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Will-o'-the-wisp   Listen
noun
Will-o'-the-wisp  n.  See Ignis fatuus and phosphine.






Collaborative International Dictionary of English 0.48








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"Will-o'-the-wisp" Quotes from Famous Books



... who had waited seven years to have a child, holding a little will-o'-the-wisp of a thing in her arms. Now and then for a while it would lie still, and then suddenly it would leap up and dart away; and she, poor soul, must up and after it, though the chase were ...
— The Field of Clover • Laurence Housman

... a soul-destroying, home-wrecking, and accursed habit, which that gifted American, Colonel Robert Ingersoll, has, in words of fiery eloquence, called 'the treacherous, insidious murderer of home and happiness; the Will-o'-the-Wisp that draws honour, genius, and all that is good into its fatal, deadly quagmire.' To the assertion that our valued contemporary is 'the possessor of one of the brightest intellects of the present century' (as he so modestly informs us) we do not cavil at for one moment. ...
— Tom Gerrard - 1904 • Louis Becke

... again, following that will-o'-the-wisp of a hand-sled track into the thick spruce forest. For the first nine or ten miles everything went well; then one of the dangers of the great Maine woods in winter suddenly ...
— A Busy Year at the Old Squire's • Charles Asbury Stephens

... use a conveniently erroneous phrase, the variations arose spontaneously. The fruitless search after final causes leads their pursuers a long way; but even those hardy teleologists, who are ready to break through all the laws of physics in chase of their favourite will-o'-the-wisp, may be puzzled to discover what purpose could be attained by the stunted legs of Seth Wright's ram or the hexadactyle members of ...
— Darwiniana • Thomas Henry Huxley

... head and looked at the hills where his cattle would feed, and pictured it cluttered with gold-hunters, greedy, undesirable interlopers doomed to disappointment in the long run. Ward had seen the gold fever sweep through a community and spoil life for the weak ones who took to chasing the will-o'-the-wisp of sudden wealth. Tramps of the pick-and-pan brigade—they should not come swarming into these hills on any wild-goose chase, if he could help it. And he could and should. This was not, properly speaking, a gold country. He knew it. The rock formations did not point to any great deposit ...
— The Ranch at the Wolverine • B. M. Bower

... Voltaire stirs her intellect. And he leads her, too, spellbound by that incomparable verve and intellectual agility of his; she surrenders herself to the illusion of his brilliant assurances, dancing like some triumphant will-o'-the-wisp over the obscure deeps and perplexities of things. In a hundred ways, evil and good, she will remain the pupil of Voltaire. He has his part in her social test of philosophical speculations; he has his part ...
— The Great Events by Famous Historians, v. 13 • Various

... the workers. It is for the workers themselves to see that their trade unions shall be the means of securing something more than higher wages or even shorter hours of labour. War conditions have shown what a will-o'-the-wisp are mere increases of pay; and short hours of labour such as could easily be arranged under collective organisation of industry, with all the economies of effort which co-operation would effect, cannot be secured under ...
— Bolshevism: A Curse & Danger to the Workers • Henry William Lee

... squalls; then thick fogs which fell suddenly like a shroud and which, penetrating into the cloisters through the broken arcades, rendered us invisible, and made the little lamp we carried to guide us appear like a will-o'-the-wisp wandering under the galleries; and a thousand other details of this monastic life which crowd all at once into my memory: all combined made indeed this monastery the most romantic abode ...
— Frederick Chopin as a Man and Musician - Volume 1-2, Complete • Frederick Niecks

... logicum. There will your mind be drilled and braced, As if in Spanish boots 'twere laced, And thus, to graver paces brought, 'Twill plod along the path of thought, Instead of shooting here and there, A will-o'-the-wisp in murky air. Days will be spent to bid you know, What once you did at a single blow, Like eating and drinking, free and strong,— That one, two, three! thereto belong. Truly the fabric of mental fleece Resembles a weaver's masterpiece, ...
— Faust • Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

... o'clock, Hans Goerner, the rural guard, having been ordered to bring the prisoner to the town house for another examination, repaired to the cooler with four husky daredevils. They opened the door, all of them curious to look upon the Will-o'-the-wisp. But imagine their astonishment upon seeing him hanging from the bars of the window by his necktie! Some said that he was still writhing; others that he was already stiff. However that may be, they ran to Petrus Mauerer's ...
— Library of the World's Best Mystery and Detective Stories • Edited by Julian Hawthorne

... a terra incognita, and the distance to the Pacific was also an uncertain quantity. Escalante believed a better road existed to Monterey by way of the north than by the middle route, and a further incentive to journey that way was probably the rumours of large towns in that direction, the same will-o'-the-wisp the Spaniards for nearly three centuries had been vainly pursuing. The authorities had urged two expeditions to Alta California, to establish communication; Garces and Captain Anza had carried out one, and now Escalante was to execute ...
— The Romance of the Colorado River • Frederick S. Dellenbaugh

... will-o'-the-wisp light far up the side of the rocky steep on the preceding night, as well as Paul and Jack. He may have been pondering over it since, though neglecting to speak to ...
— The Banner Boy Scouts on a Tour - The Mystery of Rattlesnake Mountain • George A. Warren

... judgment and virtue of life, next to Socrates, who was a kind of Greek combination of Dr. Paley and Dr. Franklin, indicates a very different impression of him from what would generally be expressed of a poet, certainly what would not have been placed on the grave of an eccentric, erratic will-o'-the-wisp genius, however distinguished. Moreover, the pious author of good Mistress Hall's epitaph records the fact of her being "wise to salvation," as a more especial point of resemblance to her father than even her being "witty ...
— Sunny Memories Of Foreign Lands, Volume 1 (of 2) • Harriet Elizabeth (Beecher) Stowe

... fundamental principles of nearly every branch of modern science were the gradual metamorphoses of the investigations of the old searchers after the "philosopher's stone" and "elixir of life." The long hours of study and experiment in the chase for this will-o'-the-wisp were of vast benefit to the coming generations; and to these deluded philosophers of the Middle Ages, and even of ancient times, we are doubtless indebted for much in ...
— Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine • George M. Gould

... the man was—will-o'-the-wisp as he seemed—I desired above all else to see and speak with this man whom Tom Anderly called "Carver" and Captain Tugg knew as "Professor Vose." If my father, Dr. Webb, was alive he would be a man with a mysterious past! I wanted to come face to face ...
— Swept Out to Sea - Clint Webb Among the Whalers • W. Bertram Foster

... alleys, I followed the skipping and dancing white frill, a sort of will-o'-the-wisp, that showed me the way ...
— The Message • Honore de Balzac

... of a friend, it would not be his own familiar spirit, and, in consequence, he would not understand the other, because no two of these fantastic creatures ever speak entirely alike. But if we mention those who have to exist with the owner of this fantastic Will-o'-the-wisp—for he is as often absent as present—this makes the whole thing a matter of speculation. I feel as if I could not do justice to the idea, for I, too, have lived once on a time with these others; and I would rather not ...
— The Idler Magazine, Vol III. May 1893 - An Illustrated Monthly • Various

... heard a rap on the door. It was Nana, who came to ask as coolly as possible if she could sleep there. What a state she was in! All rags and dirt. She devoured a crust of dried bread and fell asleep with a part of it in her hand. This continued for some time, the girl coming and going like a will-o'-the-wisp. Weeks and months would elapse without a sign from her, and then she would reappear without a word to say where she had been, sometimes in rags and sometimes well dressed. Finally her parents began to take these proceedings ...
— L'Assommoir • Emile Zola

