I read these words over and over again: I felt that an explanation
belonged to them, and was unable fully to penetrate their import. I was
still pondering the signification of "Institution," and endeavouring to
make out a connection between the first words and the verse of Scripture,
when the sound of a cough close behind me made me turn my head. I saw a
girl sitting on a stone bench near; she was bent over a book, on the
perusal of which she seemed intent: from where I stood I could see the
title--it was "Rasselas;" a name that struck me as strange, and
consequently attractive. In turning a leaf she happened to look up, and
I said to her directly--
"Is your book interesting?" I had already formed the intention of asking
her to lend it to me some day.
"I like it," she answered, after a pause of a second or two, during which
she examined me.
"What is it about?" I continued. I hardly know where I found the
hardihood thus to open a conversation with a stranger; the step was
contrary to my nature and habits: but I think her occupation touched a
chord of sympathy somewhere; for I too liked reading, though of a
frivolous and childish kind; I could not digest or comprehend the serious
"You may look at it," replied the girl, offering me the book.