Seizing hold of the heavy hatch, the two boys managed to throw it into place. There was means for securing it so that even if great waves swept over the low deck of the powerboat they could hardly tear the hatch loose, and flood the hold.
Without the civilizing aids of commerce or literature, their language degenerated into barbarous dialects; their clothing was the skin of wild beasts; their religion, confused relics of ancient creeds, contributed by the wandering colonies of Egypt, Media, Greece, and Tyre, which occasionally blended with the Scythian hordes, wherein Isis, Mercury, and Hercules, the symbols of wisdom, eloquence, and courage, were the objects worshipped, though deteriorated by savage and sanguinary rites, whose sacrifices were human victims, and whose best votary was he who had slain most men.
Not often does one find a man of Hall Caine’s very special gifts endowed with the abilities of a financier. He is as quick and as clever at driving a bargain as a 121Lancashire or Yorkshire mill-owner. There have always been and, I suppose, always will be a large percentage of writers who are constitutionally incapable of looking after their own affairs; they can produce, but they cannot sell. Mr Hall Caine does not belong to these. He, more than any man, contributed to the breakdown of the three-volume novel system. It was he who helped to formulate the Canadian Copyright Laws. With the assistance of Major Pond (who in these days remembers the great Major Pond?) he made tens of thousands of dollars by lecturing to the Americans. He had the acumen and the courage to issue one of his longest novels in two volumes at two shillings net each. He was the first eminent novelist to make a practice of publishing his works in the middle of the August holidays—the supposed “dead” season in the publishing world. He has bought farms in the Isle of Man and made them pay. He has had commercial interests in seaside boarding-houses and has shown a bold but wise enterprise in many of his investments. In other words he has, to his honour, continually exhibited abilities that not one artist in a hundred possesses.
Without explaining what he meant to do he left them, and his form was speedily swallowed up in the gloom. Amos hardly knew what it meant, though, of course, knowing that Arturus had not basely deserted them thus.
"Then will you explain?"
The Westhope household was eminently well drilled, and the footman who handed the letter on the salver to Mr. Joyce was as respectful as though the secretary were my lord himself. He had heard Lady Caroline's remark to the butler, and had turned the missive over and scrutinised it as he carried it along the passages. The handwriting of the address, though firm, was unmistakably feminine, and the footman, a man of the world, coupling this fact with what he had heard, arrived at the conclusion that the letter was from Mr. Joyce's "young woman." He walked up to Joyce, who was busily engaged in writing, croaked out, "A letter, sir," in the tone usually adopted by him to offer to dinner guests their choice between hock and champagne, and watched the secretary's manner. Joyce took the letter from the salver, muttered his thanks, and turned back to his work. The footman bowed and left the room, with the idea, as he afterwards remarked to the butler, that if his suppositions were correct, the secretary was not "a fellow of much warmth of feelin'; looked at it and put it down by his arm as though it was a bill, he did!"
Now it was evidently to be arranged that he would never again be seen face to face by a rational being. The Grand Panjandrum had won the argument. Within a few months a Rim Stars trading ship would land, and Jorgenson would be gone and the trading post confiscated. It would be hopeless to ask questions, and worse than hopeless to try to trade. So the ship would lift off and there'd be no more ships for at least a generation. Then there might—there might!—be another.
“Mon ami Hastings!” he cried, and sprang to meet me. “Embrace me, my friend; all has marched to a marvel!”
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