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BOOKS (FIRST LINES)
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[ Also see Books Books (Last Lines) Books (Quotes) Quotations ]

Fog was so dense, bird that had been disturbed went flat into a balustrade and slowly fell, dead, at her feet.
      - Henry Green, Party Going [1939]

Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him.
      - Graham Henry Greene, Brighton Rock [1938]

Mr. Trench went out to look for his ether cylinder: out into the blazing Mexican sun and the bleaching dust.
      - Graham Henry Greene,
        The Power and the Glory [1940]

What subtle strange message had come to her out of the West? Carley Burch laid the letter in her lap and gazed dreamily through the window.
      - Zane Grey, The Call of the Canyon [1924] (ch. I)   BUY VARYING HARE USED BOOK  

Late in June the vast northwestern desert of wheat began to take on a tinge of gold, lending an austere beauty to that endless, rolling, smooth world of treeless hills, where miles of fallow ground and miles of waving grain sloped up to the far-separated homes of the heroic men who had conquered over sage and sand.
      - Zane Grey, The Desert of Wheat [1918] (ch. 1)

So it was in him, then--an inherited fighting instinct, a driving intensity to kill.
      - Zane Grey, The Lone Star Ranger [1915]

At sunset hour the forest was still, lonely, sweet with tang of fir and spruce, blazing in gold and red and green; and the man who glided on under the great trees seemed to blend with the colors and, disappearing, to have become a part of the wild woodland.
      - Zane Grey, The Man of the Forest [1920] (ch. 1)

A September sun, losing some of its heat if not its brilliance, was dropping low in the west over the black Colorado range. Purple haze began to thicken in the timbered notches. Gray foothills, round and billowy, rolled down from the higher country. They were smooth, sweeping, with long velvety slopes and isolated patches of aspens that blazed in autumn gold. Splotches of red vine colored the soft gray of sage. Old White Slides, a mountain scarred by avalanche, towered with bleak rocky peak above the valley, sheltering it form the north.
      - Zane Grey, The Mysterious Rider [1921] (ch. I)

In the early sixties a trail led from the broad Missouri, swirling yellow and turgid between its green-groved borders, for miles and miles out upon the grassy Nebraska plains, turning westward over the undulating prairie, with its swales and billows and long, winding lines of cottonwoods to a slow, vast heave of rising ground--Wyoming--where the herds of buffalo grazed and the wolf was lord and the camp-fire of the trapper sent up its curling blue smoke from beside some lonely stream; . . .
      - Zane Grey, The U.P. Trail [1918]

Adam Larey gazed with hard and wondering eyes down the silent current of the red river upon which he meant to drift away into the desert.
      - Zane Grey, The Wanderer of the Wasteland [1923]

At the end of a dry, uphill ride over barren country Jean Isbel unpacked to camp at the edge of the cedars where a little rocky canon, green with willow and cottonwood, promised water and grass.
      - Zane Grey, To the Last Man [1922] (ch. 1)

For some reason the desert scene before Lucy Bostil awoke varying emotions--a sweet gratitude for the fullness of her life there at the Ford, yet a haunting remorse that she could not be wholly content--a vague loneliness of soul--a thrill and a fear for the strangely calling future, glorious, unknown.
      - Zane Grey, Wildfire [1916] (ch. 1)

My dear wife Carrie and I have just been a week in our new home, 'The Laurels', Brickfield Terrace, Holloway--a nice six-roomed residence, not counting basement, with a front-breakfast parlour.
      - George Grossmith and Weedon Grossmith,
        The Diary of a Nobody [1892] (ch. 1)

The recesses of the desolate Libyan mountains that lie behind the temple and city of Abydus, the supposed burying place of the Holy Osiris, a tomb was recently discovered, among the contents of which were the papyrus rolls whereon this history is written.
      - Henry Rider Haggard, Cleopatra [1889]

It is a curious thing that at my age--I shall never see sixty again--I should find myself taking up a pen to try to write a history. I wonder what sort of a history it will be when I have finished it, if ever I come to the end of the trip!
      - Henry Rider Haggard, King Solomon's Mines [1885]

I suppose that very few casual readers of the New York Herald of August 13, 1863, observed, in an obscure corner, among the "Deaths," the announcement,--
  "NOLAN. Died, on board U.S. Corvette 'Levant,' Lat. 2o 11' S., Long. 131o W., on the 11th of May, PHILIP NOLAN."
      - Edward Everett Hale,
        The Man Without a Country [1863]

Samuel Spade's jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth. His nostrils curved back to make another, smaller v. His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal. The v motif was picked up again by thickish brows rising outward from twin creases above a hooked nose, and his pale brown hair grew down--from high flat temples--in a point on his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like a blond satan.
  He said to Effie Perine: "Yes, sweetheart?"
      - (Samuel) Dashiell Hammett,
        The Maltese Falcon [1930]

I was leaning against the bar in a speakeasy on Fifty-second Street, waiting for Nora to finish her Christmas shopping, when a girl got up from the table where she had been sitting with three other people and came over to see me. She was small and blonde, and whether you looked at her face or at her body in powder-blue sports clothes, the result was satisfactory. "Aren't you Nick Charles?" she asked.
      - (Samuel) Dashiell Hammett, The Thin Man [1934]

When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun.
      - Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd [1874]

The schoolmaster was leaving the village, and everybody seemed sorry.
      - Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure [1896]

On an evening in the latter part of May a middle-aged man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Marlott, in the adjoining Vale of Blakemore or Blackmoor. The pair of legs that carried him were rickety, and there was a bias in his gait which inclined him somewhat to the left of a straight line. He occasionally gave a smart nod, as if in confirmation of some opinion, though he was not thinking of anything in particular. An empty egg-basket was slung upon his arm, the nap of his hat was ruffled, a patch being quite worn away at its brim where his thumb came in taking it off. Presently he was met by an elderly parson astride on a gray mare, who, as he rode, hummed a wandering tune.
      - Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles [1891]

One evening of late summer, before the nineteenth century had reached one-third of its span, a young man and woman, the latter carrying a child, were approaching the large village of Weydon-Priors, in Upper Wessex, on foot. They were plainly but not ill clad, though the thick hoar of dust which had accumulated on their shoes and garments from an obviously long journey lent a disadvantageous shabbiness to their appearance just now.
      - Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge [1886]
         (ch. 1)   BUY VARYING HARE USED BOOK  

A Saturday afternoon in November was approaching the time of twilight, and the vast tract of unenclosed wild known as Egdon Heath embrowned itself moment by moment. Overhead the hollow stretch of whitish cloud shutting out the sky was as a tent which had the whole heath for its floor. The heaven being spread with this pallid screen and the earth with the darkest vegetation, their meeting-line at the horizon was clearly marked. In such contrast the heath wore the appearance of an instalment of night which had taken up its place before its astronomical hour was come: darkness had to a great extent arrived hereon, while day stood distinct in the sky.
      - Thomas Hardy, The Return of the Native [1878]

The rambler who, for old association's sake, should trace the forsaken coach-road running almost in a meridional line from Bristol to the south shore of England, would find himself during the latter half of his journey in the vicinity of some extensive woodlands, interspersed with apple-orchards.
      - Thomas Hardy, The Woodlanders [1887]

The coachman drew up his horses before the castle gateway, where their hoofs beat a sort of fanfare on the stone pavement; and the footman, letting himself smartly down, pulled, with a peremptory gesture that was just not quite a swagger, the bronze hand at the end of the dangling bell-cord.
      - Henry Harland, My Friend Prospero [1904]
         (pt. 1, ch. 1)


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