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The Light of Scarthey   By: (1858-1920)

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THE LIGHT OF SCARTHEY

A Romance

by

EGERTON CASTLE

Author of "The Pride of Jennico," "Young April," etc.

"Take whichsoever way thou wilt the ways are all alike; But do thou only come I bade my threshold wait thy coming. From out my window one can see the graves, and on my life The graves keep watch." Luteplayer's Song.

New York Frederick A. Stokes Company MCM

Copyright, 1899, by Frederick A. Stokes Company. All rights reserved.

Fourth Edition.

I Dedicate THIS BOOK TO THE MEMORY OF FREDERICK ANDREWS LARKING OF THE ROCKS, EAST MALLING, KENT THAT, SO LONG AS ANYTHING OF MINE SHALL ENDURE, THERE MAY ENDURE ALSO A RECORD OF OUR FRIENDSHIP AND OF MY SORROW

PREFACE TO THE AMERICAN EDITION.

Among the works of every writer of Fiction there are generally one or two that owe their being to some haunting thought, long communed with a thought which has at last found a living shape in some story of deed and passion.

I say one or two advisedly: for the span of man's active life is short and such haunting fancies are, of their essence, solitary. As a matter of fact, indeed, the majority of a novelist's creations belong to another class, must of necessity (if he be a prolific creator) find their conception in more sudden impulses. The great family of the "children of his brain" must be born of inspirations ever new, and in alluring freshness go forth into the world surrounded by the atmosphere of their author's present mood, decked in the colours of his latest imaginings, strengthened by his latest passional impressions and philosophical conclusions.

In the latter category the lack of long intimate acquaintance between the author and the friends or foes he depicts, is amply compensated for by the enthusiasm appertaining to new discoveries, as each character reveals itself, often in quite unforeseen manner, and the consequences of each event shape themselves inevitably and sometimes indeed almost against his will.

Although dissimilar in their genesis, both kinds of stories can, in the telling, be equally life like and equally alluring to the reader. But what of the writer? Among his literary family is there not one nearer his heart than all the rest his dream child? It may be the stoutest of the breed or it may be the weakling; it may be the first born, it often is the Benjamin. Fathers in the flesh know this secret tenderness. Many a child and many a book is brooded over with a special love even before its birth. Loved thus, for no grace or merit of its own, this book is my dream child.

Here, by the way, I should like to say my word in honour of Fiction "fiction" contradistinguished from what is popularly termed "serious" writing.

If, in a story, the characters and the events are truly convincing; if the former are appealingly human and the latter are so carefully devised and described as never to evoke the idea of improbability, then it can make no difference in the intellectual pleasure of the reader whether what he is made to realise so vividly is a record of fact or of mere fancy. Facts we read of are of necessity past: what is past, what is beyond the immediate ken of our senses, can only be realised in imagination; and the picture we are able to make of it for ourselves depends altogether on the sympathetic skill of the recorder. Is not Diana Vernon, born and bred in Scott's imagination, to the full as living now before us as Rob Roy Macgregor whose existence was so undeniably tangible to the men of his days? Do we not see, in our mind's eye, and know as clearly the lovable "girt John Ridd" of Lorna Doone the romance as his contemporaries, Mr. Samuel Pepys of the hard and uncompromising Diary or King James of English Annals?

Pictures, alike of the plainest facts or of the veriest imaginings, are but pictures: it matters very little therefore whether the man or the woman we read of but never can see in the flesh has really lived or not, if what we do read raises an emotion in our hearts... Continue reading book >>




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