The Intelligence Office (From "Mosses from an Old Manse")
35 Pages
English
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The Intelligence Office (From "Mosses from an Old Manse")

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35 Pages
English

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Project Gutenberg EBook, The Intelligence Office, by Nathaniel Hawthorne From "Mosses From An Old Manse" #56 inour series by Nathaniel HawthorneCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of thisfile. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can alsofind out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers*****Title: The Intelligence Office (From "Mosses From An Old Manse")Author: Nathaniel HawthorneRelease Date: Nov, 2005 [EBook #9229] [This file was first posted on September 6, 2003] [Last updated on February 6,2007]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK, THE INTELLIGENCE OFFICE ***This eBook was produced by David WidgerMOSSES FROM AN OLD MANSEBy Nathaniel HawthorneTHE INTELLIGENCE OFFICEGrave figure, with a pair of mysterious ...

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bPyr ojNeactth aGnuiteel nHbaewrtg hEorBnoeo kF,r oTmh e" IMntoesllsigese nFcreo mO ffAicne,Old Manse" #56 in our series by NathanielHawthornesCuorpey triog hcth leacwk st haer ec cohpayrniggihnt gl aawll so fvoerr  ytohue r wcooruldn.t rByebefore downloading or redistributing this or anyother Project Gutenberg eBook.vTiheiws inhge atdhiesr  Psrhoojuelcdt  bGeu ttheen bfierrsgt  tfihlien. gP lseeaesne  wdhoe nnotremove it. Do not change or edit the headerwithout written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and otherinformation about the eBook and ProjectGutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included isimportant information about your specific rights andrestrictions in how the file may be used. You canalso find out about how to make a donation toProject Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain VanillaElectronic Texts***C*oEmBpouotkesr sR, eSaidncaeb le1 9B7y1 *B*oth Humans and By*****These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousandsof Volunteers*****
Title: The Intelligence Office (From "Mosses FromAn Old Manse")Author: Nathaniel HawthorneRelease Date: Nov, 2005 [EBook #9229] [This filewas first posted on September 6, 2003] [Lastupdated on February 6, 2007]Edition: 10Language: English*E*B* OSTOAK,R TT HOEF I TNHTEE LPLIRGOEJNECCET  OGFUFTIECNE B*E**RGThis eBook was produced by David WidgerOMLODS SMEASN FSREOM AN
By Nathaniel HawthorneTHE INTELLIGENCE OFFICEGrave figure, with a pair of mysterious spectacleson his nose and a pen behind his ear, was seatedat a desk in the corner of a metropolitan office. Theapartment was fitted up with a counter, andfurnished with an oaken cabinet and a Chair ortwo, in simple and business-like style. Around thewalls were stuck advertisements of articles lost, orarticles wanted, or articles to be disposed of; inone or another of which classes werecomprehended nearly all the Conveniences, orotherwise, that the imagination of man hascontrived. The interior of the room was thrown intoshadow, partly by the tall edifices that rose on theopposite side of the street, and partly by theimmense show-bills of blue and crimson paper thatwere expanded over each of the three windows.Undisturbed by the tramp of feet, the rattle ofwheels, the hump of voices, the shout of the citycrier, the scream of the newsboys, and othertokens of the multitudinous life that surged along infront of the office, the figure at the desk poreddiligently over a folio volume, of ledger- like sizeand aspect, He looked like the spirit of a record—the soul of his own great volume made visible inmortal shape.But scarcely an instant elapsed without theappearance at the door of some individual from the
busy population whose vicinity was manifested byso much buzz, and clatter, and outcry. Now, it wasa thriving mechanic in quest of a tenement thatshould come within his moderate means of rent;now, a ruddy Irish girl from the banks of Killarney,wandering from kitchen to kitchen of our land, whileher heart still hung in the peat-smoke of her nativecottage; now, a single gentleman looking out foreconomical board; and now—for this establishmentoffered an epitome of worldly pursuits—it was afaded beauty inquiring for her lost bloom; or PeterSchlemihl, for his lost shadow; or an author of tenyears' standing, for his vanished reputation; or amoody man, for yesterday's sunshine.At the next lifting of the latch there entered aperson with his hat awry upon his head, his clothesperversely ill-suited to his form, his eyes staring indirections opposite to their intelligence, and acertain odd unsuitableness pervading his wholefigure. Wherever he might chance to be, whetherin palace or cottage, church or market, on land orsea, or even at his own fireside, he must haveworn the characteristic expression of a man out ofhis right place."This," inquired he, putting his question in the formof an assertion,—"this is the Central IntelligenceOffice?""aEnvotehn esr ol,e"a fa nosf whiesr evdo ltuhme ef;i ghuer et haet nt hloe odkeesdk ,t hteurningapplicant in the face and said briefly, "Yourbusiness?"
