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The Angel and the Author

CHAPTER XII
[Why I hate Heroes]
When I was younger, reading the popular novel used to make me sad. I find it vexes
others also. I was talking to a bright young girl upon the subject not so very long ago.
"I just hate the girl in the novel," she confessed. "She makes me feel real bad. If I don't
think of her I feel pleased with myself, and good; but when I read about her--well, I'm
crazy. I would not mind her being smart, sometimes. We can all of us say the right thing,
now and then. This girl says them straight away, all the time. She don't have to dig for
them even; they come crowding out of her. There never happens a time when she stands
there feeling like a fool and knowing that she looks it. As for her hair: 'pon my word,
there are days when I believe it is a wig. I'd like to get behind her and give it just one
pull. It curls of its own accord. She don't seem to have any trouble with it. Look at this
mop of mine. I've been working at it for three-quarters of an hour this morning; and now
I would not laugh, not if you were to tell me the funniest thing, you'd ever heard, for fear
it would come down again. As for her clothes, they make me tired. She don't possess a
frock that does not fit her to perfection; she doesn't have to think about them. You would
imagine she went into the garden and picked them off a tree. She just slips it on and
comes down, and then--my stars! All the other women in the room may just as well go to
bed and get a good night's rest for all the chance they've got. It isn't that she's beautiful.
From what they tell you about her, you might fancy her a freak. Looks don't appear to
matter to her; she gets there anyhow. I tell you she just makes me boil."
Allowing for the difference between the masculine and feminine outlook, this is precisely
how I used to feel when reading of the hero. He was not always good; sometimes he hit
the villain harder than he had intended, and then he was sorry--when it was too late,
blamed himself severely, and subscribed towards the wreath. Like the rest of us, he made
mistakes; occasionally married the wrong girl. But how well he did everything!--does
still for the matter of that, I believe. Take it that he condescends to play cricket! He never
scores less than a hundred--does not know how to score less than a hundred, wonders
how it could be done, supposing, for example, you had an appointment and wanted to
catch an early train. I used to play cricket myself, but I could always stop at ten or
twenty. There have been times when I have stopped at even less.
It is the same with everything he puts his hand to. Either he does not care for boating at
all, or, as a matter of course, he pulls stroke in the University Boat-race; and then takes
the train on to Henley and wins the Diamond Sculls so easily that it hardly seems worth
while for the other fellow to have started. Were I living in Novel-land, and had I entered
for the Diamond Sculls, I should put it to my opponent before the word was given to us to
go.
 
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