... these circumstances, her conduct was somewhat erratic. For three days, perhaps, she would fly to the door at her husband's ring, and hang upon his every movement. Then, for the next three, she would be a veritable will-o'-the-wisp for elusiveness, caring, apparently, not one whit whether her husband came or went until poor Bertram, at his wit's end, scourged himself with a merciless catechism as to what he had done to vex her. Then, perhaps, just when he had nerved himself almost to the point of asking ...
— Miss Billy Married • Eleanor H. Porter

... might be killed. They, accordingly, pulled on during the night, passing a large town, from which issued a loud noise, as of a multitude quarrelling. Once they fancied they saw a light following them, but it turned out to be a will-o'-the-wisp. ...
— Great African Travellers - From Mungo Park to Livingstone and Stanley • W.H.G. Kingston

... their minds: but before the attractions of a boy their most settled resolutions would be wax. We thought we could follow in fancy these three aged Hebrew truants wandering in and out on hilltop and in thicket, a demon boy trotting far ahead, their will-o'-the-wisp conductor; and at last about midnight, the wind still roaring in the darkness, we had a vision of all three on their knees upon a mountain-top around ...
— The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition - Vol. 2 (of 25) • Robert Louis Stevenson

... inadvertently writes), in a forthcoming article on the Records of Ireland, will, it is to be hoped, give the full details of this exciting record hunt, and thus exemplify the great utility, not to speak of the manliness, of real names and addresses, versus false names and equally Will-o'-the-Wisp initials. ...
— Notes and Queries, Number 196, July 30, 1853 • Various

... of trouble. But Sir Philip had gone abroad, and it would be some time before I could receive an answer. So I followed my uncle's advice, to whom I had mentioned how wearied I felt, both in body and mind, by my will-o'-the-wisp search. He immediately told me to go to Harrogate, there to await Sir Philip's reply. I should be near to one of the places connected with my search, Coldholme; not far from Sir Philip Tempest, ...
— Curious, if True - Strange Tales • Elizabeth Gaskell

... boats were just leaving the fur posts for the St. Lawrence. Frosts had already stripped the trees of foliage, and winter would presently lock all avenues of retreat in six months' ice. La Verendrye's men began to doubt the wisdom of chasing a will-o'-the-wisp to an unknown Western Sea. The explorer sent half the party forward with his nephew Jemmeraie and his son Jean, while he himself remained at Kaministiquia with the mutineers to forage for provisions. {208} Winter found Jemmeraie's men on the Minnesota ...
— Canada: the Empire of the North - Being the Romantic Story of the New Dominion's Growth from Colony to Kingdom • Agnes C. Laut

... toward the island. The increase in size told him that. It was no will-o'-the-wisp on the water, appearing a moment, then gone, foully cheating his hopes. If she kept her course, and there was no reason why she should not, she would make the island. He had no doubt from the first that a landing there was its definite purpose, most ...
— The Sun Of Quebec - A Story of a Great Crisis • Joseph A. Altsheler

... wish for happiness all men are strangely alike. In their explanations of it and in their ways of seeking it they are singularly different. Shall we think of this wish as right, or wrong; as a true star, or a will-o'-the-wisp? If it is right to wish to be happy, what are the conditions on which the fulfilment of this wish depends? These are the two questions with which I would come to Christ, ...
— Joy & Power • Henry van Dyke

... wood, she turned, unconsciously in pursuit of that will-o'-the-wisp of sound. Here and there out of the silence, it came to startle her; to fill her with strange forebodings which ...
— A Spinner in the Sun • Myrtle Reed

... retain as much vitality as the conditions of humanity permit: Will our posterity understand at least why he was once a luminary of the first magnitude, or wonder at their ancestors' hallucination about a mere will-o'-the-wisp? Will some of his best performances stand out like a cathedral amongst ruined hovels, or will they all sink into the dust together, and the outlines of what once charmed the world be traced only by Dryasdust and historians of literature? It is a painful task to examine such questions impartially. ...
— Hours in a Library, Volume I. (of III.) • Leslie Stephen

... I waste my abilities pursuing this will-o'-the-wisp "Enough," which is ever a little more than one has, and which none of the panting millions ever yet overtook in his mad chase? Is there no desirable thing left in this world but ...
— Architects of Fate - or, Steps to Success and Power • Orison Swett Marden

... it would not have seemed so lonely. Suddenly—what was that in the distance? A light, a tiny light, bobbing in and out of sight among the trees? Could it be a star come out of its way to take pity on her? Much more likely a Will-o'-the-wisp; for she did not stop to reflect that a dry pine forest in summer-time is not one of Will-o'-the-wisp's favourite playgrounds. It was a light, as to that there was no doubt, and it was coming nearer. Whether she was more frightened ...
— A Christmas Posy • Mary Louisa Stewart Molesworth

... work is unique among operatic overtures, as it has a chorus behind the curtain interwoven with it. It is a picture of the opera itself, and contains a will-o'-the-wisp passage, a rustic song with accompaniment of goat-bells, a storm, and in the midst of the storm a chant to the Virgin, sung by the unseen chorus, and then a Pilgrimage march, the whole being in the nature of a retrospect. The curtain rises upon ...
— The Standard Operas (12th edition) • George P. Upton

... of the numerous lights situated so low in the water, when seen at the distance of two or three miles, as putting him in mind of Milton's description of the fiends in the lower regions, adding, "for it seems greatly to surpass Will-o'-the-wisp, or any of those earthly spectres of which ...
— The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition Vol. 16 (of 25) • Robert Louis Stevenson

... a solitary star-broke out for one moment, as if to smile comfort upon him, and then vanished. But lo! in the distance there suddenly gleamed a red, steady light, like that in some solitary window; it was no will-o'-the-wisp, it was too stationary—human shelter was then nearer than he had thought for. He pointed to the light, and whispered, "Rouse yourself, one struggle more—it ...
— Night and Morning, Complete • Edward Bulwer-Lytton

... himself over by a convulsive effort and attempt to crush this insolent devil; or he might jerk his head around and catch Perris with his teeth. A third and better thought, however, immediately followed—that bound as he was he would have little chance to reach this elusive will-o'-the-wisp. He could not repress a quiver of horror and anger, but beyond ...
— Alcatraz • Max Brand

... Maria von Weber was still a babe, Franz Anton started once more after the will-o'-the-wisp of theatrical fame, with his "Weber's Company of Comedians." Genofeva, sickly and melancholy, dragged herself about with the troupe until Carl Maria was ten years old, when her health gave way, and the travel ...
— The Love Affairs of Great Musicians, Volume 1 • Rupert Hughes

... appear, the beast, drawing a long breath, distends his belly and drums delicately upon it with his clenched fist, producing such entrancing tones, that the traveller cannot resist turning aside to follow the sound, which, Will-o'-the-wisp-like, recedes as he advances, until it lures him on to his destruction. Love is, however, the most powerful engine which the cat, the fox, and the badger alike put forth for the ruin of man. No German poet ever imagined a ...
— Tales of Old Japan • Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford

... she saw inwardly the will-o'-the-wisp lights of her soul. But resolutely she smothered the sparks and ...
— Parrot & Co. • Harold MacGrath