"I want," said the latter, with tremulousearnestness, "a place!""A place! and of what nature?" asked theIntelligencer. "There are many vacant, or soon tobe so, some of which will probably suit, since theyrange from that of a footman up to a seat at thecouncil- board, or in the cabinet, or a throne, or apresidential chair."The stranger stood pondering before the desk withan unquiet, dissatisfied air,—a dull, vague pain ofheart, expressed by a slight contortion of the brow,—an earnestness of glance, that asked andexpected, yet continually wavered, as if distrusting.In short, he evidently wanted, not in a physical orintellectual sense, but with an urgent moralnecessity that is the hardest of all things to satisfy,since it knows not its own object."Ah, you mistake me!" said he at length, with agesture of nervous impatience. " Either of theplaces you mention, indeed, might answer mypurpose; or, more probably, none of them. I wantmy place! my own place! my true place in theworld! my proper sphere! my thing to do, whichNature intended me to perform when shefashioned me thus awry, and which I have vainlysought all my lifetime! Whether it be a footman'sduty or a king's is of little consequence, so it benaturally mine. Can you help me here?""I will enter your application," answered theIntelligencer, at the same time writing a few lines in
his volume. "But to undertake such a business, Itell you frankly, is quite apart from the groundcovered by my official duties. Ask for somethingspecific, and it may doubtless be negotiated foryou, on your compliance with the conditions. Butwere I to go further, I should have the wholepopulation of the city upon my shoulders; since farthe greater proportion of them are, more or less, inyour predicament."The applicant sank into a fit of despondency, andpassed out of the door without again lifting hiseyes; and, if he died of the disappointment, he wasprobably buried in the wrong tomb, inasmuch asthe fatality of such people never deserts them,and, whether alive or dead, they are invariably outof place.Almost immediately another foot was heard on thethreshold. A youth entered hastily, and threw aglance around the office to ascertain whether theman of intelligence was alone. He then approachedclose to the desk, blushed like a maiden, andseemed at a loss how to broach his business."You come upon an affair of the heart," said theomffyicsitaelr ipoeurss osnpaegctea, clloeosk.i "nSgt iantteo  ith iinm  atsh rfoeuwg hw ohrisds asmay be.""You are right," replied the youth. "I have a heart todispose of."""FYoooul isseh eyko autnh ,e xwchhya nngote ?b"e  scaoidn ttehnet eIndt ewlliitgh eynocuerr.
