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- The Trail of the Sword, Volume 1. - 1/9 -
[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an entire meal of them. D.W.]
TRAIL OF THE SWORD
By Gilbert Parker
EPOCH THE FIRST I. AN ENVOY EXTRAORDINARY II. THE THREAT OF A RENEGADE III. THE FACE AT THE WINDOW IV. THE UPLIFTING OF THE SWORDS V. THE FRUITS OF THE LAW VI. THE KIDNAPPING
EPOCH THE SECOND VII. FRIENDS IN COUNCIL VIII. AS SEEN THROUGH A GLASS, DARKLY IX. TO THE PORCH OF THE WORLD X. QUI VIVE! XI. WITH THE STRANGE PEOPLE XII. OUT OF THE NET
EPOCH THE THIRD XIII. "AS WATER UNTO WINE" XIV. IN WHICH THE HUNTERS ARE OUT XV. IN THE MATTER OF BUCKLAW XVI. IN THE TREASURE HOUSE XVII. THE GIFT OF A CAPTIVE XVIII. MAIDEN NO MORE
EPOCH THE FOURTH XIX. WHICH TELLS OF A BROTHER'S BLOOD CRYING FROM THE GROUND XX. A TRAP IS SET XXI. AN UNTOWARD MESSENGER XXII. FROM TIGER'S CLAW TO LION'S MOUTH XXIII. AT THE GATES OF MISFORTUNE XXIV. IN WHICH THE SWORD IS SHEATHED
WHEREIN IS SET FORTH THE HISTORY OF JESSICA LEVERET, AS ALSO THAT OF PIERRE LE MOYNE OF IBERVILLE, GEORGE GERING, AND OTHER BOLD SPIRITS; TOGETHER WITH CERTAIN MATTERS OF WAR, AND THE DEEDS OF ONE EDWARD BUCKLAW, MUTINEER AND PIRATE
My Dear Father:
Once, many years ago, in a kind of despair, you were impelled to say that I would "never be anything but a rascally lawyer." This, it may be, sat upon your conscience, for later you turned me gravely towards Paley and the Thirty-nine Articles; and yet I know that in your deepest soldier's heart, you really pictured me, how unavailingly, in scarlet and pipe-clay, and with sabre, like yourself in youth and manhood. In all I disappointed you, for I never had a brief or a parish, and it was another son of yours who carried on your military hopes. But as some faint apology--I almost dare hope some recompense for what must have seemed wilfulness, I send you now this story of a British soldier and his "dear maid," which has for its background the old city of Quebec, whose high ramparts you walked first sixty years ago; and for setting, the beginning of those valiant fightings, which, as I have heard you say, "through God's providence and James Wolfe, gave England her best possession."
You will, I feel sure, quarrel with the fashion of my campaigns, and be troubled by my anachronisms; but I beg you to remember that long ago you gave my young mind much distress when you told that wonderful story, how you, one man, "surrounded" a dozen enemies, and drove them prisoners to headquarters. "Surrounded" may have been mere lack of precision, but it serves my turn now, as you see. You once were--and I am precise here--a gallant swordsman: there are legends yet of your doings with a crack Dublin bully. Well, in the last chapter of this tale you shall find a duel which will perhaps recall those early days of this century, when your blood was hot and your hand ready. You would be distrustful of the details of this scene, did I not tell you that, though the voice is Jacob's the hand is another's. Swordsmen are not so many now in the army or out of it, that, among them, Mr. Walter Herrim Pollock's name will have escaped you: so, if you quarrel, let it be with Esau; though, having good reason to be grateful to him, that would cause me sorrow.
My dear father, you are nearing the time-post of ninety years, with great health and cheerfulness; it is my hope you may top the arch of your good and honourable life with a century key-stone.
Believe me, sir,
Your affectionate son,
15th September, 1894, 7 Park Place, St. James's S.W.
