THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 18: IN THE QUEEN'S DUNGEONS
The queen was a good deal outraged, next morning when she found
she was going to have neither Hugo's life nor his property. But
I told her she must bear this cross; that while by law and custom
she certainly was entitled to both the man's life and his property,
there were extenuating circumstances, and so in Arthur the king's
name I had pardoned him. The deer was ravaging the man's fields,
and he had killed it in sudden passion, and not for gain; and he
had carried it into the royal forest in the hope that that might make
detection of the misdoer impossible. Confound her, I couldn't
make her see that sudden passion is an extenuating circumstance
in the killing of venison--or of a person--so I gave it up and let
her sulk it out. I did think I was going to make her see it by
remarking that her own sudden passion in the case of the page
modified that crime.
"Crime!" she exclaimed. "How thou talkest! Crime, forsooth!
Man, I am going to pay for him!"
Oh, it was no use to waste sense on her. Training--training is
everything; training is all there is to a person. We speak of
nature; it is folly; there is no such thing as nature; what we
call by that misleading name is merely heredity and training.
We have no thoughts of our own, no opinions of our own; they are
transmitted to us, trained into us. All that is original in us,
and therefore fairly creditable or discreditable to us, can be
covered up and hidden by the point of a cambric needle, all the
rest being atoms contributed by, and inherited from, a procession
of ancestors that stretches back a billion years to the Adam-clam
or grasshopper or monkey from whom our race has been so tediously
and ostentatiously and unprofitably developed. And as for me,
all that I think about in this plodding sad pilgrimage, this
pathetic drift between the eternities, is to look out and humbly
live a pure and high and blameless life, and save that one
microscopic atom in me that is truly me: the rest may land in
Sheol and welcome for all I care.