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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe House Of Martha - Chapter 50. My Book of Travel
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The House Of Martha - Chapter 50. My Book of Travel Post by :Ndoki Category :Long Stories Author :Frank R Stockton Date :May 2012 Read :2340

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The House Of Martha - Chapter 50. My Book of Travel

L. MY BOOK OF TRAVEL.

 

When the House of Martha had been formally abolished, the members of the sisterhood made various dispositions of themselves. Some determined to enter institutions of a similar character, while others who had homes planned to retire to them, with the intention of endeavoring to do what good they could without separating themselves from the world in which they were to do it. Sister Sarah was greatly incensed at the dissolution of the House, and much more so because, had it continued, she expected to be at the head of it. She declared her intention of throwing herself into the arms of the Mother Church, where a sisterhood meant something, and where such nonsense and treachery as this would be impossible.

I did not enjoy the autumn of that year to the extent that I should have enjoyed it had I been able to arrange matters according to my own ideas of what was appropriate to the case.

Sylvia lived in the city, and I lived in the country, and although I went to her whenever I could, and she and her mother dined several times with my grandmother, there were often long stretches, sometimes extending over the greater part of the day, when I did not see her at all.

Thus it was that I had sometimes to think of other things, and one morning I said to my under-study, "Walkirk, there is something I regret very much, and that is the non-completion of my book. I shall never finish it, I am sure, because every thing that has ever happened to me is going to be made uninteresting and tedious by what is to happen. Travel and life itself will be quite another thing to me, and I am sure that I will be satisfied with enjoying it, and shall not want to write about it. And so, good-by to the book."

"In regard to your book," said Walkirk, "I feel it my duty to say to you that there is no occasion for you to bid good-by to it."

"You are wrong there!" I exclaimed. "I shall never write it. I do not want to write it."

"Nevertheless," said Walkirk, "the book will be written. I shall write it. In fact I have written a great part of it already."

"What in the name of common sense do you mean?" I cried, staring at him in astonishment.

"What I am going to say to you," replied Walkirk, "may displease you, but I earnestly hope that you may eventually agree with me, that what I have done is for the general good. You may remember that when you first talked to me of your travels, you also handed me some of the manuscript you had prepared for the opening chapters of your book and gave me an outline of the projected plan of the work. Now as I have often told you, I considered the material for a book of travels contained in your experiences, as recited to me, as extremely fresh, novel and entertaining, and would be bound to make what publishers call a 'hit' if properly presented, but at the same time I am compelled to say that I soon became convinced that there was no probability that you would properly present your admirable subject matter to the reading world."

"Upon my word," said I, "this is cool."

"It is hard to speak to you in this way," he answered, "and the only way in which I can do it is to be perfectly straightforward and honest about it. I am at heart a literary man, and have, so far as I have the power, cultivated the art of putting things effectively; and I assure you, sir, that it gave me actual pain when I found how you were going to present some of the incidents of your journey, such as, for instance, your diving experiences in the maelstrom, or at least in the place where it was supposed to be, and where, judging from your discoveries, it may under certain conditions and to a certain extent really exist.

"There were a good many other points which I believe could be made of startling interest and value, not only to ordinary readers, but to scientific people, if they were properly brought out. I saw no reason that you would so bring them out, and I felt not only that I could do it, but that it would delight me to do it.

"My feeling on the subject was so strong that, as you may remember, I declined to act as your secretary. I am perhaps over-sensitive, but I could not have written your book as you would have dictated it to me, and as you did indeed dictate it to your various secretaries."

"Go on," I said, "I am perfectly charmed with my power of repressing resentment."

"Therefore it was," he continued, "that I set to work to write the book myself, founding it entirely upon your daily recitals. My plan was to write as long as I found you were in the humor to talk, and, in fact, if you lost interest in me as a listener I determined that I would then declare what I had done, show you my work, and implore you, if you felt like it, to give me enough subject matter to finish it.

"I have now stated my case, and I place it entirely in your hands. I will give you what I have written, and if you choose to read it and do not like it, you can throw it into the fire. The subject matter is yours, and I have no rights over it. But if you think that the work which you have decided to discontinue can be successfully carried on by me, I shall be delighted to go ahead and finish it."

"Walkirk," said I, "you have the effrontery of a stone sphinx; but let me see your manuscript."

He handed it to me, and during the rest of the morning, and for a great part of the night, after I had returned in a late train from the city, I read it. The next day I handed it to him.

"Walkirk," said I, "as my under-study go ahead and finish this book. You never came nearer the truth than when you said that that material is vastly interesting."

Walkirk was delighted and took up the work with enthusiasm. Whenever I had a chance I talked to him, and whenever he had a chance he wrote. However, at that time, I gave so much of my business to my under-study that he was not able to devote himself to his literary work as assiduously as he and I would have desired. In fact, the book is not yet finished, but when it appears I think it will be a success.

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