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Captain Macedoine's Daughter   By: (1881-1966)

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By William McFee


Garden City New York Doubleday, Page & Company 1920


"It is an amiable but disastrous illusion on the part of the western nations that they have created a monopoly in freedom and truth and the right conduct of life." Mr. Spenlove



There is an hour or so before the train comes puffing round the curve of the Gulf from Cordelio, and you are gone down into the garden for a while because the mosquitoes become tiresome later, and the great shadows of the cypresses are vanishing as the sun sinks behind the purple islands beyond the headlands. You will stay there for a while among the roses and jasmine, and then you will come in and say: "There it is!" And together we will slip and stumble and trot down the steep hillside to the level crossing, and we will run along to the little station, so like ours in America. And when the train is come creaking and groaning and squealing to a standstill, I shall climb in, while you will stand for a moment looking.... You will wave as we start with the usual prodigious jerk, and then you will run back and climb up to the house again, banging the big iron gate securely shut....

All just as before.

But this time there is this difference, that I am not coming back. I am ordered to return to England, and I am to sail to morrow morning. Now, as I have told you more than once, it is very difficult to know just how anything takes you because you have at your command an alluring immobility, a sort of sudden static receptiveness which is, to an Englishman, a Westerner that is, at once familiar and enigmatic. And when one has informed you, distinctly if ungrammatically, in three languages, that one is going away for good, and you assume for a moment that aforementioned immobility, and murmur " C'est la guerre ," I ask you, what is one to think?

And perhaps you will recall that you then went on brushing your hair precisely as though I had made some banal remark about the weather. A detached observer would say "This woman has no heart. She is too stupid to understand." However, as I am something more than a detached observer, I know that in spite of that gruff, laconic attitude of yours, that enigmatic immobility, you realize what this means to us, to me, to you.

So, while you are down in the garden, and the light is still quite good by this western window, I am writing this for you. As we say over in America, "Let me tell you something." I have written a book, and I am dedicating it to you. As you are aware, I have written books before. When I explained this to you you were stricken with that sudden silence, that attentive seriousness, if you remember, and regarded me for a long time without making any remark. Well, another one is done and I inscribe it to you. Of course I know perfectly well that books are nothing to you, that you read only the perplexing and defaced human hieroglyphics around you. I know that when you receive a copy of this new affair, through the British Post Office in the Rue Franque , you will not read it. You will lay it carefully in a drawer, and let it go at that. And knowing this, and without feeling sad about it, either, since I have no fancy for bookish women, I am anxious that you should read at least the dedication. So I am writing it here by the window, hurriedly, in words you will understand, and I shall leave it on the table, and you will find it later, when I am gone.


The fact is, this dedication, like the book which follows after it, is not merely an act of homage. It is a symbol of emancipation from an influence under which I have lived for two thirds of your lifetime... Continue reading book >>

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