... was no Berserk madness about the young Danishman; there was hardly even seriousness. Now his blade was a fleeing will-o'-the-wisp, keeping just out of reach of Edmund's brand with apparently no thought but of flight. Now, when the Ironside's increasing vehemence betrayed him into an instant's rashness, it was a humming-bird darting ...
— The Ward of King Canute • Ottilie A. Liljencrantz

... pestilence. Smith was just about to carry away a young girl from this house; his cab and bag were at the very door. He had told her she was going to await the marriage license at the house of his aunt. That aunt," continued Cyrus Pym, his face darkening grandly—"that visionary aunt had been the dancing will-o'-the-wisp who had led many a high-souled maiden to her doom. Into how many virginal ears has he whispered that holy word? When he said 'aunt' there glowed about her all the merriment and high morality of the Anglo-Saxon home. Kettles began to hum, pussy cats to purr, in that ...
— Manalive • G. K. Chesterton

... voyagers were doomed to disappointment. On arriving at the coast of America Cabot's ships seem first to have turned towards the north. The fatal idea, that the empires of Asia might be reached through the northern seas already asserted its sway. The search for a north-west passage, that will-o'-the-wisp of three centuries, had already begun. Many years later Sebastian Cabot related to a friend at Seville some details regarding this unfortunate attempt of his father to reach the spice islands of the East. The fleet, ...
— The Dawn of Canadian History: A Chronicle of Aboriginal Canada • Stephen Leacock

... mystery, magic. The spirit of wonder, like a will-o'-the-wisp, leads on through a fairy tale, enticing the child who follows, knowing that something will happen, and wondering what. When magic comes in he is gratified because some one becomes master of the universe—Cinderella, when she ...
— A Study of Fairy Tales • Laura F. Kready

... insects, birds, beasts, and the like, whose peculiar notes and voices betray them as having once been little children, or were compelled to join, the train of the wild huntsman, or mingle in the retinue of some other outcast, wandering sprite or devil; or, again, as some deceitful star, or will-o'-the-wisp, mislead and torment the traveller on moor and in bog and swamp, and guide him to an untimely death amid desert solitudes. Ploss, Henderson, and Swainson have a good deal to say on the subject of Frau Berctha and her train, the Wild Huntsman, ...
— The Child and Childhood in Folk-Thought • Alexander F. Chamberlain

... statue, with the several copies made from it, brought her thirty thousand dollars! The Prince of Wales has a copy, the Duke of Hamilton also, and it has gone even to Australia and the West Indies. A companion piece is the "Will-o'-the-wisp." ...
— Lives of Girls Who Became Famous • Sarah Knowles Bolton

... internal change in men's natures is slower than glaciers, and it is upon the sum of men's natures that civilization depends. While this testing and churning and gradual molding goes on, some fellow is always holding up a hasty lamp he calls reason, and beckoning the glacier one side, like a will-o'-the-wisp. ...
— The Crow's Nest • Clarence Day, Jr.

... lamp, and held it to the opening. There was a slight report; and a little red flame, rather blue at its outline, flickered over the rock like a Will-o'-the-Wisp. ...
— The Underground City • Jules Verne

... can I say in answer except the cruel "It is too late" of that fool Lafayette to his royal master? Oh! my life, my sweet life, what physician will give it back to me. My own hand has dealt the deathblow. Alas! have I not been a mere will-o'-the-wisp, whose twinkling spark was fated to perish before it reached a flame? My eyes rain torrents of tears—and yet they must not fall when I am with him. I fly to him, and he seeks me. My despair is all within. This torture Dante forgot to place ...
— Letters of Two Brides • Honore de Balzac

... Stephen would be his large-minded, great-hearted, magnanimous self, and beg her to forget this fascinating will-o'-the-wisp by resting in his deeper, serener love. She had meant to be contrite and faithful, praying nightly that poor Claude might live down his present anguish, of which she had ...
— Homespun Tales • Kate Douglas Wiggin

... his chair, still keeping his eyes steadily fixed upon it, and moved toward it, with his hands outstretched. He did not get any nearer to it; it was retreating before him, like a will-o'-the-wisp. He kept on, crossing the length of the room; it seemed to pass through the substance of the door, and yet he saw it beyond. He opened the door softly; yes, there it was in the hall. A pistol was lying on the little table beside the door, which Richard knew to be loaded. Mechanically, ...
— Archibald Malmaison • Julian Hawthorne

... going into that untracked region of romance and dreams where the call of his still sturdy manhood had beckoned him,—how long none might know. And at last he had heeded, laid down the staid, the sane, and followed the will-o'-the-wisp of conquest and adventure that took ...
— The Maid of the Whispering Hills • Vingie E. Roe

... one save to touch alone. It was as though he himself had been deadened to every sense but this. During the last few minutes his brain, too, had dulled so that all he now grasped of the great happy world outside was a vague memory of blue sky before which a shadowy figure danced like a will-o'-the-wisp. But still propelled by the last instinct to leave man before the soul, he put one foot ahead of him, pressed his body flat to the wall, and drew the other after. As he proceeded thus, counting the steps he took, he ...
— The Web of the Golden Spider • Frederick Orin Bartlett

... swell up over the mid walls of the vats, till the whole range would be one uniform surface of frothing liquid, and on applying a light, the report has been as loud as that of a small cannon, and the flame has leapt from vat to vat like the flitting will-o'-the-wisp on the surface ...
— Sport and Work on the Nepaul Frontier - Twelve Years Sporting Reminiscences of an Indigo Planter • James Inglis

... at Benda with wide-opened eyes. "Darkness? What do you mean? The fire then was merely a will-o'-the-wisp," she said, her eyes shining with pride, "I see him full of light." Daniel had heard what she said. "Really, Eleanore?" he ...
— The Goose Man • Jacob Wassermann

... these men exhibited a strange mixture of ferocity and mirth. Savage, and almost brutal in their expression, still an atmosphere of fun hovered about them—a Will-o'-the-wisp sort of playfulness, unnatural and decoying, like the capricious gambols of that ...
— Traditions of Lancashire, Volume 2 (of 2) • John Roby

... which is insufficient to pay the Dutch teacher employed to bring the children up to the required standard in that language. It is small wonder, then, that most teachers prefer to dispense with this Will-o'-the-wisp grant altogether, seeing that the efforts of some to earn it have resulted in pecuniary loss. The actual sum expended on Uitlander schools last year amounted to L650, or 1s. 10d. a head out of a total expenditure for education of L63,000, the expenditure ...
— The Transvaal from Within - A Private Record of Public Affairs • J. P. Fitzpatrick

... both walls and floor, a generous supply of lamps did little more than illumine the surface of the darkness, leaving unfathomed and unexplained mysterious shadows that brooded in distant corners, or, towering giant-wise to the ceiling, loomed ominously overhead. Will-o'-the-wisp-like reflections from our lighted candles danced in the polished surface of panel and balustrade, as from the hall we went upstairs, I helping myself from step to step by Atherley's arm, as instinctively, as unconsciously almost, as he offered it. We stopped on the first ...
— Cecilia de Noel • Lanoe Falconer

... onward towards the Central Sun of Spiritual enlightenment has so beclouded your vision that your race today—that is, the so-called enlightened and learned portions of your population—have been deflected from the main path, and they will soon find themselves pursuing an illusionary will-o'-the-wisp. ...
— The Planet Mars and its Inhabitants - A Psychic Revelation • Eros Urides and J. L. Kennon

