O youth! The strength of it, the faith of it, the imagination of it! To me she was not an old rattle-trap carting about the world a lot of coal for a freight--to me she was the endeavour, the test, the trial of life. I think of her with pleasure, with affection, with regret--as you would think of someone dead you have loved. I shall never forget her....
I remember my youth and the feeling that will never come back any more--the feeling that I could last for ever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men; the deceitful feeling that lures us on to joys, to perils, to love, to vain effort--to death; the triumphant conviction of strength, the heat of life in the handful of dust, the glow in the heart that with every year grows dim, grows cold, grows small, and expires--and expires, too soon--before life itself.
For me all the East is contained in that vision of my youth. It is all in that moment when I opened my young eyes on it. I came upon it from a tussle with the sea--and I was young--and I saw it looking at me. And this is all that is left of it! Only a moment; a moment of strength, of romance, of glamour--of youth!... A flick of sunshine upon a strange shore, the time to remember, the time for a sigh, and--good-bye!--Night--Good-bye...!
We all nodded at him: the man of finance, the man of accounts, the man of law, we all nodded at him over the polished table that like a still sheet of brown water reflected our faces, lined, wrinkled; our faces marked by toil, by deceptions, by success, by love; our weary eyes looking still, looking always, looking anxiously for something out of life, that while it is expected is already gone--has passed unseen, in a sigh, in a flash--together with the youth, with the strength, with the romance of illusions.