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CHAPTER 6: THE SOLE SURVIVOR
A few weeks later I landed in England, I, who no longer desired to set foot on any land again.
At nine-and-twenty I was gaunt and gray; my nerves were shattered, my heart was broken; and my face showed it without let or hindrance from the spirit that was broken too. Pride, will, courage, and endurance, all these had expired in my long and lonely battle with the sea. They had kept me alive-for this. And now they left me naked to mine enemies.
For every hand seemed raised against me, though in reality it was the hand of fellowship that the world stretched out, and the other was the reading of a jaundiced eye. I could not help it: there was a poison in my veins that made me all ingratitude and perversity. The world welcomed me back, and I returned the compliment by sulking like the recaptured runaway I was at heart. The world showed a sudden interest in me; so I took no further interest in the world, but, on the contrary, resented its attentions with unreasonable warmth and obduracy; and my would-be friends I regarded as my very worst enemies. The majority, I feel sure, meant but well and kindly by the poor survivor. But the survivor could not forget that his name was still in the newspapers, nor blink the fact that he was an unworthy hero of the passing hour. And he suffered enough from brazenly meddlesome and self-seeking folk, from impudent and inquisitive intruders, to justify some suspicion of old acquaintances suddenly styling themselves old friends, and of distant connections newly and unduly eager to claim relationship. Many I misjudged, and have long known it. On the whole, however, I wonder at that attitude of mine as little as I approve of it.
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