... Will-o'-the-Wisp. I float in a little pool of delirium, Phosphorescent velvet. My fire is like a breath That blows my illness in circles, Widening it so far That I cannot see the edge. It is one with the night sky. My fire has blown this vastness, But I strain and flicker trying to escape ...
— Precipitations • Evelyn Scott

... tissue of false notions to start with; and at a later date these actually spoil the schooling of experience, and put a wrong construction on the lessons it teaches. If, before this, the youth had no light at all to guide him, he is now misled by a will-o'-the-wisp; still more often is this the case with a girl. They have both had a false view of things foisted on them by reading novels; and expectations have been aroused which can never be fulfilled. This generally exercises a baneful influence on their whole life. In this ...
— The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer; Studies in Pessimism • Arthur Schopenhauer

... silence of the rugged, lonely way. The active guide strode on from stone to stone, returning short answers to his companion, whose doubts began to take the form of questions as to 'the man's' knowledge of the road, and the certainty of finding the Laurel House at the end of this will-o'-the-wisp journey. Weariness from a long day's walk and work, and the dawning perception of the stranger's suspicions, were not calculated to induce a very bland frame of mind or tone of manner, and the replies received confirmed the professor's ...
— Continental Monthly, Volume 5, Issue 4 • Various

... present German Emperor renewed the Triple Alliance, and the relations also of Germany and Russia had never, he believed, been closer than they were at the present time. Any notion of a permanent or standing alliance with Germany against Russia was, in short, a Will-o'-the-wisp. Opposed as he was to the whole policy of alliances as contrary to the true interests of this country, he was specially opposed to this particular proposal, because it was calculated to lead our people to think that they could rely on the strong arm of another Power instead of only on ...
— The Life of the Rt. Hon. Sir Charles W. Dilke, Vol. 2 • Stephen Gwynn

... thumb, he made superhuman efforts to understand his nephew's character and to win his confidence. The poor gentleman might just as well have tried to understand the character of an asymptote, or to win the confidence of a Will-o'-the-wisp; and nothing but misery can come of it when a middle-aged city merchant, born without even a rudimentary sense of humour, suddenly determines to cultivate that gift for the benefit of a boy who can detect humour in the wording of ...
— Audrey Craven • May Sinclair

... not think that it ever will be; and if it were, it would be of no avail, for the pirating would then be carried on a little further off in the small German States; and if you drove it to China, it would take place there. We are running after a Will-o'-the-wisp in that expectation. The fault lies in ourselves; the books are too dear, and the question now is, cannot they be ...
— Diary in America, Series Two • Frederick Marryat (AKA Captain Marryat)

... they had never understood each other especially well. Esther always seemed to Polly far too sober and almost too unselfish and self-effacing, while Polly to the quieter girl had all the brilliance and unreliability of a will-o'-the-wisp. Before coming to New York for the winter their intimacy had been due largely to their mutual devotion to Betty; but now, both lonely and both in a new environment, they had been greatly drawn together. Polly's ...
— The Camp Fire Girls in the Outside World • Margaret Vandercook

... and eventually die of thirst and starvation, utterly unable to find the way home again. To Eustace's distraction, in his dream Becky would insist on playing hide-and-seek, and kept constantly disappearing and returning, flitting on in front of them now and again like a will-o'-the-wisp. ...
— Queensland Cousins • Eleanor Luisa Haverfield

... not by her attachment to the cart-horse alone that Amabel disturbed the composure of the head-nurse and of Louise the bonne. She was a very Will-o'-the-wisp for wandering. She grew rapidly, and the stronger she grew the more of a Tom-boy she became. Beyond the paddock lay another field, whose farthest wall was the boundary of a little wood,—the wood where Jan had herded pigs. Into this wood it had long been Amabel's desire ...
— Jan of the Windmill • Juliana Horatia Ewing

... self-consciously exercised force of will. He had set his teeth. He had called upon all the dogged pertinacity which a man must have if he is to be really a man among men. Always, far before him in the distance which must some day be gained, gleamed the will-o'-the-wisp lamp of success. He had an object now, which must never be forgotten, success. What had been his object when he toiled in Mullion House? He had scarcely known that he had any object in working—in giving up. But, if he had, it was surely the thing itself. He had desired to ...
— The Way of Ambition • Robert Hichens

... explained that the seventeen Democratic States which had voted at Charleston for the seceders' platform could, if united with Pennsylvania alone, elect the Democratic nominees against all opposition. This hope doubtless floated before their eyes like a will-o'-the-wisp until the October elections dispelled all possibility of securing Pennsylvania for Breckinridge. From that time forward there began a renewal of disunion threats, which, by their constant increase throughout ...
— A Short Life of Abraham Lincoln - Condensed from Nicolay & Hay's Abraham Lincoln: A History • John G. Nicolay

... considerable but was certainly indirect. His plays on the other hand, in the production of which he spent the better part of his life, greatly outweigh his novel both in aesthetic and historical importance. To attempt to estimate Lyly's position as a novelist and as a prose writer is to chase the will-o'-the-wisp of theory over the morass of uncertainty; the task of investigating his comedies is altogether simpler and more straightforward. After groping our way through the undergrowth of minor literature, we ...
— John Lyly • John Dover Wilson

... There is a deceptive agreement between a few actual facts and the theory which we are so foolishly ready to believe; and straightway we interpret the facts in the light of the theory. In a speck of the immense unknown we catch a glimpse of a phantom truth, a shadow, a will-o'-the-wisp; once the atom is explained, for better or worse, we imagine that we hold the explanation of the universe and all that it contains; and we ...
— The Mason-bees • J. Henri Fabre

... Mount Tom district. And now we've come up this way in the hope of crossing his trail. Not that I've got much expectation myself that we'll be sure to find this same; Roland, who turns out to be a sort of will-o'-the-wisp to us; but since his old aunt was so kind as to finance this expedition, why we're bound to do all we can to make it a blooming success, ...
— At Whispering Pine Lodge • Lawrence J. Leslie

... other hand, escape from the French prison where Grosley thought he saw him, during the French Revolution? Was he known to Lord Lytton about 1860? Was he then Major Fraser? Is he the mysterious Muscovite adviser of the Dalai Lama? Who knows? He is a will-o'-the-wisp of the memoir-writers of the eighteenth century. Whenever you think you have a chance of finding him in good authentic State papers, he gives you the slip; and if his existence were not vouched for by Horace Walpole, I should incline to deem ...
— Historical Mysteries • Andrew Lang

... Nature's unconscious aestheticism which, in the organic world, is first expressed in beauty of form. It is long since the great May flies, large as swifts, had their aerial cloudy dances over the vast everglades and ancient forests of ferns; and when, on some dark night, a brilliant Will-o'-the-wisp rose and floated above the feathery foliage, drawn in myriads to its light, they revolved about it in an immense mystical wheel, misty-white, glistening, and touched with prismatic colour. Floating fire and wheel were visible only to the stars, and the wakeful eyes of giant scaly ...
— Birds in Town and Village • W. H. Hudson

