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Command   By: (1881-1966)

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First Page:

COMMAND

BY WILLIAM McFEE

GARDEN CITY NEW YORK DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 1922

COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THAT OF TRANSLATION INTO FOREIGN LANGUAGES, INCLUDING THE SCANDINAVIAN

COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY HARPER & BROTHERS

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES AT THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS, GARDEN CITY, N. Y.

First Edition

This book is inscribed to those commanders under whom the author has had the honour to serve, who have achieved firmness without asperity, tact and sympathy without interference, and appreciation without fuss. It is inscribed to these gentlemen because while they lack the gift of self advertisement, they have contrived, in spite of the trials and exasperations of a seafaring existence, to engage the respect and affections of their lieutenants.

PREFATORY NOTE

This tale is an original invention. It is not founded upon fact, nor are the characters herein described portraits of actual persons. The incidents and topography are imaginary.

W. M.

COMMAND

CHAPTER I

She was one of those girls who have become much more common of late years among the upper middle classes, the comfortably fixed classes, than they have ever been since the aristocracy left off marrying Italian prime donne . You know the type of English beauty, so often insisted on, say, twenty years ago placid, fair, gentle, blue eyed, fining into distinction in Lady Clara Vere de Vere? Always she was the heroine, and her protagonist, the adventuress, was dark and wicked. For some occult reason the Lady Rowena type was the fashion.

Ada Rivers was one of those girls who have come up since. The upper middle classes had experienced many incursions. All sorts of astonishing innovations had taken place. Many races had come to England, or rather to London, which is in England but not of it; had made money, had bred their sons at the great public schools and universities and their daughters at convents in France and Belgium. These dark haired, gray eyed, stylish, highly strung, athletic, talented girls are phenomena of the Stockbroking Age. They do things Lady Rowena and Lady Clara Vere de Vere would not tolerate for a moment. Outwardly resembling the wealthy Society Girl, they are essentially quite different. Some marry artists and have emotional outbreaks. Some combine a very genuine romantic temperament with a disheartening sophistication about incomes and running a home. They not only wish to marry so that they can begin where their parents leave off, but they know how to do it. They can engage a competent house maid and rave about Kubelik on the same afternoon, and do both in an experienced sort of way. They go everywhere by themselves, and to men whom they dislike they are sheathed in shining armour. They can dance, swim, motor, golf, entertain, earn their own living, talk music, art, books, and china, wash a dog and doctor him. And they can do all this, mark, without having any real experience of what we call life. They are good girls, nice girls, virtuous girls, and very marriageable girls, too, but they have a superficial hardness of texture on their character which closely resembles the mask of experience. They are like the baggage which used to be sold in certain obscure shops in London with the labels of foreign hotels already pasted on it. It follows that sometimes this girl of the upper middle, comfortably fixed class makes a mistake in her choice. Or rather, she credits with heroic attributes a being of indifferent calibre. She realizes in him some profound but erratic emotion, and the world in which she moves beholds her behaviour and listens to her praise of her beloved with annoyance. They speak, not of a mistake of course, but of the strangeness of girls nowadays, and incompatibility of temperaments. But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of these affairs is the blindness of the girl's friends to her frequent superiority over the being whom she adores... Continue reading book >>




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