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Kent Knowles: Quahaug   By: (1870-1944)

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By Joseph C. Lincoln




I. Which is not a chapter at all

II. Which repeats, for the most part, what Jim Campbell said to me and what I said to him

III. Which, although it is largely family history, should not be skipped by the reader

IV. In which Hephzy and I and the Plutonia sail together

V. In which we view, and even mingle slightly with, the upper classes

VI. In which we are received at Bancroft's Hotel and I receive a letter

VII. In which a dream becomes a reality

VIII. In which the pilgrims become tenants

IX. In which we make the acquaintance of Mayberry and a portion of Burgleston Bogs

X. In which I break all previous resolutions and make a new one

XI. In which complications become more complicated

XII. In which the truth is told at last

XIII. In which Hephzy and I agree to live for each other

XIV. In which I play golf and cross the channel

XV. In which I learn that all abbeys are not churches

XVI. In which I take my turn at playing the invalid

XVII. In which I, as well as Mr. Solomon Cripps, am surprised

XVIII. In which the pilgrimage ends where it began

XIX. Which treats of quahaugs in general



Which is Not a Chapter at All

It was Asaph Tidditt who told me how to begin this history. Perhaps I should be very much obliged to Asaph; perhaps I shouldn't. He has gotten me out of a difficulty or into one; I am far from certain which.

Ordinarily I am speaking now of the writing of swashbuckling romances, which is, or was, my trade I swear I never have called it a profession the beginning of a story is the least of the troubles connected with its manufacture. Given a character or two and a situation, the beginning of one of those romances is, or was, pretty likely to be something like this:

"It was a black night. Heavy clouds had obscured the setting sun and now, as the clock in the great stone tower boomed twelve, the darkness was pitchy."

That is a good safe beginning. Midnight, a stone tower, a booming clock, and darkness make an appeal to the imagination. On a night like that almost anything may happen. A reader of one of my romances and readers there must be, for the things did, and still do, sell to some extent might be fairly certain that something WOULD happen before the end of the second page. After that the somethings continued to happen as fast as I could invent them.

But this story was different. The weather or the time had nothing to do with its beginning. There were no solitary horsemen or strange wayfarers on lonely roads, no unexpected knocks at the doors of taverns, no cloaked personages landing from boats rowed by black browed seamen with red handkerchiefs knotted about their heads and knives in their belts. The hero was not addressed as "My Lord"; he was not "Sir Somebody or other" in disguise. He was not young and handsome; there was not even "a certain something in his manner and bearing which hinted of an eventful past." Indeed there was not. For, if this particular yarn or history or chronicle which I had made up my mind to write, and which I am writing now, had or has a hero, I am he. And I am Hosea Kent Knowles, of Bayport, Massachusetts, the latter the village in which I was born and in which I have lived most of the time since I was twenty seven years old. Nobody calls me "My Lord." Hephzy has always called me "Hosy" a name which I despise and the others, most of them, "Kent" to my face and "The Quahaug" behind my back, a quahaug being a very common form of clam which is supposed to lead a solitary existence and to keep its shell tightly shut. If anything in my manner had hinted at a mysterious past no one in Bayport would have taken the hint. Bayporters know my past and that of my ancestors only too well.

As for being young and handsome well, I was thirty eight years old last March. Which is quite enough on THAT subject... Continue reading book >>

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