... there were little luminous spots in her mouth. I had heard somewhere that there is a phosphorescence appearing during decay of organic substances which once gave rise to the ancient superstition of "corpse lights" and the will-o'-the-wisp. It was really due, I knew, to living bacteria. But there surely had been no time for such micro-organisms to develop, even in the almost tropic heat of the Novella. Could she have been poisoned by these phosphorescent bacilli? ...
— The Dream Doctor • Arthur B. Reeve

... slim-trunked trees flew past them, and the tender branches brushed their shoulders and hung out their flowers like lamps. Warm wind was in their faces, sweet, reverberant voices of the wood-things came chorusing, and ahead there in the dimness, that misty will-o'-the-wisp was her veil, Olivia's veil. St. George would have followed if it had ...
— Romance Island • Zona Gale

... retreated as he went forward. As we know, Judson and his gang, led by Bill, were carrying off Jack. Without realizing how far he had gone, Raynor kept on and on. Some instinct told him that the dodging will-o'-the-wisp of light ahead of him had something to do with Jack, and he wanted to find out what that ...
— The Ocean Wireless Boys And The Naval Code • John Henry Goldfrap, AKA Captain Wilbur Lawton

... "nativity" before they cast your "horoscope." We are aware that many commentators have discussed the star of Christ's birth from various points of view. Some have thought it a real star; others have had enough astronomy to see that this was impossible, and have argued that it was a big will-o'-the-wisp, created and directed by supernatural power, like the pillar of day-cloud and night-fire that led the Jews in the wilderness; while still others have favored the idea of a supernatural illusion, which was confined to the wise men—and ...
— Flowers of Freethought - (Second Series) • George W. Foote

... of orthodoxy in his day, yet he led his followers to no goal more explicit than might be surmised from a study of Kant and Hegel. He was, however, sincere in his devotion to the will-o'-the-wisp that he conceived to be the truth, and he was courageous enough to admit that he never satisfied himself. There was chilly and austere attraction about the man; he was so elevated and superior that one could hardly ...
— Hawthorne and His Circle • Julian Hawthorne

... bog, the Bacon-Shakespeare controversy, has been lately lit up as by the flickering light of a will-o'-the-wisp, by the almost simultaneous publication of an imaginary charge delivered to an equally imaginary jury by a judge of no less eminence than the late Lord Penzance (that tough Erastian) and of the ...
— In the Name of the Bodleian and Other Essays • Augustine Birrell

... four o'clock, on me word of honour. Trust me, Barnes. When I explain to her, she'll agree that I'm doing the right thing. Bedad, the whole bally game is busted. Another week and we'd have—but, there ye are! It's all up in the air, thanks to you and your will-o'-the-wisp rascals. You ...
— Green Fancy • George Barr McCutcheon

... The doctor remained silent. Before very long the Countess stole softly down from her high refuge in the spruce-fir, flitting like a will-o'-the-wisp; for as the wind stirred the boughs, she lent herself at times to the swaying movements of the trees. At each branch she stopped and peered at the stranger; but as she saw him sitting motionless, she at length jumped down to the grass, stood a while, and came slowly across ...
— Farewell • Honore de Balzac

... not camp lights, but electric lights, and cheered by these, we quickened our pace. Alas! they seemed to play us a sorry game, and mocking, Will-o'-the-Wisp-like, retreated as we advanced. Then, too, we cursed those once blessed electric lights. Finally we reached the outskirts of the town, and seeing a closed store, with rifle butts and threatening tones persuaded the German dealer to open unto us. Here, speaking personally, ...
— A Yeoman's Letters - Third Edition • P. T. Ross

... Bacon and left his mark on the sand where none other approached for centuries. In those centuries men were either too priest-ridden to lend an ear to Science, or, like children, followed only the Will-o'-the-Wisp floating above the quagmire which held them fast. They ran after the stone that was to turn all to gold, or the elixir that should conquer death, or the signs in the heavens that should foretell their destinies; ...
— The Dominion of the Air • J. M. Bacon

... ghost or vampire that attacks people in the dead of night and lays them prostrate. Lilu and lilitu are the spirits that flit by in the night. Of a specific character likewise are the conceptions connected with a demon known as ardat lili, 'maid of the night,' a strange female 'will-o'-the-wisp,' who approaches men, arouses their passions, but does not permit a satisfaction of them. Great importance being attached by the Babylonians to dreams, the belief in a 'maid of the night' was probably due to the unchecked play of the imagination during ...
— The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria • Morris Jastrow

... gods, and languishing under unjust persecution, I have already spoken. Count Cortina is a gentleman and a scholar, a man of vast information, and a protector of the fine arts. His conversation is a series of electric sparks; brilliant as an ignis fatuus, and bewildering as a will-o'-the-wisp. I have seldom heard such eloquence even in trifles; and he writes with as much ease as he speaks. We have seen three clever pieces of his lately, showing his versatile genius; one upon earthquakes, one upon the devil, and one upon ...
— Life in Mexico • Frances Calderon de la Barca

... Instinct spoke. His people were her people and her people his. And she had proved herself a brave, true woman. Before him no longer gleamed the will-o'-the-wisp leading him a fantastic dance through life. Before him lay only darkness. Jane and he, hand in hand, could walk through it fearless and undismayed. And her own great love, shown unashamed in the abandonment of this moment of intense emotion' ...
— The Fortunate Youth • William J. Locke

... wait for you?" he said, and in his words there beat a fierce unrest. "Why am I such a fool? I lie awake night after night consumed with the want of you. When I sleep, I am always chasing you, you will-o'-the-wisp; and you always manage to keep just out of reach." His arms tightened. His voice suddenly sank to a deep whisper. "Daphne! Shall I tell you what I am ...
— Greatheart • Ethel M. Dell

... cloak of velvet—at the shadowed, questioning eyes. "I know I am greatly daring, but there are moments when we are outside ourselves—when we know and speak things of which we can give no logical account. You have put life behind you; yet what is life but a will-o'-the-wisp? Who can say where the light may ...
— Max • Katherine Cecil Thurston

... not use—and gold-rimmed glasses for eyes that see farther and clearer than my spectacled grandsons at the university can see to-day. We made a golden summer of the thing and followed where, like a will-o'-the-wisp of memory, the Santa Fe Trail of threescore years ago reached from the raw frontier at Independence on to the Missouri bluffs, clear to the sunny valley of the ...
— Vanguards of the Plains • Margaret McCarter

... darkness swallowed them. The last faint gleam of the alcohol lamp died out. Jolly Roger did not look back. Blindly he stumbled ahead, counting his footsteps as he went, and shouting Nada's name. Twice he thought he heard a reply, and each time the will-o'-the-wisp voice seemed to be still farther ahead of him. Then, with a fiercer blast of the wind beating upon his back, he stumbled and fell forward upon his face. His hand reached out and touched the thing that had tripped him. It was not snow. ...
— The Country Beyond - A Romance of the Wilderness • James Oliver Curwood

... a twofold contact with such movements. His most natural interest is that of studying the mental makeup of those who chase this will-o'-the-wisp. Their mental vagaries and superstitious fancies are quite fascinating material for his dissection. But for the interests of society an entirely different effort is, after all, more consequential. The psychologist ...
— Psychology and Social Sanity • Hugo Muensterberg

... hope once that Mr Fawkes should bring grist to our mill," said Gatesby, thoughtfully: "but I see that is but a Will-o'-the-Wisp." ...
— It Might Have Been - The Story of the Gunpowder Plot • Emily Sarah Holt

