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ease, but so dexterously fashioned that it rides the heaviest waves like a duck, and slips through the water as if by magic. You can travel in it along the shallowest rivers and across the broadest lakes, and make forty or fifty miles a day, if you have a good guide.
-HENRY VAN DYKE : Little Rivers.
You may call the topic of the first paragraph “Dogs in Khaki,” or “Dogs as Messengers in War,” or “The Value of Messenger Dogs in War," or "Where Dogs Are Better than Men.” Perhaps you can suggest a still better way of writing the topic. The important thing is to read the paragraph very carefully and then hold your topic close to the paragraph, as you hold a magnet close to iron filings. Just as the bits of iron leap to the magnet, so the sentences will seem to leap to your topic and group themselves around it; but not unless your topic is well chosen and well worded.
What is the topic of the second paragraph?
QUESTIONS 1. How many sentences are there in the paragraph about the dogs? in the paragraph about the boat?
2. In what two ways are dogs superior to men as messengers in battle?
3. Can you give one big reason why men are superior to dogs as messengers ?
Write on the board the topics of the three paragraphs that we have studied and, with books closed, see how well you can build each paragraph around its topic. Do it first by talking, then by writing.
HOW TO INDICATE PARAGRAPHS
Indent the first word of every paragraph; that is, begin it about half an inch to the right of the left margin. In writing out a conversation, start a new paragraph whenever one person stops talking and another begins, as:
“Captain, d vow your manners are worthy of a Frenehman;" said my Lord, “and yet I am given to understand you are a šeotehman."
a shadow crossed the eaptain's face.
“You wers!” exelaimed Comyn, astonished; "and pray, what are you now, oir?"
“ Ifenceforth, my Lord,'' John Paul replied with vast veremony, "I am an American, the compatriot of the beautiful Miss Manners !"
"Onɛ thing I'll warrant, captain," said his Lordship, "that you are a wit."
- WINSTON CHURCHILL: Richard Carvel.
Rip bethought himself a moment, and inquired, “Where's Nicholas Vedder?” There was a silence for a little while, when an old man replied, in a thin, piping voice: “Nicholas Vedder ! why, he is dead and gone these eighteen years! There was a wooden tombstone in the churchyard that used to tell all about him, but that's rotten and gone too.”
“Where's Brom Dutcher?” “Oh, he went off to the army in the beginning of the war; some say he was killed at the storming of Stony Point - others say he was drowned in a squall at the foot of Antony's Nose. I don't know he never came back again.” “Where's Van Bummel, the schoolmaster?"
“He went off to the wars, too, was a great militia general, and is now in Congress.”
Rip's heart died away at hearing of these sad changes in his home and friends, and finding himself thus alone in the world. Every answer puzzled him, too, by treating of such enormous lapses of time, and of matters which he could not understand: war Congress Stony Point; he had no courage to ask after any more friends, but cried out in despair, "Does nobody here know Rip Van Winkle?”
WASHINGTON IRVING: Rip Van Winkle.
One of these selections is written in script, the other in ordinary print. Which has the deeper indention? Remember, then, that the half-inch rule applies to notes, letters, and compositions, to everything that you may be asked to write; it does not apply to printed matter. The printed paragraph is indented, but much less than the written paragraph.
Notice, too, that when a quoted sentence ends with an exclamation point or with an interrogation point, the quotation marks are put after the points, not before them.
You will often have occasion in a paragraph to quote directly and also indirectly; that is, to use the exact words of the speaker and again to make slight changes in his words. Here are examples:
1. “I am not afraid,” said the soldier.
3. “What did you say?” he asked me.
In sentences i and 3 the direct language of the speaker is quoted; in sentences 2 and 4 the language of the speaker is reported indirectly. Sentences 1 and 3 are examples of direct quotation; 2 and 4, of indirect quotation.
Do not use quotation marks in indirect quotations.
In the fifth paragraph of the selection from Richard Carvel, change the direct quotation into an indirect quotation. Begin :
John Paul replied with vast ceremony that henceforth
Do the same for the first sentence from Rip Van Winkle.
James Parker, aged 14, fell from a tree in the yard and was picked up unconscious. His brother John, aged 16, ran at once for a doctor. The doctor took John into his buggy and drove to Mr. Parker's.
Write out the conversation between John and the doctor as they drove along. Head your composition "A Conversation,” but do not inclose the title in quotation marks. Do not use " said ” and “asked” too often; vary them with “ began,” “ inquired," " demanded," " replied,” “explained.”
HOW TO JOIN PARAGRAPHS
We have learned something about the single paragraph and something about the indication of paragraphs. But in our first lesson it was said that the art of writing is the art of building and joining paragraphs. We must now learn how to build several paragraphs and how to join them into a composition. A composition, however long, is nothing but a succession of paragraphs. If a composition be compared to a chain, each link is a paragraph. If you learn how to make a short chain, you learn at the same time how to make a long one. The process is the same. It is like counting. When you have learned to count a hundred, you can count a billion if you live long enough.
The following paragraphs are from the diary of a brave French schoolteacher whosc schoolroom was bombarded during the great war. The school was in Rheims, noted for the wonderful cathedral which now lies in ruins.
The story is very well told. The incidents are interesting and the brave teacher keeps herself in the background, letting the events speak for themselves. The children act naturally; they were scared, of course, but there was not a coward among them. I like the way the writer begins and the way she ends her story. She begins at the beginning and stops at the end; that is, there is no long introduction, telling what took place several days before, and there is no long conclusion, beating out the lesson of it. The two most important parts of a composition are the beginning and the end.