An exchange between Humphrey van Weyden and Wolf Larsen, in Jack London's The Sea-Wolf:
"But history tells of slaves who rose to the purple," I chided.
"And history tells of opportunities that came to the slaves who rose to the purple," he answered grimly. "No man makes opportunity. All the great men ever did was to know it when it came to them. The Corsican knew. I have dreamed as greatly as the Corsican. I should have known the opportunity, but it never came. The thorns sprung up and choked me. And, Hump, I can tell you that you know more about me than any living man, except my own brother.”
"And what is he? And where is he?”
"Master of the steamship Macedonia, seal-hunter," was the answer. "We will meet him most probably on the Japan coast. Men call him 'Death' Larsen.”
"Death Larsen!" I involuntarily cried. "Is he like you?”
"Hardly. He is a lump of an animal without any head. He has all my—my—”
"Brutishness," I suggested.
“Yes,—thank you for the word,—all my brutishness, but he can scarcely read or write.”
"And he has never philosophized on life," I added.
"No," Wolf Larsen answered, with an indescribable air of sadness. "And he is all the happier for leaving life alone. He is too busy living it to think about it. My mistake was in ever opening the books."
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