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The Ship of Stars   By: (1863-1944)

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E text prepared by Lionel Sear

THE SHIP OF STARS.

by

Arthur Thomas Quiller Couch (Q)

1899

To THE RIGHT HON. LEONARD HENRY COURTNEY, M.P.

My Dear Mr. Courtney,

It is with a peculiar pleasure and, I dare to hope, with some appropriateness that I dedicate to you this story of the West Country, which claims you with pride. To be sure, the places here written of will be found in no map of your own or any neighbouring constituency. A visitor may discover Nannizabuloe, but only to wonder what has become of the lighthouse, or seek along the sand hills without hitting on Tredinnis. Yet much of the tale is true in a fashion, even to fact. One or two things which happen to Sir Harry Vyell did actually happen to a better man, who lived and hunted foxes not a hundred miles from the "model borough" of Liskeard, and are told of him in my friend Mr. W. F. Collier's memoir of Harry Terrell, a bygone Dartmoor hero: and a true account of what followed the wreck of the Samaritan will be found in a chapter of Remembrances by that true poet and large hearted man, Robert Stephen Hawker.

But a novel ought to be true to more than fact: and if this one come near its aim, no one will need to be told why I dedicate it to you. If it do not (and I wish the chance could be despised!), its author will yet hold that among the names of living Englishmen he could have chosen none fitter to be inscribed above a story which in the telling has insensibly come to rest upon the two texts, "Lord, make men as towers!" and "All towers carry a light." Although for you Heaven has seen fit to darken the light, believe me it shines outwards over the waters and is a help to men: a guiding light tended by brave hands. We pray, sir we who sail in little boats for long life to the tower and the unfaltering lamp.

A. T. Q. C. St. John's Eve, 1899.

CONTENTS

I. THE BOY IN THE GATE HOUSE.

II. MUSIC IN THE TOWN SQUARE.

III. PASSENGER'S BY JOBY'S VAN.

IV. THE RUNNING SANDS.

V. TAFFY RINGS THE CHURCH BELL.

VI. A COCK FIGHT.

VII. GEORGE.

VIII. THE SQUIRE'S SOUL.

IX. ENTER THE KING'S POSTMAN.

X. A HAPPY DAY.

XI. LIZZIE REDEEMS HER DOLL AND HONORIA THROWS A STONE.

XII. TAFFY'S CHILDHOOD COMES TO AN END.

XIII. THE BUILDERS.

XIV. VOICES FROM THE SEA.

XV. TAFFY'S APPRENTICESHIP.

XVI. LIZZIE AND HONORIA.

XVII. THE SQUIRE'S WEIRD.

XVIII. THE BARRIERS FALL.

XIX. OXFORD.

XX. TAFFY GIVES A PROMISE.

XXI. HONORIA'S LETTERS.

XXII. MEN AS TOWERS.

XXIII. THE SERVICE OF THE LAMP.

XXIV. FACE TO FACE.

XXV. THE WRECK OF THE "SAMARITAN".

XXVI. SALVAGE.

XXVII. HONORIA.

XXVIII. A L'OUTRANCE.

XXIX. THE SHIP OF STARS.

THE SHIP OF STARS.

CHAPTER I.

THE BOY IN THE GATE HOUSE.

Until his ninth year the boy about whom this story is written lived in a house which looked upon the square of a county town. The house had once formed part of a large religious building, and the boy's bedroom had a high groined roof, and on the capstone an angel carved, with outspread wings. Every night the boy wound up his prayers with this verse which his grandmother had taught him:

"Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Bless the bed that I lie on. Four corners to my bed, Four angels round my head; One to watch, one to pray, Two to bear my soul away."

Then he would look up to the angel and say: "Only Luke is with me." His head was full of queer texts and beliefs. He supposed the three other angels to be always waiting in the next room, ready to bear away the soul of his grandmother (who was bed ridden), and that he had Luke for an angel because he was called Theophilus, after the friend for whom St. Luke had written his Gospel and the Acts of the Holy Apostles. His name in full was Theophilus John Raymond, but people called him Taffy... Continue reading book >>




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