... conception of God and of the human struggle, I mean that he could not in sincerest thought hold the contrary to be true. I do not mean to say that daily and hourly, when about his common avocations, his new inspiration did not seem a mere will-o'-the-wisp of the mind. It took months and years to bring it into any accustomed relation to every-day matters of thought and act; and it is this habitual adjustment of our inward belief to our outward environment that makes any creed appear ...
— The Zeit-Geist • Lily Dougall

... The Will-o'-the-wisp he sought had baffled him, yet something of worth remained, for he had made a discovery of importance, the "Island of Florida," as he called it and thought it to be. To Spain he went with the news of his voyage, and told the ...
— Historical Tales, Vol. 2 (of 15) - The Romance of Reality • Charles Morris

... declare that existence is an evil. They would have us therefore exchange our hopes for insight, and warn us that even this is very circumscribed at best. For not only is happiness a mockery, but knowledge is a will-o'-the-wisp. Mankind resembles the bricklayer and the hodman who help to raise an imposing edifice without any knowledge of the general plan. And yet the structure is the outcome of their labour. In like manner this mysterious world is the work of man—the mirror of his will. As his will ...
— The Sceptics of the Old Testament: Job - Koheleth - Agur • Emile Joseph Dillon

... softly to the spot. There in the seat where I was wont to pursue my even tenor as an orchid slumbered Martin Dyke, amateur desecrator of other men's houses, challenger of the wayward fates, fanatic of a will-o'-the-wisp pursuit, desperate adventurer in the uncharted realms of love; and in his face, turned toward the polychromatic abominations of the house, so soon to be deserted, was all the pathos and all the beauty of ...
— From a Bench in Our Square • Samuel Hopkins Adams

... understand how it was, and I felt very much like saying I didn't like it; for Luly seemed to be a nice little girl, and playful as a little kitty. She was always laughing, singing, and dancing—now in at one door, and now out at the other, like a will-o'-the-wisp, or a jack-o'-lantern. Why on earth they didn't like Luly, I couldn't see. Being an old maid, of course I couldn't rest easy till I found out the reason of this; and I soon did it, as you'll see, if you read on to the end of ...
— Little Ferns For Fanny's Little Friends • Fanny Fern

... the cliff twisted and roved in such a manner to avoid the many boulders that the inn-light proved little better than a will-o'-the-wisp to guide us, and it was in a breathless condition that we reached the quaint low house, which was both neat and comfortable, seeming peculiarly so perhaps after ...
— Nancy Stair - A Novel • Elinor Macartney Lane

... inspiration, some hidden guidon or command? At each turn, at each danger, he remembered he had acted with swiftness and decision, and had at no time been at a loss. Fortune had favored him at each stage of his journey and had directed his steps with rare assurance in this direction. Fortune or a will-o'-the-wisp? Or was Marishka calling to him? He had had the impression of her nearness often—there in the hospital—and since, at Selim Ali's—upon the road. It seemed strange and a little mystifying too, that he ...
— The Secret Witness • George Gibbs

... She does not believe in the intellectual equality which she is always preaching about, and when M. Duruy offers it, a shriek of horror goes up from half the mothers of France. What she does believe is that, in seeking the educational Will-o'-the-Wisp, she may lose the solid pudding of domestic supremacy, and domestic supremacy is worth all the sciences in the world. Her position, as the Vatican suggests, is a religious, not an intellectual one, and her policy lies in an alliance with the priesthood, whose ...
— Modern Women and What is Said of Them - A Reprint of A Series of Articles in the Saturday Review (1868) • Anonymous

... little rudiment of a hint of a ghost of a sunny, funny old French remembrance long forgotten—a brand-new old remembrance—a kind of will-o'-the-wisp. Chut! my soul stalks it on tiptoe, while these earthly legs bear this poor old body of clay, by mere reflex action, straight home to the beautiful Elisabethan house on the hill; through the great warm hall, up the broad oak stairs, into the big cheerful music-room like a studio—ruddy and ...
— The Martian • George Du Maurier

... been. You've had a taste of the Kerr methods, but you're not satisfied yet that they're absolutely base and dishonorable in every thought and deed. You'll find it out to your cost, Duke, if you let that girl lead you. She's a will-o'-the-wisp sent to lure you from ...
— The Duke Of Chimney Butte • G. W. Ogden

... every hand, there was no one feature upon which definite action could be taken. Atwood was the most elusive criminal he had ever pursued. Never at any time had the man become an actual personality. Like a will-o'-the-wisp, he was ever in sight, yet just beyond reach. While the detectives struggled along tangled paths that led nowhere, Atwood's long arm continually reached out to ...
— The Sheridan Road Mystery • Paul Thorne

... bootblacking and water-carrying, which latter my chest could not endure at present." Then he decided that fame and fortune awaited him, as they usually do, just over the horizon. The only trouble with the horizon, as with to-morrow and the will-o'-the-wisp, is that ...
— The Love Affairs of Great Musicians, Volume 2 • Rupert Hughes

... French out of Hudson Bay and to keep them out. The enthusiast had played his game with more zeal than discretion. The English had what they wanted—furs and fort. In return, Radisson had what had misled him like a will-o'-the-wisp all his life—vague promises. In vain Radisson protested that he had given his promise to the French before they surrendered the fort. The English distrusted foreigners. The Frenchmen had been mustered on the ships to receive last instructions. They were told that they were to be ...
— Pathfinders of the West • A. C. Laut

... the answer, and our reasons for considering them inadequate. We ask the student to consider carefully these remarks, for by so doing he will post himself, and will be saved much tedious and perplexing wandering along the dangerous places in the Swamp of Metaphysics, following the will-o'-the-wisp of Finite Mind masquerading as the Infinite Wisdom! Beware of the False Lights! They lead to the quagmire and quicksands ...
— A Series of Lessons in Gnani Yoga • Yogi Ramacharaka

... water larger than the Irish Sea. The two lines east and west overlapped widely. All that was needed now was to find a channel north and south to connect the two. This done, the North-West Passage, the will-o'-the-wisp of three hundred and ...
— Adventurers of the Far North - A Chronicle of the Frozen Seas • Stephen Leacock

... what will I do?" said Billy, and he went back to the earth, where he and the piece of the devil's nose melted into a ball of fire, and he roves the earth till this day as a will-o'-the-wisp. ...
— Welsh Fairy-Tales And Other Stories • Edited by P. H. Emerson

... of happiness, yet if we attain the true object of life we find happiness. Those who are ignorant of life's true purpose and who seek happiness high and low, year after year, fail to find it. Like a will-o'-the-wisp, it for ever eludes them. On the other hand, those who recognize the true object of life, and follow it, attain ...
— Within You is the Power • Henry Thomas Hamblin

... till her guest, who had taken an aimless prowl round the house, returned once more like a wandering will-o'-the-wisp to the ...
— A harum-scarum schoolgirl • Angela Brazil

... pacific agreement with England is a will-o'-the-wisp which no serious German statesman would trouble to follow. We must always keep the possibility of war with England before our eyes, and arrange our political and military plans accordingly.—GENERAL V. BERNHARDI, G.N.W., ...
— Gems (?) of German Thought • Various

