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The Island Mystery   By: (1865-1950)

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THE ISLAND MYSTERY

BY

G. A. BIRMINGHAM

Author of "Gossamer," "General John Regan," "Spanish Gold," etc.

NEW YORK GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY

Copyright, 1918, By George H. Doran Company

Copyright, 1918, By The Frank A. Munsey Company

Printed in the United States of America

BY G. A. BIRMINGHAM

THE ISLAND MYSTERY GOSSAMER MINNIE'S BISHOP AND OTHER STORIES GENERAL JOHN REGAN THE LOST TRIBES SPANISH GOLD LALAGE'S LOVERS THE SEARCH PARTY THE SIMPKINS PLOT THE MAJOR'S NIECE PRISCILLA'S SPIES THE RED HAND OF ULSTER THE ADVENTURES OF DR. WHITTY THE SEETHING POT THE BAD TIMES HYACINTH FROM DUBLIN TO CHICAGO

NEW YORK GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY

TO

THEODOSIA

WHOSE DISLIKE OF SUBTLE BOOKS AND "BRAINY" PEOPLE I SHARE

THE ISLAND MYSTERY

CHAPTER I

In 1914 there were not twenty men in England who had ever heard of the island of Salissa. Even now I am writing in the spring of 1917 the public is very badly informed about the events which gave the island a certain importance in the history of the war. A couple of months ago I asked a well known press cutting agency to supply me with a complete collection of all references to Salissa which had appeared in our newspapers. I received a single short paragraph from a second rate society weekly. It ran thus:

"Is it true that our new Minister for Balkan Problems has a curious story to tell about a certain island in the Mediterranean, and is there a lady in the case?"

The Minister referred to is, of course, Sir Bartholomew Bland Potterton. The island must be Salissa. It is a clear proof, if proof is required, of the efficiency of our press censorship that this should be the only reference to the island in any newspaper in the course of three years. We have blundered a good deal during the war; but it cannot be said of us that we have allowed our press to supply the enemy or any one else with information likely to be of value.

Such knowledge as the public now possesses has come to it, not through newspapers, but by way of gossip. Sir Bartholomew sometimes talks, and the words of a man in his position are repeated in the smoking rooms of clubs, round tea tables and elsewhere. Unfortunately gossip of this kind is most unreliable. The tendency is to exaggerate the picturesque parts of the story and to misinterpret motives. It is slanderous, for instance, to suggest that Sir Bartholomew was in any way attracted by the lady who bore the title of Queen of Salissa. He never spoke to her or even saw her. His interest in the Salissa affair was that of a patriotic statesman. He told me this himself, yesterday after dinner.

It was Sir Bartholomew who drew my attention to the exhaustive monograph on the Island of Salissa written by Professor Homer Geldes, of Pearmount University, Pa., U.S.A. The book was published ten years ago, but has never been widely read. I am indebted to the professor for the following information.

Salissa is derived by Professor Geldes from a Greek word Psalis, which means an arched viaduct. It is a doubtful piece of etymology, but if it were reliable the name seems appropriate enough. The island, according to the maps published in the book, appears to be a kind of roof supported by the walls of caverns. It is possible that the professor has exaggerated this peculiarity. He was naturally anxious to make good his derivation of the name. But there are certainly many caves under the fields and vineyards of Salissa. There is one excellent natural harbour, a bay, about a mile wide, in the south coast of the island. It is protected from heavy seas by a reef of rock, a natural breakwater, which stretches across and almost blocks the entrance of the bay.

In the chapter on Ethnography I find that the people are of a mixed race. A Salissan, I gather, might boast with equal truth of being a Greek, a Turk, a Slav, or an Italian. His skull is dolichocephalic. His facial angle but it is better for any one interested in these points to read Professor Geldes' book for himself... Continue reading book >>




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