excerpt from Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviors to love1, will, after he hath laughed at such shallow follies in others2, become the argument of his own scorn by falling in love; and such a man is Claudio. I have known when there was no music with him but the drum and fife, and now he had rather hear the tabor and pipe3. I have known when he would have walked ten mile afoot to see a good armor, and now will he lie ten nights awake, carving the fashion of a new doublet4. He was wont to speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest man and a soldier; and now is he turned orthography. His words are a very fantastical banquet: just so many strange dishes5. May I be so converted and see with these eyes6? I cannot tell; I think not7. I will not be sworn but love may transform me into an oyster; but I’ll take my oath on it, till he have made an oyster of me8, he shall never make me such a fool. One woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am well; another virtuous, yet I am well9. But 10 till all graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in my grace11. Rich she shall be, that’s certain; wise, or I’ll none; virtuous, or I’ll never cheapen her; fair, or I’ll never look on her; mild, or come not near me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall be of what color it please God12. Ha13! The Prince and Monsieur14 Love! I will hide me 15 in the harbor.

My Ántonia by Willa Cather

Book I: The Shimerdas

I

The engine was panting heavily after its long run16. In the red glow from the fire-box, a group of people stood huddled together on the platform, encumbered by bundles and boxes. I knew this must be the immigrant family the conductor had told us about. The woman wore a fringed shawl tied over her head, and she carried a little tin trunk in her arms, hugging it as if it were a baby. There was an old man, tall and stooped2. Two half-grown boys and a girl stood holding oilcloth a bundles, and a little girl clung to her mother’s skirts. Presently a man with a lantern approached them and began to talk, shouting and exclaiming3. I pricked up my ears, for it was positively the first time I had ever heard a foreign tongue4.

Another lantern came along5. A bantering voice called out:6 “Hello, are you Mr. Burden’s folks? If you are, it’s me you’re looking for. I’m Otto Fuchs. I’m Mr. Burden’s hired man, and I’m to drive you out. Hello, Jimmy, ain’t you scared to come so far west?”

I looked up with interest at the new face in the lantern light. He might have stepped out of the pages of “Jesse James.” He wore a sombrero hat, with a wide leather band and a bright buckle, and the ends of his mustache were twisted up stiffly, like little horns7. He looked lively and ferocious, I thought, and as if he had a history. A long scar ran across one cheek and drew the corner of his mouth up in a sinister curl8. The top of his left ear was gone, and his skin was brown as an Indian’s. Surely this was the face of a desperado. As he walked about the platform in his high-heeled boots9, looking for our trunks10, I saw that he was a rather slight man, quick and wiry11, and light on his feet. He told us we had a long night drive ahead of us, and had better be on the hike. He led us to a hitching-bar where two farm wagons were tied, and I saw the foreign family crowding into one of them. The other was for us. Jake got on the front seat with Otto Fuchs, and I rode on the straw in the bottom of the wagonbox, covered up with a buffalo hide. The immigrants rumbled off into the empty darkness, and we followed them.

(Online Text)

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it 12; the rest of me is on the draining board, which I have padded with our dog’s blanket and the tea cosy. I can’t say that I am really comfortable, and 2 there is a depressing smell of carbolic soap, but this is the only part of the kitchen where there is any daylight left. And3 I have found that sitting in a place where you have never sat before can be inspiring. I wrote my very best poem while sitting on the hen house. Though even that isn’t a very good poem. I have decided my poetry is so bad that I mustn’t write any more of it. 

It is comforting to look away from the windows and towards the kitchen fire, near which my sister Rose is ironing though she obviously can’t see properly, and it will be a pity if she scorches her only nightgown. (I have two, but one is minus its behind.)4 Rose looks particularly fetching by firelight because she is a pinkish person; her skin has a pink glow and her hair is pinkish gold, very light and feathery. Although5 I am rather used to her I know she is a beauty. She is nearly twenty one and very bitter with life. I am seventeen, look younger, feel older. I am no beauty but have a neatish6 face. 

I have just remarked to Rose that our situation is really rather romantic two girls in this strange and lonely house. She replied that she saw nothing romantic about being shut up in a crumbling ruin surrounded by a sea of mud. I must admit that our home is an unreasonable place to live in. Yet I love it.7Intentional fragment: This short sentence, although not an independent clause, creates emphasis by standing on its own. By disconnecting this phrase from the first independent clause, Casandra portrays the conviction of her love for her home despite its being unreasonable, and she makes the idea more important.

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Checkouts by Cynthia Rylant

Then one day the bag boy dropped her jar of mayonnaise, and that is how she fell in love.

He was nervous—first day on the job—8 and along had come this fascinating girl, standing in the checkout line with the unfocused stare one often sees in young children, 2 her face turned enough away that 3 he might take several full looks at her as he packed sturdy bags full of food and the goods of modern life. She interested him because 4 her hair was red and thick, and in it she had placed a huge orange bow, nearly the size of a small hat. That was enough to distract him, and when finally it was her groceries he was packing, 5 she looked at him and smiled, and he could respond only by busting her jar of mayonnaise on the floor, shards of glass and oozing cream decorating the area around his feet. 6

She loved him at exactly that moment, and if he’d known this, 7 perhaps he wouldn’t have fallen into the brown depression he fell into, which lasted the rest of his shift. 8 He believed he must have looked a fool in her eyes, and he envied the sureness of everyone around him: the cocky cashier at the register, the grim and harried their breaks. 9 He wanted a second chance. 10 Another chance to be confident and say witty things to her as he threw tin cans into her bags, persuading her to allow him to help her to her car so he might learn just a little about her, check out the floor of the car for signs of hobbies or fetishes and the bumpers for clues as to beliefs and loyalties.

But he busted her jar of mayonnaise, and nothing else worked out for the rest of the day.

Strange, 11 how attractive clumsiness can be. She left the supermarket with stars in her eyes, for she had loved the way his long, nervous fingers moved from the conveyor belt to the bags, how deftly (until the mayonnaise) 12 they had picked up her items and placed them into her bags. She had loved the way the hair kept falling into his eyes as he leaned over to grab a box or a tin. And the tattered brown shoes he wore with no socks. And the left side of his collar turned in rather than out. 13

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