For Ebony Swann life is stifling; her mother reads her diary, her father is cold. Her only sanctuary is her room. Following successful exam results she seems set for a career in banking, but that soon comes to an end through the stifling atmosphere of the bank and incompetence. So which way forward?
It was a still, hot night, and the moon hung round and full above the cedars, when rancher Brooke sat in his comfortless shanty with a whisky bottle at his hand. The door stood open, and the drowsy fragrance of the coniferous forest stole into the room, while when he glanced in that direction he could see hemlock and cedar, redwood and balsam, tower, great black spires, against the luminous blueness of the night. Far above them gleamed the untrodden snow that clothed the great peaks with spotless purity; but this was melting fast under the autumn sun, and the river that swirled by the shanty sang noisily among the boulders.
"Bosh," he said. "On what else is the whole world run but immediate impressions? What is more practical? My friend, the philosophy of this world may be founded on facts, its business is run on spiritual impressions and atmospheres. Why do you refuse or accept a clerk? Do you measure his skull? Do you read up his physiological state in a handbook? Do you go upon facts at all? Not a scrap. You accept a clerk who may save your business-you refuse a clerk that may rob your till, entirely upon those immediate mystical impressions under the pressure of which I pronounce, with a perfect sense of certainty and sincerity, that that man walking in that street beside us is a humbug and a villain of some kind."
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