THE TRAIL OF THE SWORD
This book, like Mrs. Falchion, was published in two volumes in January. That was in 1894. It appeared first serially in the Illustrated London News, for which paper, in effect, it was written, and it also appeared in a series of newspapers in the United States during the year 1893. This was a time when the historical novel was having its vogue. Mr. Stanley Weyman, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and a good many others were following the fashion, and many of the plays at the time were also historical-- so-called. I did not write The Trail of the Sword because it was in keeping with the spirit of the moment. Fashion has never in the least influenced my writing or my literary purposes. Whatever may be thought of my books, they represent nothing except my own bent of mind, my own wilful expression of myself, and the setting forth of that which seized my imagination.
I wrote The Trail of the Sword because the early history of the struggles between the French and English and the North American Continent interested me deeply and fascinated my imagination. Also, I had a most intense desire to write of the Frenchman of the early days of the old regime; and I have no idea why it was so, because I have no French blood in my veins nor any trace of French influence in my family. There is, however, the Celtic strain, the Irish blood, immediate of the tang, as it were, and no doubt a sympathy between the Celtic and the Gallic strain is very near, and has a tendency to become very dear. It has always been a difficulty for me to do anything except show the more favourable side of French character and life.
I am afraid that both in The Trail of the Sword, which was the forerunner of The Seats of the Mighty, the well sunk, in a sense, out of which the latter was drawn, I gave my Frenchman the advantage over his English rival. In The Trail of the Sword, the gallant French adventurer's chivalrous but somewhat merciless soul, makes a better picture than does his more phlegmatic but brave and honourable antagonist, George Gering. Also in The Seats of the Mighty, Doltaire, the half-villain, overshadows the good English hero from first to last; and yet, despite the unconscious partiality for the individual in both books, English character and the English as a race, as a whole, are dominant in the narrative.
There is a long letter, as a dedication to this book, addressed to my father; there is a note also, which explains the spirit in which the book was written, and I have no desire to enlarge this introduction in the presence of these prefaces to the first edition. But I may say that this book was gravely important to me, because it was to test all my capacity for writing a novel with an historical background, and, as it were, in the custom of a bygone time. It was not really the first attempt at handling a theme belonging to past generations, because I had written for Good Words, about the year 1890, a short novel which I called The Chief Factor, a tale of the Hudson's Bay Company. It was the first novel or tale of mine which secured copyright under the new American copyright act of 1892.
There was a circumstance connected with this publication which is interesting. When I arrived in New York, I had only three days in which to have the book printed in order to secure the copyright before Good Words published the novel as its Christmas annual in its entirety. I tried Messrs. Harper & Brothers, and several other publishers by turn, but none of them could undertake to print the book in the time. At last some kind friend told me to go to the Trow Directory Binding Company, which I did. They said they could not print the story in the time. I begged them to reconsider. I told them how much was at stake for me. I said that I would stay in the office and read the proofs as they came from the press, and would not move until it was finished. Refusal had been written on the lips and the face of the manager at the beginning, but at last I prevailed. He brought the foreman down there and then. Each of us, elated by the conditions of the struggle, determined to pull the thing off. We printed that book of sixty-five thousand words or so, in forty-eight hours, and it arrived in Washington three hours before the time was up. I saved the copyright, and I need hardly say that my gratitude to the Trow Directory Binding Company was as great as their delight in having done a really brilliant piece of work.
The day after the copyright was completed, I happened to mention the incident to Mr. Archibald Clavering Gunter, author of Mr. Barnes of New York, who had a publishing house for his own books. He immediately made me an offer for The Chief Factor. I hesitated, because I had been dealing with great firms like Harpers, and, to my youthful mind, it seemed rather beneath my dignity to have the imprint of so new a firm as the Home Publishing Company on the title-page of my book. I asked the advice of Mr. Walter H. Page, then editor of The Forum, now one of the proprietors of The World's Work and Country Life, and he instantly said: "What difference does it make who publishes your book? It is the public
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