You may read it all with the best will in the world, — well, and then — do you understand? No — not in the least. Has this helped you to hear, at night, on the Polynesian shores white with coral — to hear, at night, the plaintive sound of the vivo (the reed pipe), from the very depth of the woods? or the distant bellowing of conch-shell trumpets?
I was to cross many years of hesitations, of errors, of struggles; to mount many calvaries; to pay cruelly for having been brought up as an isolated sensitive plant; by force of will, to recast and to harden my physical constitution, as well as my moral one — up to that day when, towards my twenty-seven years, a manager of a circus, after having seen how my muscles unbent now like springs of steel, let fall in his admiration these words, the most profound that I may have heard in my life: `What a pity, sir, that your education may have been begun so late!'