... strange," said Lady Engleton, in speaking of him afterwards to Hadria, "it is strange that his cleverness does not come to the rescue; but so far from that, I think it leads him a wild dance over boggy ground, like some will-o'-the-wisp, but for whose freakish allurements the good man might have trodden a ...
— The Daughters of Danaus • Mona Caird

... longer used the word happy, even in his solitary thoughts. Happiness, that priceless elusive treasure, can come only to a heart at peace in the warm sunshine of love. Material things can make for contentment, but ah! how uncertain is that will-o'-the-wisp happiness. ...
— High Noon - A New Sequel to 'Three Weeks' by Elinor Glyn • Anonymous

... wind arose; at last the day died; unheralded by any dusk, on came the night. Color of blood changed to color of gold, gleamed and glistened the sea, sparkled the fire-flies, shone the deep stars; over the marsh flared the will-o'-the-wisp like a torch ...
— Sir Mortimer • Mary Johnston

... and down, here and there, like following some will-o'-the-wisp went the boys. At times they thought they had lost the object of their pursuit, but again they would hear him ...
— Frank and Andy Afloat - The Cave on the Island • Vance Barnum

... with you that Italy is being led away by a will-o'-the-wisp and that all this enthusiasm and rejoicing will probably land her in a terrible bog; and I should be most heartily glad to have that openly and boldly said, even at the cost of offending or alienating some of our present supporters. But as a member of a body the large majority of which ...
— The Gadfly • E. L. Voynich

... very dark over the moors. The solitary lights of a cab crawling almost at a foot pace along the lonely road shone like a will-o'-the-wisp through the snow. It had been snowing for hours, steadily, thickly, and the cold was intense. The dead heather by the roadside had long been completely hidden under that ever-increasing load. It lay in great billows of white wherever the carriage lamps revealed it, stretching ...
— The Odds - And Other Stories • Ethel M. Dell

... now he was enchanted. What an universal acquisition of useful knowledge! Three or four dukes were earnestly imbibing a new theory of gas from a brilliant little gentleman in black, who looked like a Will-o'-the-wisp. The Prime Minister was anxious about pin-making; a Bishop equally interested in a dissertation on the escapements of watches; a Field-Marshal not less intent on a new specific from the concentrated essence of hellebore. But what most delighted Popanilla ...
— The Voyage of Captain Popanilla • Benjamin Disraeli

... she was about. She loved to lead him in a long, wild-goose chase across the island, dipping almost within reach one moment, losing herself at the zenith in another, alighting here and there with a will-o'-the-wisp capriciousness. Sometimes Ralph would return in such an exhausted condition that he dropped to sleep while he ate. At such times his mood was far from agreeable. His companions soon learned not to address him after ...
— Angel Island • Inez Haynes Gillmore

... a lesser sum in shares of the Booklover's Library, which was going to revolutionize the reading world, and which at least paid a few dividends. Even the old Tennessee land will-o'-the-wisp-long since repudiated and forgotten—when it appeared again in the form of a possible equity in some overlooked fragment, kindled a gentle interest, and was added to ...
— Mark Twain, A Biography, 1835-1910, Complete - The Personal And Literary Life Of Samuel Langhorne Clemens • Albert Bigelow Paine

... feeling in our book: we find the author's deeper meaning. Our reading is undisturbed by the ghost-creep of childhood and the adventuresome daring of boarding-school. Formerly we had the mere tale or story; now we feel in a small degree the soul-expression of the writer—an indefinable, will-o'-the-wisp sort of thing; a something not always caught, but that strange intangible something which lends the spark of ...
— A Williams Anthology - A Collection of the Verse and Prose of Williams College, 1798-1910 • Compiled by Edwin Partridge Lehman and Julian Park

... seasonable times the punchinello which makes children run after you without knowing the distance they run. We are all children, and women are all inclined through their curiosity to spend their time in pursuit of a will-o'-the-wisp. The flame is brilliant and quickly vanishes, but is not the imagination at hand to act as your ally? Finally, study the happy art of being near her and yet not being near her; of seizing the opportunity which will yield you pre-eminence in her mind without ever crushing ...
— Analytical Studies • Honore de Balzac

... cruelty to animals, I would have prosecuted him; nominally he had the charge of the mule and two ponies, but he illtreated these poor animals, and the donkeys also, in a disgraceful manner. However, I had no other guide, and although I knew him to be in partnership with some Will-o'-the-wisp, I was obliged to follow him. It was an easy course for saddle-animals, as the cathedral of Famagousta formed the prominent point; therefore a steeple-chase might have been the direct cross-country way. There was no change in the ...
— Cyprus, as I Saw it in 1879 • Sir Samuel W. Baker

... craned out of the window, watching his progress, and wondering with what sudden madness he was bitten. Indeed, I could not credit my senses, could not believe that I heard and saw aright. Yet there out in the darkness on the moor moved the will-o'-the-wisp, and ten yards along the gutter crept my friend, like a great gaunt cat. Unknown to me he must have prospected the route by daylight, for now I saw his design. The ledge terminated only where it met the ancient wall of the tower, and it was possible for an agile climber to ...
— The Devil Doctor • Sax Rohmer

... Arthur, in a tone which plainly intimated that it was nothing of the sort. Mrs Asplin looked from one to the other of the flushed faces, realising that even in the midst of anxiety the image of beautiful, golden-haired Rosalind had a Will-o'-the-wisp attraction for the two big lads; but her husband saw nothing of what lay behind the commonplace ...
— About Peggy Saville • Mrs. G. de Horne Vaizey

... own sailor lad! What are these tales they tell her of wreckage on the shore? Delay but makes his coming the nearer than before! Surely her eyes have sighted his schooner in the lift! But the great tide he homes on sets with an outward drift. So will-o'-the-wisp deludes her till dawn, and she turns home In unperturbed assurance, "To-morrow he will come." This is the tale of Malyn, whom sudden grief so marred. And still each lovely summer resumes that sweet regard,— The old unvexed eternal indifference to ...
— Ballads of Lost Haven - A Book of the Sea • Bliss Carman

... this Witches' Sabbath, as the 1st of May was sacred to her. To this midnight orgy of the Walpurgisnacht Mephistopheles takes Faust.... They are lighted on their toilsome ascent of the Blocksberg by a will-o'-the-wisp. A vast multitude of witches and goblins are flocking to the summit; the midnight air resounds with their shrieks and jabberings; weird lights flash from every quarter, revealing thronging swarms of ghoulish shapes and dancing Hexen. The trees themselves are ...
— The Faust-Legend and Goethe's 'Faust' • H. B. Cotterill

... an eye that saw vaguely and that wearied, and in an execution full of uncertain touch and painful effort. Unless the painter is especially endowed with the instinct of anatomies, the sentiment of proportion, and a passion for form, the nude is a will-o'-the-wisp, whose way leads where he may not follow. No one suspects Mr. Watts of one of these qualifications; he appears even to think them of but slight value, and his quest of the allegorical seems to be merely motived by an unfortunate ...
— Modern Painting • George Moore

... up at the end, and after a good deal of hard work I hauled her up. It was jolly cold, I can tell you, and when we saw a light moving about ahead we made a bee-line for it. Joyce thought it was a will-o'-the-wisp; she had never seen one, but she had read of them, and she said they moved up and down just like that. We had to plunge through a lot of very marshy ground before we got to it, and sometimes we lost sight of ...
— Round the Wonderful World • G. E. Mitton

