period of learning his lessons, for he thought that these might one day be of use to him in his chosen line.

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Aladdin O'brien - Book 1 - Chapter 10 Aladdin O'brien - Book 1 - Chapter 10

Aladdin O'brien - Book 1 - Chapter 10
BOOK I CHAPTER XSenator St. John, for he was at heart democratic, and heard little of Aladdin that was not to Aladdin's credit, derigorized the taboo which he had once placed on Aladdin's and Margaret's friendship, and allowed the young man to come occasionally to the house, and occasionally loaned him books. Margaret was really at the bottom of this, but she stayed comfortably at the bottom, and teased her father to do the needful, and he, wrapped up in the great issues which were threatening to divide the country, complied. In those days the senator's interests extended far beyond his

Aladdin O'brien - Book 1 - Chapter 8 Aladdin O'brien - Book 1 - Chapter 8

Aladdin O'brien - Book 1 - Chapter 8
BOOK I CHAPTER VIIIOne day, during the morning session of school, Aladdin's head got so heavy that he could hardly see, and he felt hot all over. He spoke to the teacher and was allowed to go home. Mrs. Brackett, when she saw him enter the yard, was in great alarm, for she at once supposed that he had done something awful, which was not out of the question, and suffered expulsion. "What have you done?" she said. "Nothing," said Aladdin. "I think I'm going to be sick." Mrs. Brackett tossed her hands heavenward. "What is the matter?" she cried. "I