"Foolish youth, why not be contented with your"?nwo"Because," exclaimed the young man, losing hisembarrassment in a passionate glow,—"becausemy heart burns me with an intolerable fire; ittortures me all day long with yearnings for I knownot what, and feverish throbbings, and the pangsof a vague sorrow; and it awakens me in the night-time with a quake, when there is nothing to befeared. I cannot endure it any longer. It were wiserto throw away such a heart, even if it brings menothing in return.""O, very well," said the man of office, making anentry in his volume. "Your affair will be easilytransacted. This species of brokerage makes noinconsiderable part of my business; and there isalways a large assortment of the article to selectfrom. Here, if I mistake not, comes a pretty fairsample."Even as he spoke the door was gently and slowlythrust ajar, affording a glimpse of the slender figureof a young girl, who, as she timidly entered,seemed to bring the light and cheerfulness of theouter atmosphere into the somewhat gloomyapartment. We know not her errand there, nor canwe reveal whether the young man gave up hisheart into her custody. If so, the arrangement wasneither better nor worse than in ninety-nine casesout of a hundred, where the parallel sensibilities ofa similar age, importunate affections, and the easysatisfaction of characters not deeply conscious ofthemselves, supply the place of any profounder
sympathy.Not always, however, was the agency of thepassions and affections an office of so little trouble.It happened, rarely, indeed, in proportion to thecases that came under an ordinary rule, but still itdid happen, that a heart was occasionally broughthither of such exquisite material, so delicatelyattempered, and so curiously wrought, that noother heart could be found to match it. It mightalmost be considered a misfortune, in a worldlypoint of view, to be the possessor of such adiamond of the purest water; since in anyreasonable probability it could only be exchangedfor an ordinary pebble, or a bit of cunninglymanufactured glass, or, at least, for a jewel ofnative richness, but ill-set, or with some fatal flaw,or an earthy vein running through its central lustre.To choose another figure, it is sad that heartswhich have their wellspring in the infinite, andcontain inexhaustible sympathies, should ever bedoomed to pour themselves into shallow vessels,and thus lavish their rich affections on the ground.Strange that the finer and deeper nature, whetherin man or woman, while possessed of every otherdelicate instinct, should so often lack that mostinvaluable one of preserving itself frontcontamination with what is of a baser kind!Sometimes, it is true, the spiritual fountain is keptpure by a wisdom within itself, and sparkles intothe light of heaven without a stain from the earthystrata through which it had gushed upward. Andsometimes, even here on earth, the pure mingleswith the pure, and the inexhaustible is
recompensed with the infinite. But these miracles,though he should claim the credit of them, are farbeyond the scope of such a superficial agent inhuman affairs as the figure in the mysteriousspectacles.Again the door was opened, admitting the bustle ofthe city with a fresher reverberation into theIntelligence Office. Now entered a man of woe-begone and downcast look; it was such an aspectas if he had lost the very soul out of his body, andhad traversed all the world over, searching in thedust of the highways, and along the shadyfootpaths, and beneath the leaves of the forest,and among the sands of the sea-shore, in hopes torecover it again. He had bent an anxious glancealong the pavement of the street as he camehitherward; he looked also in the angle of thedoorstep, and upon the floor of the room; and,finally, coming up to the Man of Intelligence, hegazed through the inscrutable spectacles which thelatter wore, as if the lost treasure might be hiddenwithin his eyes."I have lost—" he began; and then he paused."Yes," said the Intelligencer, "I see that you havelost,—but what?""I have lost a precious jewel!" replied theunfortunate person, "the like of which is not to befound among any prince's treasures. While Ipossessed it, the contemplation of it was my soleand sufficient happiness. No price should have
purchased it of me; but it has fallen from mybosom where I wore it in my careless wanderingsabout the city."After causing the stranger to describe the marks ofhis lost jewel, the Intelligencer opened a drawer ofthe oaken cabinet which has been mentioned asforming a part of the furniture of the room. Herewere deposited whatever articles had been pickedup in the streets, until the right owners shouldclaim them. It was a strange and heterogeneouscollection. Not the least remarkable part of it was agreat number of wedding-rings, each one of whichhad been riveted upon the finger with holy vows,and all the mystic potency that the most solemnrites could attain, but had, nevertheless, provedtoo slippery for the wearer's vigilance. The gold ofsome was worn thin, betokening the attrition ofyears of wedlock; others, glittering from thejeweller's shop, must have been lost within thehoneymoon. There were ivory tablets, the leavesscribbled over with sentiments that had been thedeepest truths of the writer's earlier years, butwhich were now quite obliterated from his memory.So scrupulously were articles preserved in thisdepository, that not even withered flowers wererejected; white roses, and blush-roses, and moss-roses, fit emblems of virgin purity andshamefacedness, which bad been lost or flungaway, and trampled into the pollution of the streets;locks of hair,—the golden and the glossy dark,—the long tresses of woman and the crisp curls ofman, signified that lovers were now and then soheedless of the faith intrusted to them as to drop