... assailed by doubts and weariness; the path had seemed too long and arduous, and he had secretly pined for some swift issue from perplexity and delay. In such a moment was it that the voice of darkness gained his ear, and, like a will-o'-the-wisp, lured him to calamity. Verily, it is not easy to be God. Only builders of the Tower of Babel know ...
— Idolatry - A Romance • Julian Hawthorne

... another affair," and he jumped into his wagon and rattled away in the darkness, his lantern looking like a "will-o'-the-wisp" that ...
— What Can She Do? • Edward Payson Roe

... as freakish, and wears as many shapes as Puck; a gnat, a will-o'-the-wisp, a Sister of Charity, a meek-faced child; and one does not know in which guise she pleases most. Hard the task of him who has and tries to ...
— Moods • Louisa May Alcott

... policy, Douglas supported Polk. Slowly he deteriorated in his moral fibre. One by one the moral lights seem to have gone out. He was intoxicated by his own success. Ambition deluded him. He began to follow the will-o'-the-wisp, the light that rises from putrescence and decay in the swamp, and forgot the eternal stars in God's sky. In 1854 he entered the valley of decision, and like the rich young ruler made the great refusal, and chose compromise ...
— The Battle of Principles - A Study of the Heroism and Eloquence of the Anti-Slavery Conflict • Newell Dwight Hillis

... lover too early, and by her tenderness respond to him too readily, and by her devotedness follow him too blindly, before she had time to know herself or men. And he also knew, or believed, that first love is as often a will-o'-the-wisp as the star for which all young things take it. Five days in the week he tended the gardens of Alfriston, the sixth he gave to the Lord of the Burgh that lay among the hills, and the seventh he ...
— Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard • Eleanor Farjeon

... and yet while this happy family, free from Nature's pitfalls and snares, are living in a peaceful and blissful state, there exists the ever-menacing "devil" who tempts the loving wife and mother to follow the will-o'-the-wisp—and thereby undoes and destroys the greatest ...
— Tyranny of God • Joseph Lewis

... went to prison, the fisherman was going home one night along the shore toward the village with some nets on his back. He was of a callous nature, and did not hesitate to take the shortest way across the meadow; but when he got in among the dunes, he saw a will-o'-the-wisp following in his steps, grew frightened, and began to run. It began to gain upon him, and when he leaped across the brook to put water between himself and the spirit, it seized hold of the nets. At this he shouted the name of ...
— Pelle the Conqueror, Complete • Martin Andersen Nexo

... No Will-o'-the-wisp mislight thee, Nor snake or slow-worm bite thee; But on, on thy way Not making a stay, Since ghost there 's none to ...
— Book of English Verse • Bulchevy

... she make much headway in this quarter. Instinct indicated a delicate harmony between those events and the formless shadow to which Sally had all along been sensitive, of something equivocal in the pretensions of Mrs. Standish. But that clue played will-o'-the-wisp with her fancy, leading it ever farther astray in a ...
— Nobody • Louis Joseph Vance

... matters, this lady had finally lost patience, and, without my knowledge, had gone on to New Zealand, and thence, as it turned out, to Samoa. When I heard of the New Zealand episode there was nothing for it but to follow her there, on a will-o'-the-wisp expedition, as it turned out, but, fortunately, I was unaware of this at the time. I say fortunately, because had I known that she had already left Australia for Samoa, I should certainly have returned to England, in despair of tracing her any further, and thereby one ...
— Seen and Unseen • E. Katharine Bates

... while I relate the reason for my presence, why for months I have searched country after country for one who ever seemed to be just beyond my reach, like a will-o'-the-wisp dancing ...
— Miss Caprice • St. George Rathborne

... will-o'-the-wisp in the ancient Panjâb geography: Hodînagarî, Udenagar, Udaynagar, is the name of innumerable ruins all over the northern Panjâb, from Siâlkot to Jalâlâbâd in Afghânistân beyond the Khaibar Pass. ...
— Tales Of The Punjab • Flora Annie Steel

... ethical valuations of life, feeling, instinctively, that only in this category lay her own significance. To abandon the obvious weights and measures was to find herself buffeted and astray in a chaotic and menacing universe. Goodness was her guide, and she could cling to it if the enchanting will-o'-the-wisp did not float into sight to beckon and bewilder her. She indignantly repudiated the conception of a social order founded on charm rather than on solid worth; yet, like other frail mortals, she found herself following what allured her nature rather than what responded to the neatly tabulated ...
— Franklin Kane • Anne Douglas Sedgwick

... went on their course, and left their glittering picture only a little while before the Child's eyes. Even this faded, and then vanished quite away. And he was beginning to feel tired, and to wish to lay himself down again, when a flickering Will-o'-the-wisp appeared from behind a bush—so that the Child thought, at first, one of the stars had wandered out of its way, and had come to visit him, and to take him with it. And the Child breathed quick with joy and surprise, and then the Will-o'-the-wisp came nearer, and sat himself down on a damp ...
— Peter Schlemihl etc. • Chamisso et. al.

... is high o'er the ruined tower, When the night-bird sings in her lonely bower, When beetle and cricket and bat are awake, And the will-o'-the-wisp is at play in the brake, Oh then do we gather, all frolic and glee, We gay little elfins, beneath the old tree! And brightly we hover on silvery wing, And dip our small cups in the whispering spring, While the night-wind ...
— Graham's Magazine, Vol. XXXII No. 4, April 1848 • Various

... changes! Now it is a deep cave with stalactites hanging from the roof, and little swelling hillocks on the floor, and, over all, a delicate, golden glow surging and fading. The blue flame on the top that flits and flickers like a will-o'-the-wisp is gas, I suppose—I wonder how they extract it. . . . I wonder will he be sorry when he comes home, and finds. . . . Perhaps his friend will be sufficient for him then. . . . It is curious to think of oneself as a piece of animated furniture, ...
— Here are Ladies • James Stephens

... with these Welsh carls. They fight not much in our fashion, as I have heard; but dash down from their hills, and carry fire and sword through a district, and are off again before a force can be gathered to strike a blow. Then there are marches to and fro among their hills, but it is like chasing a will-o'-the-wisp; and like enough, just when you think you have got them cooped up, and prepare to strike a heavy blow, they are a hundred miles away, plundering and ravaging on our side of the frontier. They are half-wild men, short in stature, and no match ...
— Both Sides the Border - A Tale of Hotspur and Glendower • G. A. Henty

... eyes to the future that Maggie and I must prove, But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o'-the-Wisp of Love. ...
— The Works of Rudyard Kipling One Volume Edition • Rudyard Kipling

... into the dim recesses of this awful past, we want the aid of some steadfast light which shall illumine the dark places without the treachery of the will-o'-the-wisp. In the absence of that steadfast light, vague conjectures as to the beginning of things could never be entitled to any more respect than was due to ...
— Time and Tide - A Romance of the Moon • Robert S. (Robert Stawell) Ball

... and there, a bunch of fern or flowers, and brightening the trunks of the interlacing trees. As she saw the lights and shadows dancing before her she became serious for a moment, and fancied they were like the will-o'-the-wisp, and portended no good; but she soon quickened her pace, and at the first opening went out again into the road, where the sun was uninterrupted in his gaze, and her few ...
— Gladys, the Reaper • Anne Beale



Words linked to "Will-o'-the-wisp" :   visible radiation, friar's lantern, illusion, light, fantasy, fancy



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